Saturday, November 19, 2011
Grove still buzzing in Oxford
By Edward Aschoff
OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss might not have much going for it right now, but that didn't stop the Grove from being lively Saturday.
With No. 1 LSU in town, the tents were up and the cocktails were flowing all afternoon. Fans understand that this season has been a disaster and they are ready for change, but there is still support from the community in this team and the senior class that will say farewell to Ole Miss tonight.
But expectations certainly aren't great when talking to fans. Most talked more about how long the Rebels could actually stay in the game, rather than picking them outright. Some were more excited about seeing the top-ranked Tigers and the handful of highlight reel plays they might make.
Fans are also wondering about the future of this program. This will be coach Houston Nutt's final home game as the Rebels' coach and the coaching rumors are swirling around the Grove. The silliest of rumors is of course the talk of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning retiring and moving down to Oxford to replace Nutt.
There are select few who have actually jumped on that bandwagon ...
Some fans believe Larry Fedora is the guy, but Fedora watched his Southern Miss Golden Eagles fall to UAB Friday night. Houston's Kevin Sumlin is getting a lot of Rebel fan love.
The bottom line is that no one knows what is going to happen with the coaching search, but people are ready to see something different from this program.
A woman by the name of Fran Wheat volunteered to help Ole Miss get its feet back on the ground by moving back to Oxford and taking over as "Team Mom." She promises to lead with an iron fist and allow no athlete to fall behind. She's willing to visit each and every player at their residences to make sure they are living correctly and focused on the tasks at hand.
She vows to whip these boys in shape and help Ole Miss' next coach anyway she can. All she needs to know is where she can send in her application.
The Tigers came out on the field for warm-ups with their fans drowning out a sparse crowd of Ole Miss fans. People are expecting the Tigers to cruise tonight, but Saturday has been a strange and slow day for SEC favorites. Nutt is 2-1 against LSU as the Rebels' coach and he's sure to have a few tricks up his sleeve for his final home game.