Texas speed and size was too much for Ole Miss


The Ole Miss Rebels were soundly defeated by the Texas Longhorns 66-31 last week.  The Rebels can’t let Texas beat them twice by this the Rebels has the put the Texas loss behind them and focus on their next opponent.  The Rebels will travel this week to New Orleans to face the Tulane Green Wave.  The Green Wave is winless on the season 0-3.  The Rebels were not ready for the speed, depth and size of the Longhorns.  The Rebels were able to gain some building blocks from the Texas game.  One positive from the game for the Rebel was they were able to score 31 points against a top 25 ranked team.  Another positive for the Rebels was they found out they were able to move the ball and are a better team than they were last year.  Win or lose the Rebels fans know how to party and the game attracted 61,797 fans the fourth largest crowd in Vaught Hemmingway history and the largest non-conference game ever.

Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief goes up over Quandre Diggs of Texas. Photo by Justin Ford.

1) Not ready for prime time. The Rebels do not have the depth and size of the top tier teams in the country and they have very little room for errors.  The Rebels also were not able to get the Longhorns off of the field in key situations.

2) Offense can score against a top quality defense.  The Rebels did score 31 points against a top 20 team.  Jeff Scott finished the game with 95 rushing yards.  Bo Wallace had 178 passing yards.  Wallace threw a pick six on the first offensive series to Texas to put the Rebels in a come from behind situation.

3) Size does matter.  The size and strength of the offensive and defensive line for the Longhorns were able to control both sides of the ball.  The Rebels were not able to give Bo Wallace enough time to find his open receivers.  The Longhorns offensive line gave Longhorns quarterback David Ash more than enough time for his receivers to break free from Rebel defenders.

4) Rebels are not too far off.  The Rebels knew coming into the season they were inexperienced in the defensive back field and gave up too many big plays.  The Rebels do not have the depth to compete with the big boys and truly missed suspended defensive back Trae Elston.  Donte Moncrief did have 144 receiving yards against a very good Texas defensive secondary.

5) Speed Kills.  The Longhorns have more than one wide receiver with world class speed and they were able to get behind the Rebel defenders on a regular basis.  The Longhorns had two receivers to have over 100 receiving yards in the game Mike Davis 124 yards and Marquise Goodwin 102 yards.  Goodwin also had an 80 rushing yards all on an end around that Ole Miss was not able to catch after he broke free from the line of scrimmage.

Terry Davis covers Ole Miss football for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.

Other stories on Ole Miss:

Game Preview: Ole Miss vs. Texas

What a difference a year makes.  Last season the Longhorns were struggling to score points there was a weekly debate on who the quarterback is going to be and other questions were surrounding the team.  Now after two convincing wins the team is still being asked questions, but more on the side of how good can is this team and how far can this team go?

Ole Miss’ Jeff Scott looks to run though the Texas Longhorns’ defense. (Photo by Chris Evans)

Texas is coming off a rout of New Mexico 45-0.  Despite the shutout there are concerns on the defensive side.  The Longhorns allowed 246 rushing yards and were not able to get the Lobos off of the field in third down situations.

The Rebels come into this game matching their total wins from last season of 2 with a 2-0 record.  This will be the best opponent that the Rebels have faced this year and the same will be true also  for the Longhorns.  The Rebels enter the game averaging over 500 total yards per game.

The Rebels are led by dual threat at quarterback Bo Wallace.  Wallace leads the team in passing and rushing.  Wallace has deceptive speed and has surprised opponents with his willingness to dip a shoulder into their chest.

The No. 12 ranked Longhorns has more to prove in this game.  However Ole Miss has more to gain from this game. If the Longhorns win they can boast about defeating someone from a BCS conference and claim they deserve more recognition on the season.  A Rebel win and they can go from receiving votes in the polls to being ranked for the first time in years.

