Ole Miss' season may have fallen short of expectations this seasons, but we all know how much this game on Saturday will mean -- which brings me to my question. It's has always been an intriguing rivalry to me. This is Ole Miss' Superbowl. Win, and a significant portion of their fan base will call this season a success. Sure, LSU needs to win, but winning this game won't mean anymore to me than any other SEC game. What say you guys?
I have changed my mind about the Ole Miss rivalry this year. In years past, I generally didn't think much of the rivalry. Even in years where we were not very good or where Ole Miss was better than usual, I always thought of it as just another game. In Ole Miss's down years, it was more or less meaningless to me. Now, I want to grind them into dust.
All the pre-season hype Ole Miss got this year has awakened a dormant, apparently genetically hard-wired, feeling of enmity towards Ole Miss. This is strange, because there isn't a single Ole Miss player or coach that I feel any hard feelings towards. I like Dexter McCluster as a player. I think Shay Hodge is one of the most underrated players in the conference. I think their defensive line is outstanding. Houston Nutt is kind of annoying, but he's more or less harmless as far as SEC coaches go.
We say every week that this is a big game. The thing is, every week is a big game. Each year, assuming you don't lose a head-scratcher, there are only about 6 games that define the season. This year, it's Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Bama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. You can add Mississippi State to that list if you like. Of the original six, we are 2-2, with a chance to go 4-2, and a chance to go 2-4. 4-2 is a reasonable level of success. 2-4 means the year is something of a failure.
I mean from a strictly goal-oriented, conference victory standpoint, of course I want this one. Beating Ole Miss is absolutely necessary for LSU to reach its goals for this season. You want to beat every SEC team, whether it's Alabama, Florida or Vanderbilt.
But in terms of emotion, that's kind of it. Which is why it's amusing to me to see Rebel fans talk about this rivalry. To them, this is the end-all, be-all. Win this game, and Houston Nutt will be forgiven for not meeting their expectations this year. Maybe it's just that I don't feel that way about any one singular game. I mean, if you asked me to put them in a pecking order, Alabama would be the No. 1 team I want to beat every year and I hate their guts -- but it's still not to the "so long as we win that one I'm okay" extreme. I mean if LSU went 11-1 and the one loss was Bama, I'd be really mad about that, but at the same time, 11-1 is awesome.
It's not the 1950s or 60s anymore. Only once in my life has the road to the SEC championship gone through Oxford, and even then that was essentially because of Eli Manning and that was it. Ole Miss is just another SEC team to me. And they hate us. That's just funny to me.
I could give a crap about Ole Miss. I think their whole hatred of us is sort of cute and endearing, but I literally do not give any thought to Ole Miss outside of game week or to puncture their hype in the preseason when they are grossly overrated. Hell, I even like Houston Nutt.
The reason for this is simple: if Ole Miss is your measuring stick, you already suck. Ole Miss is the only SEC West team to never reach Atlanta. They've never been to Omaha. Their most famous basketball moment is losing to Valpo. Ole Miss has not won an SEC football title since 1963. They claim national titles in 1959 and1960, but they have never won a major wire service national title (that's right, Rebs, I'm calling your titles illegitimate, stop counting titles like Bama, it's embarrassing). This is the same school that hung a banner for being Co-Champs of the SEC West in 2003. But you can see why, as they have never won a national title in any sport. Ever. Okay, they have an individual tennis title, but no team has won the title. That's a remarkable run of futility. Even Vandy has one (albeit in women's bowling).
Why on earth would I bother myself with a team that has never won anything of consequence? So come on, Ole Miss, hate us all you want. We don't care. I care more about Arkansas, which is one of the most contrived rivalries in sports. I'll get up the hate for this week, but afterwards, I'll go back to ignoring you like I do for most of my time. I have more important teams to hate.
Does anybody feel like maybe we should care more about it? Clearly they do, and we did just add a trophy to this "rivalry" and everything.
Reading some Ole Miss Blogs or message boards feels like finding out you have a stalker. Not really the dangerous kind - more like finding out your tenth-grade homecoming date still has your picture on her wall at age 25 and still writes about you in a journal. It's kind of flattering, and you almost want to feel bad that the whole thing doesn't mean more to you.
Well, it does make you wonder? Is this how Alabama fans feel about us? We spend a lot of energy hating them and they aren't really aware that LSU still has a program?
I will say, Ole Miss definitely plays LSU tough. They have a pretty good record against LSU over the past 20 years (8-12). The Rebels certainly "get up" for this game. I wish I could return the favor, but I really can't. It's just another game. It's a conference game and there's a bit more at stake this season than most because I think a win here pretty much wraps up the Capitol One Bowl for LSU, but it's not a big game because it's Ole Miss.
My mom hates Ole Miss. But, when she went to school, Ole Miss was still relevant.
But that's just it -- of course the game itself matters. LSU has to win this game for this season to begin to be considered successful. But that would be just as true if they were playing Mississippi State this week instead of Ole Miss.
This is personal to them and, well, it's just not to us. I will give them credit, reading some of their blogs and message boards to explore this hate is great for a laugh. Did y'all know living in a "pirogue in a bayou in a swamp" is apparently reserved for the dregs of humanity, but that a trailer park in the hills of northern Bumblefuck County, Mississippi, is high society?
Ole Miss is definitely on the list of Public Schools Who Haven't Yet Realized They Aren't Private, a loose confederation of schools championed by UVa and Michigan. I will grant THAT is irritating, but not enough to really get into my real depths of hatred. Besides, the Grove is pretty.
Beautiful, really. In fact, I tell everybody I know it's something every college football fan should see at least once.
But other than that, there isn't much else I really think about when it comes to Ole Miss.