As fans await Ole Miss football under a new head coach some not-so-easy changes are on the horizon.
Ole Miss football fans have learned the hard way, it just isn’t easy being a Rebels fan at times. Ole Miss fans have seen ups and downs and highs and lows, from times when the program was close to the top, only to be heartbroken in the waning moments of a single game or an entire season.
With the 2020 football season still in question due to the ongoing pandemic, Ole Miss fans are faced with even more pressing issues which affect not just the football team, but the entire school.
Like any school, the masses want things to stay the same when things are good, but they want change when they believe things are bad. Things are pretty bad right now, but the changes coming may not be what the fanbase is hoping for.
The World Is Small
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Recently while dining at The Whistle Stop in Conroe, Texas, the familiar and welcoming sound of “Hotty Toddy” graced my ears. I’ve heard it several times out there so I really wasn’t surprised by the shout out.
What I was surprised with was the nature of the conversation with my fellow Rebel. The gentleman introduced himself as an alumnus and his concern was registered in his next words. “They are trying to take away our name”, he said. The talk was short and sweet but he knew and said what many of us were thinking about saying.
Truthfully, he wasn’t wrong. Everything Rebel fans once clung to has been (or is being) removed from the Ole Miss we once knew. It began with the Confederate flag and then Colonel Rebel. Then the Ole Miss administration forbade the playing of “From Dixie With Love” by the band. Now, Confederate monuments in Oxford are being taken down, leading to the one thing that seems to polarize many.
Changing the Mississippi state flag. This could even lead to changing the name Ole Miss and Rebels.
This is not intended to create controversy, drama or more division but instead is intended to discuss our favorite school and the sudden evolution from what once was a storied institute of higher learning to what has now become a shadow of her former self. The Flagship university is sinking for many Rebels fans.
A great university and everything adored by many fans have drastically changed. Were the changes needed? The answer is yes. The changes were necessary to some extent. It’s the way the changes were forced upon an entire fan-base with no consideration given to the alumni, donors, and fans which makes it seem as though it was handled poorly.
Change, even though necessary, isn’t ever easy and especially when it isn’t voluntary.
The SEC And NCAA
Naturally, there has been an outpouring of opinion when it comes to the recent exclamations made by both SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and NCAA President Mark Emmert. Recently it was announced there would be on-campus postseason sanctions against any university who used confederate imagery. From Mark Heim of al.com,
"“It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi. Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in evironments that are inclusive and welcoming to all.” ~Greg Sankey"
Just days later Mark Emmert released an NCAA statement following Sankey’s lead with a similar tone. Also from Mark Heim of al.com,
"“We must do all we can to ensure that NCAA actions reflect our commitment to inclusion and support all our student-athletes. There can be no place within college sports where any student-athlete is demeaned or unwelcome.” ~Mark Emmert"
Of course, Ole Miss and Miss State aren’t the only schools who fly the State flag of Mississippi. There are many other Mississippi colleges who are affected including a number of predominately African-American colleges as well.
Also Ole Miss and Miss State aren’t the only SEC schools which are facing change. Both Florida and Georgia have altered certain traditions which are deemed to be racially offensive and divisive. Given time there will be others who will be included as well. This is the new world of college sports which we must learn to adapt to. We may not like it but we have to place ourselves in other peoples shoes to truly understand where they fit into the situation.
My good friend and former OHT senior contributor KL Williams, may he rest in peace, said it best in a conversation we had one day about Ole Miss traditions. “As much as I love Ole Miss and the way it used to be, one day changes will be made which will divide Rebel Nation and there will be some who won’t accept the changes”, said KL. He then went on to say, “We have to remember we are all part of the Ole Miss family, friends and neighbors. We have to have love, peace between us, understanding and respect for our family members feelings regardless of any difference of opinion.”
Love, peace, understanding and respect. Doesn’t seem hard to do when one realizes we really are all in the same boat just like family. Yes, it is truly a tall order when one considers the emotional impact on every side involved. However, all of us have to find a way to make the world a much better place for everybody. Please stay safe and always Hotty Toddy.