This game will come down to two key factors.  One who can control the line of scrimmage and two who will make the fewest mistakes?  The team that controls the line of scrimmage will be able to dictate the tempo of the game.  The Rebels would like to control the ball with their no huddle offense to keep the Longhorns’ defense off balance.  Also the Rebels will want to run the ball to keep you honest for the passing plays.

The Longhorns also want to control the line of scrimmage to block for Ash so he can exploit the Rebels’ secondary, which is very young and inexperienced.  The major key to the game is who makes the fewest mistakes not only in the turnover department, but also in in proper execution of offensive and defensive schemes.

The Longhorns have very fast wide receivers that able to get behind defenders especially Olympian Marquise Goodwin.   The Rebels will be short one defensive back Trae Elston.  Elston was suspended by the SEC for an illegal hit against a defensive receiver in the UTEP game.

This game can be seen on ESPN at 8:15 CT.

Terry Davis covers Ole Miss football for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.


Other stories on Ole Miss:

What we learned from Ole Miss vs. UTEP

The Ole Miss Rebels are a team that is evolving.  They are improving on team weaknesses from week to week.  More players are playing bigger roles in the total team development.  Other players are covering up certain weak areas of the team by their strong play.  In college football confidence is a very good asset to have.  The Rebels are slowing developing a nice swagger that comes not only with winning games, but winning games convincingly.  The Rebels have matched their total wins from last season in the first two games of the season. Head coach Hugh Freeze has brought a winning attitude to Oxford and it is rubbing off on his players.  The Rebels defeated the UTEP Mines 28-10 last week.

1) Quarterback play.   The quarterback play of the Rebels continues to be strength of the team.  Bo Wallace looked very comfortable operating from the pocket.  Bo Wallace continues to impress as the starting quarterback for the Rebels.  Wallace selected when it was best for him to run or pass  against the Miners.  Wallace was 15-22 for 174 yard and two passing touchdowns.  Wallace also had a running touchdown on the night.  Wallace did not take as many big hits, because he did not run out of the pocket often and throw the ball away when receivers were not open.

2) Stopping UTEP passing.  The Miners had had 48 passing yards last week against Oklahoma.  This week the Miners had 274 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception.  The Miners were force to pass more than they wanted to because the Rebels contained the running game.  The bend but did not break against the Miners passing attack.

3) Control 
the line of scrimmage.  The Rebels did a great job of controlling the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage.  The offense generated over 500 total yards for the second consecutive week.  The Rebels had 206 rushing yards against the Miners.  The defensive for the Rebels kept Miners in check for most of the game by forcing them to go to the passing game because they could not generate a running game.

4) Diversifying the offense.   The Rebels used both conventional and non-conventional plays against the Miners.  The Rebels played three different players at the quarterback position.  Randall Mackey and Barry Brunetti took snaps from the quarterback position.  Mackey went 1-1 for 32 yards.  Mackey play quarterback last season.  Jeff Scott played for the first time this season after sitting out the season opener.  Scott had to serve a one game suspension for violating a team rule.  Scott finished the game with a team high 113 yards rushing.

5) Facing adversity.  The Rebels turnovers could have easily changed the course of the game.  The defense of the Rebels made up for the lost fumbles.  The Rebels defense also stopped the Miners on a fourth and goal to start the second quarter to prevent the Miners from tying the game at seven.  The Rebels defense came up big throughout the game to keep the Rebels perfect on the season.

Terry Davis covers Ole Miss football for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.

Other college football stories:

Keys to victory for Ole Miss against UTEP

The Ole Miss Rebels try to match their total wins from last year in the second game of the season.  The UTEP Miners will visit the Rebels in Oxford on Saturday September 8 at 6:00 PM CT.  The Miners come into this game with a 0-1 record after losing their home opener to the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners 24-7.  The Miners have not played a non-conference opponent on the road since 2009. The Miners only trailed the Sooners 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter before being shutout in the quarter.

