Category Archives: SEC Football

Ole Miss Football

Ole Miss Football 2016: A preview in the eyes of a realistic fan.

2015 was a year of historical proportions for the rebel football program.

If you would have told fans of the program the rebels went 10-3 (9 being regular season wins),the first time since 2003, the majority of us would have been content with just that.

When you add on a Sugar Bowl win for the first time since 1970 ,it put the icing on the cake.Talk about “Ole So Sweet!”

The addition of quarterback Chad Kelly helped prevent a drop off at the most worrisome position in spring 2015.

Not only did he prevent a drop off, he put on a clinic on how to play the position throwing for 4,042 yards (3rd in SEC history).Here is just a little taste of what was a great 2015 season for Chad.

Kelly will be an impact player once again in 2016. The Rebels will go as far as their QB takes them.

Its true that the Rebels are a true contender currently  and look to be a contender year in and year out.

However, the difference between a contender and achieving the ultimate goals of a prominent program rely heavily on quarterbacks.(Except for you Ala freaking Bama, How do guys keep this up?!)

Having the best quarterback in the SEC certainly puts Ole Miss near the top but is it truly enough?

Are the Rebels deep enough in the trenches to win 10 or 11 games in 2016?

In this preview, we will look at the schedule and how they shape up against their SEC foes.  Shall we begin?

Projections

September:

             Sept 5 vs Florida State W 23-20

    Sept 10 vs Wofford W 48-10

Sept 17 vs Alabama L 35-31

Sept 24 vs Georgia W 28-14

Points of Intrigue

The Landshark defense will have their hands full with arguably the nations best running back when they play Florida State September 5th.

Dalvin Cook will be a force to reckon with. For those of you who havent seen him, here you go. Dalvin Cook is a beast.However, Florida State will start  redshirt freshman Deondre Francois at quarterback to start the season.

In opening games at premier neutral sites, quarterback play can heavily impact the performance of your team. Nothing against Francois,but  look for Kelly to be more in tune September 5th.

Alabama is Alabama and will be the most prominent team in the Southeast until Saban hangs his hat up. I give the Rebels a loss,but Ole Miss could very well be 3-0 after the bout with the Tide.

The month of September is almost impossible to predict for this Rebel team.  4-0 or 2-2? I say 3-1.

October:

          Oct. 1 vs Memphis     W 35-14

           Oct. 15 at Arkansas W 30-21

Oct. 22 at LSU    L 17-10

       Oct. 29 vs Auburn W 24-3

Points of Intrigue

The true depth and strength of the offensive line will come into play during the month of October.

Without Fahn Cooper and Laremy Tunsil, the Rebels will have two new starting tackles which at the moment have not been announced. (Expect Alex Givens and Greg Little to be in the mix)

The young offensive line will be battle tested against two stout defenses in difficult atmospheres two consecutive weeks in October: against the  Arkansas Razorbacks and the LSU Tigers.

A drop off in talent for the Razorbacks will hope Ole Miss win in Fayetteville, but the Rebels will not be as lucky come Oct. 22.

Behind the load of Leonard Fournette, LSU is a formidable opponent.  LSU  will have the advantage squeaking out a nail biter by 7 in Death Valley. In order for that to happen, Brandon Harris must play at least serviceable. Can he do it? we will have to find out and see.

For the sake of predictions, the rebels go 3-1 for the second consecutive month at 6-2 going into November.

November:

             Nov 5 vs Georgia Southern W 24-16

Nov. 12 at Texas A/M  L 38-28

Nov. 19 at Vanderbilt W 20-6

                Nov. 26 vs Mississippi State W  45-10

Points of Interest

The Rebels lose at Texas A/M vs arguably the most underrated quarterback starting in the Sec this year.

Trevor Knight, the former Oklahoma Quarterback, will put up big numbers in Aggie land this year potentially.

The talent gap between Ole Miss and Mississippi State is exposed and the rebels beat the bulldogs convincingly,45-10.

9-3 5-3 Citrus Bowl appearance

 

Closing Thoughts

The rebels are continuing to make significant strides in the College football spectrum.

