College football returns Saturday.
Sure, it’s the Colorado State season opener and it’s being played in Australia, but it’s college football, nonetheless. And that means just seven days later the Rebels will take the field in front of 64,000 in white.
This year, of course, is a little bit different. The games don’t hold the same consequences. Which might just mean we’re in for the most fun year yet.
With Hugh Who-Must-Not-Be-Named now cemented as a piece of Ole Miss history for some of the highest of highs and definitely the lowest of lows, there’s no denying the man won us some big-time ball games and is one hell of a recruiter.
(You know – I take it back. I’d rather have an escort scandal than have LSU take a knee on the goal line up 52-3 with five minutes left in the game. That’s the lowest of lows. Thanks, Houston Nutt. I digress.)
Having such an asset on the recruiting trail out and head coach Matt Luke in won’t make the talent already on the roster vanish. The offense is stacked, and new offensive coordinator Phil Longo has the reins.
Longo, who came over from the FBS program Sam Houston State, captained the most prolific offense in college football just a year ago. Longo’s Air-Raid attack averaged 547.3 yards per game and 49.5 points per game in 2017. So if you thought the Rebels threw the ball a lot last year, expect even more tight spirals down the sideline this year.
Now add the best receiving core in the nation to that offense and place Shea Patterson at the helm.
That’s even more fun.
On the other side of the ball, former defensive coordinator Dave Wommack’s long overdue retirement is a sight for sore eyes. Welcoming back a familiar face in Wesley McGriff to fill the hole, our abysmal defensive effort should be no more.
McGriff, who returns to Ole Miss following successful stints with the New Orleans Saints and the Auburn Tigers, is the whole package. His defenses were outstanding at both of those programs, and he’s already played in the SEC West, where he helped lead a unit that was tremendous at stopping the run, limiting explosive plays and being stingy in the red zone.
Perhaps McGriff will right the ship and bring us back to the days of slobber-knocker hits followed by the oh-so-familiar (yet seemingly nostalgic) fin thrown up to the sky.
That’s pretty damn fun, too.
And then, of course, there’s the no consequence factor, like I mentioned. Our boys will be coming out hot, playing every game with a chip on their shoulder, with a giant middle finger up to the NCAA. Why not go out and spoil some seasons, win out and silence the haters?
Sounds like a good time to me.
This no consequence factor also applies to the Rebel faithful. Kind of. Outside of possible run-ins with campus police or other authorities, there’s really no reason to not show up loud. If you miss the Hotty Toddy? Eh, no biggie. Miss the first touchdown of the game? There will be plenty more; trust me. Get there when you get there, just be sure to get there. Just because our season won’t end in bowl-game bliss doesn’t mean we can’t get behind the guys who are still here, still grinding and still having fun.
At the end of the day, there is no postseason ban on the Grove. Go out and have a day.