Tuesday, June 22, 2021

John Cofield on Oxford — A Rebel to Remember

Photo by Joshua McCoy with Ole Miss Athletics
Photo by Joshua McCoy with Ole Miss Athletics

Pull out the parchment list written upon your Ole Miss Rebel football heart and look at the first name: Frank Manning “Bruiser” Kinard, 1936-37 All-American.

Frank Manning "Bruiser" Kinard
Frank Manning “Bruiser” Kinard

The following seasons are a Rebel football memory lane walked first by my Oxford and New Albany grandparents, then by my Ole Miss parents, aunts and uncles. John Howard Vaught, the Poole brothers, father and son Mannings, Jake, Gentle Ben were all in a line moving through a billion Hotty Toddys right up until the moment in 2014 when Senquez Golson’s foot touched down on that patch of blue Ole Miss endzone. Down went the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide, but more than that, around a corner went Ole Miss football.

Photo by Churck Barnes / HottyToddy.com files
Photo by Churck Barnes / HottyToddy.com files

With the love in his heart pouring into the mic, with ole Stan, Lyman, and Larry over his shoulder, David Kellum’s words, “The students are pouring onto the field!” Those words were so hell yes, damn right! And we all went over the wall with them. When it was all over before the night was over, the students would march up University Avenue and making the turn on South Lamar with cries of Hotty Toddy and “To the Square!”, would stand a Vaught-Hemingway goal post on the town’s front porch. That was 2014 and that Senquez Golson is a Rebel to Remember.

It’s 2015, and it isn’t over yet, but there is a Rebel to Remember.

The Poole brothers
The Poole brothers

He has written his name on your list. It happened when his foot touched down on that patch of the crimson endzone in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. From Bruiser through the Ole Miss ages, the most recent name is that of Laquon Treadwell. He was a Rebel before he was a Rebel. He tweeted his first Hotty Toddy well before signing day and then turned around and started recruiting with all he had.

Jake Gibbs
Jake Gibbs

We saw at the first Vandy game that he’d be special. I know it is only a game, but as I turned off the TV that night after that Auburn game, my heart just ached for No. 1 and I don’t know when I’ve felt so low. His injury took us all by surprise and a long while passed for all of us to get over that painful night. But Laquon had a wider impact than either he or we knew in those sad moments. As with all the greats, their legacy is a living, breathing one and it writes its own next chapters.

Shea Patterson
Shea Patterson

Shea Patterson is the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the country. He tweeted his first Hotty Toddy long before signing day and has been recruiting for us with all he has. He could have gone anywhere he decided: north, south, east or west. All the schools Shea had decided to visit had given him and his father first class, top-of-the-line treatment. But then something happened and he knew he was a Rebel.

"Gentle Ben" Williams
“Gentle Ben” Williams

And this moment happened while he was riding with his father back home to Shreveport with a heartbroken Oxford in the rear view mirror. He had witnessed a number of locker rooms post losses on his other recruiting visits and he had seen misplaced anger then. But this SEC loss was staggering to Ole Miss’ season. And at that moment after the loss Patterson saw what we Ole Miss fans know to be more than just words: The Ole Miss Family, the spirit of it.

John Howard Vaught
John Howard Vaught

There was no anger at the loss, only deep concern for Laquon Treadwell. Patterson’s father said that he wanted his boy to play at a place where his coaches would care about him the way the Ole Miss coaches care for their athletes. Patterson knew he wanted to play for the Ole Miss coaches like that after he saw the way the staff cared about Laquon Treadwell. There was no silver lining to that loss that night, but the impact of the greats is always at work through thick or thin.

Archie and Eli Manning
Archie and Eli Manning

Then hope did what hope does, and not in anyone’s recent memory has Bryant-Denny been seen emptying out in the third quarter, at low tide. And when the TV announcer said, “Treadwell! Jump Ball! Touchdown!”, Rebel Nation felt something it has never felt before, ever.

We had just hung 42 on Bama in Tuscaloosa and while we were waiting on the PAT to be good, the whole football world was watching the replays of the–as the announcers put it: “The Killshot!”– catch by Ole Miss Rebel Laquon Treadwell.

And that Rebel Pride that was bursting from our chests, and the yell we roared, and that thrill we haven’t felt in our heart since we can’t remember when, that was the moment he signed every Rebel’s list, as one to remember.


JohnCofield

John Cofield is a HottyToddy.com writer and one of Oxford’s leading folk historians. He is the son of renowned university photographer Jack Cofield. His grandfather, Col. J.R Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was Ole Miss yearbook photographer. Cofield attended Ole Miss as well. Contact John at Johnbcofield@gmail.com.

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