Saturday, August 13, 2022

Four Years Later: Ole Miss Football Matters

Photo by Josh Bonner, Libertine Images (2015)
Photo by Josh Bonner, Libertine Images (2015)

Four years ago Ole Miss was recovering from a 2-10 football season. The Rebels had suffered 14 straight SEC losses to cap off the end of the Houston Nutt era.

Four years later, Ole Miss matters in the landscape of college football. Four years later, Ole Miss is competing for SEC West titles. Four years later, Ole Miss is the second best program in the SEC. Four years later, numerous people are clamoring for the NCAA to do something about Ole Miss.

The reality is Ole Miss has upset the apple cart among the college football landscape. Ole Miss isn’t supposed to be a better football program than LSU. Ole Miss sure wasn’t supposed to beat Alabama two years in a row. But the Rebels are better, and they did defeat ‘Bama.

The Rebels have upset people who believed Ole Miss was only good for going to the Liberty Bowl every other year. They’ve upset people who looked at Ole Miss as an automatic win on their team’s schedule for so long. They’ve upset people on the recruiting trail.

Enter the NCAA. Ole Miss, yes, has undergone a 3.5 year discectomy by the NCAA. The most serious accusations–academic fraud–were found to have taken place under the previous staff.

Sure, there are more allegations under the Hugh Freeze era than people wanted to imagine. Sure. Those are issues that if they are true Ole Miss will ultimately pay for. They’ll lose scholarships. That’s not something to take lightly.

There, however, is nothing in the Notice of Allegations that Ole Miss released in late May indicating Ole Miss has been giving recruits copious amounts of money to sign with the Rebels, contrary to what some national writers and rival fans want you to believe.

There is zero evidence that Ole Miss has had boosters drop brief cases off in the middle of the night at a five-star prospects house. Zero. Nada. None.

If Ole Miss is giving these recruits all this cash to sign with the Rebels, then I’d like someone to explain National Signing Day to me. I’d like someone to explain Shyheim Carter, Terrell Hall and Jonathan Kongbo to me.

Ole Miss, however, isn’t going to be able to rid the cheating stigma anytime soon, if ever. The Rebels are going to be accused of wrongdoing when they sign any highly-rated prospect. Get used to it, it’s not going anywhere. If that bothers you, I’d advise avoiding social media. There is nothing you can say or do that’s making that go away.

My advice is to simply embrace it.

How many people like Alabama? How many people like Duke basketball? How many people like the Patriots or the Yankees? If you’re being honest, not many. Why? Because they matter.

For the first time in a long, long time the name “Ole Miss” elicits a response. People don’t like the Rebels, and that’s fine. That’s their right, and their prerogative.

Remember, however, that the reason the disdain throughout the nation has intensified towards Ole Miss is because they’re relevant. Ole Miss, over the course of four years, has made sure that people don’t like them, and likely never will. You don’t attract that by losing, you do that by beating teams you’re not supposed to. You do that by becoming more than what you’re supposed to be. You do that by winning games, and it appears Ole Miss is going to keep doing that, and people aren’t going to like it.


Collin Brister is the staff writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at collin.brister@hottytoddy.com.

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