Thursday, August 21, 2014

We Are Ole Miss

A week from today the Colonel's Rebels begin their 2014 football season, taking on Boise State in the Chick-fil-a Kick-off Game in Hotlanta's Georgia Dome.

Rebel Nation is fired up for this season.

All indications are that Ole Miss will field one of the best football squads in a generation.  The AP Preseason rankings have the Rebels at 18, and while the sacredness of that number at Ole Miss (the speed limit on campus is 18 mph in honor of the number worn by favorite son, Archie Manning) has many believing in a sign from the football gods, there's worry in the back of the minds of most Rebel fans.

The last three times Ole Miss entered a season ranked in the top 25, results didn't match expectations.

"We Are Ole Miss!" is as much an expression of resignation to our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as it is a battle cry.  If there was a trophy for shooting one's self in the foot, they would have retired it to the Ole Miss trophy case years ago.

And, that goes for the rest of the University of Mississippi family just as much as it does for our sports teams.

Ole Miss has been called (correctly -- in the Colonel's not-so humble opinion) an "Oasis."  The Ole Miss campus and the town of Oxford appear out of nowhere as you traverse the otherwise non-descript landscape of North Mississippi; rising incongruously from the kudzu-clad and pine-dotted clay hills like a debutante sitting in a hog pen.  

"Beauty" is a word used often to describe things about Ole Miss.  Its grounds compete with its girls for the description.  Its spirit with its sights.

But the past is checkered at Ole Miss.  One of the latest participants in the literal parade of literary legends through Ole Miss, John Cofield, had this to say about the history of Ole Miss: 

"As gray as we wish it were; as red and blue as we want it to be; it’s clearly Black & White, and too often, mixed with the blues." 

We are Ole Miss.  Our disappointment in our social foibles carries over, amplified by an odd mixture of pride and self-loathing, to our disappointment at fumbles on the field.  

We are Ole Miss.  We can out-party, out-pretty, and out-polite any other collection of fans in the nation.  And, we can slip the gown off our shoulder and show you a horrible bruise that somehow just won't go away.

We are Ole Miss.  We can give Alabama absolutely all they can handle one Saturday afternoon and roll over to Jacksonville State the next.

We are Ole Miss.  We can let ignorant folks' insults roll off our backs with the grace of a ballerina and the accommodating spirit of a first century Christian.  And, with the most idiotic of provocations, we can rare back and hurl the most vile, spiteful vitriol -- spat from behind teeth bared in a hateful sneer that would make Genghis Khan rein his pony in.

We are Ole Miss.  We can hold opposing offenses to absolutely zip for an entire season, and then let Billy Cannon shed tackles from EVERY Rebel on the field, returning a punt for the go ahead score.

The Colonel can't wait for it to begin, but he makes no prognostication about this upcoming season.  He knows all too well that,

WE ARE OLE MISS!          

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