Purdue is PU, and they're a pretty good land grant school.
Oh, okay on the Hattiesburg thing. USM is a decent school, so why not go after it for a state flagship or a land grant for a new state of LeMoyne? Yeah, the counties are a little off to get the Gulf Region.
Is that fiction you have in the last Paragraph, or is that based on what USA has right now as far as athletics? Over time the flagship and/or land grant may play 1-AA ball and eventually be able to move up as the other sports in their Athletic program expand.
USA does have a 61% female enrollment as of Fall 2003.
Their current athletics offerings are Baseball, M&W Basketball, M&W Cross Country, M&W Golf, M&W Tennis, M&W Track & Field, W Soccer, and W Volleyball. USA dropped M Soccer to stay in Title IX compliance. I-A Football would indeed be quite the undertaking unless if USA's enrollment becomes more balanced. If they do move up to I-A, it might be Conference USA would be nice, but the Sun Belt (or what's left of it), would probably be where the Jags start. Also, annexing the Hattiesburg area would probably make keeping USA and USM in separate conferences desirable
Getting Hattiesburg would be nice. Adding the four counties you proposed would add nearly 130,000 in population and bring the population to nearly 1.7 million (2000 census). That may not be enough to pick up a third seat in the House of Representatives (would need to get closer to 2 million), although the population would be about the same as Nebraska, which has 3.
So consider those four counties annexed, as well as another 55,000 people in Washington County and Escambia County in Alabama (and both Escambia Counties can take new names), to maintain a somewhat consistent footprint. USM becomes Lemoyne State.
Granted Washington does little for LeMoyne's economy, but perhaps this could increase the push for the proposed Western Alabama freeway ("I-63"), since the only real North-South Interstate in LeMoyne would be I-59, over by the Louisiana border. I-65 runs NE/SW through Mobile, Baldwin, and Escambia Counties in Alabama. Annexing Washington and Escambia probably also keeps more kids from going off to UA , Auburn, and Troy.
I also realized I had an interesting predicament:
Casinos in Mississippi
Dog Tracks and Indian Bingo in Alabama (the latter picked up by adding Escambia County)
Lottery in Florida
The Porch Creeks have been rumored to want a casino (they've been able to block the MOWA Choctaws from gaining federal recognition, allegedly for the fear the MOWAs would get a casino), so it could result in casinos and a lottery all over LeMoyne, as well as the occaisional dog track and bingo parlor. The remaining 63 counties in Alabama would definitely feel the squeeze of having five very gambling-friendly states surrounding them.