The Ole Miss Rebels kick off against the Alabama Crimson Tide this Saturday in one of the most watched rivalries in the SEC.
Although Ole Miss football is under a bowl ban until the 2019 season, the fanbase has not fallen off.
Brian Scott Rippee is a beat reporter for Supertalk Mississippi. He says that the ban has caused some problems with issues like recruiting and players leaving, but says that the Oxford community will stand by the Rebels no matter what.
“Things like this have happened before at Ole Miss. There have been many up’s and down’s, especially with a school like the University of Mississippi, but I am sure that this will eventually be a distant memory and people will forget about it like everything else,” Rippee said.
However, Rippee says the university does have work to do.
“I think you are going to have to get people excited about recruiting again. That was one of the things Hugh Freeze did by turning the National Signing Day kind of into a holiday. People got super excited about that. Obviously, there’s not near that amount of excitement now. So I think that’s where it starts,” he said.
And it won’t be easy.
“Its hard to get players when you have a ban, so I think they will have to start recruiting at a higher level to really get people excited about the future of the program,” Rippee said.
Lindsey Goubeax is a sophomore at UM. She says that the ban may affect some fans around the country, but she thinks it makes little difference in Oxford.
“I still think that the Oxford community is rallying behind Ole Miss. It might have hurt our fan base nationally, but I don’t think it really hurt too much locally,” Goubeax said.
The Rebels will play in Oxford the next two weeks and are expecting many fans to show up in the Grove to cheer on the football team — ban or no ban.
“There is always another year and another chance to win,” said Rippee. “We have climbed bigger mountains in the past and I think this is just another mountain that the program has to climb. I’m not worried about it in the least.”
Story contributed by Meek School of Journalism & New Media students Jack Orloff and Madison Scarpino.