Photo by Chris Evans

1) Quarterback play.  Bo Wallace has to continue to make improvements from the season opener.  Wallace has to improve each week heading into conference play.  His improvement will open up the running game for other running backs.  Wallace can’t continue to be the team’s leading rusher.  His body can’t continue to the pounding of the SEC week in and week out.

2) Take care of the football.  The Rebels only had one turnover last week in the win over Central Arkansas.  The Miners quarterbacks threw three interceptions against the Sooners.  The Rebels should also try to force the Miners to turn the ball over to give the Rebels a short field in which to operate.

3) Stopping UTEP passing
.  Last week the Miners only had 48 yards passing.  If the Rebels can make the Miners a one dimensional team it will allow the Rebels to take against of their strength and have eight men in the box.operate.

4) Control the line of scrimmage.  For the Rebels in the first half of the UCA game they did not do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and fell behind at halftime.  The Rebels must not allow the Miners to get any type of confidence.  The Miners are winless against BCS schools 0-16.  C. J. Johnson fresh off of his Defensive Lineman of the Week for the Rebels will try to maintain his high  level of play.

5) Accountability.  Hugh Freeze has begun to instill accountability on the field and off the field.  The players must continue to play within their ability and to assist teammates to give 100 percent every day and not just on game days.  Winning footballs game do not only occur on Saturdays it is a product of how you practice and prepare on a daily basis.

Terry Davis covers Ole Miss football for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.

Other college football stories:


What we learned from the Ole Miss home opener against Central Arkansas

This is not the Rebels of last year.  The Rebels are more explosive this year and they force teams to honor the pass as well as the run.  Last year the Rebels used a converted running back (Randall Mackey ) at the quarterback.  This year Mackey can concentrate being a threat out of the back field.  The Rebels got off to a shaky start, but finished very strong.  However can the confidence learned from the first game of the year carry over to other games?  If it can continue to improve on their weakness the Rebels will increase the rebuilding process and maybe make a bowl.

1) Bo can play.  Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace has got some good skills.  He is a duel threat with his legs and his arm.  Wallace led the team with 264 passing yards with 1 TD and with 82 net rushing yards with 2 TDs in the win over the Central Arkansas.

2) Teams love the long ball.   Wallace wasted very little time getting to know deep threat receiver Donte Moncrief.  Moncrief had 8 receptions for 104 yards including a 53 yards.  Two other receivers had receptions over 20 yards Jamal Mosley had a 28 yard reception and Korvic Neat had a 25 yard reception.

3) Accountability.  At halftime of the game, before the coaches could get into the team for their poor play in the half, the leaders of the team began to point out off of the mistakes they were making.  This type of pride was missing from the Rebel team late last year when they begin a tail spin and lost 7 games in a row.

4) Improved defense.   Sophomore C.J. Johnson was honored as the Southeastern Conference Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week.  This is the first honor for a Rebel since 2010.  Johnson had 6 tackles including a fourth quarter sack.  The Rebels shut out UCA in the second half until the last two minutes of the game.

5) Multiple weapons on offense.  The top two rushers on the team were the first and second string quarterbacks.  The quarterbacks spread the receptions among four receivers.  Moncrief will stretch the field to prevent defenses from playing eight men in the box.  The 49-27 win is the most points scored by a Rebel team in over two years.

Terry Davis covers Ole Miss football for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.


5 Reasons Why Ole Miss Will Go Bowling This Year

The Ole Miss Rebels football team hit the reset button this spring with the hiring of former Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze as their new head coach.  Freeze did an impressive job with the Red Wolves and hopes to bring that same winning attitude to the Rebels this fall.

With the opening of the college football season every team in the SEC feel they will be competitive and can contend for the divisional championship.  The 2009 season was the last winning season for Ole Miss, but this year could the beginning of the Rebels being more competitive with the top tier schools.

1)      Easy schedule.  The Rebels should be 3-1 before they enter conference play with homes games against Central Arkansas, UTEP, Texas and a road game at Tulane.  In three other games the Rebels will have a good chance of winning Auburn, Vandy and Miss State.

