Tag Archives: olemiss

Mar 10, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy during the first half of the fourth game of the SEC tournament against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports


For Ole Miss basketball, the number 20 has been a charm.

Andy Kennedy became Ole Miss’ 20th basketball coach in 2006 in the middle of the “glory years” of Ole Miss basketball.  Rob Evans and Rod Barnes started the modern day Ole Miss basketball program and it didn’t happen until the late 1990’s.

Ole Miss basketball coaching records through the years are rather abysmal if you have never actually looked them up. If you haven’t researched Ole Miss basketball coaches records you will see a whole lot of losing records and a lot of barely break even records.  Rod Barnes (141 – 109) at 32 games to the positive over seven years and a 56% win record is the best we have ever had.

So even if Andy Kennedy ended his career at Ole Miss today you are looking at amazing success, relatively.  225 wins in 11 years, a SEC tournament win and a couple of NCAA tournament appearances would easily eclipse anything Ole Miss has had in the past.

But success begets success. The aged CM “Tad” Smith Coliseum was replaced with a massive 90 million dollar, dazzling facility.  Andy Kennedy has outlasted a fleet of amazing SEC coaches and is now the gray beard of the bunch.  Everything Ole Miss basketball fans and Ole Miss basketball coaches could have wished for is now here.

Andy Kennedy has to be asking himself, ‘What do I do now?’

The Ole Miss basketball program is at the edge of the known world. Ole Miss was in a small little box for so long.  It was understood that you can’t recruit at Ole Miss.  It was understood that we didn’t have a nice facility.  It was understood that we didn’t have a legacy of winning, and that was ok.

But now, Ole Miss basketball is all grown up and about to drive on the interstate for the first time with a learners permit.

Kennedy has the opportunity of a lifetime. There are fewer and fewer excuses available for losing games and more and more advantages to being at Ole Miss

What does the next step look like and how can we get there?

Coach Kennedy is poised to have a breakout season and there are some specific reasons why.


1) Oxford has the luxury of being close to Memphis and Jackson. While Jackson is not quite the deep pool of basketball talent it was in the 80’s and 90’s, there are still a few NBA players to speak of that Ole Miss could get on the court for a year or two.  The Memphis metro area is over 1.5 million people and is still a basketball recruiting hotspot.

While several schools fight over Memphis area talent, Ole Miss has an advantage over most of the other SEC schools in proximity, except Kentucky for the very elite players.

2) The Pavilion. I can’t explain how great this arena turned out.  Every coach or team that plays here is just amazed, and so are recruits and fans.  It’s not too big, seating is not too cramped, restrooms, concessions, all the little extras are just perfect.  Just a great facility.  The best in the nation right now.

We all know having a new building is nice and is a must, but a building does not recruit. Players don’t care about the building if you can’t win or you don’t have a good fan base or a good coach.  The Pavilion will however get some kids to visit that might not have considered Ole Miss in the past.

3) Coach Kennedy’s offense is a national championship offense.  Kennedy can run and gun with the best of them.  With the right players, Oxford could take over Las Vegas as the new home of the Running Rebels, and in college basketball you don’t need 10 great players, you only really need two or three to make some noise and build that excitement that fuels itself.

His offense has drawn some ire from fans because without very athletic players it is a rather mistake prone offense.

4) Ole Miss owns the state of Mississippi. For the first time in decades, Ole Miss is the premier basketball school in the state.  MSU has always had a little more success in the past and typically got a few more kids from Jackson.

With the loss of Coach Stansbury, MSU has been in a multi-year tailspin and has shown no signs of recovering soon. Andy Kennedy has won 6 of the last 7 games over the bulldogs.

Ben Howland is a great recruiter and he will get his share of players; but for the moment, Ole Miss has the upper hand and must take advantage where they can.


Of course, there are a lot of efforts working against Andy Kennedy and there is no guarantee Ole Miss can capitalize on the momentary advantages.

