The beginning of my senior year of college was once again plagued with unbridled optimism when it came to Ole Miss Football. We had Houston Dale Nutt calling the plays and Jevan “Just got a DUI” Snead chunking the rock. This was finally our year to at least have a winning season and go to a bowl game.
After a few “nothing to write home about” wins and losses, we decided to go to The Swamp and turn Tim Tebow into the legend that he now is by beating the snot out of him. Greg Hardy’s image graced the cover of Sports Illustrated taking Tebow down, and people started talking about us.
After getting to the last two games we boasted a stellar 6-4 record. We weren’t assured a bowl spot yet, since we had beaten two FCS teams, but surely we would win at least one of our last two games against our most hated rivals of LSU and Mississippi State.
Then the “We are Ole Miss” attitude settled in my brain. Instead of thinking we would certainly win one of our last two games, I immediately began to think that we would piss the opportunity away, lose them both, have a .500 record featuring two wins against practically high school teams, and once again be left out of the bowl picture.
But we won them both, CONVINCINGLY! We beat LSU at Tiger Stadium and then scored more points against Schtayte than they had yards. We were going bowling, and not just to the Music City Bowl, but to the Cotton Bowl, the big time.
Naturally we won that game in Dallas by beating the old pirate Mike Leach and his Texas Tech Red Raiders pretty handily. Things were finally looking up for the Rebels.
We headed into the next season practically on top of the world. Top 10 ranking, Heisman candidate in Jevan Snead, covers of magazines, the sky was the limit for Ole Miss. We had a legitimate chance at a BCS Game or even a National Championship.
And then (FART NOISE!!!). Jevan Snead sucked his way into thinking it was a good idea to enter the NFL Draft, of course going undrafted. Houston Nutt decided to play Dexter McCluster at receiver for six games before moving him to tailback for the remainder of the season, upon which he unleashed a Heisman-esque seven games by running all over every defense he faced. And the Rebels were a middling SEC team that was neither awesome nor awful.
A brief aside: The Tennessee game in Oxford that year was the shining moment of my Ole Miss fandom. Run DMC racked up like a million all purpose yards, had several Top 10 worthy plays, and we killed the Vols, all in front of my UT friends that constantly chided my beloved Rebels. Seriously, if I had that game on DVD, I would watch it weekly. If anyone knows where I can obtain a copy, I will pay handsomely.
Outside of that game, I couldn’t tell you much about the season beside the fact we lost at South Carolina early in the season and our National Championship hopes pretty much evaporated there. We won another Cotton Bowl in pretty boring fashion, and it was on to the next season.
2010 and 2011 were volumes worse than the Coach O Years simply because I knew what winning was at this point, I knew more about the actual game of football, and I expected better. We were horrible. We got a Heisman candidate QB transfer in Jeremiah Masoli and we promptly lost to Jacksonville State in what many thought was the most embarrassing Ole Miss loss of all time.
Since that day, not much has gone right for my Rebels. We haven’t won an SEC game in two years, haven’t sniffed a winning season, fired Nutt, fired our AD, dealt with Nutt’s awful, thuggish recruits getting suspended or kicked out of school, and alienated a fan base that has always been passionate despite our woes.
So why am I excited for a season that is a week away, a season that likely won’t produce more than four wins? Come back next week to find out why I keep coming back to the Rebels every year, despite the hell they put me through.
Cheers, with a Bourbon and Coke.