It's tough to keep doing this - to keep logging in here day after day to break some soul crushing news to you, the readers and friends of the Cup. "We lost in this sport today," "our coaches said something stupid again," "somebody we all love had something horrible happen to them," "they're closing Ajax*," et cetera.
In Rebel land, we rarely catch breaks in bunches, and we rarely see anything live up to even our most modest of expectations. This isn't unltimately a bad thing. "We've never lost a party," remember. And, on top of all of the fantastic excuses we've got to drown sorrow, the whole "We Are Ole Miss" mantra has somehow evolved into an ironically pride-inducing mark of shame. We suffer together, which makes us stronger and brings us closer. It's akin to the way the Russians survive their winter.
But this Rebel sports season has gone beyond that. It has just been absolutely brutal to everyone in our fan base, from the casual Rebel partisan to the die hard bloggeurs.
Few of us would have expected a stellar football season after seeing all of the offensive weaponry lost after the end of the 2009-2010 season. No more Dex. No more Shay. No more Snead (don't laugh). But, what's this? A troubled Samoan badass of a quarterback in need of some people heppin? Bring him on in! Surely our defense will be able to keep us competitive and, with Masoli, we may be a much more complete team than we first suspected!
Nope. One exploded OleForty ligament and a horrible secondary later, and we're staring a four-win season in the face, all after enduring relentless media scrutiny over Jeremiah Masoli's transfer and the Colonel Reb's final farewell. Optimism, typically at a fever pitch this time of year, can't even bear to grace us with some anticipation of "next year," with our most vital offensive player suffering from a speech impediment and our most vital defensive player suffering from - and this is a recurring theme here - an exploded ligament.
Basketball though would surely re-ignite the fires of passionate fandom! Why, Andy Kennedy's sure to make the dance this year with promising young athletes and a veteran Chris Warren, we convinced ourselves. That was all before inexcuseable non-conference losses (Dayton, Colorado State) and typical underperformance in SEC play led us to yet another NIT berth. The twist of the dagger? Seeing Chris Warren's storied, tournament-free career end with a whimper on a court in Berkely.
We then did what we do every spring to ease our collective suffering: we turned to baseball. Which is where we see ourselves today, rooting for a team which cannot conquer a must-win situation behind good pitching and underachieving bats, a story which has rehashed itself in subsequently more humiliating forms really ever since 2005. It's a tough pill to swallow, Rebels, but after being one of the strongest programs in one of the strongest conferences for several seasons, we're maybe the 8th or 9th best team in the league, and some would call even that an optimistic outlook on the situation.
Where to turn next? Armintie Price isn't leading the Lady Rebels to an Elite Eight. Our men's tennis team has, for the first time in nine - NINE! - seasons, lost the SEC West crown (to Mississippi State, no less... talk about insulting an injury). Our softball team is as uninteresting as it has ever been.
As far as I can tell, the most successful athletics program at Ole Miss right now is the men's track team which is currently ranked at #20, good for 6th in the SEC (y'all fight the good fight out there).
The titular question isn't a rhetorical one. I am legitimately curious as to if there has been another time in, at the very least, the past ten years when all Rebel sports were seemingly in a horrific slump. And I don't know what, if anything, can quickly give cause for our Rebel spirits to recover. Unless, of course, it's this man kicking culinary ass on Top Chef Masters:
This year's a wash, folks. Let's ride out this baseball season and see where it takes us. We'll entertain ourselves with the NFL Draft, NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs (c'mon, I know I can't be the only one here who'll watch some of it), MLB, and a whole bevy of other non-Ole Miss sports until that first Saturday in the humidity of an early Mississippi autumn Friday's night, where we catch ourselves invading that 10-acre patch of paradise to stake our temporary plot of the most wonderful real estate in all of Dixieland, images of Brandon Bolden demolishing a BYU defender dancing about our bourbon-induced daydreams.
Hotty Toddy... and here's to next year.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Let's see if we can go the whole thread without calling somebody a "racist" or invoke "tradition." That'll be a fun game.]
*Pardon my alarmism.