Delta Blues Over; Mississippi Football on the Rise


It’s the heart of the south. When you think of the Deep South the first state that comes to mind might be South Carolina since it led the charge for the Confederacy. Otherwise, it’s probably Mississippi.

The Magnolia State represents everything, good and bad, we’ve come to know about southern culture. With Jackson as the state capitol, New Orleans on the southern border, and Memphis on the northern border, what more could you expect?

Delta blues listenin’, fried catfish eatin’ churchgoing folk are plenty here. As a born and raised Memphian, I can tell you firsthand that everything you would love about the south you can find in the state of Mississippi. And everything you don’t love too.

But over the course of the past 100 years, a crucial part of southern culture has been conspicuously absent from the state in comparison to its neighbors: college football.

Oh don’t get me wrong, it has its tradition. Ole Miss in particular has claimed three national titles from the late 1950s early 1960s and has 6 conference titles.

And of course you have the Manning family, with Archie and Eli going to Ole Miss. That’s football royalty in the heart of Mississippi.

But even the best Manning, Peyton, didn’t want to stay in Mississippi to play football. He bolted for a school with a more glorious tradition in Tennessee and made sure he beat Ole Miss twice in the process.

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  • When you compare the football in Mississippi historically to the likes of LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia, the state schools have come up short.

    Each of those schools have twice as many conference titles and more combined claimed and unclaimed national titles than both schools in the state of Mississippi combined. Mississippi State has obviously not helped the state, never winning a national title and only securing 1 conference title, in 1941.

    But finally, this is changing. In the fashion that the major state school should be doing it in the south, Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze have now done their job in making sure Mississippi kids don’t leave for teams like Alabama, Tennessee, or LSU.

    The No. 7 ranked recruiting class they brought in in 2013 included 11 players from Mississippi and another four from Memphis. Part of the state’s struggles is because a close city like Memphis, only an hour away from Oxford, defies the logic of the rest of the south and focuses more on basketball than football.

    But with the high school talent improving, so does the talent Ole Miss has to choose from.

    That has made the Rebels look like an SEC defense more than any other team to this point, and that defense has a great chance to prove themselves today. Everything about SEC Pride can show up in Oxford  with tough defenses and hard-hitting football at its finest.

    Mississippi State, the lesser state school, has figured out the way to stay in the game. They pulled an Auburn and hired a great schematic coach in Dan Mullen who has recruited perfectly for his spread system, finding lots of Mississippi speed to run it.

    The result?

    They have a Heisman trophy candidate in Dak Prescott, an amazing offense, and a very good defense that shut down LSU. Even Wisconsin, who loves playing tough defense, couldn’t handle LSU in the fourth quarter.

    The Bulldogs look as good as anybody and have a chance to prove themselves again against Texas A&M.

    There has always been great high school football in Mississippi. The rest of the country would flock to the state to get these guys. But what Ole Miss and Mississippi State needed were coaches who would keep the prospect in the state. Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze have done that, and the result is clear.

    These are two undefeated schools in the month of October playing in the two most important college football games of the day. College Gameday is in Oxford, and it could have been in Starkville.

    That shows Mississippi Football on the rise. And the future is only brighter.

    Those in the state of Mississippi have always enjoyed football. The Egg Bowl is always a huge, exciting rivalry. But this year, the magnitude behind it could be even greater. And they both have a chance to prove that, starting today.

    In honor, get some fried catfish, listen to some gospel, and turn on the TV to watch some good football when Mississippi State plays Texas A&M at noon and Alabama plays Ole Miss at 3:30. The south’s treasure state now has a chance to show what it can do on the football field.