It’s that time of year again. It’s the time of year in SEC football where the first three or four games of the season are in the record books, albeit as tune-up gimmies, and the match ups that mean something are steaming up the front walk to beat the field house door down. There will be no more Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjacks or Weber State University Wildcats showing up for tea and a fat check in exchange for enduring a beating of a lifetime at the hands of your offensive unit. Oh no, kind sir.
Here comes Alabama and Georgia and Auburn and LSU and those hillbilly hogs from Arkansas up the driveway; all eyeing for an afternoon of scattering your team’s withered carcass across the wilds of a fall flecked gridiron and watching the scoreboard roll on towards infinity. They’ve got rocks and clubs and your mascot’s head on a pike. They mean business, and you and your measly excuse of a Division I football team are nothing more than a smear on the cow catcher of the train with which they run your school over on their way to (yet another) National Championship.
But with the Houston Nutt debacle far behind and the Ed Orgeron tenure finally fading into a misty memory for the Rebel faithful, Coach Hugh Freeze, a Mississippi native an former Ole Miss assistant athletic director as well as interim Head Coach when Orgeron was run out of town on a rail made of dollar bills, is now poised for a supernova of success or a bottomless pit of alumni hellfire on the biggest coaching stage of his unremarkable career.
It’s a miserable thing to watch most years. And it’s likely be no different when Freeze and the tiny but talented Ole Miss Rebels venture into Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to do battle with the square headed band of mouth breathing Neanderthals that reside there, better known and the Crimson Tide of The University of Alabama.
Young and old alike will venture to Bryant-Denny Stadium and take their place with a postage stamp-size square of Blue and Gray faithful awash in a sea of Crimson and White. They will endure jeers and cat calls and mysterious thwacks in the backs of their heads. They will be doused in brown liquor and beer. Their character will be tested. They will pray that fisticuffs will not be necessary and the beating down on the field, however unpleasant, will have its moments of respite and kibbutz, where the home fan takes a short measure of mercy on the visitor, shares a hot dog, and offers up an olive branch of sorts in the form of a toot off a silver hip flask sporting the profile of Bear Bryant in loving relief.
But hope and optimism bolstered by foolish pride will be the order of the early afternoon. The pundits, after all, have given the small but scrappy 21st ranked Rebels a snowball’s chance in hell at victory. Things will tolerable – salvageable even – till the Tide finds their top gear and the ass whipping commences as the football flies all over the Ole Miss secondary and beyond.
But then again…….
Hope will always spring eternal. Even on the blasted turf at Bryant-Denny stadium.
Give ’em hell, Rebs. In the blessed name of Archie and Johnny Vaught, give ’em a truckload of hell.