Saturday, 25 November 2006

QoTD, Egg Bowl edition

From Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side, explaining the passions surrounding the Egg Bowl to outsiders:

The game served as a proxy for the hoary Mississippi class struggle, between the white folks who wore shirts with collars on them and the white folks who did not. Mississippi State was a land grant college, originally called Mississippi A&M. The desperate contempt Ole Miss football fans felt for Mississippi State was echoed in the feelings of fans of the University of Texas for Texas A&M and fans of the University of Oklahoma for Oklahoma State—formerly known as Oklahoma A&M. These schools were not rivals; they were subordinates. Theirs was not a football team to be beaten but an insurrection to be put down. This notion was most vivid in the Ole Miss imagination: that the state of Mississippi, with the sole exception of the town of Oxford, was once a Great Lake of Rednecks. In recent decades the earth had warmed, and the shores of Great Lake Redneck had receded, so that, strictly speaking, perhaps it should not be described as a lake. But still, the residue was a very large puddle. And the one place in the puddle deep enough to ruin a shiny new pair of tassel loafers was Starkville, Mississippi.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

EDSBS interviews Michael Lewis

Orson Swindle at EDSBS has posted part one of a two-part interview with Moneyball author Michael Lewis, wherein he discusses his new book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and the primary subject of that book, Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher.

The following passage of the interview warmed the cockles of my heart—by way of explanation for the warming, the Ole Miss political science department used to house the criminal justice program until it was spun off along with the rest of the programs that a four-year university (much less the College of Liberal Arts) had no business operating into a separate school:

[ML:] On behalf of [Oher’s] mind, I would say…I’e watched him over the past few years, and he’s become a much more verbal person. He is intelligent–he’s not stupid. He’s shrewd, and he’s sensitive. The way he’s impressed me is not with his grades in the classroom, though I’m sure he’s worked to get them and they’re not entirely fraudulent.

OS: We’re not talking about Auburn, here.

ML: Well, I do think we’re talking about that. All these schools have the smooth track for the football players–

OS: Sociology at Auburn, Criminal Justice…

ML: It’s funny. You watch the Saturday football games, and if it’s West Virginia playing, all the football players are “sports management” majors, but if it’s Ole Miss playing, all the football players are “criminal justice” majors. So you get the sense that every school has its major for the football team, and it’s different from school to school. All the Ole Miss football players aren’t majoring in criminal justice because they have a deep and sincere interest in criminal justice. It’s that that’s where you go to get the grades.

And Michael is majoring in criminal justice. That’s not a great sign, but he’s doing well. And this is what is true about him: he’s not just “not dumb,” he’s intelligent and sensitive. When he sits down to write something, it’s actually impressive. He’s got things to say. The mind he’s got is a good and interesting mind. That that is true despite his first sixteen years on the planet is amazing.

Incidentally my copy of Blindside was allegedly going to be shipped to my mom’s house in Memphis by today for delivery Wednesday, according to the checkout screens, but given the current delivery estimate of next Monday I doubt that actually happened. Regardless I promise a review soon.

Update: Never mind; I just got an email from that has a tracking number saying it will be delivered tomorrow. So, depending on how engaging a read it is, I may have a review up by the end of this weekend.

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Auburn: Georgia and Alabama, yet again

The Auburn game pretty much felt like the games against Georgia and Alabama this year: a game the Rebels could have won—perhaps even should have won—but for a few mistakes on both sides of the ball that are the result of two major factors: playing true freshmen and playing Schaeffer, who is still learning the offense due to arriving on campus in mid-August.

The good news for the Rebels is that they probably don’t have to worry about doing worse than last year’s three-win mark, with four wins highly likely and an outside shot at five wins if the Rebels can steal one in Red Stick against an LSU squad that’s not having its best year.

Thursday, 26 October 2006


After a brief respite at home, it’s back on the road again tomorrow; I’m going to Memphis for the weekend to watch Ole Miss get trounced by play Auburn down in Oxford with my mom and my step-dad.

