J ames Taylor Giant Prosthetic Penis Paul Finebaum,
You're an antagonistic cunt.
Sorry to be so frank, but I choose not to begin with random patronizing bullshit like calling you Phyllis from Mulga's "loveable little fuzzball". No, I'm going to be honest and up front. As a matter of fact, I'm going to accomplish several things you failed to accomplish in your column regarding Ole Miss' pre-season hype. I'm going to present facts (with some opinion sprinkled here and there to keep things interesting). I'm going to maintain accuracy. I'm going to be honest. In short, I'm going to know what the fuck I'm talking about.
Before we get to the meat of this letter, let's get a few minor things out of the way:
- Jevan Snead is not a senior. He is a junior.
- The retired mascot's name is Colonel Reb - not Johnny Reb.
- Though the Mannings are admittedly the royal family of Ole Miss, Archie and Eli do not constitute the two "greatest moments" in Ole Miss history. In fact, neither of them were involved in the top 9 moments in Ole Miss Football history (6 SEC Titles, 3 Nat. Championships).
- Forgive me if I sounded like one of your Bama callers in referencing championships that occurred well before I was born. Just wanted to out point out the fallacy in your claim about the Mannings being our only football history.
- As unimaginative as I found your column, I have to give you credit for the following line: "Since the '60s, Ole Miss hasn't been No. 1 in anything except throwing whiskey bottles." That made me laugh.
Now that those things are out of the way, let's begin.
What constitutes a trainwreck? Who decides this? Is it you? Ole Miss fans? Ole Miss players? Coaches? I-Man? By trainwreck, do you mean we won't go undefeated? Do you mean we won't win the West? Do you mean we'll go a very Cutcliffesque 8-4 or 7-5? I took the basic theme of the column to mean we will be good but will fall just short of our first SEC West title. Is anything short of winning the West going to be disappointing to Ole Miss fans? Yes. Should it be called a trainwreck? I don't think so. I'm sure it varies from person to person. To me, a trainwreck would mean 8-4 or worse. I never bet when it comes to Ole Miss. But, I'd be willing to make a friendly wager that we will not lose four games in the regular season.
For the purposes of discussion, we'll go with your trainwreck terminology. You presented two factors to support your argument against the Rebels' pre-season hype: An easy schedule and "they're Ole Miss"
Now, perhaps I'm wrong here. And, if I am, please feel free to set me straight. But how does pointing out our easy schedule support your argument that our season will be a trainwreck? I don't get it. Doesn't an easier schedule lend itself to a better chance of not running the Rebel Express off the tracks?
As for your main argument, I find it astonishingly weak considering your long career of
covering SEC football successfully cornering the Jerry Springer market on the airwaves of the Yellowhammer State. I'm simply astounded that a man deemed one of the top 10 most influential people in the SEC would dedicate an entire column to make a stance with such poor, uninformed reasoning. I mean, if you really wanted to be taken seriously, why not do ten minutes of research? Why not point out the fact that Ole Miss lost a first round draft pick on both the offensive and defensive lines? Why not point out that Jevan Snead is one injury away from holding a clipboard while a redshirt-freshman faces the likes of Alabama, Arkansas and LSU? Why not point out the lack of depth the Rebs have at the linebacker position and o-line?
Don't get me wrong. As an Ole Miss graduate, fan and season ticket holder, I am all too familiar with the "because they're Ole Miss" argument. Hell, we invented the "We Are...Ole Miss" mantra.
Examples, you ask?
Lou Groza winner misses two easy FGs and Eli Manning trips and falls on last play of the game against LSU with our first trip ever to Atlanta at stake? We Are...Ole Miss!
Promising young basketball coach breathing life into a dismal program only to be arrested for allegedly punching a cab driver in Cinncinnatti? We Are....Ole Miss!
Doyle Jackson in the replay booth against the Tide? We Are...Ole Miss!
Ole Miss baseball reaches Super Regionals four out of five years but fails to reach Omaha? We Are...Ole Miss!
The Ed Orgeron era? We Are...Ole Miss!
I think you get the picture. Believe me, we are the last fan base in the SEC in need of a warning from some hack sportswriter regarding the possibility of a letdown. The sports gods are Lucy and we're Charlie Brown. We know this. And, whether we admit it or not, it's tucked neatly in the back of our collective minds. However, we're allowing ourselves to enjoy the spotlight a little. And, why should't we? We've waited 40 years. Let us enjoy our last few weeks of pre-season hype. Once the season starts, whatever happens, happens. We're fully capable and experienced in dealing with letdowns. Of this, I can assure you.
