FOOTBALL: Players call out fans

Here’s what Jason Cook and Michael Oher had to say about fan participation in today’s print edition. Both had the same theme, but it seemed to really strike a chord with Cook.

Also, Cook touched on some other topics like the surreal feeling of being in the bowl hunt in November and late-season health that he attributes to Houston Nutt’s practice habits vs. those of Ed Orgeron.

I’ll be out of pocket early today but will have some stuff from the basketball presser up later this morning and will have some football practice notes up around 5.

— PA

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40 Responses to “FOOTBALL: Players call out fans”

  1. Tyler-for-Heisman Says:

    You know what…I agree with Cook & Oher. I think the grove overshadows for most fans the whole reason we are there. Personally, I could care less about tailgaiting. I just do it because my wife tells me we have to. But I head out to the stadium an hour before kickoff, no matter what. Most fans aren’t like that. Its sad that so many fans choose to stay out in the grove and miss the games entirely. Those are usually the ones that complain the most about our team being bad. I’m sure the players fell a little slighted when they do the the walk of champions and the grove is packed, but then they get to game time and there are only 50-55K fans in the stadium.

    Also, If the unviversity ever wants to get serious about this issue, they are going to have to step up their pregame stadium activities. Right now there is really no reason for anyone to get to the stadium early. They need to plan activities and games that make the fans want to leave the grove.

  2. Tyler-for-Heisman Says:

    PA, is there a reason why we don’t pay the celebrities that do our pregame Hotty Toddy? Is it just the school not wanting to fork over the money or does it have something to do with NCAA compliance. I know that the big question in the grove most games is who will be doing for that game. It seems like we are not getting as many big names as we have in the past. Personally, my too favorites were Russell Crow (obviously) and Snoop Dogg.

  3. djrebel Says:

    Tyler, I haven’t heard that discussion. I would be surprised if it raised a compliance issue, because I think that’s something unique to Ole Miss and not something that the NCAA feels like it has to monitor across the board.

    I think the players have a legitimate beef on the issue of fan support, but I don’t think getting inside the stadium an hour early is for everyone. Even so, fans can get there 20 or 30 minutes early and be more active than they have been.

    — PA

  4. mobilereb Says:

    I believe Coach Nutt said when he took over the program that he was going to change the “attitude” of the team. The team had become accustomed to losing, or something very similar to that. I think that holds true for our fans. We have become accustomed to losing and just figure that if we win, great, but if we lose, it is no big deal, we expected it anyway.

    On the SEC spotlight show in Mobile a few weeks ago, before our game against Florida, an Ole Miss fan called in to say that he didn’t expect us to win the game, but would be happy if we just played well, that it didn’t matter if we lost. One host of the show, an Alabama fan, said that was the biggest difference in an Alabama fan and an Ole Miss fan. Ole Miss fans expect to lose and Alabama fans expect to win.

    It is time for us to expect to win. We have a coach who can win. In just his first year we have won more SEC games, scored more points, and have already tied the most wins of the last 3 seasons.

    I will not be in Oxford on Saturday, but most of my family and friends will be, and you can bet they will be screaming until the end, expecting us to win.

    HOTTY TODDY! Go Rebels!

  5. Mark Says:

    I can appreciate the leadership role Cook and Oher are taking on in trying to get fans even more behind the team, but it does cut both ways. I have remained a loyal fan and ticket holder though after what has gone on the last five years it can be hard to stay enthused during a game when you continue to watch game-changing turnovers and failed defensive stops on 3rd and goal from the 20 against teams we know ours is better than. I hope Cook and Oher, and for that matter Jerry, Tillman, Snead, McCluster, et. al., are prepared to back up their demands for fan support with a resounding win on Saturday against Auburn.

  6. djrebel Says:

    Good points. Maybe its been slower for the fans to come around to that mindset.

    — PA

  7. Tyler-for-Heisman Says:

    If we can beat Tommy and the tigers this weekend at the Vaught we might be able to finish off Tommy’s tenure at Auburn. Wouldn’t that be nice for Ole Miss fans.

  8. Will Says:

    When Coach Nutt arrived, he said you spell fun W-I-N! I agree with that. The past 4 seasons of Ole Miss football has not been a lot of fun. I have remained faithful and attended as many games as I could during that period. Even when it wasn’t fun. I semi-appreciate the players calling out the fans, but it does cut both ways. If we want the atmosphere of the ’03 LSU game, we have got to put a competitive team on the field consistently.