Ole Miss arguably has a top 3 quarterback in Kelly.However that does not mean Ole Miss is without flaws as stated previously.

With question marks on both the offensive line and at linebacker, expect a few hiccups along the way.

One position of little concern is wide receiver, although the departure of Laquon Treadwell will definitely be felt.(Heres a highlight reel of Treadwell if you forgot just how impactful he was.)

Ole Miss returns Damore’ea Stringfellow and Quincy Adeboyjo as the premier targets with 36 and 38 receptions in 2015. Expect to be wowed with the addition of three highly recruited freshmen who will push to see the field quickly.(AJ Brown, Tre Nixon, D K Metcalf)

On the defensive side of the ball, Ole Miss will look to continue their dominance on the defensive line with the return of key contributors.

Issac Gross, the senior from South Panola looks to anchor the inside of the line. Fadol Brown and Marquis Haynes will continue to provide stability and consistency at Defensive End.The defensive line will continue its dominance of 2015.

At linebacker, the rebels look to rely on graduate transfer Rommel  Mageo. Mageo is a former Oregon State Beaver, and brings with him experience this linebacker core is lacking. Mageo had 87 tackles in 2015, leading the beavers defense in the stat.

Realistically the Hugh Freeze led rebels are likely to fall anywhere from 8-4 to 10-2 give or a take a game.

This team will rely heavily on Kelly’s leadership and who knows, we may be playing for a title in November!

Agree? Disagree? let me know on twitter @RebelBramlett

Hotty Toddy and Go Rebels!

 

 

Sean Gardner - Getty Images

Can Ole Miss Football Dominate Mississippi?

(Article originally printed in Rebel Nation Magazine – July/August 2016 edition  – www.rebelnationmagazine.com)

Walter Payton, Brett Favre and Jerry Rice are just a few of the many amazing athletes to come from Mississippi that did not play their college ball at Ole Miss. There are plenty of iconic athletes that did wear the red and blue but it is safe to say, not everyone can play in Oxford.  With the many different college options for high school athletes in this state, what will it take for Ole Miss to be the first option in Mississippi?  Let me offer it could happen in less than ten years.

Most of the SEC states are dominated by one major university.  LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, even Tennessee essentially dominates the state in football as Vanderbilt doesn’t pose too big of a threat.

Alabama can support two SEC teams with their larger population base and the long-term success of Auburn and Alabama, but Mississippi is the odd man out in the SEC equation.  A state with less than 3 million residents would be one of the smaller in the SEC to support one SEC school, but we have to support two.  It makes the margins razor thin when competing in the conference.

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Tulane’s ill-advised decision to leave the SEC, fully placing LSU as the premier University in Louisiana.  Tulane was arguably at least as good as LSU when the SEC began in the 1930’s culminating with an SEC conference championship in 1949, but Paul Dietzel and LSU’s success in the 50’s along with Tulane’s southern ivy league aspirations led to Tulane leaving the SEC.

It was a bad idea, but no one could conceive of the money the SEC would garner 50 years later.  In fact several schools left the SEC with hopes of greener pastures.  Georgia Tech left the SEC in protest of Bear Bryant’s Alabama squad and their brutal rivalry.

However, the biggest factors in New Orleans and Atlanta were the emergence of the NFL which siphoned off the fan base’s and regulated Tulane and Georgia Tech to the back seat.

Today we have another paradigm shift taking place in college athletics which has already shaken up the conferences and promises to do so in the future: CFB playoffs and television rights contracts.

ESPN and its competitors are writing huge checks to conferences for the rights to carry games and secure the advertising blocks of air time.  All major conferences are getting into the game but the SEC is garnering the top dollar and in order to continue to be the top dog will have to add (or potentially subtract) conference teams.

The SEC is now in a unique position to re-write the college landscape. If and when they choose to expand to 16 or possibly 24 teams, it will be an offer most teams would be smart to accept.

The most recent expansions saw the SEC venture into the larger television markets of Houston and Saint Louis. The driving force in the next round could be based on strictly match ups.

