A year ago, Ole Miss fans had a lot to complain about.
The football program was in the cellar of the Southeastern Conference after two losing seasons that led to the firing of previous head coach Houston Nutt. Yes, Hugh Freeze had been put in place, but many throughout the fan base were unsure if he was the right man for the job.
Fast-forward to today, and Ole Miss fans are hearing national sports broadcasters like Colin Cowherd predict that the Rebels win 9 or 10 games in 2013. That prediction comes after Freeze led Ole Miss to a 7-6 record in his first season at the helm and a top-5 five recruiting class that was the national story on National Signing Day back in February.
So Ole Miss fans should have no complaints, right? Wrong.
The only thing Rebel fans are talking about in the dry summer months is parking. Not to say it shouldn’t be talked about, because it should, but what I have heard is way too much.
The Ole Miss athletics department has installed new guidelines that allowed only members of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation that had enough priority points to obtain a parking pass to park on campus on football gamedays. Everyone else must find a place off campus, and the university is asking fans to take advantage of five off-campus lots that will have shuttles to take people to campus.
Change requires an adjustment period for everyone, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, I consider the change one that is 20 years over due.
Instead of complaining, Ole Miss fans should be thanking athletics director Ross Bjork and his staff for pushing the football program forward. Rebel fans always ask why it takes so long to raise the money to build a new basketball arena and expand the north endzone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Money is what moves athletic programs in the right direction, and this new parking system gives Ole Miss another source of revenue.
Yes, it will make people change their gameday routines and will be something that will take some getting used to, but is it really that bad? If you want to support the football program, it’s a small price to pay that winning will easily cure.
I’ve heard all of the excuses.
Some say traffic will be a nightmare because people won’t know what to do. However, Dan O’Dowd, assistant athletics director for development/annual giving, said fans will be given gameday guides with extensive information on where to park with their season tickets. For those who don’t have season tickets, all of the information can be found online at www.olemissfb.com.
I’ve also heard people say it is just easier to stay at home and watch the games on TV. Well, if you’re one of those people, I’m going to say you’re either not that big of a fan or you’re lying.
If Ole Miss continues to win and progress under Freeze, there’s no doubt the stadium will be filled, no matter what fans have to do to get there. If Ole Miss loses, fans will spend their Saturdays at home. Does that have anything to do with parking? Absolutely not.
The sooner the Rebel fan base gets over the constant complaining, the sooner the entire athletics department can take steps towards winning championships.
Do you think Alabama fans care about riding shuttles? No way. In fact, most SEC schools have parking lots that have shuttles to take fans to games. I’ve personally ridden shuttles at Alabama and Arkansas. It’s just the way it is today; the days of parking on curbs and sidewalks are over.
Want to have your own spot on campus? Give money. It’s really simple.
Actually, it only took 12 priority points to obtain a parking pass this season, according to Keith Carter, associate athletics director for development/Ole Miss Athletics Foundation executive director. What does that mean?
Priority points are awarded for season ticket purchases and money donated to the foundation. For every $100 donated, fans will be awarded one point as well as one point for every season ticket purchased for football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball.
So you want your own spot? Start buying season tickets and donating money. You can even work your way up the list by the time parking selection rolls around next season.
Carter said more on-campus parking will be available next year, and the possibility of a parking garage is being discussed. But at this time, nothing has been set.
With football season quickly approaching, leave the parking conversation behind and talk about Bo Wallace’s shoulder, the progression of the incoming freshmen and how many wins the Rebels could get this year.
Freeze has the Rebels in the national spotlight, so focus on the positives and enjoy the real reason you’re even planning trips to Oxford this fall.
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss football, follow @DavidLCollier and @thedm_sports on Twitter.