2)      Hugh Freeze will not be intimidated by other coaches in the SEC. Coach Freeze will not allow his this to have a defeatist attitude and defends them at every corner.  During the SEC media days this year South Carolina’s head coach Steve Spurrier called the Rebels doormats.  Freeze responded sharply to that statement and said, “We will circle that game in 2014.”

3)      The Rebels defense.  The Rebels strength this season will be on the defensive side of the line. The Rebels return a strong core of defensive backs and linebackers.  Linebacker Mike Marry and defensive back Charles Sawyer will lead the unit.  Both players earned All-SEC and other preseason recognition.  Marry led the team in tackles last season with 81.  Sawyer was fourth in the SEC with four interceptions and was the team’s second leading tackler with 70.

4)      Team will be more accountable.  Freeze will hold his team more accountable and they won’t make the mental mistakes the team made last season.  Last season the Rebels made too many mental mistakes that cost them a few wins and they lost their confidence as the season progressed.

5)      More talent on offense.   Last season Randall Mackey started 6 games at quarterback. Mackey has moved back to his natural position of running back.  The quarterback position has been upgraded with Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace competing for the starting job.  Sr. running back Jeff Scott ability will assist the Rebels offense and defense by his production.  Scott was a first team All-SEC selection.  Wide receiver Donte Moncreif will be a big target for the quarterbacks to seek out in the passing game.

Terry Davis covers Ole Miss football for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515 for live tweets from VaughtHemingway Stadium.

5 Things We Learned From The Grove Bowl

The annual Grove Bowl is always an exciting time for Ole Miss fans.  And this year’s game had plenty of excitement, culminating in a failed two point attempt for the Blue team in overtime to give the Red team a 24-23 victory.  The game was full of highs (like quarterback Barry Brunetti’s 78 yard rush) and lows (like the pressure both teams quarterbacks were under throughout the game).  Here are some things you need to know about the Rebels first spring game under Hugh Freeze.

1.  The race for the starting quarterback position is still wide open after the spring
Both Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti played well in the spring game.  Wallace is certainly the more polished quarterback of the two, throwing for 240 yards on 16-26 passing.  “Off the top of my head I thought Bo (Wallace) had the best day… he kept us on schedule for the most part,” Coach Freeze said about Wallace’s performance.  However, Brunetti is certainly the more athletic of the two and capable of breaking a big play at any point of the game, a fact Coach Freeze acknowledged.  “Barry (Brunetti) had some explosive plays too,” and while he only threw for 62 yards, Brunetti rushed for 136 yards with 78 of those yards coming on a long run to set up a touchdown to force overtime.  Coach Freeze would not give the starting job to either of the two quarterbacks after the spring game, and when asked if he saw a scenario where he would play them both come the fall he said, “That is a good question… if I had to say today we would probably play them both.”

2.  The front seven (especially the defensive line) look like the strength of this years Rebel team
Every time a quarterback (whether Wallace, Brunetti, Maikhail Miller, or even Evan Ingram) went back to throw the football he was getting pressured.  The defensive line was relentless in the Grove Bowl, especially CJ Johnson.  “CJ (Johnson) is a handful to block.  He has some explosion and a quick twitch off the edge, and we struggled with that all spring,” Coach Freeze said about his standout defensive lineman.  If the Rebels are going to be able to compete in the SEC this season they must get stellar play out of their front seven and pressure out of their defensive linemen.

3.  The lack of depth on the offensive line is going to be a serious issue for the Rebels this year
On the flip side of the stellar defensive line play is the poor play of the offensive line.  Both the Red and the Blue team struggled all game to give their quarterbacks time to throw the football, and that is not good news for the team that finished second to last in the SEC (ahead of just Kentucky) with 33 sacks allowed last season .  “That has been the story all spring,” Coach Freeze said, “Whenever we do any of our drop back stuff we get pressured.”  It is going to take more than the spring to get the offensive line up to speed, but hopefully they get their problems solved before the start of the conference schedule.  Otherwise, it could be a long year for whoever the quarterback is, and Ole Miss fans everywhere.

