PRIMER: this summer, I’m writing articles about how Ole Miss programs could potentially be better next season. This is, very specifically, putting on rose-colored glasses, something that is a little bit difficult for me at the moment given the state of things. There may or may not be bourbon involved in helping me get through these posts, but I do think it’s nice to looks for the hope in every program. So I beat on, boat against the current, born back ceaselessly by the WAOM.
Typically in these columns, I’ve followed a formula. Go through key departures who will have to be replaced, write a bit about the good players who are returning, and then wrap things up with THE FIVE STAR CROOTS!! I started to do that with this column too, but it was just so insincere.
To put it plainly, I didn’t watch the last four games of last season. I don’t have a good excuse. I was just fed up with everything. I knew that no matter what I would be dissatisfied. It turned out to be a very, very good decision. But because of that decision, my efforts to talk about the team were disingenuous.
So this is going to be something very different. Instead of following that formula for a basic team breakdown, I’m going to touch on what it will take to win back the fans this season, and how Ole Miss could get there (because the school really could).
Go 3-0 to start the year.
Ole Miss has three very winnable games at the beginning of its season. If the team manages to beat Memphis, Arkansas, and Whoever State, especially if it does so in an interesting way, I think the fans will really be excited about the season. Look, the path to a bowl doesn’t involve starting 1-2 this year, and a bowl is what it’s going to take to get fans back on Matt Luke’s side (if they ever were...cough).
If the team starts 3-0, a huge portion of the fanbase is going to have a renewed sense of blind optimism, and rightfully so! After all, the huge amount of newcomers who are playing major roles immediately will likely improve a lot by midseason.
Sell alcohol in the stadium.
Yeah. It’s the No. 2 thing on the list. What about it?
Three reasons we should be selling beer in the stadium...
First, there’s the revenue. With a huge drop in season ticket sales and an athletic budget that just had to make 8% cuts across the board, it doesn’t make sense to avoid a revenue stream. While the revenue probably shouldn’t be overstated, we’re talking about the same fanbase that drank Dallas, Texas dry during the Cotton Bowl and had the Compass Bowl concession stands booze-less before halftime. WE DRINK AND THEN GO TO CHURCH, OKAY?
Second, it’s safer. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at studies by West Virginia, the NCAA, and the University of Maryland. Behavior issues during which security had to get involved declined steeply in each instance (sometimes as much as 75 percent). Yes, it turns out it’s true that if you have a legal means by which to drink beer and don’t have to smuggle a Ziploc bag full of bourbon, you’ll drink more responsibly. Whodathunkit?
Lastly, because why would we not? OK.
Be interesting on offense.
This team is going to be breaking in new faces all over the field offensively, and it has a new coordinator in Rich Rodriguez to guide that transition.
There’s a scenario where we ask Matt Corral to be too much of a typical quarterback in year one of SEC play behind a patchwork offensive line with new receivers at pretty much every position. That’s a scenario that leads to disaster. If we’re dropping back five steps on lots of passes and relying on a pristine pocket for Corral to stay in, go ahead and pass the bourbon.
However, there’s another scenario. If Rodriguez harkens back to his time at West Virginia, he could envision an interesting run-heavy attack that relies on Scottie Phillips as a primary ballcarrier with Jerrion Ealy, Tylan Knight, and Elijah Moore doing crazy motions and providing third and fourth options. Something like that could be fun to see even in games Ole Miss just wasn’t going to win. I like to see chaos. That’s why I watch college football.
Improve some on defense.
For real just don’t suck. No one’s asking you to be amazing. Just stop jogging.
So the times to punt the football include when you’re in your own territory on 4th and 6 or more or any 4th down inside your 35. Otherwise, go for it! It’s fun!