UNDATED (WLOX) - The Clarion-Ledger issued an apology on their official website Sunday after one of its sports headlines read: "Thanks, Rebels: MSU gets help winning SEC."
The headline was referencing the Mississippi State baseball program's SEC regular-season championship, which was the 11th in school history and first since 1989.
Many Mississippi State supporters voiced their displeasure via Twitter, and comments on the Clarion-Ledger's official website.
"What was meant as a clever, tongue-in-cheek headline by a group of talented designers and finishers in Nashville nevertheless would not have been written by someone who understands such a heated rivalry," Clarion-Ledger Executive Editor Sam Hall said. "For all of the great work that comes from being able to use a talented team of designers who are not onsite, this is one of the pitfalls we have to be careful to manage better."
Entering the final weekend on the SEC regular season baseball schedule, Mississippi State was tied with the Texas A&M Aggies atop the SEC West Division with an 18-9 conference record, and trailed the Florida Gators (18-8) by a half-game in the overall standings.
Florida lost two of three to LSU, including a split of a doubleheader on the final day of the regular season. That made things much easier for Texas A&M and Mississippi State, who won the first two games of their respective series with Ole Miss and Arkansas.
If both MSU and A&M were victorious on Saturday, they would share the conference championship. If they both lost, South Carolina (20-9) would actually be the SEC's top team after sweeping Alabama.
Ole Miss defeated Texas A&M 3-2. Upon hearing the final score, Mississippi State fans at Dudy Noble Field cheered loudly while the Bulldogs held a lead in the sixth inning over Arkansas.
The Bulldogs held off the Razorbacks 9-4 and earned the outright SEC regular-season championship.
"We have no conspiracy against either school," Hall said. "We want Mississippi State, Ole Miss and every college in the state to succeed. When our schools succeed, it is great for our state, great for our readers and even great for business. To want to harm any of them would be asinine."
Mississippi State is the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs will play either No. 8 Kentucky or No. 9 Alabama Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Ole Miss is the No. 7 seed and must defeat No. 10 Georgia Tuesday to advance into the double-elimination phase against No. 2 South Carolina.