Looking Back With Barrin Simpson
By: Eryn Taylor, Mississippi State Athletic Media Relations
Everyone has a dream. Barrin Simpson realized his the first time he stepped into Davis Wade Stadium, not as a 13-year-old fan but as a vendor selling soda to thousands of fans.
“My friends told me about this job at the games,” Simpson says. “They said you would get paid good money and there were going to be competitions to see who could sell the most. I wasn’t listening to them, but then they said you’d get into the games for free.
“I turned around and went, ‘you get in the games for free?’ I was sold. Needless to say, I never won any of those sales competitions … I didn’t sell a lot.”
It was in the stands on those hot Saturday afternoons watching his Bulldogs play that the young Simpson first imagined himself suiting up for the Maroon and White.
Just a few years later, his dream would become reality as Head Coach Jackie Sherrill signed “Starkville’s favorite son.” The rest is history.
During his four-year tenure, Simpson appeared in 40 games with 27 starts as a linebacker. In 1997, as a sophomore, he had 104 tackles and two sacks. As a senior, he recorded 105 stops. The final campaign was highlighted by 23 tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery versus rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Simpson earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors following the performance.
The 5-foot-11, 226-pound linebacker was a Butkus Award semifinalist, a Sporting News First Team All-American and helped lead MSU to the No. 1 national mark in total defense in 1999.
When asked about his greatest accomplishment, however, Simpson does not think of an individual accolade, but rather the team.
“My class, when we got [to MSU] they had gone 3-8 in 1995,” Simpson recalls. “Sophomore year we were 7-4. Junior we ended up being 8-5. Then my senior year we went all the way to 10-2. We ranked nationally and won the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl over Clemson in Atlanta.
“We did a lot in changing the culture of Mississippi State Football and we worked hard to create an attitude of respect [nationally for our program]. As a group we changed the face of the university.”
After completing his career with the Bulldogs, Simpson went to play for the B.C. Lions in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Once again, success soon followed. Simpson led the CFL in tackles for three-straight years, was named both the East and West Division Outstanding Player of the Year and was selected as a CFL All-Star six times before retiring.
Today, Simpson lives in Texas with his wife, Tammie, and two daughters, Atira and Avery, but still looks back on his college days with pride.
“It’s hard to put into words what it meant to me to be a part of this team. We took pride in playing for this university. It meant a lot. It was an honor because I love my university.”