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EGGBOWL 2015: Tailgating at Starkville – A Primer for Ole Miss Fans

So you want to see Ole Miss play in Starkville this year do ya?  Are you sure?  Is it really that important?

Fine.  I won’t stop you, but here are five things you need to know before you make the trek to the “Town that fun forgot.”

fresh as hail

1.  Bring your own food and drinks

SEC football tailgates are nationally known for having ridiculous spreads of food, drink and hospitality.  Mississippi State does not fit in that mold.  Here you will find mostly spreads of hoop cheese and crackers (made on campus) and at a really fancy tent you might find stuffed deer meat or subway catering.

I would recommend you bring your own food and nice bottle of liquor or wine.  Otherwise you will be stuck drinking cheap lite beer if you are lucky enough to find a bulldog willing to share.

milk cow msu

2.  Don’t dress up too much

One thing I can say about MSU fans, is they are not pretentious.  Comfort over fashion is the rule here and this late in the year with possible freezing temps and precipitation, expect to see more camouflage hunting gear than team colors.

If you wear slacks and or a sports jacket or a scarf you will be a dead give away that you are not “from around here.”  You might as well wear a #10 Chad Kelly jersey with a target on the back of your head.

bitch im a dawg

3.  Bring ear plugs

Mississippi State has worked hard over the last 10-15 years to upgrade their gameday experience.  Ole Miss fans may find their pre-game festivities very familiar.  That is because they have actually carbon copied the Ole Miss pre-game.

They built a miniature version of The Grove and called it the Junction.  They have the players walk through a crowd of fans just like the Walk of Champions (They call it the Bulldog Walk).  They even have a fairly new cheer called Maroon and White that ends with a hint of profanity, just like our own Hotty Toddy cheer.

But the one thing State has that no one would envy is the fan’s tradition of ringing cow bells.  How this got started or why it is continued is a head shaking wonder.

Just understand it is annoying , so be prepared.

cowbell girl

4.  Have a few deer hunting stories

Don’t be afraid to interact with the natives.  If you are dressed comfortably or maybe you have a few friends that are MSU fans, feel free to have a seat with the dogs and enjoy the day.

Make them feel comfortable by talking about deer hunting or what you planted in the winter garden.  Even if you don’t do either of those things, you will be more easily accepted.

Talking about business or stock options is another dead give away you are a Ole Miss fan.

stingray bull

5.  Get out of town as fast as possible after you win (or lose) in Starkville.

The MSU fan base is very unpredictable.  They are as likely to bail before halftime as they are willing to stand in the middle of the street after the game and swat at people with their cowbell like a country boy battle sword.

No matter the outcome, my best advice is to just have your things gathered up and ready to bolt to the car right after the game.

You can enjoy gloating from a distance for the next 365 days until the next Battle of the Golden Egg.

msu mad

 

 

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.

Photo via Sports Illustrated

Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen Should Never Leave Mississippi

Mississippi football has played second fiddle (or maybe last fiddle) in the SEC since Johnny Vaught hung up his whistle over 40 years ago.  Coach Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings made sure Alabama football was the king in SEC play in the 80s and 90s, and more recently; Nick Saban and Les Miles have kept the under-dogs at bay.

Reports hint that all this may soon change and Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen could be in a prime position to take over the void left by such legendary head coaches.

After starting the season on a red-hot 7-0 start the wheels have fallen off the Leonard Fornette train and fans have had enough of the one-dimensional offense in Baton Rouge.

Nick Saban, long considered the best “hired gun” in college football is again being courted by Texas and the NFL.

The two young coaches in Mississippi are primed to take a leap forward should Saban and Miles move on from their current seats.

As dominate as the LSU and Alabama programs have been through the years, they are not guaranteed success.  You still have to have the right coach to win even at the school that Forrest Gump built.

Ask Mike Shula or Dennis Franchione about how easy it is to win in Tuscaloosa.  Gerry Dinardo and Curly Hallman had equal struggles with the recruiting juggernaut that is LSU.

The odds of replacing the win totals of Saban and Miles would be quite a gamble for their respective athletic directors.

