We're worn out. The winds aren't exactly out of our sails, but the canvas is certainly fluttering about our masts in that random, lackadaisical way that suggests a long, stressful journey for anyone aboard. We apologize for no real enthusiasm post-Auburn. No post game report, no YouTubes, no polls, no hatred towards what would be an opponent which is very unlikely to hate back--or even notice the hate--and our generally sour moods are things for which we (at least, I) should apologize. You expect better.
It's just that this can be so damned exhausting.
I am not a superstitious person. I nearly exclusively favor chance and statistical trends over luck and hunches. I do not fully believe in curses. I do have a slight inclination to favor the idea of Karma, but whether or not that is the result of something mysteriously ethereal or the natural tendency for human societies to seek justice I will never truly know.
But, all of those ideas and convictions are worth nothing when I take a difficult, honest look at Ole Miss Rebel athletics. The Rebels, I'm afraid, are very much cursed.
If I were to call it anything, I would call it "the curse of the polls." Perhaps something catchier will come to me later, but that will have to do for now. The curse is exactly what its name suggests: the Rebels will rarely perform how the polls say they will.
Now, the fact that I even have to do this makes me nauseous, but I am going to set up a straw man for the Arkansas fans I expect to comment on this somehow being the result of Houston Nutt's presence in Oxford. Here goes:
Arkansas fans, a few things: first, kill yourself if you've decided to waste your time over here with "told-ya-so's." You're a pathetic fucking loser if that's your purpose here. Second, Ole Miss failing to live up to hype is a problem which is not new or even football-specific. Go away.
"Not new or even football-specific," I said. Yes, it's true. Not since the 1960's have the gridiron Rebels begun and ended a season ranked in the AP poll. If we ended there (a la last season), we certainly didn't start there, and vice versa. And such is hardly confined to the way cooler version of rugby we American folk love so much. How many times over the last several seasons have the Rebels of the diamond knocked on the front door of the College World Series, only to have some other would-be trick-or-treater (with a much lamer costume) hop in the way and steal all of the Reese's? How many times have Rebel basketball teams looked hotter than a pistol a for few games--or even minutes--before tail-spinning into forgettability? How may times [WOMEN'S SPORTS REFERENCE]?
I can remember a Rebel basketball team of two seasons ago being ranked as high as 15, only to end up in the NIT. I can remember a slew of Bianco squads in the top-10 or even top-5 which played mostly miserable ball during the postseason. I can remember Rebel teams coming out of seeming oblivion to beat ass in a bowl game and get that final AP ranking. But, whether it be Eli Manning's balance, Bryce Drew's jumpshot, the Rebel Bullpen, Chris Warren's connective tissues, or Jevan Snead's botched lobotomy, there will always be something this hideous curse uses to keep us Rebels just a few steps shy of where we want to be.
This would be so much easier if we were just perennially terrible at everything. Lose every fucking game. By a billion damn points. Then we would have nothing to look forward to. But we're not that. We do things like blow up out of nowhere and shock opponents. We recruit decent athletes (and even a few elite ones). We take games to the wire and make postseason play. We give ourselves something towards which to aspire, even though it looks like we won't realize any of these aspirations any time soon.
In talking to Whiskey Wednesday yesterday, we could find very few athletics programs which suffer through similar hardships. We name dropped Clemson, but they have won a national title in something since the color television was invented. Arizona State has had their collapses in football, but they've got CWS titles to point to. Auburn has been to and won a BCS Bowl game. Maryland has a damn strong basketball program. UVA beat us in our own damn Super Regional only five months ago. If there is a set of collegiate athletics teams which is more difficult to be a fan of, I would like someone to show it to me. I'm having a hard time believing it exists.
Where can we Rebels take some sort of solace with this? True, we've "never lost a party," but that's not the mantra I want to use here. Lots of folks party. Lots of folks do a fantastic job at it, to boot. It's true, we are an elite party school, and this is a blog whose title alludes to collegiate marathon boozing in a not-at-all subtle way, but that's a phrase which is too complacent for me. I want something with some kind of desire; something honest. I want something a bit more controversial and emotional.
How about "the good times there are not forgotten." The good times here, as we know, have been too few, too far between, too sudden, and too difficult to maintain. Which is exactly why, for we Rebels, they are not forgotten.
I grew up in Mississippi and earned a degree from her flagship University. She will never see me be something other than a dedicated fan, despite how poorly she may treat me. This is my onus.
Let's go Rebels. We are Ole Miss, by damn. Make it through the weekend and we'll see if spirits are at all lifted around here.