College Football Junkie

A Blog To Share My Tour of College Football

University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)

Posted by Strickland on August 11, 2007

In the Mississippi State post, I wrote that we were going home from our vacation in Alabama back to Arkansas. While we were coming home, we took a different way home to see Mississippi State University. We then went to see Ole Miss. Now, I have been to a game at Ole Miss, but my wife has never been. So, she saw the city of Oxford and the university. We got both of our kids out of the car and let them run around. It gave them an opportunity to stretch their legs. We walked around the campus, went to the university campus store, and then it was picture time!

My wife, and kids, were so good for me. I told them, while we were in the parking lot, “Stay here and let me take some pictures on the field.” So, off I ran! To my surprise, the gates were open to be on the field. I ran right into the end zone. It was pretty cool. I have never been on the new field turf surface that is now sweeping our sport nation, but on this day I did. Man, was it soft!

I did go to a game at Ole Miss. The time I went to the game, I was living in Jonesboro, AR. I knew a guy, who knew one of the players for the University of Tennessee. So, we got two tickets to the 2004-2005 Ole Miss Rebels verses Tennessee Volunteers game at the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It was on a Saturday night, and it was televised on ESPN2. Now, I really don’t know the reason why it was ESPN2. They usually carried, at the time, a lot of SEC football games on Saturday nights. So, I do think that was part of the reason why they were televising the game. I really don’t think it was because both teams were good at the time of the game. Ole Miss was coming off a great year, for them, when Eli Manning was their quarterback and he led them to a bowl. But, now Eli was not there because he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers but then wanted to go to the New York Giants (Man, I remember that whole draft situation. You got to look that draft up if you want to know more about it.). At the time of the game, Ole Miss was 3-3, but that doesn’t mean much. They beat Vanderbilt (by 3 in overtime in Oxford), Arkansas State (by 7 in Oxford), and beat South Carolina by 3 on the road. They lost to Memphis, Alabama, and Wyoming. Tennessee, on the other hand, was 4-1. They beat UNLV, Florida, Louisiana Tech, and Georgia. The only lost at the time was to Auburn. That was the year that Auburn ended up winning the National Championship. And, I really don’t believe it was the rankings. Tennessee was ranked #13 in the Associated Press poll, #14 in the ESPN/USA Today-Coaches poll, and Ole Miss was not ranked in either one. So, with all that said, I don’t think the teams and their records was the true meaning of why they were on ESPN2. I believe the majority of the reason why they were on ESPN2 was because of the Manning family.

As you know, Archie Manning was a superstar quarterback at Ole Miss many years ago. He still was a superstar and played for the New Orleans Saints, as a starting quarterback, in the NFL. Peyton Manning didn’t follow his father in going to Ole Miss for college. Instead, he went to Tennessee. There he was very successful on and off the field. He held many records for Tennessee. Many Tennessee fans bow down and worship him. He could never beat Florida and he was always close to winning the big one. But, he never did in college. He finally won the Super Bowl in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, the only team he has played for since being drafted. Then, as you already know, Eli Manning was the quarterback at Ole Miss and he was successful there. People praised him like they praised his father while he was playing for the Rebels. So, prior to the game, Archie, Eli, Peyton, along with some coaches met at mid-field to say “hello.” It was perfect for ESPN2 to video it. I saw them shaking hands and talking. It was during the warm-ups. It was a “Kodak moment.”

We sat in the Tennessee section and we were crunched. You couldn’t move! They had just did an upgrade on the stadium, which made it look nice. It was a nice stadium. But, we were just crunched! (If you look at the picture of the stadium, by clicking the link above, you’ll see a section of people that look like they are wearing white. It’s in the top left corner of the picture. That is where we were sitting. We were close to the field.) But, we sat there and cheered as the Volunteers won the game, barely, 21-17.

While we were at the game, we did see some of the campus. But, on this day with my family, I didn’t have to rush to get my ticket or anything like that. All I did was walk with my family on the campus, even go inside the bookstore, and take pictures. I went to an Ole Miss basketball game, in Ole Miss, later on that year. Arkansas Razorbacks came into town to play. So, me and a car load, went to go watch the Saturday afternoon basketball game at “the Tad”–C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum. The “Tad” is very old and small. It really does need an upgrade. But, I like it like it is as well. You can sense the history while you are walking around and watching the game.

Anyway, the campus is a great Southern campus. The students dress nicely for the games. The ladies wear dresses, the men wear ties. There is drinking, and plenty of it, at the “Grove“. I know all campuses have it, but drinking is pretty much known at the Ole Miss tailgatings. The “Grove” is some land that is in the center of the campus. Many, many people come and tailgate there all weekend long. There is a brick sidewalk called the “Walk of Champions” that runs right in the center of the “Grove.” (The YouTube video from CNN does a great job talking about the history of Ole Miss, the Grove, the mascot, the rebel flag, and the Walk of Champions). There the team walks on the sidewalk while all the tailgaters cheer them on to the locker room. They even have a cheer called, “Hottie, Toddy” that you’ll end up learning by the end of the day. Ole Miss is a good southern campus that loves to party…in a socialized fashion.

I’ll post my pictures later.


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