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Ole Miss' Jake Gibbs vs LSU 1960 Sugar Bowl

OM vs LSU Football 2016: Ole Miss’ True Rival

Today’s college football fans are certainly spoiled. There are usually more bowl games than eligible teams, there are more televised games than you could possibly watch and every game is a “rivalry” game.

Article originally printed in Rebel Nation Magazine

In the SEC, teams have played each other long enough to develop endless story lines through the years and you have more than enough reason to drum up vitriol at your pre-game tailgate, no matter the opponent.

For Ole Miss fans recently, MSU has arrived at the Egg Bowl with something to play for besides a Belk or Weedeater bowl birth. Even though they haven’t been very successful against Hugh Freeze, the Egg Bowl means so much more than it ever has in the past, and has taken this rivalry to a new level (or a new low depending on your viewpoint).

Last year, both Ole Miss and State were playing for a Sugar Bowl birth which wasn’t been an option for MSU since WWII.

So, indeed, these are some heady days in Mississippi sports history. However, if you had to pick one team in the SEC to be your biggest clash of the year, I offer the idea that it should be the Louisiana State College to the South West over our little brothers to the South East.

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The recently coined, Magnolia Bowl, has only been in play since 2008 and has been held by the teams 4 years each, but there is a much longer and glorious history between these two teams that should sway your opinion closer to mine.

There are many things; both on and off the field, that sets the Ole Miss – LSU rivalry apart from other teams Ole Miss plays each year.

Ole Miss fans typically see LSU as the polar opposite of themselves. LSU is seen sometimes as the antithesis of the University of Mississippi.

But if you really pay attention, these two teams are closer than either fan base wants to admit.

Both Ole Miss and LSU are flagship schools in their state, holding both the medical and law schools for their respective states and as much as we hate to admit it, LSU is also a well-respected academic institution.

Both fan bases set the world wide standard for tailgating and support for their college football program. After a trip to a game at LSU, you will have a hard time denying that LSU fans love to cook and watching football, and it is questionable which is the greater love.

The opposing fans reap the benefits as you can sample some of the best southern and Cajun cooking anywhere in the state of Louisiana, right outside the gates of Tiger stadium. While it may be less formal, you will have to admit, a LSU pre-game cookout reminds you a lot of the Grove.

Historically, both teams shared a reciprocal “Go To Hell OleMiss/LSU” cheer just for each other that still continues today, no matter if the team is actually playing each other or not. They both shared the ‘Ole’ moniker for a while.  In the thirty’s LSU was nicknamed “Ole Lou” as a counterpart to “Ole Miss.”

And both teams thoroughly embraced the traditions and heritage of an old southern University.

Ole Miss was LSU’s first feature SEC opponent not named Tulane as the teams faced off in Baton Rouge in 1894. LSU was slightly late to the college football party as Ole Miss played a full 8 game season in 1894 with Alabama, Vanderbilt and Tulane on their docket before beating LSU 26-6.

LSU and Tulane became the hot ticket in South Louisiana for the next forty years. Oxford was stuck as a rural outpost that could not get top players or top opponents to visit Oxford.  The rail service in those days was spotty and rail lines un-reliable.  So it took a highway system and an ambitious young football coach from Texas to turn Ole Miss’ fortunes around.

Tulane and MS State’s programs began to fall away in the late 40’s which put the spotlight firmly on the Ole Miss – LSU series each year and for a period of time, this rivalry was as great as any College football has even known.

Because of the remote nature of Oxford, Ole Miss typically played LSU in Baton Rouge or Jackson, MS which made the series even harder for Ole Miss but Coach Johnny Vaught embraced the series.

Vaught said, “I liked to play ‘em (in Baton Rouge) because they were a great football team. We always got half the gate receipts from the games in Baton Rouge.  We’d make a lot of money, and we knew we could whip ‘em.  I always felt they had a lot of coaching changes (four during Vaught’s tenure) and they never did establish a great defense.” (Quote from Ron Higgins article in Times-Picayune 10/21/14).

