January 4, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Team Nitro defensive end Christ Jones (98) and Team Highlight defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (1) greet each other after the game at the Under Armour All-America high school Game at Tropicana Field. Team Highlight defeated the Team Nitro 16-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

My Open Letter To Opposing SEC Fans

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Dear Bulldogs, Tide, Tigers, and well, uh, other Bulldogs,

This recruiting season sure has been fun to be an Ole Miss fan. The Rebels have received interest from many of the top players in the Southeast and beyond. In previous years, there were top recruits that we were pursuing with some, such as five-star CJ Johnson in 2010 coming to fruition, and some, like five-star Joe McKnight in 2007, did not. While it was fun to be in the mix for those guys, this season is unprecedented. It is entirely possible that Ole Miss could land the top three players in the country.

Some fans around the country have seen this as a good thing for college football, a nontraditional power making a surge to build a top recruiting class based on the foundation of building something new. Instead of going to Alabama, Georgia, or LSU, where winning is expected, these guys want to go where winning is needed. There are other fans who are threatened by this, on a primal or conscious  level, who have taken to the brave streets of the internet to either spill paranoid-driven filth, or to bring down the University of Mississippi.

Mississippi State fans could have some of the more jovial rumors to read. If you take to the internet as a slate of truth, you will learn a lot about Ole Miss recruiting from MSU fans. Apparently Chris Jones is a spy for Dan Mullen to catch us in “the act”, Robert Nkemdiche’s dad’s salary has doubled, Laquon Treadwell was bought for the price of a Microsoft Zune, and Hugh Freeze is running a sorority brothel out of the IPF. It is entertaining to say the least. You never really know your football team until you read your rival school’s message boards.

Alabama and LSU fans have taken to the pretty girl getting turned down at the bar, “You..are saying no to meYOU are saying no to me?” Neither fan base can believe that a recruit who has earned a scholarship from their school would have the nerve to say thanks but no thanks. Have Alabama and LSU been perennially more successful programs than Ole Miss? Without question. Has there been more NFL products from them as compared to Ole Miss? You bet. There is something that they cannot offer, that Ole Miss can: their name on the foundation.

Those two schools have combined for 18 national championships, including five in the last decade. Ole Miss has just three, and zero in the last half-century. That’s not to say that Tiger and Tide fans are any more football-crazed than Rebel fans. The Ole Miss fan base has an insatiable thirst for gridiron glory that if/when quenched, will result in a celebration unlike any other. Dexter McCluster, Patrick Willis, Wesley Walls, and Eli Manning are among the beloved Rebels who played in the era of the SEC Championship, and none of them were able to reach that December date in Atlanta. They are still beloved in our quaint picturesque town, so just imagine if they won a title here. The recruits have imagined that, and that vision has led us past the likes of Alabama and LSU in many prospects’ eyes.

Georgia is giving off their own musk of ignorance and jealousy. I do not believe that they are jealous of our lives, our town, or our school. Having met my share of Georgia fans, trust me, they are very, very proud of Athens and the University of Georgia. And there is no reason they shouldn’t be. What they are jealous of are the recruits Ole Miss is taking from under Georgia’s noses. Robert Nkemdiche, top player in the country, is a Georgia boy who has never given the Dawgs a glimpse of attention. Carl Lawson, another elite defensive prospect, is out of Alpharetta, Ga. and gave serious interest to Ole Miss, and none to Georgia. Laremy Tunsil, while from Florida, sported UGA apparel to football camps and his senior pictures, and we might have stolen that “Dawg lock” while they were busy typing him into next year’s program.

This has sparked Twitter and blog rampages that are designed to try and belittle Ole Miss. This happens whenever Georgia loses out on something they want. I see this every season they lose to Auburn or South Carolina in football, to Alabama in recruiting, or Utah in Gym Dawg gymnastics. They immediately bring in academics. Georgia is a very fine academic school with a lot to offer, but they are not Vanderbilt. Ole Miss has an area to improve on when it comes to unusually high admission rates, but we are no University of Phoenix. Every year, Ole Miss ranks in the top 100 in nearly every academic department, with accountancy and pharmacy annually finding themselves in the elite echelon. Attempting to diminish another school’s academic credibility does not improve your own, it weakens it.

Many opposing fans other than Georgia take to spitting negativity towards the direction of Ole Miss rather than saying “{Prospect A} should come here. We have blah, blah, blah”, there is petty name calling. All that does is work adversely of what they intended to do. I remember a female student from a rival institution taking to Twitter to voice her displeasure after Channing Ward elected to sign with Ole Miss.

“Why would anyone chose to go to Ole Miss instead of {her institution}. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.”

What a snarky, arrogant little comment that was. I did not respond because I could not possibly fit my justification in 140 characters. I will say it here instead. Ole Miss has an underrated pipeline to the NFL. A two-time Super Bowl MVP, arguably the best defensive player in the league, and the starting right tackle for the 2013 AFC Champions are all Ole Miss grads in the past decade. That does not include other stars like Mike Wallace, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, or McCluster.

Only 11 schools have more bowl victories than Ole Miss does. The Rebels have won 22 bowl games and the banners hanging in the IPF are not all modest. Five Sugar Bowl banners hang as Ole Miss is 5-3 in the South’s most illustrious yearend destination. When the name national power arises, Ole Miss is likely not on the forefront of many people’s minds. With three national championships to go along with the 22 bowl wins, you would be remise to ignore the history of winning football in Oxford, no matter how long ago.

Aside from football, Ole Miss has so much to offer in terms of campus life. The baseball atmosphere at Swayze Field is unmatched in the country and the basketball team has a popularity that is unrivaled in the history of this school’s hoops program. The only thing more beautiful than the Oxford campus is the Oxford women. If you get Brent Musberger to Oxford, ABC might have to go to commercial break. The University of Mississippi is one of the smallest schools in the SEC, allowing students to learn in smaller classrooms with more accessibility to their teachers. Not to mention the FedEx Center, a state-of-the-art tutoring facility for athletes. The social life is unparalleled as the SEC is well aware of. It is hard to find an SEC fan who has never been to Oxford, that would not like to go. Throw in Ajax Diner, a Saturday night at The Library, and a round of golf at the Ole Miss Golf Course, and you have no reason not to consider our fine town.

Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, each of you have terrific aspects of your school, embrace them. In leu of attacking the fair lady that is Ole Miss, relish in the great things going for your higher institution. As clever as turning S’s into dollar signs when writing out our school name, it can be done to each one of your schools (Crim$on Tide, Bulldog$, L$U), and it is anything but innovative. I hope that someone can explain to me the message board phenomena that is “Free$e”, an allusion to David Freese or is it an admission of spelling concerns over the ability to spell the name Freeze? Either way, let us have our time in the sun.

For all the heartbreak we endure as Ole Miss fans, we deserve this February as a time of hope and pride. We are proud of our university and the tarnishing that goes along with this recruiting season is only a compliment to our staff’s efforts. So enjoy your school, have fun with the recruitment process, and appreciate the stellar recruiting classes that you will get. Also know this, while 2013 is the first Ole Miss recruiting class like this, it will not be the last. Happy ‘Crootin’ Everybody.

Sincerely,

An Ole Miss fan concerned for your well-being

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Tags: National Signing Day Ole Miss Football

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