One of the byproducts of the recruiting season is the mud that gets slung between rival fan bases. You hear a constant barrage of things that Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans will say about each other. Many times, it doesn’t take much to get people riled up. Maybe we should all take a step back and see if some of these things really should chap our hides the way they do.
Things That Shouldn’t Bother Us
Ole Miss Cheating: I’ve often said that everyone cheats when it comes to recruiting. The complaining that goes on between State fans about how much cheating is taking place in Oxford has reached a fever pitch with the arrival of Hugh Freeze and all the five star players he is bringing into the fold. I completely understand why State fans complain about it because it affects the players that we can bring into the fold when we are going for the same players that Ole Miss is. The problem with getting worked up about it is that unless you have evidence, and by evidence I mean a picture, a document, or something, then it does no good to complain about how much they cheat. Saying your aunt’s boyfriend’s cousin’s mom saw Freeze buy a player a beer at a bar in Oxford is pointless.
The Grove: The Grove is one of the most beloved traditions at Ole Miss. Mississippi State fans simply don’t get it. The fact that the Grove is so beloved isn’t what bothers Mississippi State fans, it’s the gushing that so many people do about it that seems to get under many of our fans’ skin. I personally don’t understand how people can think tailgating with fine china and chandeliers can produce a quality tailgating experience. To each his own I guess.
People Making Fun of Starkville: I don’t think this should bother us so long as it is being specific to Starkville. I liked Starkville when I was there, but when looking at things objectively, you have to concede that there are many ways that Starkville holds the University back. If you went to Mississippi State, you in all likelihood got frustrated with Starkville on many occasions. I know I certainly did. Many people talk about how big of a disadvantage State has when it comes to recruiting because of Starkville. The reason for this isn’t simply because there isn’t anything to do in Starkville (I found plenty to do in my time there). The reason for it is because the city’s residents seem direly opposed to anything that will help the University. I will never forget the first month I moved into Starkville for school, the residents were getting ready to vote on a bond issue that would go toward road improvements and generally improving the entire infrastructure of the city. It was defeated soundly. It’s one thing if you don’t think the city should spend the money on those things, but exit polls showed that most people who voted against it said they thought the city was growing too much and didn’t want to do anything to facilitate that growth. I was dumbfounded. Starkville is going to grow whether you like it or not because more and more students are going to be attending Mississippi State. To fight the growth is going to create more headaches for the residents and the students. This kind of thinking often frustrates me when it comes to the city our beloved school sits in.
Things That Should Bother Us
Ole Miss fans Insulting Our School: I wrote a little about this topic before the Egg Bowl, but I hate it when I see fans of schools insult the university itself and its students instead of the athletic program. This really irritates me when it comes to the differences between Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Because of the specialties of each school’s academic programs, Ole Miss will produce a much more white collared citizen and Mississippi State will produce citizens that are more blue collared. This does not mean that Mississippi State fans are less intelligent or less civilized because we went there to be an engineer or farmer instead of a lawyer. I have often talked about the dynamic between my wife and I since she is an Ole Miss grad, and one of our worst arguments started when she showed me a picture that portrayed Mississippi State students and graduates to be dumb. She didn’t understand that it was an attack on something very dear to me, and in the process, was calling me dumb. She still doesn’t understand, but she at least respects it.
Hugh Freeze’s Recruiting Tactics: I know I said whether or not Ole Miss cheats shouldn’t bother Mississippi State fans. I’m now talking about how Hugh Freeze treats recruits as pieces to his game of recruiting. The way in which he manipulated Sean Rawlings and his family was disgraceful. Having recruits commit and decommit was pathetic. He does it all in the name of landing recruits. The recruits themselves don’t see it as being used as pawns because they are too captivated by the attention it gives them. There is nothing illegal about it, but it certainly isn’t respectable.
Insulting the Attractiveness of the Female Student Body Population: God didn’t see fit for me to marry someone from Mississippi State, but it wasn’t because there was a lack of attractive females that called themselves Bulldogs. Ole Miss, in the same way so many people praise them for their awesome tailgating atmosphere, often gets praised for having some of the most beautiful women on any campus. Something that is that subjective isn’t worth the time and effort to debate. The offshoot of that belief is that the women of Mississippi State aren’t at all attractive, to which I say hogwash. The reason Ole Miss gets praised for the number of attractive women and Mississippi State doesn’t is a product of the culture of the two schools. Football games, and everything else about life at Ole Miss, is always a social event. That simply isn’t the case at Mississippi State. My wife and I made an agreement early on in our relationship that if we went to football games, we would always go to the same amount of Mississippi State games as we did Ole Miss games. The first time we went to games together was in the fall of 2006. We had not been married long, and my wife was a few months pregnant, so we decided to only go to one game each that year, and eventually increase it to more. It worked out where we went to the Ole Miss-Auburn game in October of that year and the Mississippi State-Arkansas game in November. When I was in the shower getting ready to go, my wife had pulled some of my nicest dress pants, dress shirt, and a tie for me to wear to the game. That wasn’t happening. She told me this is how you dressed for a game at Ole Miss. I informed her I wasn’t an Ole Miss fan, nor did I care to look like one. I compromised with her and wore khakis and a polo. She dressed like she normally would for a game and looked stunning. When we went to Mississippi State the next month, I threw jeans and a long sleeve MSU T-shirt into the suit case for the game. She asked me if that was how people dressed when they went to the game, and I informed her we don’t have a dress code. She wore jeans and a blouse. Neither of us really felt comfortable or enjoyed ourselves in the other person’s football games as a result. I say all that to say this: if you get all gussied up at a football game, you are probably going to come across as more attractive.
I think there are some legitimate things we should allow to bother us when talking about our beloved school, especially during this most contentious of times. There are a lot of times when we feed the trolls, and there really isn’t reason to do so. Let’s all pledge to be have a little more dicretions