Ole Miss beat LSU in Baton Rouge 6 straight games from 1952 to 1957 and it began to worry LSU fans and the administration. Finally, new LSU coach Paul Dietzel got wise and began to emulate the great Johnny Vaught.

“Ole Miss is responsible for the success we had. Dietzel said. “In that ’56 game, it was hot as the dickens in Tiger Stadium, and they played us with three teams while we were only good enough to play our starters.  By halftime, we were dead on our feet, so wore out you could squeegee us off the deck.  Ole Miss was fresh.”

By 1958, Coach Dietzel had followed Vaught’s recruiting plan by hiring the SEC’s second full time recruiter, after Ole Miss’ Tom Swayze, and was also using Ole Miss’ training and conditioning schedule, which included 20 full-pad 50-yard sprints at the end of every practice.

Dietzel ran this team for 21 sprints after every practice. Dietzel proclaimed his third team the Chinese Bandits after a popular comic book character at the time and LSU took off, finally beating Ole Miss for the first time under Dietzel in 1958 14-0, making the LSU-Ole Miss series a heavy weight knock out fight every year.

From 1958 to 1962, the SEC title was on the line every time Ole Miss and LSU faced each other. Ole Miss was undefeated in 4 of those 5 years and LSU was undefeated twice.  Only once in this period did a team have more than one loss (1960 LSU).

Four national championships were awarded during this five year stretch with LSU in 1958 and Ole Miss in 1959, 1960 and 1962.

Archie Manning helped continue the series through the late 60’s with two great come from behind games and contributed to the high rankings of both teams for the fall classic in Baton Rouge or Jackson.

From 1958 to 1973, 10 of those games featured at least one team ranked in the top 10 and conference titles were always within reach.

There has not been a greater series before or since in College Football with higher stakes on the line.

The Ole Miss – LSU rivalry lost a little of its luster during the 1980’s and 1990’s but the addition of the Magnolia Bowl trophy has rekindled the fervor between the teams to a championship level.

magnolia-bowl

With both teams back in the hunt for SEC and national titles, Ole Miss’ fans should consider LSU as your biggest rival.

If you need further proof, LSU stormed the field in Tiger Stadium after unsetting Ole Miss 10-7 in 2014.

If that is not a rivalry, I don’t know what one is!

 

Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly photo via Palm Beach Post

Ole Miss Must Learn To Control The Moment

In a clash of ranked un-defeated teams in Gainesville last night, Ole Miss found out just how hard it is to be the top dog in the SEC.

The upstart Gators who just entered the top 25 rankings over the last week made the most of their chance to knock off #3 Ole Miss and did so in convincing fashion 38 to 10.

The score, as lop-sided as it looks, was not really indicative of how the game played out.  Florida looked even better than the 28 point advantage.

Every facet of the game was controlled by Florida except first downs.  The most important stat, turnovers, was led by Ole Miss with four.

It’s obvious that as good as Ole Miss has been over the last year or two they are still not ready to full fill their ultimate goal of winning championships.

Florida is a good team but it is unlikely they will win their division, which is the weaker side of the SEC.

The biggest opponent Ole Miss faced yesterday was themselves and controlling the big pressure moment.

It’s easier to get fired up as a underdog.  You feel disrespected, you want to prove yourself, you want the higher ranking that your opponent holds.

As the favorite, you have a target squarely on your back.  You feel the pressure to perform and if anything goes wrong, doubt and uncertainly starts to creep into your psyche.

The execution that came so effortless against Alabama when Ole Miss was the underdog seems impossible when the roles are reversed and you are the hunted in a hostile crowd.

Ole Miss will have a couple of non-conference games coming up against New Mexico and Memphis and should be 6-1 as they prepare for Texas A&M in Oxford on October 24th.

No one expected Ole Miss to be undefeated at this point in the season anyway and one loss to a East division SEC team does not prevent you from reaching any of your goals as a team.