But never fear, posting won’t be going away… for reasons that deeply annoy me (largely the intersection of Charter’s unreliable cable modem service and AT&T’s nonexistent DSL in my little corner of Clayton), my mother’s house actually has better high-speed Internet access than mine.

Saturday, 14 October 2006


Great, another game the Rebels could have won if they’d just played a little better down the stretch. This trend is starting to get annoying—and I’m probably more annoyed at the outcome of this game because it wasn’t a blowout like I expected it to be.

Monday, 9 October 2006

The good news and the bad news

Ole Miss–Alabama will be on national TV this Saturday on CBS (presumably in glorious 1080i HD). My inner cheapskate is happy, but the part of my brain that is aware of the Rebels’ abysmal record in Tuscaloosa isn’t—even though Alabama’s record this season isn’t that great in league play either.

Monday, 2 October 2006

Moral victories

Saturday night’s Ole Miss–Georgia game reminded me somewhat of the 2003 contest between the Rebels and LSU, which also saw the Rebels’ QB falter in a late comeback effort after a close-run contest. Certainly the atmosphere at Vaught-Hemingway was comparable.

That said, not even Brent Schaeffer’s biggest boosters would say he’s the next coming of Eli Manning, and the 2003 LSU contest had much more on the line: a berth in the SEC title game and LSU’s national championship prospects and unbeaten record. Instead, this contest saw our prospects at bowl eligibility slipping further away, with the Rebels needing to win 5 of 7 just to have a shot at going to a bowl for the first time since the 2003 Cotton Bowl contest.

Realistically, I don’t see the Rebels making a bowl, despite the marked improvement in play on both sides of the ball since the Missouri contest—and had the Rebels played as well in the previous three contests as they did last night, we would be looking at a rather dangerous 3–2 or 4–1 squad with the whole division ahead rather than a team that will be lucky if it bests last season’s three win mark.

Update: Clarion-Ledger Ole Miss beat writer Robbie Neiswanger has more on this theme at his blog.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

The O Song

EDSBS has dug up a song about Ed Orgeron. If only football coaches got entrance music like professional wrestlers do…

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

And the legend continues

EDSBS reports on the latest Orgeron rumor making the rounds. I’d normally believe the rumor was true, but the idea of Ole Miss chancellor Robert Khayat deigning to go down to the Oxford police station blows much of its credibility out of the water.

Sunday, 24 September 2006


We suck. Even worse, State eked out a win in OT against UAB.

I have a feeling that even Ron Franklin won’t be able to make next week’s Ole Miss–Georgia contest tolerable to a national viewing audience.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Gameday photos from Mizzou

Here are some photos from the game last weekend, for the curious or otherwise disturbed.

Sunday, 10 September 2006

Football weekend

I have to say I had a pretty good time in Columbia this weekend, despite Ole Miss’ general ineptitude leading to a 34–7 drubbing at the hands of Mizzou. I also enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with one of my professors from grad school days, Marvin Overby, and getting together with Frequent Commenter Alfie and the gang for a Midwestern tailgate and pub crawl.

In other football-related observations:

  • Line of the weekend: Brad Nessler, Paul Maguire, and Bob Griese are calling a game on ESPN (Oklahoma–Washington, I think). Maguire sets up Nessler to plug his doing play-by-play on the late MNF double-header game, and this exchange follows:
    Maguire: What about me and Bob? We’re not doing anything Monday night.
    Nessler: You’re not doing anything now.
  • Incidentally, that game was worth watching for Bonnie Bernstein alone.
  • NBC should have left the “players introduce themselves” video packages with the rotting corpse of ABC Sports where they found them.
  • Fox’s NFL graphics package looks a hell of a lot more professional this year than in years past. CBS… not so much.
  • The solid ABC bug on ESPN on ABC needs to go away. Now. Before plasma TV owners start calling in death threats to affiliates.
  • ESPN needs to give up on trying to hype its “talent” to get people to watch its shows. Telling me that I can hear Colin Cowherd spew his ignorance on ESPNU while I get queasy from the SkyCam (and Cowherd), or trying to dupe me into watching the Sunday night SportsCenter with Stoo-yah Scott by promising more of Chris Berman’s stale act, is not effective promotion of the brand unless I accidentally find another Disney network to watch instead.
  • People sitting in a studio don’t need to be using hand-held microphones. Either body-mike them or use a frickin’ boom mike.

