Tuesday, February 5, 2013

And not a Rebel was sleeping...

At least not any Ole Miss Rebel who follows football recruiting. It's an anxious evening, much like the night before Christmas. National Signing Day will get kicked off at 6:30 AM tomorrow morning, a day that could yield the best recruiting class in school history, a history that includes a whole lot of good football teams. There are a multitude of stories out there right now on this Ole Miss recruiting class and thanks to Google and Facebook and Twitter, they're easy to find. My story is more personal. (You knew there had to be a story involved, right?)

On an October weekend in 1974, I had gone home with a high school friend on Friday afternoon and spent the night. When we woke up the next morning, his father asked at breakfast if we'd like to go to an Ole Miss game that afternoon. While my friend and his family had no doubt been to many such events, I'd never been to anything beyond a high school football game, so it sounded quite exciting to this Delta boy who, like everyone else in the country at that time, had heard of Ole Miss and its not-too-long-departed quarterback, Archie Manning. We departed the flatlands and arrived in the rolling hills of Oxford, and made our way to the stadium. I still vividly remember walking up through portal E and seeing the field of what is now Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It was like something from a picture, brightly colored perfection full of wondrous sights and sounds. The field, the crowd, the band, the football, just the whole experience, would enchant me from that day.

I would eventually attend Ole Miss as a student and be a genuine fanatic for Ole Miss football for decades. Over those decades, I would witness many ups and downs in football wins and losses. I would have kids, raise kids, and take them to games from the time they were five years old. I would take in the wonders of The Grove and follow the team around the SEC and bowl venues spread far and wide. Fall was my time of year. Color in the trees and football in the air. Nothing like it. I would witness The Divine Wind, The Drive, The Stand, The Hit, and most of the other extraordinarily memorable moments of Ole Miss football as the years passed.

In all these years, I have never felt anything remotely like this sense of excitement around our football program. Not even in the Eli years. It's an amazing thing to behold, and it's a thing this Rebel has awaited for almost forty years. Will the dominoes finally fall our way tomorrow and signal a new era in Rebel football? Yes, I think they will. It's gonna be a long night!

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