The challenge going forward remains the same for this Ole Miss team.  Can you execute when your back is against the wall, when everything is going against you.

In order for Ole Miss to “exercise the demons” of last years collapse, they must rebound mentally over the next couple of weeks and do their job when they have the chance.

They will have another chance.

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END OF AN ERA: Can Beat Writers Survive Social Media?

If the pen is mightier than the sword, the ultimate weapon must be a message board.

Nowhere else can you so quickly and effectively shape public opinion in the world of sports. If I could capitalize on free, worthless information, I would be posting this from my Destin beach house!

Let’s just face it, newspapers are the worst. Right? If you are a sports fan (of any team) you have likely convinced yourself that your local newspaper is owned by your rival.

(This article originally ran in RebelNationMagazine.com)

It’s one of the only things that Ole Miss fans have in common with all other fans. We all think the newspaper hates our team. It’s a clue to the fact that all fans are the same, fanatical to a fault and incapable of objectivity.

If you are a real, “degreed” journalist you likely scoff at the idea that the public would dare question your integrity and professional ethics.

Today, large newspapers are filled with ambitious 25 year olds that have likely never visited your college campus prior to being hired by your local paper. The idea that there is some sort of given bias for or against your school is really just a fantasy in your mind.

Your beat writer doesn’t hate your school. He is just being honest and that does not align with our base sensibilities.

Reality is a bitter pill and truth is no one’s friend. While those sayings are constant and 100% true; being brutally honest doesn’t really sell papers anymore.

Since the advent of free websites and keyboards, people have more options to read than fish-wrap to read every morning.

When I became a sports fan in the late 80’s there was virtually zero information during the summer about my favorite team. Recruiting was followed by the coaches that recruited. I assume beat writers prior to the 90’s had the same schedule as school teachers and great golf scores.

I longed for the Athlon’s and Lindy’s preseason magazines and would read them over and over during the summer until I basically had them memorized.

The information coming from a college town during the summer was slower than Billy Brewer’s drawl. The less information that got out during “arrest” season, the better for the coaches and the writers back then made sure to protect those relationships.

Now, stories are broken by college kids with a twitter account that saw the cops arrest the athlete in their dorm, complete with video of the arrest and extended commentary afterward. You no longer have to wait for the SID’s press conference 10 days later regarding “internal punishment” and all details have been expunged from the record.

Recruiting “gurus” have further turned the profession on its ear. Recruiting “news” is the exact opposite of what vetted news was like 20 years ago. The fewer details and the more exaggerated the claim the better actually.  At some point; the more the sites unfairly hyped players, the more money the “gurus” made.

I don’t know when the tipping point was reached but 2015 is clearly beyond the control of the beat writer. At the Clarion-Ledger, both MSU and Ole Miss beat writers have been roundly excommunicated by their fan bases for essentially reporting the news.  (Riley Blevins and Mike Bonner many times)

I know every Ole Miss fan thought Rick Cleveland was secretly a fan of MSU or USM back in the day but oh how we long for a Rick Cleveland today. We will never have that familiarity from a beat writer or editorial staff again.

On one hand, we have never had a time when the beat writers were more honest and un-biased towards our respective schools but at the same time; subscriptions have never been lower.

I am not blaming the current newspaper staff.  Nor am I saying they could even do anything to change their fate. This is just where technology is taking us today.

People want to get mass quantities of information and ideally with a tinge of propaganda, and if they can’t get that they will at least settle for negative news about their rival. The money spent on website subscriptions justify this form of journalism. It’s what the market demands. It’s what the people want.

Fox Sports Regional websites have seen heavy editorial layoffs. ESPN is slashing budgets in half or even deeper, Gannett has been liquidating their most top heavy talent from USA Today and replicating that process down to even the smallest market of Jackson, MS.