1) Ole Miss is not a basketball school.  I can’t imagine a scenario where Ole Miss fans will embrace basketball over football.  Football is king in the SEC and elite national basketball players are going to focus on East coast basketball schools and basketball friendly leagues.

This is a major problem for the SEC, and don’t forget about beating Kentucky. You basically have to be a final four team to win the SEC against Calipari.

2) Emergence of other SEC coaches. Avery Johnson at Alabama, Mike Anderson at Arkansas, Bruce Pearl at Auburn and Ben Howland at MSU are all emerging and could quickly eclipse Andy Kennedy’s opportunity.  Kennedy must find a way to stand out and lead the SEC West.

3) Recruiting. While Coach Kennedy has only recently had a basketball court he was willing to show a recruit he hasn’t recruited very well, or well enough.  He has lived off juco re-treads, second chance players and international transfers.

Coach Kennedy’s recruiting must take the next step if he expects on-the-court results to take another step. He has a good start on recruiting for 2017 but currently he only has 3 commits and is in the top 40 of recruiting rankings (247 rankings).

This is a great time to be a basketball fan at Ole Miss! The next couple of years will be exciting.  We have the best place to watch a game, the best coach we have ever had and next year will possibly be the most talented team Ole Miss has even put on a court.

As fans let’s turn out and do our part and push this program to the top!



Image by Chris Graythen - Getty Images

The Future of Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze

Ole Miss football is a labor of love for so many of its fans. Not many of us choose to be fans of Ole Miss it is more like an inheritance.  We love the school because we are all deeply invested in Ole Miss both financially and emotionally.

Article originally printed in Rebel Nation Magazine

This is not an uncommon situation in the SEC. This deep rooted love for your home state and school is what makes this conference the best in college football.  We all care a great deal about our college football and it matters to us.

So, I won’t tell you to calm the hell down and just enjoy a five win season. I won’t tell you to let Freeze and Ross Bjork do their jobs and stop freaking out on social media.  I won’t tell you this because you, as fans, are the program.

Without you, there is no program. Coaches will come and go, even big money boosters will come and go.  What lasts are the season ticket holders and the tailgaters.  The folks that show up on Thanksgiving, in the rain, in 35 degree weather.  You guys are the program.

So feel free to write letters and argue and fight with other fans and get it out of your system.

In this article, I will try to address (from my perspective) some of the biggest questions Ole Miss fans have after a disappointing 2016 season.

Why are you not mad as Hell, like me?!

I am not that concerned, not because I know how Freeze’s tenure will work out. I have some insight into the program but I can’t predict what the NCAA will do.  We have all seen they are unpredictable in their rulings and enforcement of their own rules.

I am not concerned because Ole Miss is greater than one coach or athletic director.

Hugh Freeze was hired at Ole Miss in 2012 and promised to lead Ole Miss out of the wilderness. A football coach with only one year of head coaching experience at the Division One level was able to take one of the lowest funded programs in the most difficult college football conference (at one of the lowest points in our history) and he did what he said he would do.

He turned Ole Miss around. He took a team with only 60 scholarship players in 2012 and went to a bowl.  He took this downtrodden program that was decimated by Houston Nutt to the point of collapse and won the Sugar Bowl in just three years.  Something that hasn’t happened around Oxford in 50 years.

Perhaps winning 10 games a year so quickly is not sustainable. Coach Freeze may have outkicked his coverage and that’s ok.  He deserves a down year or even two.

But what has everyone most upset is that 2016 doesn’t feel like a down year. It feels like the end of a cycle.  It doesn’t even feel like we have hit bottom yet.  It’s easy to imagine that 2017 will be even worse with the loss of Chad Kelly and other key contributing seniors.

So I will be fine and will support the Rebs no matter what happens going forward.

What kind of coach do we need after Freeze?

If you are interested in looking for a new coach you have to think about who can be successful at a school like Ole Miss. This is a small school, with a small stadium and little national success.  It will always be a struggle to recruit at Ole Miss against the Alabama and LSU type programs.  You better find a coach that can take less talented kids and beat those top programs.

