Mississippi — with its rolling hills, flat Delta farmland, downhome Blues, sun-kissed coastal waters and two nationally recognized football programs.
Yep, it’s football season folks, and Mississippi has caught the eye and captured the heart of people from all over the country. Whether you bleed red and blue or give it all for the maroon and white, all eyes have been on the Magnolia State — and rightfully so.
We have had ESPN GameDay come to Mississippi twice this season in back-to-back weeks to watch both schools. I really thought it was a true sign of the apocalypse. There have been more people in church since September than probably the past 50 years on record.
As a diehard Ole Miss fan, I am usually praying for a six-win season at this point so we can go to our usual customary bowl game. Mississippi State fans are generally doing the same. But this year, we have two Top 10 teams, with Mississippi State being No. 1 (right now).
You see, I have to say “right now” because any self-respecting Rebel can’t be too proud of the Dawgs. It goes against everything football rivalries stand for. I mean, they wear maroon with camo. For the love of all things good and fashionable, that does not work on any level.
Earlier this season, both of our programs were tops in the nation and everyone was lovey dovey and “we’re so proud of both teams.” Me, I knew it wouldn’t last. We each want OUR team to succeed and the other to fail miserably.
Hey, I’m just being honest.
So, Ole Miss had two heart-breaking losses to LSU and Auburn, and the fangs came out (I’m talking Cujo dawg fangs, people). There is no more “we love both teams,” but there is “this is OUR State” and “we’re all about that State, no Rebels” parodies…and cowbells. Cowbells that wake the dead.
But, whether either of us wins or loses, Mississippi is a winner. We are seen as a state with friendly people, great food, awesome music, and the birthland of hundreds of musicians, actors, authors and elite athletes. We aren’t No. 50, we are No. 1. We are seen as a state with great leadership — with two football coaches and athletic directors that had a vision and an unrelenting faith in what those young boys could do, in what OUR state could do.
So, this Saturday, I will cheer for the Dawgs against Alabama even though it goes against every fiber of my being. In the words of Bear Bryant, “Winning isn’t everything, but it beats anything that comes in second.”
And then I will go back to hating Cow College in time for the Egg Bowl, the battle of Culture vs. Agriculture, and 2014 guarantees to be one for the ages. Because as we all know, all’s fair in love and football.
Amy Hornback is a HottyToddy.com contributor and blogger.