First of all, let me say as publisher of Rebel Nation Magazine™, that I am not a writer. I handle all the behind-the-scenes things that need to be done to put each issue of this magazine together. Sure, I can put a few small stories together if need be, but normally I let my crew of talented writers like John Davis, Jeff Roberson, Chase Parham, Parrish Alford, Angie Ledbetter and others handle the features we put in front you in every issue. They are the professionals and are in Oxford and follow Ole Miss sports on a daily basis.
But last week, after watching Episode 2 of “The Season,” the first 10 minutes or so really struck a chord with me. So much so, I felt I needed to chime in on the topic.
I’ve had a few days to ponder that early segment and as a life-long Rebel it got me really excited and made me think about what I could do myself, on a personal level, to be “All In.” Not just as a magazine publisher, but as a fan of our Ole Miss Rebels. Let me talk about our coaches for a minute and then I’ll get into what I can think “we” as fans can do to be “All In.”
As every football season approaches, most college teams across the country have a motto for the season they live by. Ole Miss has used several over the years: “A Whole New Ballgame,” “It’s Time,” “A Cut Above,” “The Rebel Express,” “A Rebelution,” the list goes on and on. But this year, Coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have adopted the motto, “All In.”
So what does “All In” actually mean for the Rebel football team this season? Motivational speaker Ken Smith, who spoke to the team at the beginning of the episode said that, to him,” ‘All In’ means, ‘I don’t matter, and everything else does.'”
Coach Freeze elaborated a little further as to what “All In” meant to him as well and that, to him, the phrase meant “We before me, We before me.”
Honestly, after listening to Smith and Coach Freeze talk in the beginning of that episode I was ready to run through a brick wall myself. I can only imagine what those players were feeling. Freeze ended his speech in that video by saying, “We will never reach the highest point of the mountain, without people being all in. I’m in on this journey, wholeheartedly, sold-out, ALL IN.”
Freeze needs us—as loyal Ole Miss fans—to be a part of that journey to the top of the mountain.
Regardless of what other fan bases may think of Freeze and his speeches, I believe in Hugh and what he stands for as a coach and, more importantly, as a man. And until he proves me wrong…I’m In! I believe his actions are genuine and I really don’t care what others think about him or me for believing that. They are not a part of our university, or athletic program or fan base…our FAMILY.
I like to use this saying about Coach Freeze as so many like to try and bring him down: “Haters don’t really hate you. In fact, they hate themselves because you’re a reflection of what THEY wish to be.” If you’re not an Ole Miss fan you will never understand what Ole Miss is all about. That’s just how it is.
For too long Ole Miss fans have sat around and talked amongst themselves, typically saying “If we can just be competitive, beat State every year and go to a decent Bowl game we’d be satisfied with that. We’re just little Ole Miss, we can’t hang with the Alabama’s and LSU’s (figuratively speaking) of the world. Let’s just be content with what we have.”
Not any more, my friends.
Things are changing in Oxford these days. Attitudes are changing across the entire athletic department. Athletic Director Ross Bjork is working hard to change the complacent attitude some of us as fans have become used to. Just read his column “We Are Ole Miss” in the 2014 football issue if you need any more proof.
“All In” goes a lot further than with just the players. It’s an attitude that must spread into the entire fan base at Ole Miss. It means we all have to support this team through all the highs and lows of a 12 game football season.
Since the day Coach Vaught left the sidelines, things have not always gone our way on the gridiron. We’ve had to endure some dismal seasons. But, that trend appears to be changing. Coach Freeze has admitted as much recently by saying he “believes we are ahead of schedule.” Fans have to move away from being complacent to being confident. Having the attitude that WE ARE OLE MISS is a rallying cry—not a negative connotation—when something goes wrong.
I once talked to Rebel great Billy Ray Adams, who was an All-SEC running back for Coach Vaught back in the glory days of Ole Miss football. He told me that “when we went on the field, we KNEW we were the better team and KNEW we would win the game before it ever started.” That is the attitude Rebel Nation needs to have as a whole and that is the trend I’m seeing from these current players and coaches today. We as fans need to start having that same attitude. A positive attitude is contagious.
In our 2013 football issue we did an interview with die-hard Rebel Shepard Smith and asked him what he thought the fans should do on game day in Oxford. His reply?
“We have to BELIEVE!,” Smith exclaimed. “We have to pack Vaught-Hemingway Stadium every week. More than anything, the players and coaches need to know we believe in them. When things don’t go our way we’re not always the best fans. We need to be supportive. We need to be in that stadium early and be loud. People need to stay in their seats and stand up and yell and don’t head over to the Grove at halftime! That’s what winning will do. It will keep fans in their seats until the game is over. We don’t need fans to show up just for the Alabama and LSU games. They need to be there for every game. We need a home field advantage every week. We need to be the 12th man. We’re getting there. I can feel it.”
On Saturdays this season, a few of us need to realize we are not attending a Wimbledon tennis match or the Kentucky Derby. Sure the Grove and all the pageantry is a huge draw to Ole Miss; but the main reason we are there is to attend a football game. Stop worrying what other people around you might think of you. Stand up, be loud, and raise a little hell. It just might catch on. VHS isn’t the biggest stadium in the SEC, but with all the fans merging together as one and HAVING FUN, we can make it one of the most intimidating stadiums in college football. Are you ready?
As fans we need to BE EARLY, BE LOUD and LOCK THE VAUGHT! This could very well end up being a special season. Let’s be “ALL IN” together. – RN
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