You need a innovative, exciting, high scoring offense in order to outscore the minor league NFL teams you will play every week. You also need a marketing genius and a motivator that can somehow focus teenagers and keep them out of trouble and in class every day.

The guy that would fit all these criteria is hard to find. Ole Miss has been looking for that coach since 1973 when Johnny Vaught walked off the field for the last time.  The closest thing we have found so far is Hugh Freeze.  He has proven he can win at a high level at Ole Miss.

Can Hugh Freeze survive 2016?

I think that answer will largely be answered by you, the fans with a little input from the NCAA. The NCAA is going on 5 years of looking at the books in Oxford and they have found a few violations like they would anywhere over 5 years.  Over the period in question that basically spans three coaching staffs and two athletic directors, the NCAA found 13 violations against the football program which amounted to monetary benefits of $15,608 total over eight years.

No matter your opinion on NCAA rules violations, $15,608 over 8 years is hilariously minor compared to violations with Albert Means at Alabama, Reggie Bush at USC or Cam Newton at Auburn. But just because Ole Miss didn’t commit egregious rules violations doesn’t mean the NCAA won’t penalize Ole Miss egregiously.  We just won’t know until the NCAA committee meets, makes a ruling and they go through the appeals process (Ole Miss most likely will and should appeal this ridiculous 5 year investigation).

If you as a fan can’t stomach any NCAA bad news then maybe Freeze should go and maybe we should prepare ourselves to be the Vanderbilt of the West. That’s just the reality of college football.

I believe Hugh Freeze can survive and win at Ole Miss going forward. Over the last 4 years comparing the other programs in the SEC west, Ole Miss has averaged 8 total wins and 4 SEC wins per year.  Good enough for 4th in the SEC over that period.  While that is not great it is better than Bielema and Mullen and very close statistically to the top of the SEC.



Hugh Freeze is competing and holding his own, even with a down year.

Everyone wants their team to be successful losing games is very frustrating, but it’s important to have a little perspective on how Hugh Freeze stacks up against the rest of the league’s coaches, some of which have a lot more resources than Ole Miss.

I don’t know what the future holds but I know that Hugh Freeze is very capable of leading this team. And if it doesn’t work out for Freeze, the current SEC salaries are really nice and will attract a long line of qualified coaches putting Ole Miss in a better position for success than any time in the past.

So, let’s all pull the rope together, because it’s up to us, the fans, if this program sinks or swims.

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.


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.


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!


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.

super sec graphic 2

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.

Photos via Ole Miss Media Relations

Band of Brothers: Ole Miss’ Family Legacy

Mississippi is a State of small towns and close knit communities. Family, for most of us is the most important thing in our lives. Where we go to college or play college sports is also largely based on family ties. We tend to follow our parents or older siblings up to Oxford; because Ole Miss is also a large part of our family.

(This article originally printed in RebelNationMagazine)

We are blessed to have followed and cheered for some outstanding football families at Ole Miss which make up our own “Band of Brothers,” and if you are lucky enough to have played beside your brother at any level you know how special of an occurance it is for those families.

Today we have the Nkemdiche brothers and the Moore twins on the team but we have enjoyed watching standout brothers play together at Ole Miss for at least 80 years.

One of the most famous lines of siblings to ever play at Ole Miss was one of the first. The Poole brothers of Amite County, Mississippi. Buster Poole only began playing football his senior year in high school when he transferred to Natchez High School in the mid-1930’s.

Buster’s obvious natural talents were quickly recognized and he was introduced to the game of football. He soon began teaching his brother’s in the back yard and thus began a family legacy that has so far resulted in over 50 athletic letters to family members of the Poole’s with the most recent member in 2004’s Rob Robertson.