I know there is already a Florida team in the SEC, and I understand there are a lot of tv sets in the Washington DC area, but what would fans rather watch? The Gators blow out Virginia Tech or a knock down drag out game versus Florida State?  If the SEC wants to continue to be the premier national conference they must have the premier teams with national appeal.

Texas has shown they cannot survive on their own as the Big 12 and the Longhorn network are dying a slow death. They should be begging to get into the SEC and play nice.  Oklahoma’s AD and president should already be fired for not jumping into the SEC when Texas A&M made the smart move.

Florida State and Miami have to be mighty jealous of the checks Ole Miss and State are cashing at the end of the year.

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The next round of TV contracts will end in 2023-2024 and you should expect every team in the nation to be lobbying to be a part of a potential SEC super conference. Teams like Vanderbilt, Kentucky and MSU haven’t won a SEC football title since Kentucky last won in 1950.

If Ole Miss wants a chance to knock out MSU for good, this is their chance.

Hugh Freeze has established Ole Miss as a national team in recruiting and it is hard to say that he would take 20 kids a year from Mississippi even if he could. Unfortunately with all the talent in MS we do suffer with getting our kids eligible academically.

If you have a chance to sign the top wide receiver in Texas or the top wide receiver in Mississippi which one do you chase as a head coach? Dominating recruiting in Mississippi is a feather in the cap but honestly it may not win you the most games.

MSU has signed 20 more MS players than Ole Miss over the last four years. Both teams have won 34 games in the last four years but Ole Miss is 3-1 over State head to head.  MSU reached a top six bowl game in 2014’s Orange bowl but comparatively, Ole Miss has reached two top six bowl games.

If Ole Miss wants to truly dominate the home state, they just need to continue on their current path. Ole Miss is a top 10-15 team for 2016 while MSU is entering a re-building period with the graduation of Dak Prescott.  Ole Miss has some of the best facilities in the SEC and is one of the top national recruiters that will keep them on top.

By winning consistently, Ole Miss will be in the best position to survive the next round of expansion and possibly see MSU moved to a lower tier.

The Sammy Curse!

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There’s alot of superstitions in sports. With the Madden Curse being one of the most infamous ones. Well here’s a lesser known and a newer one. The Sammy Curse.

What is the Curse and how did this start

This is more of a gambling thing. But the history of this is scary consistent and has a history dating back to 3 years ago. With the 2012 Florida State Seminoles team.

The knock I had on them were that they were playing a very weak schedule and blowing teams away were a result of this. They would soon take Auburn to the woodshed after a slow start.

Following years 

This would again happen to me in the following year with my own Ohio State in 2014-15. In the beginning of the year following a rough performance against Navy and then the following week Iagainst VT where we lost at home. I wrote us off along with the rest of the nation.

They would soon improve the offensive line which was my biggest knock on them and become the best team in the nation at the right time. With a 3rd string Quarterback.

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This year I wasn’t a big fan of Alabama and Clemson. Both not only went to the playoff. But won their semi final games convincingly.

This March Madness. I said one of the most overrated teams were Oklahoma and Villanova. In this year’s starting a weak era of college hoops.  But they both made the final four. Now with all those being said. Teams I bought high on. Only one of them are remaining and that’s UNC.

I promise you guys I watch sports. Whether it’s a 3 year strand of bad luck or a real curse. It is what it is.

Until next time. I’ll see you guys later!

Worst sec message boards

THE WORST: SEC College Football Message Boards

Message boards. They are the worst thing that has ever happened to college football programs.

Period.

That is not up for debate. This is not an opinion piece, it is a un-deniable fact.

People in general are just nasty, dirty little anti-establishment creatures, I guess. There is something inside of us as a people that relish throwing stones at others.

So I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that when the internet comes along, people use it in nefarious ways.

If you have followed MakeItRainSports from the beginning you will know that we have never cared much for the anonymous trolling nature of message boards.

Today’s message boards are a written version of the bathroom/barroom conversations that have very little basis in fact and users try to build up their own ego by gathering attention rather than pass along factual information; because let’s face it, reality sucks sometimes.

