The final regular season weekend of college football has ended in a paroxysm of rivalry games tearing the nation's collegiate fanbase weave down the middle and leaving two halves separated in joy and despair.
So it is, in Mississippi.
Thursday night's battle for the golden egg between the University of Mississippi and the former Mississippi A & M was typical of the family-splitting, friendship-straining, billboard-prompting, grudge-match that is the annual end of the playing season, beginning of the trash-talking season in Mississippi.
And while the Colonel, as the half-dozen or so of you who regularly waste precious rod and cone time perusing the irregular posts hereon will no doubt remember, does not harbor hate for State -- too much hate invested in LSU and Alabama to have any left for the Bulldogs -- he does hate losing to TSBU (the school beneath us).
For the Colonel, however, losing to State is more like losing a game to his little brother.
In fact, it is exactly like losing a game to his little brother.
To his eternal shame, the Colonel's little brother is a State grad.
But, when one loses a game to a little brother, there is always a solace of self-delusion on which to fall back:
"... I felt bad for him, so I let him win one..."
Yeah, that's what happened. Little Brother got a mercy win.
The Colonel often wonders at his lack of pure unadulterated hatred for Mississippi State -- like that displayed by so many of his fellow Ole Miss Rebels.
Maybe it's the fact that although his parents' Mississippi blood flows through his veins like a warm, muddy, time-bending backwater, his claim to Mississippianism is only as deep as a plant's roots that have been uprooted and rerooted in so many disparate fields and only recently finally planted for good in the kudzu clad hills here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.
With the exception of one year -- the fifth grade -- while his father went to war in Vietnam, the Colonel didn't grow up in the nurture of Mississippi. Oh, he went to Ole Miss for four years -- instead of college -- but, he never lived long enough in the state during his formative years to be infected with the virulence of the rivalry. Wandering the world for two military careers (the Colonel's and his father's before him) provided inoculation that protects him to this day.
Of course, the bulldog boasting and trash-talk that the Colonel will have to endure for the next twelve months may serve to weaken his immunity.
He might just become a real Mississippian and start hatin' State.