Now that I've addressed the numerous holes in your argument, allow me to present a few of the reasons why Ole Miss will not have a trainwreck:
TALENT NAMED SNEAD: Much has been made of our early-season losses to Vandy and Carolina last year. I think it is only fair to point out that Jevan Snead, talented and able as he may be, spent the first half of the season learning to be an SEC QB. The difference in his decision making in the first half of the season and the last 6 games was night and day. Yes Vandy did beat us last year. But, in the context of looking at last year's results in determining accurate assessments of what to expect this season, one must look at why those games were lost - turnovers. Six of them. Snead threw four INTs. Despite dominating the Dores at the line of scrimmage on both side of the ball, the Rebs lost because of committing six turnovers. I suppose it's possible for Snead to throw four INTs in a single game again this season. But, it ain't likely.
TALENT NOT NAMED SNEAD: Despite some of the ridiculous claims certain Bama callers have made on your show in recent days, there are plenty of very talented SEC players on Ole Miss' roster not named Jevan Snead. To the casual outside observer, this may come as a surprise. But, across the board, Jevan Snead is surrounded by far more talent than Eli Manning ever had the luxury of playing around during his time in Oxford. That 2003 team was one great player surrounded by a lot of pretty good players with experience. Snead is surrounded by great players on both sides of the ball.
KENT AUSTIN - SCHOLAR, COACH, GENTLEMAN, GENIUS: Houston Nutt may have found his coaching soul mate in Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin. Austin is the yang to Nutt's ying. Nutt is, well, nutty. Austin? Reserved. Nutt is undeniably a master of rushing offense, Austin a master of the passing game. Besides, it's never a bad thing when you have a man smart enough to earn a Rhodes Scholarship helping you design an offense, gameplan and call plays. Austin is one of the reasons I think Nutt can have more success in Oxford than he did in Fayetteville. I think he knows this as well. Kent Austin is Houston's X factor.
D-LINE: Despite the loss of first round NFL draft pick Peria Jerry, Ole Miss, once again, appears to have one of the best and deepest defensive lines in the country (a rare tip of the hat to Eddie O). Of course, there's Greg Hardy. But there is also Kentrell Locket, a MUCH lighter Jerrell Powe, Marcus Tillman, Lawon Scott, Ted Laurent, etc. The one thing Eli Manning never had while at Ole Miss was a great (or even good) defense. It all starts up front, as they say.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!: While you seemingly used our schedule against us, I'm using it for us. Yeah, the non-cons are a complete joke thanks to a train wreck (get it?) in scheduling by the AD's office, indecision in Bristol and TCU backing out on us. At any rate, that's 4 Ws. Everyone's heard the rest of the story (No Gators or Athenian Dawgs and both Bama and LSU at home). If ever there were a perfect SEC schedule for a team poised to make a run, this is it.
RELATIVITY: When you're competing against 5 other teams in a division, everything is relative. Sure, we lost our LT to the draft. But, so did Bama. All of us (UM, LSU and UA) have holes to fill here and there. But, that's just it. Everyone has holes to fill. It's the nature of the college game. A major advantage - going back to Snead for a moment - is that Ole Miss is the only team in the division returning the starting QB (who knows what Auburn ends up doing). As talented and well-coached as both the Tigers and Tide are (and they are), you don't wave a magic wand over a brand spanking new SEC starting quarterback and expect him to instantly gain the knowledge and wisdom of having a full season under his belt. There are exceptions to every rule. But, generally speaking, breaking in a new QB is going to cost a team at least a couple of games just based on the learning curve and the mistakes that come with said curve. Look no further than Snead's performances against Vandy and Carolina early in the '08 season. I say that to say this. I think the winner of the West may very well walk into Atlanta with two losses on their record. It will all come down to which team loses to which team or teams. Personally, I could see the Rebs dropping games at South Carolina and at Auburn but winning the other 10, which could very easily land them in the Georgia Dome to face the mighty Gators in December.
TIMING: It's time. As you have pointed out, it has been a long, long time since Ole Miss won any sort of championship in football. In my opinion, that's all the more reason to believe they will do it. It has to happen at some point, right?
SUPER REBEL: Austin is unleashing yet another unconventional package to the offense called the "Super Rebel". All I know is Jevan Snead's role is to stand on the sidelines. Not sure what to expect, but with a name like Super Rebel, it's gotta work.
Now that I've gotten all that off my chest, I bid you adieu and wish you and Phyllis all the best. RTR!!!!!!
Finger in the air,