Because message boards are a written record for anyone to peruse, it tends to hold more weight than a whispered joke in the back of a bar. The written word and ideas, no matter how ridiculous, can set off a “feeding-frenzy” and mob mentality rules.

The biggest problem for athletic directors at big colleges today is managing this anonymous, frustrating, sometimes hilarious, mob of people that really could care less about being fair or truthful, but just hate your program because of the color you wear or the town you are based in.

Of course not all message boards are equal, some are even more ridiculous than others. So the natural thing is to rank them right?

My criteria is the perceived distance from reality of the message board posters. Let me know how you rate these sites or others you have seen

5.  AuburnInside The Auburn Tigers (Scout)

Auburn pre-Cam Newton was one of the more friendly and enjoyable fan bases in the SEC. You had to feel sorry for Auburn fans and the punishment they have had to endure over the years with all the national titles in Tuscaloosa.

But with the success of Newton, some Auburn fans have taken the nuclear option in dealing with other teams and have adopted a self-appointed crown.

Since Cam they have only had one season with more than 8 wins, including one season with only three. Has that corrected their hubris?  Of course not, which is why ITAT is on the list.

4.  LSUTiger Droppings .com

While, LSU has been a dominate program over the last 10 years or so, the fans are never satisfied.  After a disappointing 8 win season (with a cancelled opener with McNeese State) fans took to leaving the stadium early and calling for the firing of Les Miles to a point that it would have happened if Jimbo Fisher wanted the job.

Tigerdroppings is the epitomy of crazy-football-fan-think. The only reason they are not higher on my list is that Les Miles does actually win 10-11 games a year.

3.  TennesseeVolnation .com

The worst thing that ever happened to Tennessee was Peyton Manning and Tee Martin. Tennessee fans have never gotten over the high of winning that national championship.  They are like Alabama before Nick Saban, living off accomplishments of the past and doing so in an annoying fashion.

For some of the best “lowlights” of VolNation we turn to our friends at Reddit – Dumbest of VolNation

2.  ArkansasHogville .net

Arkansas fans are interesting to me because I have never seen them as fully an SEC team or a SWC team.  They have always been on the fence.  At different times they have had huge rivalries with SWC/Big 12 teams and SEC teams.

Arkansas’ biggest problem as a fan base is they have no real in-state rival so they feel like they should be a powerhouse but they just aren’t that good and the fans are not willing to accept that.

This bunch of message board posters are ruthless however and have dug into the cell phone records of head coaches and their possible lovers.  Deadspin agrees, Arkansas fans are insane.

1.  Mississippi StateEliteDawgs .com

These geniuses think they are experts on Ole Miss more than their own team. This group is so bad at “message board-ing” they got kicked off an already crazy message board at SixPackSpeak because they were too crazy (if that’s possible).

So now, left to their own devices and with no real moderators they have developed conspiracy theories that would make Ancient Alien Theorists’ turn their heads.

Current topics being discussed are the secret Ole Miss recruiting booster network that has a recruiting cash budget of upwards of $2 million dollars in cash to pass to recruits.  And of course they think the NCAA is close to shutting Ole Miss down….

Un-Honorable Mentions:  All teams have “those type of fans” that seem to have lost touch with reality and don’t care who knows.  The following fan boards fit into the typical irrational love for their team.

Alabama – Bamaonline.com

Ole Miss – OM Spirit.com

Florida – Gatorcountry.com

Georgia – Dawgrant.com

Editors Note: The worst boards posted above are public boards and while there are no doubt some worse private boards we will at least give them credit for trying to hide their crazy.

 

egg bowl 2015 1

HAS THE EGG BOWL RIVALRY GOTTEN OUT OF HAND?

(This article originally featured in RebelNationMagazine – Pick up a copy at your local magazine rack!)

The “Battle for the Golden Egg” has always been a hotly contested battle between two bitter rivals. Even if the game rarely has wide ranging implications, in the state of Mississippi it is a cherished tradition.

The game has only decided a division or conference champion a handful of times in it 100 plus years in existence. Most years, the egg-shaped trophy is the only reward for a long, hard-fought season.

