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The 10 saddest Ole Miss teams: Coach O era embarks on its final voyage in 2007

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Our countdown staggers into the No. 2 spot, featuring Ed Orgeron's final season that produced zero SEC wins and the shortest coaching search ever.

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

After weeks of engaging in this vertical climb up a mountain of emotional misery, the summit is in sight, friends. We've lost some people along the way and remembered things that should be unremembered immediately, but what a journey it has been*.

*If this were a real climbing expedition and I gave this speech, my ropes would've been cut before I finished.

Last week in the countdown we documented the beginning of the end for Houston Nutt and his heppin' ways. This week we return to the Ed Orgeron era and his last attempt to build a shrimping empire with a fleet of paddle wheel boats that lacked functioning nets.

If you recall our review of the 2006 season, there were signs that things were getting better in the Ole Miss football program as the 2007 season approached. The 2006 team increased its SEC win total (from one to two!) and had a number of close conference losses. Plus, the highly ranked recruiting class from 2006 had a year of experience and would be significant contributors in 2007.

While no one expected to see Orgeron lift the Sugar Bowl trophy at the end of the season, it was not unreasonable to think his team would be fighting for the glory one can only attain in Shreveport or Birmingham. To achieve this and a fourth year in Oxford, all Orgeron needed was consistency on offense and a defense that could stay afloat.

Oh no.

2) 2007 (3-9 overall, 0-8 SEC)

via olemisssports.com

The good news was that Orgeron's offense scored eight more points in SEC play than it did in 2006. The bad news was that his defense gave up 70 more points, which led to Ole Miss being outscored 252-131 (31.5-16.4) in conference games.

The defense also surrendered 199.1 rushing yards/game and 25 rushing touchdowns, both key contributors in Ole Miss being outrushed by 811 yards (2,389-1,578) on the season. But let us not cast all of the stones at the defense, for the offense, despite having a 1,000-yard rusher in BenJarvis Green-Ellis, was equally poor, mostly due to wretched quarterback play.

Though the quarterbacks combined to throw for 17 touchdowns (Seth Adams had 12, which was the first time an Ole Miss QB hit double digits since Eli Manning), they piled up 20 interceptions and combined for a 50.9 percent completion percentage. Just to be clear, that means whenever a Rebel quarterback dropped back to pass in 2007, it was essentially a coin flip on whether or not the pass would be complete or incomplete*.

*Save for punter Justin Sparks who was 1-1, meaning WHY DIDN'T HE AIR IT OUT MORE.

If anyone was paying attention in the preseason, they might have noticed this was coming. During Orgeron's preseason press conference, he mentioned that Brent Schaeffer, who had a bad 2006, was taking snaps with the THIRD STRING, behind walk-on junior Seth Adams and redshirt sophomore Michael Herrick. So the guy Orgeron tabbed as his quarterback savior was struggling to win the job over two guys who had never taken a snap at the Division I level, one of which came to Ole Miss through Delta State and Hinds Community College.

When asked why it was so hard for him to find a quarterback, here's what Orgeron said:

I wish I had the answer. Robert Lane can be a force on offense and made a great decision to move to tight end. He thinks that is his spot for the NFL and he sees it now. He's a great young man who has bought into the system and is a leader. We want to get him the ball and that's worked out fine.

With Brent, obviously he had a shot last year given to him. That was a mistake, but I've said that before. His conditioning level was nowhere near where it should have been coming in here. Becoming qualified hurt and being inconsistent throughout the season. Is he an athlete? Yes. Does he have the talent? Yes. Does he have the makeup of what it takes to be a great quarterback? That remains to be seen.

In review:

  • He doesn't know
  • Talks about a guy who does not play quarterback anymore
  • Admits he should not have played last year's starter
  • Craps on last year's starter
  • Unsure if last year's starter will ever play again

ALL WAS WELL.

You would not be shocked to learn that the offense, which was turned over to Adams, did not crack 300 yards of total offense in 6 of its 12 games and scored touchdowns in the red zone just 36 percent of the time (2015 team hit 60 percent). One of the banner achievements came in a three-game stretch against Louisiana Tech (LOUISIANA TECH), Alabama, and Arkansas, when Adams threw 10 interceptions and only 4 touchdowns.

