This week, sports editor Grayson Weir sat down with Jonathan Gibson, assistant lifestyles editor, to discuss his perspective on the current Ole Miss football season and the general sports atmosphere in Oxford. Below is a transcript from that interview.
Grayson: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Jonathan. I know you’re a busy guy.
Jonathan: It’s really my pleasure, Grayson. I always love hearing the sound of my own voice and watching myself on camera.
G: (laughter) Well, this will run in print, but yes, I know that feeling.
J: (papers rustling) Oh, I see. Right … OK, yeah, I guess my agent told me the wrong thing. I see now, “print interview.” Got it.
G: Right … Well, I guess we’ll jump straight in. Here’s our first question for you: Despite a fairly low rushing performance, Vanderbilt’s running back Ralph Webb showed his talent against No. 5 Georgia last week. How has the unit prepared for Webb and a presumable emphasis on the run game?
J: Well, Grayson, I’m not sure what Ralph Webb’s performance during rush has to do with anything. Just because someone doesn’t get into a fraternity doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. But I have always been a huge proponent of the run game, ever since it first came out. Temple Run was definitely pivotal in bringing the run game to the general public, but even further back in game history, we’ve seen run games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario make great strides in helping people practice not only their running but also jumping, ducking and sliding. I’m not sure whether Webb is well-versed in run games like these, but it’s safe to say Vanderbilt has placed an emphasis on them.
G: Right. Um … The loss to Auburn last weekend left the Ole Miss faithful disappointed, but the coaching staff was able to find positives in the second half. Coming in to a potentially season-changing game against Vanderbilt, what’s the most important focus for head coach Matt Luke?
J: I’ve been saying this for years: The team will really need to amp up its energy and make sure it’s dominating the court from the moment the game starts. Once that shot clock gets going, the players can’t let themselves get distracted. Go hard in the paint, and take home the gold — that’s what I always say. I made that up myself. My dad always told me, “If you don’t clean up your room before your mother gets home, you’re going to be grounded for a month,” but I like to think what he really meant was “Never stop trying your best and aiming for those goals, and don’t drop any passes at the end of the fourth quarter. I’m proud of you, and you are the best son in the world.” That’s the best advice I can give Luke — get that room cleaned up.
G: Houston Nutt just refiled his previously dismissed lawsuit against the university. How might this affect the NCAA’s decision regarding Ole Miss’ recruiting violations?
J: First of all, I don’t understand why Ole Miss was recruiting violations in the first place. There are so many other things you can recruit. Why would you pick a violation? To me, that seems counterproductive. But the NBA’s decision probably won’t be affected by it. If the NAACP can’t see past this lawsuit, what good is it? The NSAID has to be unbiased and just in its decisions. If the NASDAQ can’t come to terms with it, where does it end? The ball is in the NCIS’ court. Wait, what was the question, again?
G: Vanderbilt’s secondary, which has proved fairly sound, will be tested against a potent passing attack. How can Shea Patterson and the offense exploit the Commodores’ defensive backs?
J: I’ve been saying for years that standardized testing does little to show actual evidence of knowledge in our schools, so I don’t know why people are insisting on testing Vanderbilt’s secondary school kids. That’s like, what, eighth graders? That’s just unacceptable to me. And I think Shea Patterson and the offense will do just fine. I heard some of their music on Spotify, I think. Is Commodore their record label or something?
G: Ole Miss’ offensive line, on paper, wins the battle up front. If the big uglies aren’t able to get a push, how can Phil Longo’s offense succeed?
J: I believe in equal rights for all. Every person deserves a push, no matter how big and ugly he is. Imagine a world without being pushed on a swing or pushing it to the limit. That’s not a world I want to live in.
G: You do know we’re talking about football, right?
G: I’m sorry — what was that?
(Loud crash. Papers rustling)
J: Oh. Right. Football … Which one is that again?
G: I just —
J: That’s the one with the goalies and the guys with amazing hair, right?
G: That’s soccer.
J: No, I think that’s a middle school dance with oldies music.
G: A sock hop?
J: No, that’s the game you play on the playground with chalk and boxes on the ground.
J: No, thank you – I don’t drink.