The biggest lesson the 2020 football season taught me was gratitude. For months I was holding on to the smallest glimmer of hope I would get to see our beloved Rebs play at least once. Not only did I get my wish, but I got it 10 times over!
I have no doubt, post-COVID restrictions, this season is going to be even better.
Last year, Ole Miss fans were able to get a glimpse into what life is like with Lane Kiffin as a coach, and honestly, I have no complaints. Ole Miss went 5-5, went to a bowl game for the first time since the 2016 Sugar Bowl (and won!), and proved that “Mike Leach would stop at 70 in the Egg Bowl.” If we’re following the typical timeline for a new coach, the 2020 season was Kiffin’s “lose big” year. If 5-5 is a “lose big” situation, I’m giddy to “lose small.”
I’m sure there are RCR readers out there who have been Ole Miss fans for 20+ years who are sick of hearing my quiet optimism about Rebel football. However, this year screams potential and gives me big “this is our year” vibes. At the very least, it’s going to be entertaining as hell.
Here’s why I have doe-eyed optimism, anxiously awaiting the 2021 Ole Miss football season.
Returning players and new recruits
For one, returning 86 percent of last years’ team is huge. Three of the six players that left will be competing for a starting job on Sundays, so there will still be big shoes that need to be filled (first name: Elijah, last name: Moore).
I am interested in seeing how Kiffin and his offense respond and who will step up to the plate after everyone is healthy.
Full capacity stadiums
I will admit it is going to take a bit of getting used to with returning to no leg room, definite assigned seats, and being bumped a lot. Fans have missed its sacred stadiums and I feel very lucky the welcome back tour will be at Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, and of course, the Vaught. I am so excited to see what Ole Miss will be doing to break tradition and engage the fans more after a tough year.
The Grove is back!
This might have been the most anticipated announcement of the season. Ole Miss is the Grove and going without it for a year will make it that much more endearing. I, for one, missed it so much I have nominated myself as the runner on Friday night to fight for a spot on the Walk of Champions for the LSU and A&M games. So, if you see me throw some elbows, mind yo business.
Hugh Freeze is coming back
Ugh, there is something so sweet about your current controversial coach dominating your old controversial coach. Also…If you are planning on giving a standing ovation to a coach who embarrassed your school as well as screwed athletics over greatly, please do not. It’s weird.
The Landshark(?) Defense
It can only get better!!! The Ole Miss defense had a bleak season after allowing an average of 38 points, but we’re here to look at the positives. The team showed a lot of promise towards the end of the season, and you could argue the defense won the bowl game. There is a lot of returning talent as well as a new (very talented) defensive line coach and a surplus of new defensive recruits. After being able to watch bits and pieces of spring practices, it is clear the defense is going to be better. Having a full spring and summer will be huge for the development of the young guys in the locker room, as well as the veterans.
I know, I know, I know....
But let me paint a picture for you.
Alabama opens with Miami, Mercer, Florida, and Southern Miss before playing Ole Miss at home on October 2. I feel confident in saying Alabama will start the season 4-0, and most likely embarrass Dan Mullen, again. Ole Miss, on the other hand, starts off with Louisville, Austin Peay, and Tulane before its bye week. Playing in Tuscaloosa against Alabama is not for the faint of heart, however, opening SEC play and coming off a bye week is definitely going to help. Hello College Gameday, hello Primetime, and hello upset.
Lane Kiffin’s wardrobe
I really don’t believe that there is a sane person out there who wouldn’t say that Lane Kiffin is the best-dressed coach in the SEC, maybe even in all of college football. His game-day outfits are undefeated, and this year will be no different. It is going to be so much fun to see him doing the Walk of Champions in Jordan’s and an Elijah Moore jersey this fall.
Can’t wait to see you all in Atlanta! It’s been too long.