Football season is about two and a half months away, and there is something approaching us that makes Mississippi State fans cringe. We have seen glimpses of it, but we have yet to get to a full view of it, but trust me it will be here soon. What is it?
The Ole Miss Hype Machine.
And here’s the funny part. It won’t be started from Ole Miss. This will be coming from National and Regional media. But why will there be so many thinking highly of Ole Miss football is a question I see get asked a lot. To be clear there are a few reasons.
The Rebels will be better
Look, as much as you may hate everything that comes out of Oxford, and you wish it would blow away into another state, to think that the team isn’t capable of putting up 7-9 wins next year means you are being blinded by your hatred. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but it is true. They are similar to State in that they have a lot of pieces returning and should be able to have a pretty good year. There is always the possibility that something weird can happen and the Rebels could vastly under perform. That’s true of every team, but it isn’t something that should be expected. This, however, isn’t the primary reason you will see and have seen so much preseason love for the Rebels.
How much hype are they getting?
A good bit. I have yet to see, nor do I anticipate seeing, anyone picking them to win the West. There is talk of Dark Horse contender for the West and National Championship (which is a stretch, but Edward Aschoff did mention that once) but no one has gone too far overboard. In general, the prognostications are saying and will continue to say that Ole Miss is going to finish the year with 8 or 9 wins. You might see some think they win 10. By comparison, most people are saying that Mississippi State will finish with 7 or 8 wins.
This is where the confusion and frustration starts with a lot of Mississippi State fans. Despite the fact that there was only one game separating the two teams, and Mississippi State won the Egg Bowl with their third string quarterback in for just over three quarters of the game, why do people think Ole Miss will be better than Mississippi State?
People want to be right
To understand this we have to take a little trip back in time. It’s not too far back, just one or two years ago. During the 2012 season and on National Signing Day in 2013, Ole Miss made headlines with their unexpected 7-6 season and highly ranked class that made recruiting history.
The Rebels recruiting haul made for an interesting story. And that is the one thing that journalists love more than anything. They love an interesting story. So people wrote about it, and they wrote a lot of great things about Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze. If you don’t believe me, read this.
I could point you in a hundred different directions about how much people loved that class and how great of a story it was. There is, however, a problem with making such a fuss about a recruiting class. No matter how good it looks on paper, they still hadn’t done anything yet. And if you are a sports writer who wrote a lot of positive columns about that class, you need those guys to win.
Enter the predictions and prognostications for this year. There were some signs that the recruiting haul Hugh Freeze brought in after the 2012 season might pay off early. Ole Miss was 7-3 entering the last two game of the year, two games that a lot of people thought Ole Miss could win. They were getting a lot of production from Treadwell, Nkemdiche, and the rest of the class. When Ole Miss lost the last two, it took a little air out of the balloon. The good thing for all those predicting great things was that they were still Freshmen and would get better.
So here we are. We stand less than two and a half months from the start of the college football season, and there are a lot of people who need Ole Miss to be good, or at the very least, make some noise in the SEC West so that you can say in 2015 Ole Miss is a legitimate SEC West title contender. To validate anything someone wrote about the 2013 class for Ole Miss, they have to be a contender, and it needs to happen sooner than later. In the world of Athlon, Lindy’s, and Phil Steele, and a myriad of others who make a living writing and projecting College Football, being right is your livelihood.
That makes this a pivotal year for Hugh Freeze and his Rebels. Hugh Freeze is considered an up and coming coach by most media outlets, though he lost a small bit of his luster after the two losses at the end of 2013. His recruiting success is a big part of that. If Ole Miss can make a significant positive step forward, all those who wrote those glowing statements about Ole Miss and their historic recruiting class will feel vindicated. If Ole Miss doesn’t, be prepared for those same guys to turn on them. How do I know? Because they did it to Mullen.
If you will recall, after the 2010 season, Mississippi State was one of the best preseason stories entering the 2011 season. Lots of people thought that the Bulldogs would make some significant strides in becoming an SEC West contender. It didn’t go that way. The team struggled to a 7-6 record and 2012 brought out more venom for Mullen after his team got off to a 7-0 start to only get blasted by 5 of their final 6 opponents. If you wrote something good about Mullen, those people were hoping we would forget about it if they wrote enough articles attacking his ability to coach.
Ole Miss can be good this year, but there are a lot of reputations on the line for the Rebels to be really good. That’s why the Ole Miss Hype Machine will be on full throttle this year.