Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Not-so Familial

The Colonel knew it was coming.

He could see it as clearly as a squirrel sees the car it tries to head fake.

And, like the squirrel, no matter what he did, he couldn't stop the impending smash.

Poor squirrel -- insults are heaped on injury.  Once mashed into the macadam, car after car runs over it.

Of course, the Colonel is talking about Ole Miss Football.  It's October, isn't it?

The Colonel saw it coming.  The inevitable loss against someone with whom the Colonel's Rebels should have mopped the floor.

The Colonel saw it coming.  The snide remarks from Little Brother -- Mississippi State fans in general, and his "not-so" little brother in particular.

The Colonel tried to forestall the latter with the preseason offer of a truce until the Egg Bowl.  But, the hate is strong in TSBU (the school beneath us) for Mississippi's Flagship University.   

Yeah, the Bulldogs are really good this year.  The Colonel will go so far as to say, great this year. 

The Colonel is proud of Little Brother -- despite State's hate.  There hasn't been a Mississippi team ranked #1 in college football in a very long time.  Wish it was Ole Miss, again.  But, it's a new century and it's the Bulldogs' turn. 

After eight weeks of daily cheering for his Rebel's, the Colonel was quiet to begin this week.  "Not-so" took to social media to not-so subtly imply that the Colonel's silence was sulking over the weekend loss to Corndog U. 

Not so.  The Colonel doesn't sulk.

He stews.  He ruminates.  He reflects.  He retreats into jaw-tightened, self-disciplined silence.  But, that's not sulking... 

Pardon the Colonel for a moment while he indulges in a flash non-sulk...


Okay.  The Colonel will clean up that broken coffee cup and wipe the coffee off the wall, after he finishes this post. 

This weekend, the Colonel's Rebels play his dad's Auburn Tigers.

Out of great paternal respect, and in a continuing effort to promote and maintain familial comity, the Colonel did not plaster social media this week with his customary calls for Rebel opponent beat-downs. 

But, Dad, your second son -- herein before and after referred to as Not-so -- and wife, have egregiously violated the terms of the 2014 Family Football Truce.  

That's right, the Colonel's mother "ran over the squirrel" -- liking Not-so's Facebook comment implying that the Colonel was sulking...

Pardon the Colonel for another flash non-sulk...


The Colonel is running out of coffee cups, and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is going to be curious about that particular stain on the drapes...

Dad, the Colonel holds you responsible.  The truce is hereby annulled.   

Go Rebs!  Beat Auburn!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Rebel Hyperventilation Nation

Last he pontificated on the subject, the Colonel was basking in the afterglow of a rare Ole Miss Rebel Football win over the hated Alabama Crimson Tide.

Said win was followed up in short order by fairly impressive, in the Colonel's not so humble opinion, wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee.

As a result, the Colonel's Rebels have occupied the loftiest poll perch in the Colonel's remembrance for two weeks running.

The Colonel has been breathing deeply -- the air at the top is rarefied and rarely inhaled by Rebel Nation.

The perch is precarious.

It's also meaningless until the end of the season.

But, oh how fun at the moment!  

At the beginning of the season, Rebel Nation knew they had an improving team, but hopes were tempered by experience and an acute awareness of the combat power of the neighbors in the SEC. 
The feeling was Ole Miss' year was coming -- we just didn't think it was this year.

The Colonel is still not sure this is the year.  

Look, we obviously caught Alabama looking forward to Arkansas. And, A&M was obviously looking forward to their trip to Tuscaloosa.  

While other coaches might have been tempted to overlook the next opponent and allow their teams to look too far ahead, Freeze, Wommack, and company have done an excellent job of keeping the team's focus in the moment

The problem is the Colonel just ain't an "in the moment" kind of guy.  He frets over the future of everything.

Over his morning coffee, the Colonel frets about what's for lunch.

On Mondays, the Colonel frets about what he'll get done by the end of the day on Friday.

