This is the article I have wanted to share now for over a month, but actually writing it in my head for over ten years. It describes not only mine, but every true Ole Miss fans relationship with our school, and especially our athletics.
I write this not even an hour after leaving College Station and again being truly disappointed. Every time I leave one of these games I swear “Never again. Not gonna get drawn in again. I’m better off not allowing myself to think this will be it.” I remember the Houston Oilers losing to the Steelers for three years in the playoffs. Knocking on the door, but never kicking it in. That doesn’t quite describe our feelings as Rebels. I think back to high school and hearing a boy tell my ex-girlfriend, “better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all” (Yes-he dated her next, but that’s another story). How many times can we “love and lose” before we just quit loving.
My father-in-law told my wife once early in our marriage, “If that’s [Ole Miss] the worst vice he has, you better learn to love it!” I had traveled to LSU, Eli’s first and only win vs the Tigahs, that weekend with friends and my brother in law. She said I could go, but it was really a test, one I obviously failed.
Since 2001, I’ve jokingly called Ole Miss my mistress, the ‘other woman’. The one who seductively flirts, whispers in your ear, and tells you all the right things. You know you shouldn’t buy in, but you do. Like believing in 2003 we could get to Atlanta. Then she doesn’t show and you realize you should have never been there to begin with. So you walk away for good until she walks by one day flips her hair, and say’s “it’ll be different this time.” See Texas super-regional 2005. Again you are done. Move ahead to 2008. The girl hasn’t been in town for a couple of years, but she shows up straight out of Fayetteville, leading the congregation. You (I) buy in again only to be stood up in Columbia on a Thursday night. But boys did she look good for a little while. I can’t forget her face that fall in Baton Rouge. Or that 11 inning dance she had with you on a Friday with Virginia in 2009 only to be heartbroken on Saturday with one out in the 8th. Every time you think the relationship will be different, it’s the same. And after you’re stood up yet once again…you say you’ve learned your lesson. No more!
But yet, here I am, now in Crocket, TX riding and writing about disappointment (OBTW, The Mrs. is now JUST as invested in Ole Miss, LOVES her baseball Rebs and she’s driving). I said as we left, “Next time remind me how the story always ends so I won’t go.” And that’s when I realized Ole Miss sports is not a mistress who comes and goes, no strings, nothing but a fun time. No, WE are married to Ole Miss and to Ole Miss sports. Home and Away, win or lose, for better or for worse, we are there for her. And after we get over the hurt and disappointment, she’ll be there again for us as well to encourage us and give us hope yet again.
If you are still reading this then you are married to her too. It is not easy to love her, especially nights like tonight. And for me this one is especially tough. My son wears the #2 because his favorite player is Alex Yarbrough. We’ve watched Matt Snyder sign autographs and take pictures for four years now. Always available to kids win or lose. We have conversed with Tanner Mathis and updated him on countless college scores because he loves the game. That’s just three of the numerous players who will always be married to Ole Miss too. And I know their disappointment is far greater tonight than mine.
Players have a limited time to “get it done”. As fans we watch year after year as players enter and leave programs and the disappointments mount. As fans all we want is one “moment.” Ole Miss wants that moment too. And the reason I’ll be back again, and probably disappointed again, is the reason you’ll be back again. So when we finally “kick that door down”, when she finally “shows up for the date” you and I will not miss that moment.
To Ole Miss, don’t worry I’ll be back because over twenty years ago “You had me at Hotty Toddy!” To the players, “Hats off to y’all!” one last time.
And that’s my view, from the windshield somewhere in Texas.