Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Mike Bianco. You make us all proud.
On behalf of the great state of Mississippi, Home of the Blues, let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this team.
I stand here today, grateful for the accomplishments of Mike Bianco, aware of the futility of Ole Miss Baseball since the departure of Tom Swayze. I stand here knowing that Swayze's story is part of the larger American story, that we, as Ole Miss fans, a debt to all of those who came before us, and that, in no other school on earth, is this story even possible.
Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our university -- not because of the height of our jumbotron, or the power of our landshark guided defense, or the size of Oxford-University Stadium. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over seventy years ago:
"The University is respected, but Ole Miss is loved. The University gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss"
That is the true genius of Ole Miss, a faith -- a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can put Matt Smith in in the ninth inning and know that they he will hit the walk off home run; that Mike can say what he thinks about Pete Boone, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and change our defense without paying a bribe; that, unlike Starkville, we can attend baseball games without fear of catching disease.
This year, in this season we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we're measuring up to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.
And fellow Rebels, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, I say to you tonight: We have more work to do -- more work to do for the Rebel fans in Rolling Fork, MS who are sick of State fans saying they've been to Omaha recently and we haven't; more to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay 500 dollars a ticket for the seats his son needs so he can be at Swayze every Sunday afternoon after church; more to do for the young woman in Bay St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to make it to Swayze every weekend.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The people I meet -- in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks -- they don’t expect Mike Bianco to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead, and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Oxford, and people will tell you they don’t want their ticket money wasted, by an underachieving team. Go in -- Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that Mike alone can’t teach our kids to plate discipline; they know that fans have to cheer, that players can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a Rebel team can't make it Omaha. They know they can.
They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
In this season, we offer that choice. Our university has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is Mike Bianco.
Mike Bianco understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service to McNeese State, through eight years as coach of the Ole Miss Rebels. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available.
Can we get that clutch hit? When Jordan Henry steps into the box, we'll respond: Yes, we can. Can we make that play from short-stop? When the ball is hit Evan Button's way, we'll respond: Yes, we can.
Can the Rebels win the western division? Yes, we can. Can the Rebels win the SEC? Yes, we can. Can the Rebels make it to Omaha? Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.