Don’t forget about one of Ole Miss’ first All-American’s with Bruiser Kinard (35-37) and his brothers Henry and George; the great running back Merle Hapes (39-41) and his brothers Clarence and Ray, who can be found still in the record books for punt and kick returns. The Mannings, I don’t have to say any more than that.

I could fill this entire magazine with stories about Ole Miss athletic families but I had the chance to talk to three guys in particular that shared some insight into their time at Ole Miss with their brothers.

Belton Johnson hails from the very small town of Coffeeville MS and arrived at Ole Miss as a walk-on in Tuberville’s last year. After some hard work and a coaching change he was rewarded with a scholarship and in 2002 his brother Marcus was able to join him on the field.

belton marcus johnson

Belton and Marcus not only played together they played right beside each other and that brotherly connection helped make both of them better players that resulted in two pro careers.

“It’s one thing thing to be on the same team as your brother but how many people can say they played side by side with their sibling? My brother and I can. Marcus and I are so close to each other to this day, even though he’s coaching the offensive line at Duke and I’m living in Regina, SK, Canada. We Face-Time at least 2-3 times a week and text on a daily basis. Even before he got to Oxford, Marcus would always encourage me to never give up and I would always push him to be great. Marcus and I truly had and still have a unique bond. My mom (Glenda Smith) was so happy to have both her boys playing so close to home as it was only a 30 minute drive from Coffeeville to Oxford. Little did my mom know, we were happy to be close to home too, as mom would often feed the offensive line either at our place in Oxford or home in Coffeeville. LOL!!! Big grocery bills!”

John Fourcade was a read-option QB before there was such a thing and is still one of the top five Rebels in touchdowns in his career with 22. The Gretna Louisiana native was at Ole Miss from 1978 to 1981 along with his linebacker brother Keith (79-82).

To John, having his brother at Ole Miss was very important factor during his recruiting.

“When I was being recruited, for me to go to Ole Miss, my brother would have to get a scholarship. We played together in high school and I wanted him to get a big time scholarship. Having him on the team with me and as my roommate for a year was special, so our family could see us both play together.


Keith made a name for himself up at Ole Miss; he was the leader in tackles one season. Being able to have your brother play with me for three years, made it easier for me to play. I knew on offense I would be the leader and on defense he would lead.

It was just a dream come true to watch him on defense and for him to watch me do my thing on offense.”

It is hard to find a family outside of the Manning’s that contribute more to the Oxford area than previous Oxford Mayoral candidate Todd Wade and his brother Justin.

Todd Wade, Romaro Miller, Belton Johnson and Justin Wade

Todd Wade, Romaro Miller, Belton Johnson and Justin Wade

The Wade’s played high school ball at Jackson Prep. Todd was an All-American offensive lineman from 1996 to 1999 and Justin was a linebacker from (00 to 03). Justin lets us in on some special moments of playing with Todd.

“Having a brother who had already played (for a while) on the collegiate level gave me great insight on what to expect when I arrived from the get-go. Just seeing how hard Todd worked at his craft was a great learning experience even when I was still in high school because he would workout consistently even when he was in Jackson for the holidays.

I really tried to duplicate what he did, but pretty quickly in two-a-days it was apparent I would be redshirting. He told me to work hard that first year but enjoy yourself. It didn’t take him long to come back to me and say, ‘Whooo! I didn’t mean for you to have that much fun!’

We went against each other a few times in practice but I was low on the totem pole. There is an unwritten rule that a younger brother should find his own way a bit and not get shielded by his brother.

You have to ultimately stand on your own and earn the respect of your teammates. The seniors that year (Todd included) planned a big hazing ritual which they had to endure as freshman by running down sorority row in only our jock straps! We were a little freaked out, this was not like (standing up and singing) karaoke, this was sorority row in my underwear! There was no doubt I was going to do it. I would never back down, but luckily Coach Cutcliffe caught wind of it and put an end to the idea. That was the best news I had ever heard!

Having the opportunity to play with and share those times with your brother was an incredible experience and I will always appreciate what I gained from it.”