How do you use this thing again? Seriously, I apologize for my extended leave; maybe the Egg Bowl caused a short circuit in the part of my brain that cares about Ole Miss sports. Alternately, lately I haven't had access to both alcohol and internet simultaneously. At the end of 2007, we did a list of the most "Ole Miss" moments of the year. There were ten of them, and they were all funny, humiliating, and depressing. In 2008, we had a banner year. It was awesome, and I felt no need to harp on the negative. 2009 was a mixed bag, but not the kind of mixed bag where you'd find some assorted fruit, maybe some hard candies, then pretzel dip and cheese straws. No, it was the kind of mixed bag where you'd find some cocoa dusted truffles, some gourmet bagel chips, and then maybe a rat carcass. So, to accompany Ghost's Five Greatest Moments of 2009, here are the really sucky ones.
5. Missing Omaha... again: Mike Bianco has had some pretty impressive baseball teams, in terms of talent, depth, and experience. The 2009 edition was not one of them. Still, here we find ourselves hosting a Super Regional, 40+ wins under our belt, facing an upstart Virginia team that doesn't look as strong as the ASU, Texas, or Miami teams that have put us out in the past. And, for the 4th time in my 5 years at Ole Miss, we miss the bus to Omaha. Fielding errors, coaching errors, and weak-ass hitting cancel out great performances by Phil Irwin, Drew Pomeranz, and Matt Smith. The only reason this wasn't high on the list is because, let's be real: we all knew it was coming.
4. Basketball season takes a shot below the belt: If a football team suffered three season-ending injuries, all at the same position, it would be ridiculous, right? If our 9-4 football team had lost three receivers, running backs, offensive linemen, etc., suffice it to say that our win total would be less than nine. But in basketball, losing two guards preseason, and one more within the first third of the season, how do you... how does that even happen? Between David Huertas being a giant pain in the ass, Will Bogan actually catching minutes, Terrico White providing occasional highlight material, and Andy Kennedy facepunching a guy after a night spent getting hammered before coaching his biggest game of the year, this season was pretty much a three-ring dog and pony show of awful.
3. Leaving the Egg in Starkville: Until last November I had never, of my own volition, traveled to Starkville to watch an Ole Miss football game. I may never attempt it again. Some sports fans in-state claim that when Ole Miss and State are competitive with each other, it helps both programs. Bullshit. If we ever want to be significant in the SEC, we have to crush MSU almost every year. For recruiting, for bowl eligibility and exposure, and just for the sake of consistency. We've been the more talented team almost every year of the last decade. Why the fuck are we 6-4? Only twice this decade has MSU entered the Egg Bowl with a better record than UM. Twice, the records have been even, and six times, we've held the advantage. In three of those six years, however, we've dropped the ball and lost, none in more embarrassing fashion than in 2009. This, along with 2001, was a year that MSU really deprived us of something by beating us, sending us to the Cotton Bowl instead of the Capital One.
2. The South Will Continue To Dig Itself A Deeper Hole: Dammit, is it too much to ask to be able to feel pride for your state and your university? First, it's impossible for the University to make any sort of progressive move without the media framing it in the context of our past. The progressive move will end up gaining us net bad publicity. We still need to make the move, but it's so fucking frustrating for every media outlet to dig 50 year old skeletons out of the closet when we try to do something GOOD. Second, the fucking students... What can you say? My only hope is that this was an extreme case of the vocal minority being heard. I really, really hope I didn't go to school with that many shortsighted, immature, or flat-out racist idiots. I mused, years ago, about the students' ability to get bent out of shape over a foam-headed mascot being taken off of the sidelines. This shitstorm has dwarfed the mascot issue in comparison. We can only hope that Houston Nutt will continue to win football games, so this can all go away.
1. Remember that time we were ranked #4 in football?: Remember when every sidewalk idiot called us overrated all summer, just because we were Ole Miss? Remember when every talking head on TV crawled and clawed to be the first and the most adamant to call us overrated after we lost? Remember when our starting left tackle had a microphone shoved in his stupid face, and he expressed relief over losing? Remember when Dexter McCluster rushed for 70 yards in the 4th quarter, letting us know that we easily could have beaten USC had we only used him properly the other 3 quarters? Yeah, that sucked pretty bad.
Well, now that all of that's out of our systems... Let's move on. Let's hope for another year where a "Bottom 5" is hard to come up with. Sure, we may not make the Cotton Bowl this year, but we get to watch the future right in front of us. We get to watch someone who is not Jevan Snead make mistakes and throw interceptions. We could be freakishly sick at basketball. And hey, I hear you can drink beer at baseball games! Happy 2010, everyone.