Around the blogosphere, the embarrassment of our early season loss to Jacksonville State is beginning to wear off just a tad. The swelling is going down, and our reputation is healing just about as quickly as one could expect. Our egos, true to Rebel form, are about a half-step behind regional perception. And - to build on what my esteemed colleague from Jackson, Mr. All-American, argued recently - no one in the SEC is really paying attention to our "cultural" issues (though I attribute some of that to the fact that Alabama is playing tragically, epically good football right now - a story which is, I think we can all agree, more interesting than anything made of foam).
In looking for something, anything to fill the empty space of Rebel chatter, I was reminded by our loyal comment contributer tlcreb17 of a Houston Nutt maxim that should seem almost prophetically accurate in 2010.
Hint: this is when they remember.
Surely, I wasn't the only good Rebel on this jolly good website that sat in the Ford Center in early December of 2007 and heard our head coach in his first day on the job put together what still stands as the most coherent five minutes of public address in, perhaps his lifetime, but, at least, his stint in Oxford. Even his non-sensical way of spelling "fun" seemed at the time to be a folksy flight of literary whimsy. And when he told us when they (we) remember, the place damn near caved in on itself.
The remember in November.
For good or ill, this is going to be true 100% accurate in 2010. Our October string of games, which everyone with half a brain knew would be the toughest stretch on our schedule, only seem more tough now that we have almost reached the half-way point of the season. Three straight Heisman trophy contenders will be coming at us from the alphabetical and actual top half of the division. The well-oiled Nicktatorship, the Hogs hungry for, not just a win, but an embarrassment of Houston Nutt, and the epic fail that will be Cameron Newton versus Joe Lee Dunn with socks* have both the communal and individual ability to do so much more than take the wind out of our sails; they may very well burn our ships, piss in our rum buckets, send our sails back home for their wives to make cloth diapers into which their children will defecate, and stymie the movement of all air molecules in our metaphorical galaxy by sheer force of will, making air pressure and, thus, wind no longer a relevant force in our world.
And it could always be even worse.
But, then, think on November. Tennessee almost lost fair and square to the very same University of Alabama (Birmingham) team that looked against Central Florida like the creators of LOST when ABC asked whether they could stretch that thing out for seven seasons. That makes the Volunteers, allegorically, Sun and Jin - pointless in the end and dead in the water.
And what does that say for the (maybe only slightly) better team from Louisiana which we will face in November? Can I go ahead and start the campaign for every Rebel fan that is heading to Baton Rouge to bring with them a clock from Dollar General; let's make some bad joo-joo in Tiger Stadium. Against all odds, LSU is 5-0. And they have played one of the toughest schedules in the country. Their defense has been stifling. Their offense has . . . benched Jordan Jefferson in favor of Jarrett Lee. Whatever they're paying Gary Crowton, they should give it to John Chavis. Hell, whatever they're paying Les Miles should go to Chavis. Nevetheless, anybody excpet McNeese State left on the Tigers' schedule ought to feel like they've got a fighting chance.
And then there is Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are the only team left on the schedule that hasn't disappointed. But they haven't, exactly, overwhelmed college football watchers, either. We started the season thinking that a win against State was within the realm of possibility; that's the way I think today.
So, let's recap: we're going to lose every game in October; we have a decent chance against every opponent in November. In 2008, we rode a five-game winning streak through the 11th month and felt fan-damn-tastic. In 2009, we punctuated November with an ugly loss in Starkville and felt deflated, to say the least. In 2010, we have the easiest remaining portion of our schedule. How the Rebels fare through that stretch will weigh heavily on our general good will toward the coaching staff ... every one of them.
One way or the other, what I predict will be a brutal October will fade beneath the fallen leaves of November. But whether it be fondly or furiously, we are going to remember this November. On that point, at least, ol' Hootie knew what he was talking about.
*God bless you, NAFOOM.