The fans of Ole Miss football are what make the program so unique. This humble group of people have bared through some of the toughest seasons in school history, changes in traditions, and have experienced triumph in some cases. Outside viewers see Ole Miss fans as friendly, gullible country folks, and know how to throw a party. But there is more to us than that. I think to understand Ole Miss fans, you have to shed light on our history, and our generations that experienced it all. Your old timers have experienced success, the cautious fans remember some of the worst days, and the new age group see a bright future for the program. Now midway through the 2014 College Football season, all of the different generations of fans embark on a journey to glory that all three have never experienced at the same time.
Ole Miss sets to face Tennessee on Oct. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Stace Wall
The old timer fans have been around and witnessed it all. A lot of them remember when Ole Miss football was last relevant. They grew up in a time period when Ole Miss Head Coach Johnny Vaught cast his legacy into the program. JFK had not yet been shot, and Ole Miss had already experienced a national title claim and three undefeated seasons. To this day, those days were the last time Ole Miss experienced that kind of triumph, and the old timers are the only ones who can lay claim as an eyewitness. Old timers know the meaning of Colonel Reb, and in their minds it is the only mascot of the university. They stand true to their school pride, and their most passionate hate is LSU. They can describe what the atmosphere was like in Vaught Hemingway Stadium on the night when LSU’s Billy Cannon etched his name into the Heisman Trophy on one miraculous play, ending Ole Miss’ hopes to another undefeated season. Old timers may not be seen drinking alcohol in the Grove on game day, but they will be sitting next to generations under them at the game, cheering for the same Rebs in blue.
Cautious Ole Miss fans grew up in the aftermath of the glory days that the old timers experienced. For much of their time as avid fans, they have experienced some of the worst football seasons in school history. The cautious fan will expect the worst to happen at any given moment of the season, and are battle tested. They know how to brush a loss off their shoulders and move on to the next game. The mid 1990s were tough for these group of fans, as they experienced their Rebels receive one of the harshest NCAA probations cast onto a football program. The cautious fan has a motto, “We may not win every football game, but we will never lose a party.” These are the diehard tailgaters who make the Grove at Ole Miss so spectacular on game day.
The new age of Rebel faithful are the children of the cautious fan. They consist of kids, teenagers, and college students. They have high expectations and see a dominating future for the program. This group expects a win every time, and will settle for nothing less. They remember when Head Coach Hugh Freeze turned a nearly shattered program into the same status of the elite, in just a short period of time. New age fans will not tolerate Mississippi State in any form. They have embraced the traditional changes of Ole Miss that will one day be the fully accepted image of Ole Miss.
The 2014 Ole Miss football season has united these generations. For the first time since the old timers were the only ones around, the Rebels experienced a 7-0 start to the season, and ranked as high as number three in the land. It has been an unbelievable journey that all three generations can share. Today, they all see a realistic possibility of their team playing for a national title. If this success does take shape, these generations of Rebel faithful will forever share witness to one of the greatest Ole Miss football seasons of all-time.