[ED: This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011]
To promote NCAA 2011, EA Sports has asked a whole mess of college football bloggers (HEY THAT'S US!) to sortof pump up their respective reader bases (HEY THAT'S YOU!) and get everyone in the college football spirit. As Juco explained earlier today, each day of the next week will see us talking about certain aspects of Rebel fandom as well as our prognostications for the upcoming season. Today, we bring you the how and why of our loyalty to Ole Miss. First up, yours truly.
Ghost: I was born in Dallas to a pair of Texas alumni and have family who claim Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and some other schools that nobody knows or cares about. The fact that I would eventually become a fan of the most frustrating team in the Southeastern Conference is a bit odd, if not simply unique. My family moved to Mississippi when I was in the first grade yet it would take nearly a decade for the Magnolia State to feel like home to me. I was still a Texan at heart, I suppose. I would eventually refrain from this foolishness gradually as my high school years wound down and I began the university decision process. It didn't take me long to sell myself on staying home and attending Ole Miss. I could rattle on about the educational opportunities made available to me and the excellent scholarships the university awarded and wax poetic about more virtuous reasons to have chosen Ole Miss, but, no, that's not fun nor is it at all frank. I was sold on Ole Miss after my first trip to the grove in 2002. Seeing multiple generations of Ole Miss fans tailgating together under one tent, the Manning tradition, the undergraduate "talent", and unique aura of the school all sold me on Rebel fandom.
Juco: My father attended Ole Miss in the 60s. I wouldn't say that I grew up as a big Ole Miss guy, since i only went to three or four games before I started my time in Oxford. [Editor's side note: One of them was the incredible sesquicentennial game versus LSU on Halloween night. What a game.] Actually, during my senior year in high school, I visited several other more "prestigious" schools and kept Ole Miss as a safety school. When it came down to it, none of the schools I visited felt as special as Ole Miss, so I only applied to my "safety" school. When I got to Ole Miss, Eli Manning was the quarterback, and we were good. Even thought we followed my first two years with several years of bad football, I was already hooked. Once I became an avid football fan, it was only a matter of time before the other sports fell in line as well.
One Man: Born and raised in Georgia on the traditions of Bulldog football and tales of Buck Belue, Lindsay Scott, Herschel Walker and Vince Dooley, it was assumed I would attend the great university in Athens. However, the school had grown to be too large for my liking and was becoming more non-traditional than other SEC schools. I didn't miss a single UGA game from 1989 until 2003, and my first encounter with Ole Miss was in Athens. I went into the game fairly confident the 'Dawgs would trample over the Rebels It was around the mid-1990's, and Ole Miss just came in and outplayed Georgia. I clearly remember my dad saying, "Yeah, Ole Miss is just one of those teams who always gives you a good game." When I finished high school, Eli was the QB, and the campus, wimmens and lifestyle just seemed to fit with what I wanted out of a university. My four years at Ole Miss were marked with 15 wins in football and saw two losses to my other favorite school, Georgia. It's a labor of love. It's hard work to be a Rebel fan, and I can't help but love cheering for an underdog.
Ivory Tower: Deddy went to State. Mother went to Southern. But they never acted like Ole Miss was anything to be ashamed of. In fact, the first football game I ever went to was an Ole Miss/Tulane tilt in N'awlins. It didn't have much effect on me then. I actually chose Ole Miss for the school (Honors College, law, and history of Rebel politicians being what they are). But with 2003 being my first football season, it was easy to get excited. But I became a blogger because of the 2005 postseason in baseball. I wrote one piece about our Super Regional against Texas for the college newspaper. The next week, the Sports Editor asked me if I wanted to write about sports every week. That got me started being a "printed-word" fan of Ole Miss; blogging was the logical progression from that.
BWE: My story is similar to Ivory's in that I was raised in a family that cheered for State. My father did not attend a 4-year institution in Mississippi, but he grew up in an agrarian family. His father served in WWII and attended State shortly thereafter. Therefore, he sort of liked State growing up. My mother graduated from Delta State, and she also had Mississippi State ties living in Starkville for a while and also because her brother graduated from there with an engineering degree. The result: I grew up a huge Mississippi State fan. My room had MS State wallpaper and was maroon and white. I was lightly recruited by ivy league schools to play football out of high school (they don't really do "hefty" sports scholarships), and I also took a couple of unofficial visits to MS State for some games. God intervened , though, when I was given some tickets to a 2005 Rebel baseball game against Florida. Pettway and Head both went yard that day. I was then in love with Rebel baseball. The love for the other sports followed soon thereafter, and the 2005 butt whipping in the Egg Bowl my freshman year of college solidified my converted hatred for State. Rebel Baseball was my first love and continues to be my passion, but I love the Rebel footballers too.
Whiskey Wednesday: Chicks, man.
So why are you a member of Red Cup Rebellion? Why do you put yourself through so, so much suffering interrupted by mere glimmers of excitement? Why do you spend time in the Grove, hate Mississippi State, and don the red and blue every Autumn Saturday?