Column: We’ve Been Through Things Before but Nothing Like This

By Jeff Roberson
HottyToddy.com Contributor 

The unprecedented aspects of what we’re going through are the globalness of it and how long it could affect us. We’ve seen some other things that were seriously impactful, but not to this degree.

The Tulane baseball team was here for the NCAA Oxford Regional in 2006 and lived to tell their own nightmare turned recovery. Ten months earlier the Green Wave’s world as they knew it changed overnight because of Hurricane Katrina. Lots of sports teams in the region spent time at other colleges than their own that year. The Tulane baseball guys spent the fall semester of 2005 in Lubbock, Texas.

I remember asking successful Tulane head coach Rick Jones, with two College World Series appearances during his time there, about their months at Texas Tech. I couldn’t tell you what he said, now 14 years later. I just remember that a good Green Wave team persevered and made it to Oxford in early June ‘06, an amazing accomplishment for a group that spent half a school year hundreds of miles from its own home plate.

The Rebels won the Regional and hosted a Super Regional, but a sense of satisfaction had to accompany the Green Wave back to a rebuilding New Orleans.

Tulane got to play a full baseball season in 2006. Ole Miss, off to a 16-1 start in 2020 with a 16-game win streak, did not. We’ll never know what was in store for this talented, long-ball slugging, team of Rebels that played with so much enthusiasm, energy, and passion as the victories piled up.

Baseball is important. Making sure folks are healthy and that life sustains into the future is much more important. Other baseball seasons, all sports seasons, will return. This one will be a footnote or at least have an asterisk by it. And we’ll remember.

To start the ‘01 football season, Ole Miss beat Murray State and lost to Auburn. So the Rebels were 1-1 on 9/11. All college football games were called off that upcoming weekend. Ole Miss was supposed to play Vanderbilt in Oxford, and that game was moved to the Saturday after the Egg Bowl.

The Rebels had an open date already on the schedule for the Saturday after that, so it was a three-week closed window between games for Ole Miss. Then a trip to Kentucky in late September resulted in a Rebel victory, and things began to feel somewhat normal again.

Now, 19 years later, the uncertainty is larger, and we don’t know when things will start to head toward normalcy. Graduation has been called off at Ole Miss and at most places, and talk of a later scheduled one is at least on the table.

It’s my first semester to teach sports writing classes in the School of Journalism and New Media, and halfway through we have this global curve ball. I’ve sat in on several Zoom faculty/staff meetings the past week as we distance ourselves, and we realize the same thing is happening at all colleges and universities.

Just like the student-athletes on the sports side, I feel badly for the students. College isn’t supposed to go like this. This isn’t what the blueprint showed.

I’ve reached out to them and have heard from several as we restart – “online” but not “in class.” Coast to coast, from South Carolina and New York to Wisconsin, Colorado and California. And closer, like Nashville, and here in Mississippi from the north through the capital to the coast.

We all met in a classroom at Farley Hall across from the Grove those first seven weeks. I miss that as we work to make it work in a different way.

Twenty years ago, when Ole Miss was playing Oklahoma in the Independence Bowl and the Rebels were claiming college football’s last victory of the 20th century, we were told to worry some and prepare some for Y2K, that how the world might adjust at midnight into the new century was a question mark.

That seemed to go fine, a smooth transition as the calendar flipped and technology moved along.

I hear some say what’s happening now is a generational moment. That’s not really true. Once in a century is more like it, covering several generations.

So all the best to all. And as I wrote to the students, although not sure how long it will take, “We will make it through.”


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