‘Dixie’ has been a pregame tradition at Ole Miss for decades, but on Friday the school announced the song will no longer be played by the Pride of the South marching band.
Before I begin, I would like to get one thing out of the way: I like traditions. They are a part of what makes college football and Ole Miss great. From old traditions like the sounds of the ‘Pride of the South’ to tailgating in the grove to new ones like ‘Locking the Vaught’, it is part of what makes game day special.
I have been attending games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium since I was seven years old in 1998 and am entrenched in all the traditions that Ole Miss offers both on game day and non-game day.
As much as I like the traditions of Ole Miss, the one tradition I like more than all the others is winning. If removing ‘Dixie’ helps Ole Miss win, I am all for it. If changing the nickname from Rebels to Black Bears helps Ole Miss win, I am all for it. If changing the Ole Miss nickname helps the University of Mississippi win, I am all for it.
What I am not for is Ole Miss to be a museum of the confederacy. I understand history, heritage and traditions. I respect them and the people who share that opinion. However, Ole Miss should not be the ones charged with the task of carrying on that legacy.
Instead, Ole Miss should be in the business of creating an environment that is welcome to everyone, and within the athletic department, winning.
If you are of the opinion that confederate symbols do not hurt Ole Miss in recruiting, that is fine too. However, let me point you to a quote by former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat from the USA Today in October of 2014.
“Each head coach until Coach Freeze told me the (Confederate) flag was used against Ole Miss in recruiting.”
If I know college football and especially SEC recruiting the way I think I do, opposing coaches didn’t stop with the flag when recruiting against Ole Miss.
Which brings me to this: Any non-Ole Miss fan that is upset with Ole Miss removing confederate symbols is free to have the school you cheer for take them.
‘Dixie’ has been playing at Ole Miss football games since 1948. That means in the University’s first 100 years, the song was not played on campus. Therefore, it was a tradition that was started at one point in time without having any real meaning to people affiliated with Ole Miss.
In 2016 we are free to create our own traditions. Let’s start something new that people at Ole Miss can be proud of in 2116.
In the words of the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, “Just Win, Baby!”