4.  The receiving core is extremely talented
And if the quarterback (whoever he may be) is given enough time to hit the open man expect the wideouts to make big catches and plays in space.  Vincent Sanders had five receptions for 89 yards, Ja-Mes Logan caught three balls for 88 yards, and Dante Moncrief snagged two touchdowns including one that put the Red team up in overtime.  “I asked for it the first play, but we were trying to run some other plays,” Moncrief said, “Then it came down to a play we needed.  So I said ‘coach give me a chance and believe in me’ and he gave me a chance and I made a play.”  This is the type of attitude this receiving core is going to need if they are going to make a bowl game this season.

5.  This program still has a long way to go
As good as some things went for the Rebels this spring, fans need to remember that this team is still trying to learn the ins and outs of Coach Freeze’s system.  “No I do not think we got everything in that we wanted to, but we made the most out of the days we had,” Freeze said.  There is only so much you can do during the spring, and if your team is learning a completely new system it is going to take longer than one spring to do so.  Add to the new system road games against Georgia, LSU, Alabama, and South Carolina and this might not be the best season for Ole Miss.  Rebel fans need to be patient this season, except the fact that the team is going to take some lumps, and understand that it is going to be a process to get the program where it needs to be.  After all, if Rome was not built in a day, why would you think Ole Miss football can be built in a spring?

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for insightful tweets about college football.

Other college football articles:

What’s the better football job: Memphis or Ole Miss?

Memphis and Ole Miss are bitter rivals with a lot in common right now.  Both are coming of two football seasons which fans want to forget with athletic directors that are stepping down in the next year.  With all of these similarities between the two struggling programs the question becomes what is the better situation for an incoming coach?

Let’s start with Ole Miss, which because of unrealistic expectations and a tough division makes it easily the worst available job in all of college football.  The fans are so delusional that they do not realize the best they can hope for is third or fourth place in the SEC West and maybe a bowl appearance.  Every year they expect their Rebels to win the western half of the SEC, and when they do not it is time to fire the coach.  So why would a coach place himself under that type of scrutiny when history suggests he will not be successful? The next head coach at Ole Miss is destined for failure, and if you do not believe me, just take a look at the Rebel’s history since the SEC split into two divisions in 1992.

Since SEC football expanded in ’92 there have been 19 seasons, with each season concluding in an SEC championship game.  Ole Miss has played in none of those games.  That means that Ole Miss has never won the outright SEC West title (but they do have a SEC West co-championship in 2003).  In fact, the last time Ole Miss won the SEC title was nearly five decades ago in 1963. Also, the Rebels have finished in the top three of the SEC West just six times since ‘92, while finishing in last place four times with two winless years in conference (they have more seasons with no wins in conference than they do SEC West championships!).  During this time span Ole Miss has only seven seasons with a conference record of .500 or better, and four of those seasons are 4-4.  So the Rebels have only three seasons with five or more wins in conference, but fans expect Ole Miss to compete for SEC West championships.

As long as LSU, Auburn, and Alabama are in the SEC West the Rebels will never have a realistic shot at winning the division.  With Arkansas on the rise, the addition of Texas A&M to the SEC West, and the addition of Missouri to the conference, the future of Rebel football is beginning to look bleak.

On the other hand, Memphis football is so bad that the Tigers probably couldn’t win the OVC right now, making it easily the second worst available coaching job in all of college football.  Three pitiful years (one under West and the other two under Porter), combined with a leadership group that cannot run a football press conference correctly let alone a football program, and a frustrated fan base have severely crippled any incoming coach’s chances to be successful.

