Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 8 - I wish I was in the land of Dixie

There was a gathering of some of the top CFB bloggers in the nation this weekend in Oxford, MS that was reminiscent of Hemingway and his cronies consisting of writers, poets and composers of the lost generation on the Left Bank of Paris in the 1920s. Seven of us gathered under one roof for a weekend of laughs, libations and lots of college football at Ole Miss. Sipping absinthe, snacking on duck Pâté, wearing our Parisian berets, scarfs and having a row over this and that. Okay, it wasn’t quite like that, more like swilling PBR, eating chicken wings, rocking backwards ball caps and screaming at the games on TV. In our house were Bleacher Report writers and College Football Bowl Report bloggers Joe Rodgers and Steve Dawson, Author of Tales From The Tailgate & Blogger Steve Koreivo, Blogger Tony Seber of Tony at the Yard and our Italian bodyguards Dave Wannstedt  Quilici and Chris Desimone who offered us protection for a price. The most important decision of the weekend was deciding room assignments. You see there were only four beds but seven live bodies! What happens in Oxford stays in Oxford.

Hemingway and his Posse

The new lost generation

Ole Miss and our nation’s history are forever intertwined throughout time. Ole Miss was established in 1848. Until 1962, Ole Miss was a segregated University until James Meredith became the first black man to enroll in the school. This was a seminal moment in the civil rights movement in the United States.  That same year the Ole Miss Football Team went undefeated but did not win the arbitrary National Championship in the AP and UPI polls. Many think this was the Pollsters way of punishing the University for its treatment of Meredith surrounding his entrance into the University. They were however crowned by several of the lesser prestigious polls of the time. Until a few years ago the Ole Miss banner included the confederate flag honoring their heritage.  The mascot was also a Civil War character named Colonel  Reb.  There are some that felt these were offensive and were linked with Mississippi’s pre civil war Slavery era. They have both been replaced and Ole Miss has opened a new chapter in the eyes of many of its former detractors.  On the field, Ole Miss was home to the father – son combo of Archie and Eli Manning. If you have not seen the ESPN special titled The Book of Manning, I highly recommend that you do. Archie is considered to be more than a man but just slightly lesser than a God there. It is also the same Ole Miss featured in the movie The Blind Side, the story of Michael Oher. In fact, the High School Coach portrayed in the movie, Hugh Freeze, is now the head coach at Ole Miss. With Ole Miss’s top ranked recruiting class last year, big things are expected of the Rebs in the years to come.

The Blind Side's Michael Oher
King Archie
The Tailgate rolled into town Friday afternoon after the obligatory visit to Graceland in Memphis in the morning. I proposed to Mrs. Tailgate 25 years ago to an Elvis ballad so it was the proper thang to do. I texted her a picture of the gold record of our song from the Elvis trophy room.  That romantic act scored me five more CFB hall passes for the season. 
A good move
Once in Oxford, we met up with the crew and headed into the famous Oxford Square for chew and brew. The Square was filled with Reb fans as well as the next day’s opposing fan base from LSU. It was akin to a night on Bourbon street or the strip in Lauderdale back in the day. There was a higher density of beautiful women in that one square area then man has ever witnessed. It was told to me the next day that Ole Miss is the only school that redshirts their future Miss Americas. Word.

There is a ten acre parcel of land in the middle of the campus simply known as The Grove. Since the early 1980’s no vehicles have been allowed in this area on game day. There are no reserved spots.  At 9:00 PM the night before all home games, a modern day land grab of sorts similar to the Oklahoma land rush of 1889 takes place. Fans surround the Grove and upon the signal they rush in with their pop up tents and chairs and stake out their spots for the following day’s festivities. This is quite a spectacle to watch I am told. Many enterprising Ole Miss students will do this for you for a fee. We did not have to partake in this madness as we would be attending a pre-set Tailgate the following day graciously hosted by Ole Miss supporter Brian Wilkinson and his wife Francie. In the Grove on game day you will see men dressed in coat and tie and women in fancy cocktail dresses and of course the mandatory boots.  Tailgate tents are lit with candelabras and lined with linen table cloths and fine china. Flat screen TV’s are part of the norm as is some of the finest tailgating chow known to mankind. You will hear Elvis tunes and Dixie being played throughout the day. The most amazing part is that all these revelers are very well behaved. 

Everything is good with bacon

We have arrived

The ladies Mendez

We were kind to the opposing team
Growl Tiger boy!
Two hours before kickoff, the Ole miss players do The Walk of Champions down the center of the Grove accepting well wishes from their adoring fans. The Grove is simply the Vatican of College Football Tailgating.  It is a required rite of passage to pay homage to it at least once in your adult life, you will not be disappointed. The New York Times called The Grove "the mother and mistress of outdoor ritual mayhem" If you are going to go, you must learn this Ole Miss chant to gain social acceptance:

Are you ready? Hell Yeah! Damn Right! Hotty Toddy Gosh Almighty Who the Hell Are We Hey!