If you are looking for the worst examples of what passes for “journalism” today look no farther than fan sites such as Maroon and White Nation or Elite Dawgs. In the world of sports writing it is the Highlights-for-Kids equivalent. I have a hard time even saying they are MSU based outlets because they have as much Ole Miss related content as MSU.

But this is what fans like. M&W Nation was the #1 read Fansided blog last fall. This type of ridiculous, fan-centric, click baiting is what most fans read.  Apparently.

The big generic corporations can’t or either refuse to adapt to the blog site format. The audience is too fractured, there are too many outlets and fans certainly don’t care about the opinions of talking heads from New York or DC. There is no money to be made from twitter users.  Why would they pay a subscription fee when they get their high fives and chuckles for free on a blog site or a message board?

So what is the future?  Where is this going?

In the past we had very few media sources. Now we have too many choices.  Perhaps the future is the laziest option possible; being force fed information without paying or even searching for it.

The “Team Stream” concept from Bleacher Report or ESPN which aggregates news and social media and sends it to your phone at a moment’s notice as twitter and game scores break. Of course it uses mainly computer algorithms and very few flesh and blood experienced writers to put out an enormous amount of content daily.

It is likely this type of zero-effort social media content will also spell the end of the micro-market subscription sports services and message boards as well.

I guess you live by the sword and you die by the sword, but I won’t cry when M&W or Elite Dawgs dies.

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Guidelines of Tweeting Recruits….

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It’s finally here!! The eve of National Signing Day for college football  recruits. Many of you have waited for this day ever since the regular season was over. Many of you have seen, talked, tweeted about your opinions  on creeps/creepers out there when it comes to tweeting at/to recruits so I figured we would give you some guidelines of what you should and shouldn’t do when tweeting recruits.

But let us first remember these kids get on social media for the attention and they love it. If they didn’t want the attention they wouldn’t be on social media asking “show me some love” at a particular school/fan base. Not to mention the negative stuff they see I would assume they just look over and keep on going.  Even though these are kids, they aren’t dumb or naive enough to have social media sway their future life changing decision.

Dont’s:

  1. Promises to get him laid.                                                                                             -Why do you think it’s a great idea to promise or tell a recruit that you can get him laid? The truth is you probably can’t get laid yourself, so just don’t.
  2. Show your assets!                                                                                                           -Ladies no need to show your tits or cleavage to a recruit via tweet.
  3. Negative shots at a recruit.                                                                                       -If they don’t pick your school, why do you feel the need to tweet negative comments to them?
  4. Negativity tweets about Rival Schools                                                             -If a recruit is looking at your rival school and NOT your school at all don’t be that guy that tracks them and sends them delusions of grandeur lies/rumors about said rival school. You look like an even bigger toolbag than normal.
  5. Try to be their best friends.                                                                                        -You don’t care about this kid so don’t pretend you have his best interest in mind.
  6. Using Faith or Religion.                                                                                               -Now there is NOTHING wrong with you professing your faith if you you’re going to live it but if you use it in some attempt to use it as a recruiting tool, you’ve got bigger issues in life that you need to address… and PLEASE don’t give me I’m being a hypocrite while you profess you’re a christian in your bio all the while you’re tearing down a recruit, constantly cussing/slandering your so called “rival” twitter handles.

Acceptable things to do:

  1. Tweet AT them.                                                                                                              -Its okay to tweet at them. Meaning “Would love to have “Recruit Name” stop by campus for a visit.
  2. Congratulate them on their accomplishments
  3. Congratulate them on their signing decision                                                 -Once they have committed somewhere congratulate them and move on. There is no point for you to belittle a kid for not choosing your school or your rival school as mentioned above. MOVE ON!!!

Don’t give me an “It’s wrong” or it’s a “NCAA violation” crap. Bottom line with NCAA, they can’t govern their own selves much less try to monitor every single piece of social media out there.  Social Media and Recruits are here to stay. As hard as it is for me to say, like it, deal with it or ignore all together. But don’t sit there and say you’ll ignore it and troll the people who do it.  So take note people and start doing right!