However, there are no national powerhouses in C-USA, whereas the SEC West alone has three.  In fact, all the good teams in C-USA are leaving for AQ conferences, which should serve as an encouraging sign for Tiger fans who want wins.  One would think that with Houston, UCF, and SMU leaving the Tigers will be able to win more games in conference.  Alas, remember when Louisville, Cincinnati, and USF left before the 2005 season, the Tigers were supposed to dominate, but sadly they have not.

Memphis has a conference record of 18-38 in the seven seasons since C-USA split into two divisions. The Tigers have never won a C-USA championship in the leagues 15 year history, and are routinely the worst team in the conference.  At least the fans know the program is bad and they only want a few wins every year, not a conference title.

The Tigers are so desperate for wins that if the next coach can average four or five wins over the next three seasons he might earn himself a contract extension.  Conversely, if the Rebel’s next coach averages four or five wins over the next three seasons he will be fired. Just ask Houston Nutt who averaged six wins in his four year tenure.

Really this argument all comes down to whether you want to be a bad team in a mediocre conference (Memphis) or a bad team in a good conference (Ole Miss).  However, Ole Miss is a job that pays much more than Memphis.  And since both programs’ next coach will be gone by 2015, it might be best to take the millions of dollars Ole Miss is willing to pay and make off like bandit.

Click here to read 5 Reasons Why Memphis Should and Should Not Hire Houston Nutt.

Click here  to read Who should replace Houston Nutt at Ole Miss?

Click here  to read The end of an era in University of Memphis athletics.

Click here to read All Shook Up: R.C. Johnson in his own words.

Click here to read Fantasy Shirley: A Real Interview with a Fake University President.

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from different college football games throughout the Mid-South.


Who should replace Houston Nutt at Ole Miss?

Ole Miss made the decision to fire Houston Nutt after his fourth year as head coach, a decision that surprised no one. Nutt was successful early on in is tenure at Ole Miss, but his performance these last two years have been abysmal. He is only 10-20 in SEC play during his four year tenure at Ole Miss, and he is currently riding a 12 game conference losing streak. Combine that with the fact that he has lost his last two meetings with arch rival Mississippi State and you have a situation where he has to be replaced as the Rebel’s head coach. Ole Miss fans are on pins and needles in anticipation, and cannot wait to see who the next football coach for Ole Miss will be. Here are 5 coaching candidates that the Rebels should pursue:

1. Mike Leach
With an overall record of 84-43 in is ten years with Texas Tech, Mike Leach is a no brainer and should be at the top of any Rebel fan’s wish list. He has never had a losing season and has a bowl record of 5-4. Mike Leach’s air raid offense is exciting, and his teams are always able to post huge numbers while out scoring opponents. Add to his already impressive resume a 19-11 record against his top three rivals (Texas, Baylor, and Texas A&M) and you have a coach who is established and ready for the bright lights of SEC football.

2. Rich Rodriguez
While Rich Rod’s last coaching gig did not end particularly well he is still a good coach and a good fit for Ole Miss. In his ten years as head coach of a FBS team (West Virginia and Michigan) Rich Rod has four conference championships, a record of 75-48, and his teams have gone to two BCS bowls with wins over Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl and a win over Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta bowl (although Coach Rodriguez left to coach Michigan before the Fiesta bowl game). He has proven that he can win with his spread offense and should be near the top of anybody’s list of coaches.

3. Gus Malzahn
Malzahn is being touted as the greatest offensive mind in college football today.  He has no head coaching experience, but he is being highly sought after because his explosive offense helped lead Auburn to a national title last season.  There are two problems with trying to land Malzhan, the first of which is his salary.  He makes over $1.3 million as an assistant at Auburn, so he is very comfortable financially and he can wait for the best coaching job to open up.  The second problem with landing Malzahn is that he is becoming an extremely hot commodity.  His name is already coming up in the North Carolina search, and will continue to come up when the caching carousal begins to turn full speed at the end of the season.  However, landing Malzahn will certainly rejuvenate a fan base that needs some excitement after the past two seasons.

