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Friday, September 2, 2011

Ole Miss Rebels

This is an excerpt from the book 'The Totally Biased Guide to Southern College Football' by Pete Davis, available now on's Kindle for just 99 cents at:
And you can follow me on twitter: @petedavis1 
            Based in Oxford, where Miss Americas are redshirted.
This is the university the bluebloods of Mississippi attend.  Those are the folks who can afford the white paint to color the half-buried tires in their front yards.
            Oxford is also the home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner.  If you visit his home, Rowan Oak, you can still see the whiskey bottle he was drinking when he died.  Every time the Rebels won a national title he would drink from it and when he passed in 1962 his family planned on finishing the bottle.  In 1982 they amended their pact to settle for a conference title.  It’s still sitting in the kitchen. Waiting.
            After getting rid of their Colonel Reb mascot it took years to find another one.  They even thought about Admiral Akbar, a fictional character in the ‘Star Wars’ movies who led the Rebel Alliance and was famous for his line “It’s a trap!”  But George Lucas said the Admiral was in a galaxy far, far away fighting the Empire.  Finally in October of 2010 they chose Rebel Black Bear.  To the unwise, this would seem strange, but Mississippi is actually home to two subspecies of bears and one of those runs a successful line of Thai restaurants.  ‘The Bear’ is also a famous short story by native son Faulkner.  The Teddy Bear doll was inspired by a black bear President Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot during a hunt in Mississippi in 1902.  And Bear Bryant lived next door.
            It’s so obvious a mascot you wonder why it took them 162 years to think of it.
It beat out the Rebel Land Shark which is a shame since it would have become the first mascot named after a beer and a Saturday Night Live skit from the 70s.
            Some people say the Rebel name should be dropped because of its ties to the War Between the States.  Then LSU would need to drop their Tigers moniker since their team was named after an actual Confederate rifle squad.  Those who throw stones will soon hit a Cajun.
            In 1935 they played in their first bowl game losing to Catholic University 20 to 19 in the Orange Bowl.  They blame the embarrassing loss on the shock of seeing Catholics for the first time. 
            Actually their first bowl game was in 1921 at the Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba.  They were shutout 14-0 by the University of Havana Habaneros.  When wire reports on the telegraph came back to Mississippi most fans thought it was a typo.  Then they asked what a telegraph was.  A habanero is a very spicy chili pepper that gave the Rebels many an upset stomach that day and still does since you can search high and low and not find an official record at the school of that bowl ever being played.  That information is sleeping with Colonel Reb at the bottom of Sardis Lake.  The bowl was also called the Cigar Bowl and Rhumba Bowl at various times, changing its name to avoid the communist insurgents.
            Their best coach was Johnny Vaught, who won six SEC titles and three national championships, 1959, ’60 and ’62. Vaught refused to recruit dumb players (a boon to Auburn recruiting) or married players (a boon to BYU), saying they were too much of a distraction.  He refused to leave despite getting job offers at other colleges for more money.  In 1960 he was making less than 20,000 dollars a year.  Bear Bryant was pulling in around 80,000, but a dollar goes a long way when there’s little to buy. Vaught coached for 24 years and had just one losing campaign.
            In the 1950s they were second only to Oklahoma in wins, and were fourth-best in victories during the 1960s.  Vaught lost only six times in Oxford. At one point they played in 15 straight bowl games, a record at that time.
QB Charlie Conerly and Head Coach John Vaught attracting redbugs in 1947.
If you like what you've read so far just wait until you see the rest about Ole Miss and all the other SEC schools, as well as Texas, Texas A&M, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami. It's all in 'The Totally Biased Guide to Southern College Football' by Pete Davis and available for the price of a Whopper Jr. on Kindle at:
And you can follow me on twitter: @petedavis1

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