Sherrill, West go nose-to-nose after game

Updated: October 11, 2003, 8:53 PM ET

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill and Memphis coach Tommy West appeared to exchange some angry words after the Bulldogs beat the Tigers 35-27 on Saturday.

As Sherrill and West converged near midfield for a customary post-game handshake, West appeared to become upset with Sherrill. The two were nose-to-nose for several seconds before parting ways.

West intimated that Sherrill wanted West to send Memphis defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn a message.

Dunn, who was fired last season by Sherrill after seven seasons at Mississippi State, was critical of Sherrill and the way he was dismissed during the week leading up to the game.

"Well, I'm not his messenger boy, OK," West said when asked about the exchange. "If (Sherrill) needs to send a message to somebody he can get it himself."

Dunn and Sherrill did not cross paths after the game. Dunn said he did not know what happened between Sherrill and West

When Sherrill was asked about his meeting with West he said, "You'll have to ask Joe Lee all those questions."

Dunn said this week he was never told why he was fired by Sherrill, he was simply given a form letter during a meeting last December.

Dunn said he helped save Sherrill's job when he left Arkansas to take over the defense at Mississippi State in 1996.

"Then seven years later, he threw me out in the street," Dunn said.

Dunn also took a shot at Sherrill's coaching ability, saying the worst thing about last season's 3-9 Mississippi State team was the punt team, which Sherrill coaches.

After the game, numerous Mississippi State players shook hands and spoke with Dunn.

"I think he's a great coach," said Mississippi State quarterback Kevin Fant, who greeted Dunn after the game. "I always liked Coach Dunn."

The Bulldogs gained 340 yards and scored three offensive touchdowns in the first half against Dunn's defense, but managed only 41 and one TD in the second half.

The lone second-half score came when Nick Turner barely stretched into the end zone on a fourth-and-inches late in the third quarter.

That TD was set up by a special teams' miscue that gave Mississippi State the ball at the Tigers 4.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index