In the last week of January, the Colonel frets about whether he'll survive the hated month of February.

The Colonel frets.  Period.  Wait, what is the Colonel gonna write next?      

It's not a fearful fretting, mind you.

When the Colonel frets, he runs countless possible scenarios over in his mind, each as equally capable of outstanding outcomes as they are fraught with disastrous downsides. 

When it comes to Ole Miss football, however, it always seems that the potential for disaster far outweighs the chances of success.

So, with the most critical six weeks of the season ahead, and the Colonel's Rebels on the brink of the greatest season in two generations of long-suffering Rebel fans, the Colonel's football fretting is approaching critical mass.

To call the Colonel manic would be a clinical understatement.  

One moment he's like all "Whooo hooo!  Seven and O, baby! We're gonna play for championships!"

The next he's all, "Woe is me!  We gotta go play the Corndogs at night in Tiger Stadium."

Then it gets better.  "Wait, our defense could hold the Packers to two field goals.  We'll beat LSU."  

Then it gets worse.  "Wait, what if 'Bama beats State, we lose to Auburn, and there's a three way tie for the West?  Oh no, they'll give it to Alabama!"   

Has the Colonel mentioned how much he hates Alabama?

And, don't even get the Colonel started on one-loss scenarios and the final four play-off selections...

Okay, Coach.  The Colonel will apply what little self-discipline he has left and endeavor to stay in the moment.  

Deep breaths.  

One game at a time.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Passing in Reunion

Forty years ago this fall, the Colonel officially became an Ole Miss Rebel. 

He joined approximately 1500 fellow freshmen, about 60 of whom were enrolled in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) -- most on a scholarship to become Navy ensigns upon graduation.  The Colonel and two others in that group were Marine Options -- on scholarship to be commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps upon graduation.

We three -- J. D. Henley, Rhett Anthony, and the Colonel -- bonded quickly.  We had little choice, outnumbered as we were.  

Sporting our closely cropped Marine "high and tight" haircuts we would have blended in quite well with the rest of the men in the freshman class... if it had been ten years previous.

But, this was the seventies -- freshman hazing was out and hair was long.

The Colonel, then an NROTC Midshipman 4th Class, had reported in and introduced himself to the Marine Officer Instructor -- then Captain H. L. Gerlach -- at the beginning of the semester with a fresh haircut.  It wasn't fresh, nor cut, enough.

"Nice to meet you, Midshipman Gregory.  Get a haircut."

When the Colonel protested that he had just gotten a haircut, he received the first of many very valuable and equally memorable "periods of instruction" from Captain Gerlach.  

In the Colonel's experience, there were two distinctly different types of leaders in the Marine Corps.  There were screamers, whose high decibel, vein-popping reactions to "teachable moments" soon lost their impact on screamees who learned to shut down most conscious systems and retreat into a metaphysical cocoon for the duration of the verbal assault -- emerging only when their faces detected a significant lessening of spittle impact.

The other, far more effective, leaders were those who could gnaw furiously on an errant subordinate's hindquarters all the while maintaining a collegial tone of voice.  Their correction of mistakes sometimes even brought a smile to the face of the correctee, who, reflecting later on the lesson-learned, often gasped at the realization that they had smiled during what they then realized was not really a smiling moment.      

Captain Gerlach was one of the latter leaders.

This coming weekend, at one point during which the Colonel's Rebels will go to war with the Tennessee Volunteers, a small group of the men and women, taught by Gerlach and a handful of other unsung American heroes during the mid to late '70's, will gather in reunion.   These former Navy and Marine officers, all with distinguished careers in and out of uniform, will renew acquaintance, reminisce, show off pictures of grandchildren (!), talk bad about those who for one reason or another failed to join them this year, and pause to honor those among their early number whose presence at the gathering is prevented only by their passing.

The Colonel looks forward to this weekend every year, if only for the opportunity to parade his trophy wife, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda.  

Oh, and one more thing -- Go Rebs!  Beat Tennessee!