Finally, any sports bar that has blown $5k on a widescreen flatscreen television should not be showing a stretched standard-definition broadcast of anything, much less a football game available in high definition. At the very least, switch off the damn stretch mode—am I the only person alive who thinks that exaggerating people’s width by ⅓ is a bad idea?

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Remember the name Dexter McCluster; Tommy West sure does

Probably the highlight of Sunday’s Ole Miss–Memphis matchup is this play from true freshman Dexter McCluster, who may be the first player in college football to get the Arena league “offensive specialist” label (since I can’t figure out if he’s a receiver or a back), only slightly marred by the commentary by ESPN weasel Stuart Scott:


Saturday, 2 September 2006

Ambushed by college football

The college football season has sort of snuck up on me this week, although I did get ESPNHD active in time to see South Carolina manhandle State on Thursday night. Today’s games have been moderately entertaining, including seeing overrated Cal get exposed by a newly-reinvigorated (although I’m not sure I’m willing to say “improved” before they face somebody decent in the SEC) Volunteer squad.

All this, of course, is an appetizer for Ole Miss-Memphis tomorrow afternoon; Frequent Commenter Alfie predicted (in a text message I got last Sunday) the Rebels will win 21–10, which seems plausible enough to me, so we’ll make that the official Signifying Nothing guesstimate of the week.

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

I now have one Mizzou ticket in my grubby hands

I now have an appointment to see Brent Schaeffer demolish the Missouri Tigers on September 9th. That is, if Brent can manage to be eligible to play by then…

Update: As Alfie notes in the comments, the Brent Schaeffer era has now commenced in Oxford.

Monday, 24 July 2006

Ole Miss MA, PhD programs targeted by IHL

The Mississippi state college board put 37 degree programs at state universities on probation last Wednesday, including all three master’s programs in political science in the state and the sole PhD program:

“We’re giving them three years to get back on track,” said Bill Smith, the state’s acting commissioner of academic and student affairs. “We’re not out to just shut them down.”

The state College Board on Wednesday placed 37 programs on probation, and eliminated two, that were not graduating enough students.

Every university in the state except Mississippi University for Women had programs on the list.

Smith said the board adopted standards several years ago mandating a certain number of graduates over six years: 30 for bachelor’s, 18 for master’s and nine for doctoral programs. ...

Smith said elimination is not automatic for programs that do not up their number of graduates.

Some, he said, such as Delta State’s political science program, are key to undergraduate programs and cannot be eliminated.

Others, he said, are vital to Mississippi, no matter how few graduates they produce.

The graduate counts they present might even be a little on the generous side (my count is 5 or 6 PhDs, although I may be missing an IR person or two), but I’ll trust IHL‘s accounting over my vague recollections in this instance.

Friday, 14 July 2006

Auburn athletics in sham course scandal

EDSBS links a New York Times piece from yesterday detailing some rather creative use of independent study classes by a professor in the Auburn sociology department who was apparently in cahoots with an athletic tutor to give Tiger jocks cheap A’s. The money quote in my book:

[Carnell “Cadillac”] Williams said one of the two directed-reading courses he took with Professor [Thomas] Petee during the spring of 2005 was a statistics class.

Asked if that course, considered the most difficult in the sociology major, was available to regular students as a directed reading, Professor Petee said, “No, not usually.”

Mr. Williams described the class this way: “You’re just studying different kinds of math. It’s one of those things where you write a report about the different theories and things like that.”

The NCAA is, as they say, investigating, although I ultimately expect little more than a wrist-slap for Tommy Tuberville’s rogue program down on the Plains, in large part because this (and similar) petty corruption is widespread in college football. One example: I have it on good authority that at least one NFL star who was an Ole Miss criminal justice major was as dumb as a post yet somehow managed to maintain his eligibility through softball-lobbing instructors and professors, with generous assists from the athletic tutors. Most people who’ve spent any time around Division I schools can probably tell similar stories—particularly if they’ve been in or near what Prof. Karlson artfully refers to as the Division of Cooling Out the Mark.