Freeze and Mullen suddenly have options to consider beyond taking the next step to a bigger football program.

They could possibly stay in Mississippi and become the next big football programs if Bama and LSU struggle for a few years finding the man to replace the man.

Ole Miss and State are recruiting better than ever before and if Freeze and Mullen are some of the better known coaching names in the SEC west in the future, look for that to improve even more.

The difference between winning 10-11 games every year as opposed to winning 8-9 games every year is handling LSU and Alabama.

I hope Freeze and Mullen realize they have a chance to fulfill any goal they could ever want right here in the state of Mississippi.

Photo via @OleMissPix

Ole Miss vs MSU: Why The Egg Bowl Matters

Mississippi State will visit Ole Miss for the 111th game between the two schools this Saturday in Oxford, MS.  It will be the 87th battle for the Golden Egg.  This is the 10th longest series played in college football but it doesn’t take a back seat to any other game in the country as far as fan interest and emotion on the field.

(Read original article at OleHottyToddy.com)

Ole Miss leads overall 61-43-6 since the first game in 1901 and Ole Miss’ record with the Egg Bowl stands at 56-26-5.  MSU has won 4 of the last 5 games and 6 of the last 10.

2014 will be a high water mark for the series as this is only the third time in history that both teams have been ranked entering the game and the first time since 1999.  Too often this game has served as the Mississippi Bowl game because normally neither team is eligible for a bowl no matter the outcome.

The trophy of a football that resembles a large golden egg was offered in 1927 to give the crowds a focus on the victor’s spoils rather than taking hair out of the opposing fans in the stands, which was the case in the early days of the series.

This game has perhaps the biggest national implications in the series history with Mississippi State clinging on to the last playoff spot in the poll last week and a big win over Ole Miss could ensure they have a chance to play for a national championship.

An Ole Miss win will knock 10-1 MSU out of the playoff slot and give Ole Miss the off season momentum in recruiting and a more positive outlook for 2015.

In a season that started out so promising with Ole Miss at 7-0, they have lost 3 of the last 4 games and are playing for a nice bowl game and the future.

Both teams have been media darlings at difference times during the year and it is obvious that Ole Miss and MSU can win big and they are no longer the little sisters of the poor in the SEC.  As Robert Nkemdiche describes it, they are now the “big brothers” in the SEC and both teams will leave this Egg Bowl with big plans and expectations going forward.

In so many ways our schools have changed since the early 1900’s but this rivalry has NOT changed much.  One of the best depictions of the fan’s view was accurately captured in 1901 by the student papers.  MSU’s The College Reflector stated, “The University boys, played the dirtiest game of ball that we have seen.  They would do anything to put our men out so long as the referee was not looking.

The University of Mississippi Magazine said, “To one who has never indulged in any exercise more violent that the milking of a patient cow, football seems a brutal sport.  Our bucolic friend of the Agricultural College should confine himself to mumble-peg and townball.”

There you have it.  The beginning of a rivalry that set the bar pretty high for smack talk and the narratives found in 1901 are still being used and bantered back and forth even today, 111 years later.

To me, there is something comforting about that.  It is comforting to know that some things do not change and their is a familiarity that comes along with the opportunity to cheer for your team as they fight for the Golden Egg.

I hope you as fans of the Red and Blue or the Maroon and White realize that it is a sacred right to cheer on your team and you realize your role in portraying your fan base in a positive light.

The best part about the rivalry is that is will not end Saturday night.  The minute the winning team leaves the field, the clock starts again on the next game and the 2014 result, no matter how decisive or minute, will be in the past.

Many storied rivals have gone their separate ways, some great series in the 50’s and 60’s are no longer played because of one reason or another, but we still have our game and our teams.  Ole Miss and MSU bolster each other and we sharpen our blades on each other which makes each other stronger and sharper for the next season.  Let’s all do our part to ensure this rivalry never ends, never sours but boils with ridiculous, self-righteous, frivolity that can only be found in a college football game.

Draw your line and cheer for your team but don’t forget we need each other and would not be as strong without our rival!