The last games of the 2014 college football regular season were played in a paroxysm of prideful rivalry this past weekend.
Here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, the annual intrastate grudge match between the Colonel's Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs kicked off Saturday afternoon with passion and potential perhaps at an all time high for an "Egg Bowl."
Both teams began the season with great expectations. Halfway through the season both teams were 7 and 0.
At one point, State and Ole Miss were together in the top 4 of the preliminary new College Football Championship playoff poll -- thanks primarily to State's wins over perennial powerhouses LSU and Auburn; and Ole Miss' wins over Alabama and A&M.
The SEC, and the SEC West in particular, seemed to be turned upside down. The talk at mid-season was that the Egg Bowl, not the Iron Bowl, would decide the West. That certainly was the Colonel's fondest wish.
But the SEC West wasn't so much turned upside down as it was just settled into a rare equilibrium of really good teams from "top to bottom." That kind of high-quality balance in a seven-team division of a "power-five" conference makes for some great football.
It also makes it nearly impossible for any team to get to the conference championship unscathed. When you have a conference full of legitimate contenders, the likelihood is that championship-chances cannibalism will result.
Does anyone really believe that FSU would be undefeated at this point playing in the SEC?
But, most of the above falls under the rod and cone wasting category of MOTO -- Mastery of the Obvious. Apologies.
What probably sets the Colonel apart from nearly every other football fan in the great state of Mississippi is that he doesn't hate the other Mississippi school (far too much hate already invested in Bama and LSU -- none left for State) and he has a fairly rigid (but not completely binding) "no-gloating" rule.
To call the Colonel "old school" would be an understatement rivalling Custer's "Troopers, things are about to get interesting."
The Colonel has never been a big fan of "smack talk;" never liked taunting; never liked "rubbing it in;" never thought much of outlandish celebration of a score or victory.
Well, he says "never," but the truth is the Colonel probably did a little bit too much of all of the above early in his formative years. At some point in the last four decades of his "adulthood" (and the Colonel uses that term as loosely as a newborn's diaper deposit) the Colonel began to emulate the example of some really great leaders (his dear old Dad among them) and sought increasingly to veneer over his fanaticism with a liberal dose of sportsmanship.
For the LSU and Bama fans who may have stumbled across this post in a cyber Monday Christmas gift search for corndog sampler gift packs or pachyderm-printed bathroom tissue, the term "sportsmanship" does not involve the following (many of which the Colonel has seen in person on more than one occasion):
Cursing at and taunting a five year old in opposing team colors.
Screaming profanities at ladies in opposing team colors.
Killing trees on the opposing team's campus.
Throwing whiskey bottles at opposing team fans.
The Colonel could go on, but you get his drift. At some point we should all take a deep breath and remember the words of that great humanitarian and philosopher of the human condition, Rodney King: "Can't we all just get along?"
For the record, the Colonel is more than just a bit disappointed in the Rebel Nation derision directed toward crushed State fans. The Colonel is not a fan of the "#FailState" meme. The Colonel believes we are better than that.
Take the high road, Rebels. Love is the greater force. Leave the hate-generation to Coach Mullen. Our coach says it best: "We don't play out of hate for the other team; we play out of love for each other."
The Colonel really likes that philosophy -- it's the philosophy upon which was built the really great teams of Marines with which he served.
The Colonel congratulates Mississippi State on their best season ever. You should be very proud. Heck, the Colonel is proud of you.
State and Ole Miss have a record-setting combined regular season win / loss total of 19 and 5. Wins in bowl games will give both Mississippi schools at least 10 wins in the same season for the first time, ever!
Next year, let's finish this the right way: Egg Bowl decides the West.