#TheNetwork

Arkansas v LSU

Les Miles’ Last Big Win In Tiger Stadium?

As Bo Wallace’s last angry, desperate heave into the endzone fell into the arms of LSU safety Ronald Martin’s arms, LSU Coach Les Miles calmly looked skyward with a last acknowledgement to his mother Martha who passed away friday night just before the biggest game of the year so far in the SEC West.

This wild, instant classic 10-7 win, in front of the largest crowd in LSU history looks to be his commencement.  A nostalgic flashback of the way life was in college football before the spread offenses and no huddle teams and coaches entered the SEC.

Les Miles has notched 102 wins as the LSU head coach and only losing 26 games since 2005.  Early on, he was bolstered from the recruiting prowess of Nick Saban who left LSU in great shape for the next man and Miles kept LSU playing at the high level Saban had built in the program.

LSU was always a top program but they haven’t won a national championship in 45 years before Nick Saban came to town and won it all in 2003.  It’s always hard to be the man to follow “the man,” but Miles kept winning and won his own national title in 2007.

LSU vs. Ole Miss 11/17/12

It hasn’t been easy to satisfy a rabid fanbase like LSU’s but Miles has kept one step ahead of the firing squad.  He followed up his 2007 national title with a eight win season in 2008 but won nine the next year, 11 in 2010 and was back in the national title game in 2011.

The last two years he has had double digit wins but in 2014 he is sitting at 7-2 and 3-2 in the SEC and Alabama still looming on the schedule.  His only two losses, and they were big losses, were to the read option offenses of Mississippi State and Auburn.

The emotion displayed by his players on Saturday in response to his mothers passing allowed him one last reprive on his own programs demise which has been caused because of his recruiting prowess.

Les Miles has recruited too well.  So well in fact that the last two years he lost 18 juniors to the NFL draft, add to that 57 seniors that moved on and this team’s roster has been decimated.

The 2014 roster has 14 seniors total, they are starting a true freshman at running back, wide receiver and a sophomore at QB.  Granted they are all still very talented but this is a team game and the entire team of LSU is a shadow of what they once were.

In the two losses to MSU and Auburn, Miles’ Tigers looked lost and confused.  The defensive line was porus, giving up over 500 yards total offense in each game, and an average of over 300 of those were rushing yards in each game.

The writing is on the wall for Les Miles but never count “The Hat” out.  The coach known for making incredible ridiculous calls that go his way (for the most part) was the calm and calculated one saturday night.

Last friday night, Coach Miles was actually at the hospital with his son Ben who had broken his ankle during his high school game when he got the call that his mother Martha had passed away at the age of 91.

jennings lsu sportingnews

Faced with the mortal realities of life and death, it is easy to put football in its proper perspective, even when facing the no. 3 team in the nation and hosting ESPN’s College Gameday.

Miles was quoted, “I spent time today thinking about the way that I need to tell them that when they see me on the sideline, it has not to do with who’s passed and what’s going on,” Miles said. “It has only to do that I’m looking for every opportunity and advantage for us to win, and they need to see me as an aggressive man.”

A focused young LSU defense held Ole Miss to 313 yards and only 7 points, a team that normally averages nearly 450 yards and they cut the potent Ole Miss passing attack in half, only allowing 176 yards the one early score.

Tight end Logan Stokes added, “We played for him tonight. We absolutely played for him.  For a guy that cares about us like that — I mean, your mother just passed away. I know if my mother passed away, I know how I would be feeling, so I can only imagine how he feels. But for us to go out there and get that win for him tonight, there’s no greater feeling. Yeah, I scored the game-winning touchdown. That’s a great feeling. But the fact that we won for Coach Les Miles is unreal.”

The team won for Les Miles.  They played beyond their abilities and maturity, for one game, for their leader, in what may be the last major win for Les Miles as a dying breed of SEC coaches.