The Ole Miss Rebels punched their ticket as the eighth team to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. after defeating the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns 10-4.
It has been 42 long years since Ole Miss has visited Omaha. In fact, in Coach Mike Bianco’s 14 years with the Rebels, he has been invited to five Super Regionals (even hosted a few), but that’s where the season usually ends. It seems the drought has finally ended here in Oxford (both literally and figuratively. Will it EVER stop raining?).
In 1972, the last time Ole Miss journeyed to the mecca of college baseball, Jake Gibbs returned to coach the Rebels after a nine year stint in the Major Leagues with the Yankees. That year, the Rebels won the SEC Baseball Tournament, but did not win the CWS. It was a productive first year for Coach Gibbs though. (Side note: When the Rebels played in the CWS in 1968, Archie Manning was our Shortstop.)
Coach Gibbs went on to lead the Rebels to a sixth SEC Tournament title in 1977, but never saw Omaha again before retiring in 1990. Gibbs is still Ole Miss’ all-time winningest coach (until Coach Bianco, of course).
When thinking about the drive to Omaha, we’ll probably listen to ‘Omaha’ by the rock group Counting Crows on repeat, even though it really has nothing to do with baseball. The band says: “Omaha, somewhere in middle America, get right to the heart of matters, it’s the heart that matters most.”
For the college baseball fan (and player/coach), Omaha is the destination in a season-long battle of pouring your heart into every game, every practice, every moment, until you reach the top. Omaha means you’ve made it.
Regardless of the meaning, it’s still a pretty great song.
– Adam Brown, Sports Editor, HottyToddy.com, email@example.com