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So This Is The Grove?

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Geaux to hell Ole Miss?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 21 LSU at Mississippi Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When coming to college, one of my goals before graduation in May 2020 was to hit all the SEC West schools for a football game at least once. I hit a lot of speed bumps along the way and only ended up going to four — but this past weekend, I crossed off one more by heading to Ole Miss.

This trip arose from the infamous weeknight wine-drunk Kenn, who somehow decided that Oxford would be a fun road trip for me and my former Daily Reveille friends. It was a game that wouldn’t be necessary to cover, but was still a fun-ish college town (unlike Starkville). This was also one of about three games that I’ve gotten to enjoy outside of a press box since I started covering the team as a sophomore.

So on that one wine drunk night two months ago, we got a small Airbnb on Lake Sardis, about 25 to 30 miles West of Oxford.

The night before we left, I asked the Twitterverse to provide me with food and/or drink options for the trip and they did not let me down. Of course, I am a college student on a budget with only two days, so we were only able to hit about 10 percent of those suggestions.

We got to our Airbnb around 6 p.m. on Friday, so we didn’t do anything noteworthy besides eat dinner at a restaurant in Sardis that I’m not sure has seen a person of color since the Jim Crow Era, then attempt to make a wine-drunk bonfire to roast some s’mores and watch lots of things on Disney+. The actual fun began on Saturday.

Gameday Morning

We had Big Bad Breakfast for brunch, which was too good and too filling before an entire day of tailgating and drinking. This picture doesn’t even do that food justice.

The Grove

SB Nation’s Alex McDaniel was kind enough to invite me to her tailgate on The Grove, where she provided myself and my degenerate friends with Taylor Grocery sandwiches and lots of whiskey — Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniels for those who were curious — and in return we educated her and her guests on Louisiana government corruption and the masterpiece that was Huey P. Long himself.

The Grove is basically a tamer version of what is formerly the LSU Parade Ground. Somebody once described The Grove to me as an “LSU twilight zone” and that may be super accurate. As somebody who spent most of my freshman year at LSU tailgating on the Parade Ground and my time covering LSU at DVA Tailgating, The Grove is like if you packed more tents and people on any tailgating space at LSU and took away some of the fun.

The Sporting News once called The Grove the “holy grail of tailgating” which is only accurate if tailgating to you is like a tea party. I didn’t see any ice luges or frat boys jumping onto tables or any kegs at all, so that was pretty disappointing. It was all just very uppity, which is very different from anything I experienced growing up in New Orleans and going to LSU.

In all seriousness, The Grove really was a good time. It was just very...tame for an SEC school. Here is a picture of us being tame individuals on The Grove because my mother reads these.

The Square

So because we are all on a budget like I mentioned before, we did not attend the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Instead we decided to go to a sports bar at The Square, following the suggestions of my loyal Twitter followers.

After we left The Grove around 5 p.m., we decided to go to The Library to watch the game. The Library is apparently “Oxford’s Largest Bar.” What they failed to mention was that it would also be Oxford’s most expensive. We saw some other LSU fans outside the bar and asked what the cover was. He emphatically said it was $40 currently, but it would only go higher. We asked the bouncer, who said the cover would be $100 when the game started at 6 p.m. Safe to say we did not watch the game at The Library because I barely want to pay $20 cover at Fred’s in Tigerland after an LSU game.

After much consideration — we even considered returning to our lake house Airbnb to avoid a largely expensive cover — we wound up at The Coop, a rooftop bar at The Graduate Hotel overlooking The Square.

There we had some really, really great frosé (is any frose not great?), chips and queso (both pictured below) and some wings (which I ate too fast to be pictured). I also had a Corona, which is only being mentioned because of my And The Valley Shook koozie.

Our waiter/bartender/all-around server was this great guy whose name I will not mention because he felt like we were too chill to be LSU fans and peer pressured us to take shots with him (which may or may not be against policy). He was confident in Ole Miss’ ability to cover the spread throughout the entire game and was excited when they attempted to mount a second half comeback. I asked him to play “Callin’ Baton Rouge” at the end of the third quarter, but he wasn’t really feeling it.

Somehow we made it out of that bar alive and back to the Airbnb to watch more Disney+.

Conclusion

Ole Miss is really cool and The Grove had a solid vibe — besides the multiple people I saw with “Save the Mississippi State Flag” pins — but LSU and Louisiana as a whole set the tailgating bar too high. Every piece of food I had was heavenly too.

The Square also looks like it could be the setting of a Hallmark Christmas movie, which is totally my kinda place. I stopped in the middle of the street and almost got hit by a car to take this picture.

The biggest conclusion I come to after spending a weekend in Mississippi is that it does a lot of things Louisiana does, but just a little worse. I had fun though.