Rebel football program has come a long way in past year
By David Collier, junior broadcast journalism major, Meek School of Journalism and New Media
When Ole Miss athletics released the plans of the expansion and renovation of the Indoor Practice Facility Thursday, it summed up exactly how far the football program and entire athletics program as a whole have come in the past year.
A year ago, Ole Miss was a few months into the Forward Together campaign, a historic fundraiser to raise $150 million to fund a new basketball arena and expansion and renovation of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Indoor Practice Facility.
That sounds good, right?
Well, it would’ve been had the football team not just capped off a 2-10 season that saw the dismissal of Houston Nutt and resignation of athletics director Pete Boone. Ole Miss was about as low as a program in the Southeastern Conference could go.
The good news? There was nowhere to go but up.
And that’s exactly what has happened in the past year. First, Archie Manning and Mike Glenn hit the nail on the head when they selected Hugh Freeze to take over the football program. Then, Chancellor Dan Jones did the same when Ross Bjork was hired to lead the athletics department.
But there was still plenty of work to be done, and both Freeze and Bjork got right to it.
The dynamic duo had to reenergize the Rebel faithful, and they did just that as they introduced themselves to fans across the state on the inaugural Rebel Road Trip. It was there where Freeze and Bjork pleaded with Ole Miss fans to get on board and pull the rope in the same direction by giving as little or as much as they could to fund projects like the Forward Together campaign calls for.
The campaign gathered momentum from that trip, but nothing can help a fundraiser more than winning, and a bowl berth in year one of the Freeze era certainly has to help the campaign going forward. The campaign has currently raised upwards of $76 million, and announcements like the one Thursday have to generate excitement throughout the fan base.
Freeze and Bjork were upfront when they arrived in Oxford on their goals of bringing championships to Ole Miss, and they weren’t kidding. They’ve proven that in everything they’ve done.
Now, it’s up to the Rebel faithful to step up and do what they can to make winning those championships a little bit easier.
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