Speaking of the Alabama game, let's take a look at the final film of Ed Orgeron's three-point losses to the Tide trilogy. First, the cover of the collector's edition box set:

Sums up everything about those three losses pretty well. Close game, something has gone wrong for Ole Miss, and Orgeron is locked in a 1,000-yard stare into the darkness.

Now let's get to the part where you have the opportunity to get real indignant all over again about the five-minute review that overturned Shay Hodge's catch and throw trash or shoes wherever you are.

As a refresher, Ole Miss, needing a field goal to tie, faced a fourth and 16 from its own 8 with 2:25 to play. Most assumed the game was over, but they didn't count on Seth Adams THROWING DARTS AND BURNING ALL OF THAT PATTERN-READING DEFENSE BUSINESS TO THE GROUND.

BAM. AND AGAIN.

LET THE RAGE FLOW OUT OF YOU, NICK.

THERE'S A DEFENSIVE BACK WHO CAN TRANSFER WHEREVER HE WANTS.

But since this was Ole Miss Football 2007, the Rebels followed the completion to Dexter McCluster with a sack, an incomplete pass, and another sack, which put them facing a 4th and 22 from the Alabama 45 with 18 seconds left. Fun fact: I was so angry about those three plays, I walked out and watched this play on the TV monitors in the stadium concourse.

And here's where Jefferson Pilot (it will NEVER be Lincoln Financial to me) debuted its field level ref cam for Penn Wagers' explanation of whatever that replay interpretation was:

While I was mad about the overturn, it paled in comparison to the boiling fury I would've had over the inevitable sack or clock run-off after a false start, if Ole Miss had been allowed to run another play. But seriously, National Treasure 3 should be about the ILLUMINATI AND ITS CLAWS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL.

In the days after the Alabama game, there was a great deal of anger among Ole Miss fans, players, and coaches, even talks of boycotts (#GRIND) and billboard campaigns (#DOUBLEYOURGRIND). Would Ole Miss use this anger as fuel for the rest of the season?

NOT SO MUCH. The following week they were drilled by Arkansas at home and put on a halftime fireworks show in the middle of the day that knocked out power to half of the stadium.

Sadly, I was unable to find video of the pyrotechnic showcase, but video of the 44-8 face-smashing does exist. And it was very worthy of a CSS broadcast.

We're only looking at this because you deserve to see two of the worst interceptions thrown by mankind. First, what is probably number one overall:

If Vine existed in 2007, this would have 84 million loops and counting. And second, though probably not number one overall, it is at least the worst Hail Mary ever thrown:

According to my math and generous estimation, we are all witnesses to a heave of 35 yards. What makes this play even more special is that, since it occurred just before halftime, it whet the appetite for the explosions in the clear, bright blue sky.

The Arkansas game marked the unraveling of Seth Adams and Ole Miss' quarterback production overall. In the final five games of the season, Adams and Schaeffer (mostly Adams) combined to complete 40.9 percent (65-159) of their passes for 172.4 yards/game, 4 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, which probably isn't awful if you're running a Wing-T offense in junior high over a 12-year period.

Unfortunately for Ole Miss and Ed Orgeron, those results happened in Coach O's version of the USC offense in five games. But I'm sure that incompetence and a 2-7 record didn't affect attendance late in the year, right?

I like to think of it as a spring game in November.

The end of Orgeron era would come some three weeks later in Starkville by the work of, well, Ed Orgeron. Leading 14-0 with 10 minutes left, Orgeron elected to go for a fourth and one at his own 49.

At this point in the game, the Mississippi State offense had run 37 plays for 98 total yards and 4 first downs. They averaged 2.6 yards per play. If he punted and it resulted in a touchback, based on the 2.6 yards per play statistic, it would have taken the Mississippi State offense 30.8 plays to go 80 yards for a touchdown.

Instead, he did this:

Why he did such a thing I do not know. Perhaps it was what the PowerPoint presentation said to do.

Though I was screaming at the TV to fire Orgeron before he got off the field, Pete Boone waited until the next day. Then he took THREE WHOLE DAYS to scan the country far and wide and top to bottom for a new coach before settling on Houston Dale Nutt.

One of the final Ed Orgeron faces offered the best opinion of that bit of athletic director movin' and shakin':