 Flim Flam Bim Bam Ole Miss by Damn!!

With our host Brian Wilkinson

Boots go well with red and blue

Our hosts the Wilkinsons and a photo bombing fool

Bo Surfer Boy Wallace doing the Walk

Are you ready? Hell yeah!


It's always 5 O'clock for these two

I played with Archie Manning and son you are no Archie Manning!

Vaught Hemingway (see, I told you it was a Hemingwayesque weekend) Stadium opened in 1915. Current capacity is 61,000 which is on the smaller side for the SEC that claims some of the largest venues in the country. Not all great stadiums need to be behemoths. This is a tremendous venue for college football. Our seats were on the East side, 20 yard line. Game time was 6 PM so the fan base had ample time to get in the proper frame of mind at the Grove for the showdown with the Tigers. Throughout the day, four of the six SEC games had produced upsets: Mizzou over the Gators, Vandy chained up the Dawgs, Auburn popped Johnny’s football and his dollar signs and the Vols rocked the Cocks at Neyland. Could Ole Miss continue the magic of the day and pull off an upset victory over the heavily favored Tigers? Ole miss led by surfer boy QB Bo “Governor” Wallace jumped out to a quick 3 - 0 lead in the first quarter. The Rebel defense did a masterful job in shutting down the LSU offense and QB Zach Mettenberger in the first half picking him three times. The Reb fans, many with bottles of high octane liquid in their possession were euphoric as Ole Miss went into the locker room at half time with a 10 - 0 advantage. Ole Miss extended their lead by 7 scoring a touchdown early in Q3.  Then it appeared as though the Rebs would do everything they could to give the game away with several crucial fumbles and having a field goal attempt blocked. LSU crawled back in the game and knotted things up at 24. With 6 seconds left, Ole Miss kicker Andrew Ritter calmly booted a game winning field goal for a Rebel 27 - 24 win. Rebel Nation rose again and celebrated Ole Miss Style. A boy who was born in Tupelo, MS was in the House and had this to say:


Vaught Hemingway on a special night
Tony wake up, the game is starting!

Around the country – By now you doubters should know better than to wager against the Irish with me. I collected on multiple bets once again.  My riches are getting ridiculous.  I believe the IRS will be droning me soon for info. Hey SC fans, "Fight On this!”. Obviously 
 Notre Dame won or I would not be talking smack.

Last year with the Iorios and Groths at the LA Coliseum
 The much anticipated Showdown in Death Valley was more like the Letdown of Death Valley for the Clemson faithful as Famous Jameis and FSU hand delivered a beat down of extreme proportions to the Tigers. Miami tars the Heels in Chapel Hill and Baylor stays perfect with a massacre of the Cyclones 71 - 7. Oklahoma slips past the expanded girth of Cheeseburger Charlie and the Jayhawks. The Oklahoma A&M Cowpokes ride to victory over the Horny Toads from Tejas Christian. On Friday night we watched Teddy Ballgame lose his chance at the Heisman and Louisville’s opportunity to play for the National Championship, very inopportune to choke it out son. In Big Ten action, the teams from the state of Militiagun beat out the squads from the province of Indiana. The Buckeyes run their win streak to 19 with a tight win against Iowa, and the Cheeseheads pound the Illini . Out West, in the PAC 12 (where football does not matter to the SEC fans we learned), Stanford bounces back with a solid clubbing of the Bruins, the Sunny Satans pitch forked the Utes as Church lady thought that was special, and Oregon runs up a bunch of points and yards against the lecherous low life Leaches of Pullman, WA. Bama is the only SEC team that won that was supposed to win, and Boise continues to get revenge on the Kapernickless Wolfpack from Reno by getting a homecoming victory.
Not happy about the Sun Devil win

Bieber Award
Goes to the woman who is likely to have her car on cinder blocks in her front yard next to her family sofa who sat in front of us at the game.  You see she felt it was necessary to lecture our crew on inappropriate use of the spoken English word because of her six year old Cretan in her clutches. No sooner do we get reprimanded by her, she and her no neck  husband scream out to LSU “You Cheating F%$&ing Monkeys !!!!”. That was special. I love a person with a functioning moral compass.

A must watch – I had my own awesome experience at the Grove, but watch this video and focus on the girl in the red.

Okay, I am tired folks. I have been on the road most of the season.  The next two weeks the Tailgate will stay local. The Men of Laurelglen and Friends annual Tailgate at SJSU is this Saturday. The following week I am grounded.

 Happy Tailgating!