The most successful coaches at each school found a way to win the egg bowl. Playing down the importance of this game or overlooking the in-state rival is not advised. That is, If you plan to stick around very long.

As fans, we always hoped and prayed that one day this game might mean something. It’s natural to feel a little jealous of our neighbors to the East in Alabama where the game always seems to have larger stakes. They certainly have a larger national media draw.

The Iron Bowl has only been supplanted by the Egg Bowl once on the TV broadcast pecking order and that was last year due to licensing issues because CBS was unable to televise a sixth Alabama game, or they probably would have.

In the last 20 years, the winner of the Iron Bowl has been split 11-10 in favor of Auburn. Alabama has six SEC western division titles over that time with three national titles. Auburn has five divisional titles and 1 national title with one undefeated season not resulting in a national title for Auburn (2004).

In the Egg Bowl in the last 20 years, the games are split evenly 10 to 10.  There has only been 1 divisional champion between the teams and neither Mississippi team has gotten to the promised land of a national champion in a long, long time.

With the addition of Dan Mullen over the last few years, we have seen a glimpse of the high stakes poker that is normally reserved for the state of Alabama.

Dan Mullen successfully jump-started what was a dead rivalry in 2009 by pulling out all the stops. He put the entire focus of his program on winning the Egg Bowl. He claimed Mississippi as “Our State” for MSU fans, refused to call Ole Miss by their name and has successful stirred up strong emotions for State fans to Iron Bowl levels and beyond.

Since 2009, the Egg Bowl is now fought year round, on billboards and in the office. You see a battle for the best tailgating area, you see a battle for who can make the best post game video, a battle for who has the most students, best cheerleaders, etc.

The Bulldogs were frothing at the mouth over Dan Mullen’s first three wins in the series, but since 2012 Freeze has flipped the script on him and the despair and negativity of MSU fans are making the rivalry almost unbearable.

It’s not really enjoyable to attend the Egg Bowl in Starkville anymore, not that we ever liked going to a game at MSU but watching the games were so much fun in the 80’s and 90’s, no matter where the games were played.

Now, as an Ole Miss fan you are more likely to get in a fight defending your wife in Starkville rather than Baton Rouge.

The biggest difference in the Egg Bowl rivalry compared to the Iron Bowl rivalry and most other in-state rivalries is there is truly a lack of respect between the teams and it starts at the top. Dan Mullen’s antics when he began coaching at State were sophomoric and unprofessional which is fine and even could be seen as funny except the MSU fans take that as a license to take an even lower step.

In Alabama, the “smack” talk is tempered with the fact that either team can win the game, no matter the record. They respect each other’s talent and accomplishments and the game is more a shared event by the fans. The way things used to be here.

In Mississippi, the State fans and MSU-aligned media don’t even extend platitudes to Ole Miss. Even though Mullen has lost two of the last three games, Freeze is still referred to as a women’s high school basketball coach. NCAA sanctions are hoped and wished for by a fan base that can’t seem to beat Ole Miss in recruiting.

The absolute worst indication of where this rivalry is headed is last year’s anonymous threat to damaging the trees in the grove.

Last November, prior to the Egg Bowl in Oxford, the University Police department alerted the FBI to a hand written note that was signed, “Hail State/Go To Hell TSUN,” and threatened damage to the shrubs and trees on the Ole Miss campus.

According to University news reports the letter read: “What’s going to happen to ya’ll on the field Saturday ain’t nothing compared to what’s going to happen on your beautiful campus. You won’t be the most pretty campus next year. A lot of shrubs and trees are going to die; especially in the Grove.”

The childish threat ended with the sentence, “Can’t stop us.”

UPD Police chief Calvin Sellers reminded everyone of reality. “We encourage everyone to remember that this is a game, after all, not a time for hate. We are hopeful that passions have not escalated to the point that someone is prepared to damage a landmark for which all Mississippian’s take great pride.”

While Mullen and the MSU fans are busy fighting Ole Miss off the field, Hugh Freeze takes the right approach by having a professional attitude and wins the game on the field.

Let’s get this rivalry back to the point where we can look each other in the eye, shake hands like a man and respect our opponents, win or lose.