Urban Dictionary, the clear authority on these matters, lists being "clingy," professing a rivalry with a superior opponent, and acting "like a fake ass punk and / or lil bitch" as symptoms that one might be suffering from a condition known as "Little Brother Syndrome." Without necessarily using that terminology, many Rebel fans often accuse fans, students, and athletic personnel of Mississippi State of carrying that very ailment around with them. Scientists have yet to determine if "leghumping" is, in fact, a sign of Little Brother Syndrome. However, this article on the DM's website is cause for a little self-reflection.
The authors of the article - Jason Smith and Paul Katool, friends of the Cup - say accurately that
[t]here is nothing more frustrating than losing to Mississippi State, but on the flip side, a win against the Bulldogs just does not compare to drumming the Tigers.
That's very true. And it is said in the context of having beaten LSU once in football, twice in basketball, and three times in baseball since November of last year. Not to mention tennis of both genders. And it's no surprise that Google searches of "bears fighting tigers" have quintupled during these late weeks of mascot discussions.* In all things, even battles of anthropomorphic foam symbols, many Ole Miss fans have a deep need to best LSU. Knowing that, it is imperative that we examine the empirical facts surrounding this alleged rivalry with objectivity and self-awareness to determine do we have little brother syndrome?
In the last few days there has been a flurry of blog activity. There was, of course, the little discussion about dogpiles. And, over at And The Valley Shook they had a funny feeling in their stomachs that wasn't, for once, caused by eating things made from swamp rats. Beyond that, a display of dominance in Baton Rouge and distracted derriere haberdashery** in Oxford have added some recency to our history and given Ole Miss fans some smack-talk fodder that happened in the post-integration era. But let's look at facts. In the three major sports, LSU has significantly more long-term success. LSU leads the all-time series 55-39-4 in football and had two legitimate National Championships and the split in 2003 with Southern Cal to our three split titles in '59, '60, and '62. Ole Miss baseball has been outstanding in the Bianco decade; LSU has been better. The Tigers have won 3 regular season SEC Titles since 2000, and you ought to know how many we have.***
But, I submit, the inquiry does not end there. There are plenty of examples of respected, bitter rivalries that are marked by one side's clear record of historical superiority. The rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech is an example. Southern California and UCLA is an example. In different eras the same has been true on both sides of the rivalry between Georgia and Florida. The same can be said for Minnesota and Wisconsin. From my perspective, whether little brother syndrome exists is more about attitudes.
First, does the superior athletic team enjoy beating the inferior athletic team? As has been mentioned, beating State is more like a relief than a feeling of euphoria. Regardless of what they say, LSU fans feel differently about Ole Miss than Rebels do about State. Regardless, before and after Ole Miss games (regardless of record and with one notable exception) Tiger fans talk more shit than the great fun-spreader himself. Maybe they just enjoy winning, period (I know I do), but I was there when Ed O gave Seth Adams the keys to Pissitaway-Town for our eighth loss on the season and cannot imagine that LSU enjoyed beating other terrible teams quite as much as they enjoyed beating us.
Second, is there a commonality of culture that makes the games fun? Absolutely. Between our party school reputations, well-known hot chicks, and exterior rivalry of tailgate supremacy, it is easy to look forward to traveling between Oxford and Baton Rouge.
Third, is the inferior team's season defined by whether or not the superior team was vanquished? For me, this is a big ten-four. I almost got into a fight in Starkville this past season because some drunk Ole Miss fan didn't think I was mad enough after the game. Know why I wasn't mad? Because I was still enjoying a win over LSU.
Yesterday, there was an advertisement in the DM paid for by some guy named Robert S. Murphree listing all the times we've beaten LSU since last November. Our good friends at NAFOOM had a mixed reaction. Me? I loved every bit of it. I read it over and over again.
So, yeah, maybe we do have a little bit of a complex. But I have accepted it - embraced it, even. Because no amount of insistence by LSU fans that the rivalry is not real can discount the strong sense of satisfaction I derive from winning games and shouting derogatory things and claiming dubious superiority.
*I absolutely made that up. How the hell would I know anything about the frequency of a Google search. I'm not always capable of figuring out Google's web address. WhAt Is ThIs ThInG i'M tYpInG oN?
** Colloquially known as "asshattery."
*** Less than one.