Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead, left, and Ole Miss coach Matt Luke meet at midfield to shake hands prior to kickoff of the annual rivalry game on Thursday night.

STARKVILLE Mississippi State won the Battle for the Golden Egg on Thursday night, and when the Bulldogs hoisted the trophy on their home field everything looked like it has for every game between Mississippi’s SEC rivals.

But things were not the same.

The Bulldogs were able to celebrate in this manner only with the blessing of a new policy that was announced at the 11th hour, on Thanksgiving Eve, lumped in with a collection of notes for media covering the game.

The email was sent by the MSU media relations staff at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and was soon forwarded by Ole Miss as well.

The email also included practical information such as what time the press box opens, a warning for metal detectors, how to reach interview rooms for home and visiting teams and how photographers should access the field.

Topping the message was this subhead: Trophy Postgame Celebration Protocol.

Celebrations by their very nature are often spontaneous, but for the Egg Bowl in 2019 there were instructions.

They said, “As the home team, if Mississippi State wins, their players may celebrate on the field with the trophy as Ole Miss players leave the field.

“If the road team Ole Miss wins, they will celebrate in their locker room. In the case of the latter, Ole Miss will assist media with their postgame celebration images from their locker room.”

The email said the procedure was put in place “after discussions between both schools.”

It made no mention of the special emphasis placed on player behavior in this game by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey after last year’s fight when a bench-clearing brawl broke out after the third quarter.

In addition, the last two seasons have included the visiting winners planting their school’s flag at the 50-yard line, actions that haven’t sat well with the losing home team.

The Monday following MSU’s 35-3 win in Oxford last season, Sankey called out both schools publicly saying, “These incidents have become too common in this series,” and announced he would require athletics directors from both schools to meet with him to discuss the rivalry moving forward.

Sankey, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Journal last week, would only say he was “encouraged by all of our conversations since last year.”

He would not speculate on what penalties, if any, would be imposed on either or both schools had their been a fight this season.

Twitter: @parrishalford

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