Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Listen Up!

Below is an article from the Clarion Ledger focusing on the atmosphere at Ole Miss football games. This is something I have been meaning to write about for quite sometime. It is a topic that I can ramble on and get fired up about, but I will try and keep it to a minimum.

Bottom line, I am sick of three types of Ole Miss fans.

1) The student and younger population that goes to the games and do not even pay attention to the games. Most of these just go to the game to drink and don't even care if we win or lose.

2) The population of people that come to Oxford just to go to the Grove and not the game. Many of these so called "fans" do not even step foot in Vaught Hemingway stadium until well into the first quarter if at all. A large portion of them stay in the Grove and have no concern whatsoever about the game going on. I really wish these people would not come to Oxford at all. All they do is make the Grove more crowded than it needs to be. (I understand there are plenty of females out there that do not enjoy football and have no desire to go the game, this is not the segment of people I am talking to)

3) The larger portion of Ole Miss fans who do not get involved with the game. I have been to home and away games before and seen this contingent of mainly older Ole Miss fans who do not want people around them to yell, stand up, etc. I understand that some people can not stand up during the whole game and try to be respectful of those around me that can not. But there is no reason you should be at a game and not be cheering for your team on a third and one.

While I am done segmenting our fan base, I would like to point out the fair weather fans. To have less than 55,000 people at a home SEC game is absolutely ridiculous. The amount of fans that live within a 3 hour drive of Oxford is very high. There is no reason in the world we can not get 60,000 people at a game.

I'm not asking everyone to be a fanatic like myself, I truly understand that everyone does not have the same emotion I have with Ole Miss. But I am asking those "fans" to get to the game, be loud, have fun...and then we can party in the Grove afterwards. But support the team first.

Finally, for those of you that have read this blog since the beginning, you know my hatred of the the game day management, marketing groups involved with Ole Miss athletics. This year we install a multi million dollar jumbotron, yet we get no improvement in animations with the new addition. Yeah, they have put together some cool videos of old plays, the band, etc. and that's great. But this does nothing to fire up the fans. The video board and new speakers should be a huge asset to the game day experience, but it is not used at all. It is absolutely pathetic. In addition, the band has done the same boring routine they have used since I have been alive and for the most part it is boring. Nine times out of ten the band, cheerleaders, and video board are not in sync, and it looks like a catastrophe. Nothing irritates me more when the opposing team gets louder in our stadium while our band and cheerleaders just sit and look at them.

It's time for new blood at Ole Miss. Out with the boys who played for Vaught and in with the new. It's time for a change.

I told you I would ramble.....

(C-L)OXFORD — Want to know why Ole Miss has a six-game home losing streak in the Southeastern Conference? Well - senior fullback Jason Cook has a theory for at least part of the problem.

And here's a little warning Rebels fans: brace yourselves. Because Cook, who's one of four team captains, wasn't afraid to step on some toes Monday afternoon.

"I've boiled it down to two groups of fans," Cook said. "You're gonna have fans that are really about the game and you're gonna have the fans that are there for the social atmosphere and the cocktail party, so to speak."

Ole Miss has long been known for its parties in the Grove, both pre-and postgame. And while Cook said there's nothing wrong with that, there's a feeling among the players that the party often means more than the game.

And for once, Cook would like those two priorities switched when Ole Miss (4-4, 2-3 SEC) hosts Auburn (4-4, 2-3) at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It's the first game with serious bowl implications for the Rebels in years.

"Am I saying that's the reason we don't win games? Not at all," Cook said. "We're the ones making plays on the field. We're the ones out there sweating and bleeding. But it means a lot when your fans are behind you the entire time, in every play, screaming for you as opposed to just enjoying themselves."

In what has amounted to an uneven season for the Ole Miss football team, the Rebels have gained quite the reputation for going on the road in hostile environments and pulling off victories.

It's happened twice already. The first was against then No. 4-ranked Florida with a shocking 31-30 victory in the famed Swamp, and it happened again Saturday, when a raucous Arkansas crowd booed their former coach Houston Nutt without mercy, but the Rebels led their new leader to a 23-21 win in Fayetteville.

Before that Arkansas game, Cook said he had no doubt the team was ready to play because the stadium was packed with 74,168 fans who's energy and focus were palpable for both teams.

"It was a sight for us captains as we were standing on the field before the game to see the guys standing, locked up and swaying (in the tunnel before coming onto the field)," Cook said. "You could just see them feeding off the negativity."

The problem is this: Ole Miss won't have those negative vibes to feed off of when Auburn comes to town. Instead, Nutt hopes the team can learn to focus on the positive aspects of playing in front of 50,000 to 60,000 fans who actually like them.

"The one thing we feel is we really owe our home fans a ballgame," Nutt said. "Four quarters, 60 minutes. We've let some games slip here and it's hard to get out of my mind."

And Auburn would appear to be a team ripe for the taking come Saturday. The Tigers have lost four of their past five games while the coaching staff - led by former Ole Miss coach Tommy Tuberville - has been under constant scrutiny.

But Auburn has always been a tough mystery for the Rebels to solve in Oxford. The Tigers have an 8-1 all-time record at Vaught-Hemingway while Tuberville is 4-0 against his former employer.

Numbers aside, Cook says this is a different Ole Miss team - one that's playing meaningful football in November for the first time in a while. And he hopes the fans have the same sense of urgency come Saturday.

"A man who's got a purpose and plays with a purpose is a very dangerous man," Cook said