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Ole Miss-Tulane: A history

Reviewing the ancient SEC scrolls to give you everything you need to know about this series.


I have three memories and three memories only from Ole Miss/Tulane games. The first is watching a David Cutcliffe team survive a Hail Mary attempt to hold on for a 20-13 win in 1999*. The second is Dr. Bo injuring his shoulder in a 39-0 win** in 2012. The last in this sequence of things my brain should never remember yet does is this awful Nathan Stanley pass to Brandon Bolden in 2010 that I once made a GIF of because it was so bad.

(No idea where said GIF is now.)

*Could there have been any more red lights in Cutcliffe’s first season that indicated he wasn’t going to be the guy?

**Vacated win because NCAA HARRUMPH.

Other than those games, I remember nothing. Given the two schools have played 71 times, it’s a pretty low number of memories. However, of the 71 meetings, only three have happened since 2000, which would explain the lack of scar tissue and a few scattered fond memories.

Tomorrow, the two brothers in the original SEC bond meet for the first time since 2012. Although if there was no official winner of that game, DID IT EVEN HAPPEN? Well, Gray, I can report that it did happen because Dr. Bo’s arm was never quite the same.

[insert 5,000 disappointed emojis]

To help pass the time until kickoff and get you caught up on 128 years of history in about 5-10 minutes, let’s take a look at the history of this series, which began in 1893, Ole Miss’ inaugural football season.

The 19th Century

When Ole Miss and Tulane first met, your boy, Grover Cleveland, was president of the United States for the second time. If you recall, Cleveland was elected in 1885 but lost his reelection bid to Benjamin Harrison, he of “my grandfather was president for a month before dying” fame.

Cleveland won his second term after four years of Harrison living for four years but not doing enough to maintain the presidency. That meant Cleveland was back in office by the time the first Ole Miss/Tulane game rolled around on December 2, 1893.

Ole Miss was led by head coach Dr. A.L. Bondurant*, who saw the Rebels through to the win in New Orleans with a very normal 12-4 score. Ole Miss would return to New Orleans in 1894 and in very Ole Miss fashion somehow came up with an even more normal winning score of 8-2.

*Shout-out to any Ole Miss student who ever wandered around campus trying to find where the hell Bondurant Hall is.

Ole Miss would close out the same century as the CIVIL WAR with a 3-3 record against the Green Wave, which included a 4-point effort in a 28-4 loss in 1895.

A Sporting Rivalry

From 1900 to 1914, Ole Miss and Tulane played nine times, with the Green Wave holding a 5-4 advantage. We would be remiss if we didn’t pour one out for the OG Ole Miss fans who probably took a train to New Orleans in 1909 for what they assumed would be a nice weekend away from the grind of trying not to die from early 20th century diseases or horrifically unsafe working conditions.

Instead, they were treated to watching their team lose 5-0. We can assume the 1909 Ole Miss version of Hogville was all about FOIA-ing the telegraph records of head coach Dr. Nathan P. Stauffer.

Tulane Chooses Violence

The series took a break until 1919, when Tulane defeated Ole Miss 27-12. The two schools would play 11 more times between then and 1939, with Tulane winning every game.

During their 12-game win streak over Ole Miss, the Green Wave outscored the Rebels 235-45, which included 5 shutouts. In fact, after the massive 12-point outburst in 1919, Ole Miss didn’t break the double-digit barrier in the final 11 losses.

You would not be shocked to learn Ole Miss ran through six head coaches in this 20-year period. And it’s safe to assume every one of them was a school employee’s brother-in-law.

Johnny Vaught Has Entered the Chat

After beating Tulane 20-13 in 1941, Ole Miss didn’t play the Green Wave again until 1947, which was Year One of Johnny Vaught as Ole Miss head coach. Vaught would get the win that first year on his way to a 15-3 overall record against Tulane.

In Tulane’s last SEC season (1965), Vaught was thoughtful enough to invite them to Jackson where Ole Miss won 24-7, setting the Green Wave free to that independent life they wanted, which worked out great for them!

Post-Vaught Good Ol’ Boy Years

Unlike everything else associated with Ole Miss athletics from the early 1970s until the arrival of Tommy Tuberville* in the mid-90s, Ole Miss’ series against Tulane was not hot, disease-infested toilet water. From 1975 to 1991, the teams played 17 times, with Ole Miss going 12-5.

*That’s SENATOR Tuberville; Alabama, you crazy bastard

One of those wins included a Tulane forfeit loss in 1983 when they won the actual game 27-23. Now, I, like everyone else, assumed this was a classic case of YOU CAN TAKE ‘EM OUT OF THE SEC BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE THE SEC OUT OF ‘EM cheatin’ scandal, but it turns out the real story is infinitely better.

Tulane’s first-year head coach in 1983 was a gentleman by the name of Wally English. His son, John, wanted to be on the team but was out of eligibility. John did not agree with that assessment and sued the NCAA and Tulane to gain a final year on the field.

English the younger got a temporary restraining order, which allowed him to play as his lawsuit went through the courts. Everything seemed fine, yes? Because surely the judicial system moves at a glacial pace, with appeals and whatnot. WELP.

After 6 games, his suit crashed and burned, and he was declared ineligible. As one final kick in the teeth, the NCAA, in its non-vindictive nature, deemed Tulane had to forfeit the two wins he played in, one of which was against Ole Miss.

If you’re scoring at home, that win via forfeit became Billy Brewer’s second career win as Ole Miss head coach. Weirdly enough, in Brewer’s last season at Ole Miss in 1993, he would get yet another win via forfeit thanks to Alabama CHEATIN’.

By the way, in a stunning turn of events, Wally English was fired in 1984.

The Modern-ish Era

Since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992, Ole Miss is a perfect 6-0 against Tulane. Well, 8-0 if you don’t count the fart noise vacated wins NCAA punishment.

In that time, do you know which Ole Miss coach holds the official largest margin of victory over Tulane? Thanks to the NCAA depriving Brother Hugh of his 39-0 win in 2012, the honor goes to a Mr. Joe Lee Dunn, who engineered a 38-0 win in the Superdome in 1994.

Because I sometimes value my time, I will not look up that box score. Instead, I’ll assume it was a Peak Joe Lee Dunn Win, with four defensive touchdowns, two field goals, and two safeties.