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National Attention on Magnolia State Football Programs

ncf_u_olemiss_missstate_600x400Never, not even when dapper John Vaught graced the sidelines, has Magnolia State football received so much national attention as this autumn. We’ve had Sports Illustrated covers, national TV coverage and sky-high rankings galore.
We’ve reached the point when most in the national media — most, not all — know the difference between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. We’ve had several pinch-yourself moments. As much as I have enjoyed it, I can’t quit thinking about folks I wish were here to share these indelible moments.
I would love to have heard Jack Cristil’s call at the end of the LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn games. I wish Bob Hartley, who experienced so many dreary days in the Scott Field press box (long since named for him), would have been there to thank the folks from Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, CBS and ESPN for coming. Believe this: Mr. Bob would have been just as accommodating to somebody from the Winston County News or The Laurel Leader Call.
I wish I could have seen Cap’n John Buckley’s face as the final seconds ticked down in the State victory at LSU. Buckley grew up in Starkville but later made his home in Hattiesburg where his restaurant was a gathering place for coaches, officials and sports media from all over south Mississippi. He bled maroon.
I wish I could read Orley Hood’s take on the games and then ride home with him, discussing what we saw and what we wrote. Orley privately cheered for all the Mississippi teams but he had a special place in his heart for the Bulldogs, his daddy’s team.
Also, I wish I could discuss recent events with Harold “Bird Dog” Grove, the person I always called (especially after Bob Hartley passed) when I needed to know something about Mississippi State history. Bird Dog Grove, who played for truly great State football teams, dearly loved his school but he kept it in the right perspective. He didn’t hate Ole Miss; indeed, I’m not sure Bird Dog hated anyone or anything.
I’d love to have a beer with Hal White and Michael Rubenstein at the right corner of the bar at Hal and Mal’s and get their take on all this. Indeed, there are many more departed ‘Dogs and Ole Miss Rebels I wish were here to enjoy.
I’d love to hear the legendary Wobble Davidson’s take on this Ole Miss team. I’d like to hear the nicknames he would have for these Rebels. He called Archie Manning “Ichabod Crane.” I’m guessing he would call Robert Nkemdiche “Alphabet.” I know one thing: Coach Wobble would love the way these Rebels play defense.
I’d like to read Carl Walters’ account of the Ole Miss-Alabama game, and I would dearly love to discuss the Rebels’ trouncing of Texas A&M into the wee hours of the morning and beyond, with Willie Morris and Dean Faulkner Wells. Deanie, William Faulkner’s niece and a fine writer and editor in her own right, always said she was a Rebel nose guard at heart. All 95 pounds of her.
Willie graduated from the University of Texas but dearly loved the Rebels. The one-sided victory over the loathsome Aggies before 110,000 Texans would have delighted him no end.
And I wonder what the late Tom Patterson, the guy who named the Egg Bowl, would think about all this. Back in 1978, Patterson, then the sports editor over both Jackson newspapers, turned the Battle for the Golden Egg into the Egg Bowl. He created the Egg Bowl because Ole Miss and State, in those days, were not good enough to be invited to a bowl game. Tom wanted to put out a bowl game special section to show off the talent of his sports staff. No Mississippi teams were good enough to get to one. So he just made up one.
He wouldn’t have to do that this season. Patterson would put out a special section to end all special sections about this year’s Egg Bowl. And then the bowls beyond that.
Rick Cleveland is the executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and can be reached at rcleveland@msfame.com.

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