4. Hugh Freeze
Coach Freeze is currently leading Arkansas State to their best season ever and is another top notch coach that Ole Miss should try to land. While he does not have the head coaching experience of a Leach or Rodriguez, he has proven that he knows his way around a football field with this year’s Arkansas State team.  His quick paced offense is currently 25th in the nation in passing yards and averages more than 30 points per contest.  Contrary to Malzahn, Freeze is not as financially well off, and he is in fact the lowest paid football coach in the FB.  even though he is a head coach he makes nearly 800K less than Malzahn who is only an assistant coach.  Luring Freeze away from Arkansas State should be easy to do for Ole Miss, but he lacks the big name that they need to excite and rejuvenate their fans.

5. Charlie Strong
Charlie Strong has been itching for a chance to be a head coach in the SEC for years now, and Ole Miss would be lucky to land a coach with his defensive prowess.  He is currently the head coach at Louisville, where his defense ranks 23rd in total defense and is giving up a mere 18.6 points per game.  Coach Strong is very familiar with the SEC having been a defensive coordinator for ten years in the conference, and he knows exactly what it takes to win in the nation’s toughest conference.  Also, he has two national titles under his belt from his years at Florida, where his defenses ranked amongst the best in the nation.  Perhaps the best attribute that Coach Strong has is the fact that he is African American.  The Rebels have always struggled with the public perception involving the university an its race relations.  Hiring an African American football coach be a way to move beyond the school’s controversial past.

Click here to read 5 Reasons Why Memphis Should and Should Not Hire Houston Nutt.

Click here to see where Ole Miss ranks in MemphiSport’s latest TAMs Rankings.

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from different college football games throughout the Mid-South.

The Black Bear Rises

Ole Miss made some important changes this season replacing long time mascot and Rebel fan favorite Colonel Reb with a new mascot, Rebel Black Bear.  Some fans are struggling to come to terms with the fact that Colonel Reb is gone and that is to be expected. After all, nobody got the crowd going at an Ole Miss football game like Colonel Reb.  While Colonel Reb’s ability to motivate the fans was great, the success of Ole Miss on the football field was minimal.  Since the Colonel appeared on the sidelines in 1979, Ole Miss has not won a national championship or an SEC title.  The football team’s record with Colonel Reb on the sideline is an unimpressive 140-134-4, finishing ranked only five times with him on the sidelines of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium from 1979-2003.

Even with all the years of futility under Colonel Reb’s watch some Ole Miss fans are refusing to give Rebel Black Bear a chance.  Few mascots are more beloved than Colonel Reb, but even fewer mascots carry the racial stigma that he does.

Ole Miss fans have always been slower than most to accept change, and you do not have to look too far in the past to see examples of their stubborn nature.  In 1997 when then chancellor Robert Khayat banned sticks from the stadium in an attempt to keep confederate flags out of sporting events, Ole Miss fans responded the same way.  Even though Coach Tommy Tuberville said openly on several occasions that the confederate flags make it difficult to recruit blue-chip black athletes. Fans hid behind a misguided sense of tradition and fought the decision every step of the way, just like they are doing now with Colonel Reb.  Supporters are now trying to pass a measure to put Colonel Reb on the 2012 election ballot to get him reinstated as the schools official mascot.

Do the die hard traditionalist fans at Ole Miss not see that the traditions are making it difficult to recruit black athletes?  Young and talented black people are turned off by images of a plantation owner as a mascot, the confederate flag, and “Dixie”.  Ole Miss is losing top recruits because the school has not progressed with the times, and when the school does try and progress fans behave in such a way that it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of people across the country, hurting the perception of the university.

Maybe Rebel Black Bear is the mascot they need to get the job done at Ole Miss.  He is a ferocious beast, does not offend anybody, and he has a great back story involving former president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. After all, Colonel Reb’s tenure at Ole Miss was not as successful as some might think on the field, and off the field he served as a reminder of our nations painful past.

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from games.

Photo by JD Meredith.