That said, directed readings courses may be the soft underbelly of grade inflation more generally for athlete and non-athlete alike; certainly it’s hard to give out many C’s and D’s when you really have no other students to compare a directed readings student to, although in theory professors shouldn’t be letting bad students in independent study courses in the first place (so there may be a selection bias issue here).

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Your SN moment of zen

I talk Ole Miss football and the legend of the Orgeron with Orson Swindle in Part 2 of the “Dirty South” roundup, the latest installment of the EDSBS Podcast.

It’s amazing how reading the Athlon SEC preview and my football conversation last month with Frequent Commenter Alfie can make me sound semi-expert on the topic.

Saturday, 18 February 2006

Ed Orgeron: Megarecruiter

More fodder for the “Ed Orgeron could sell snow to eskimos” file: the scoop on how Coach O got blue-chip QB Brent Schaeffer to come to Oxford, passing up more prominent programs like Wisconsin and NC State.

This sort of recruiting prowess puts the Ed Orgeron hummer ad in a whole new light… maybe it sells more H3s than I’d have thought it would.


Monday, 6 February 2006

Chris predicts the future, yet again

Me, just over nine months ago:

It wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see [Mike] DuBose move up to head coach [at Millsaps] sooner rather than later, as rumors of current head coach David Saunders moving on to a I-A assistant coaching job have been circling for a while—recently, he was rumored to be on the shortlist for Ed Orgeron’s staff at Ole Miss.

The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, yesterday:

Former Alabama coach Mike DuBose is running his own football program in the NCAA again.

DuBose was promoted Friday at Jackson’s Millsaps College, a Division III school, to replace David Saunders. DuBose was Millsaps’ defensive coordinator last season.

Saunders left Millsaps after three seasons to take over as linebackers coach at Ole Miss [working for Ed Orgeron - ed]. The departure created the opening for DuBose to move into his first college head coaching position since 2000, when he was forced out after four tumultuous seasons in Tuscaloosa.

It’s almost a shame I couldn’t predict my own career prospects at Millsaps so easily…

Saturday, 4 February 2006

The passing of Johnny Vaught

EDSBS links to the news that legendary Ole Miss coach Johnny Vaught has passed at the age of 96. His 190–61-12 record (.757 winning percentage) over 25 years will almost certainly never be bested by a Rebel coach.

Saturday, 21 January 2006

Recruit this

The Rebels picked up commitments from former UT quarterback Brent Schaeffer and Meridian High running back Cordera Eason on Friday, putting an exclamation point on what already was a top-15 recruiting class for Ed “You Need A Hummer” Orgeron. Say what you will about the guy on the sidelines or the practice field, but he at least seems like he can recruit players…

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Orgeron loads up with Ex-U staff

Former Miami offensive coordinator Dan Werner is now OC for the Ole Miss Rebels, with fellow ex-Miamian Art Kehoe likely to follow as the new offensive line coach in Oxford. The Rebels will also have Robert Lane back in the backfield, likely back at quarterback (even though Lane’s performance at fullback was one of the few bright spots on offense in the latter half of the season).

þ: Fanblogs and EDSBS.

Saturday, 10 December 2005

Coming out Flatt

Ethan Flatt, the on-again, off-again starting quarterback of your Ole Miss Rebels, has decided to take his bachelor’s degree and run rather than return for his senior season, a move that had been widely speculated in the media. More likely than not, this will mean a return under center for Robert Lane (most recently seen at fullback), as he’s the only QB left on the depth chart with any playing time whatsoever.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

More fuel for the Coach O funeral pyre (if necessary)

You know, if I were an Ole Miss chancellor looking for a pretext to can Coach O, the evidence of his apparent attempt to poach players from Tulane’s football team might be a good place to start. The allegations at this point seem to contain a lot more smoke than fire—there’s no evidence, for example, that Orgeron or his subordinates actually contacted any Green Wave players—but nonetheless the whole episode appears rather unseemly.