    We may not have the best home field advantage at this time. But if things get turned around, I submit Ole Miss will fill the stadium for most SEC games.

    Another problem- I love the uniqueness of The Grove, but it has become a distraction in a couple of ways. 1) Some had rather “tailgate” in the grove and socialize than cheer on the team. 2) The free flowing alcohol issue is turning a wonderful, competitive sporting event into a non-family friendly venue. I am tired of taking my teenage boys into a stadium to sit around a bunch of foul-mouthed drunks. I don’t know the answer to this issue, and I am not suggesting it is why the stadium isn’t filled. It is just a personal issue with me in trying to raise my boys in a decent, moral environment.

    Just my thoughts….

  9. bigdraws Says:

    Will, I totally agree. I realise the junction at state is new and all. But it’s nothing but a bunch of sorority and frat type folks getting hammered and acting like idiots. I don’t even care to walk through there on the way to the game.

  10. BartlettReb Says:

    Will, you are dead-on. I have two young daughters who love to go to the games; however, I do not want to subject them to the actions and language of those who have been drinking since early on game-day mornings – not to mention the real chance of them getting hit with a flying bottle or some other missile. I wish there was an answer. For now we wait for the non-conference (smaller crowd) events or hope for TV coverage. A “family” section would be nice – even if it is relegated to an upper corner of the stadium.

  11. djrebel Says:

    Draws, you threw me a curve man. I jumped on here to see what Brad was posting about.

    Will, you are on the money. Just win baby. That solves everything. That will create atmosphere.

    In the meantime, I do think a little concentrated effort by the fan base could be helpful.

    From their end, Ole Miss players can’t expect a long-term support to build if they are turning the ball over, making mistakes and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Winning and losing isn’t about the fans. At the end of the day the players need to play for themselves, but if fan action helps spur them on, I see no reason why people who pay $50 for a ticket can’t get into it a little more. I know I did. I know my son does.

    Regarding, the Grove I’m with you guys. I spend very little time there. I enjoy listening to the drum line in the circle if I get there in time. The circle seems to be more family-oriented. I’ll go over and listen to the band while the players walk through, but the Grove is overcrowded and isn’t an atmosphere that appeals to me.

    When I was covering State in the middle and late 90s, I thought State had no clue about pre-game activities. Now they’ve got the Junction for the people that want that sort of thing but what sets them a part is the area around the amphitheater with the inflatables for the kids, room to walk around or throw the football and the radio show on the stage. It’s a nice alternative.

    — PA

  12. john Says:

    I like loud stadiums but only one time in 37 years of going to Ole Miss games has VHS been really loud — in 2003 against LSU and we lost.
    And if yelling was that critical LSU would never lose a home game, ever. But guess what? They just got creamed at home by Georgia. And they had six straight losing seasons in the mid 90s and the stadium was loud then in my visits.

    It is a fine line. Win and they will yell. But I tell you, after screaming my lungs off while every critical 3rd and long is made by the opposing team the past 5 years, it is hard to say it makes a difference with this team.

    At some schools, yelling is a part of the culture, at others it isn’t.

  13. bigdraws Says:

    I agree with your assessment on state’s pregame atmosphere. I’ve had season tickets down there since I could walk. My oldest daughter loves going to the games because of all the games they have for her. 10 years ago you wouldn’t find that. Plus, we tailgate up in front of the old gym. It’s more of a family crowd than the junction. Plenty of kids up there for her to play with. Now, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a few cold ones while at the tailgate. But there’s a huge difference between what we do and what those folks in the junction do. Mainly the fact that we can control our alcohol and pick up after ourselves.

  14. farley662 Says:

    I’ve set in the student section at several OM games with the wife was a student. Only the first 10 or so rows are even watching the games. The rest are plastered and are more concerned about what is happening after the game. It drives me nuts. And you always have the drunk sorority girl who is gonna ask, “Did we like kick a touchdown or something?” It’s more of an event, than a game.

    And I’m not saying State’s atmosphere is any better. The pregame at State just down right sucks! The band has the ability to completely destroy whatever morale the crowd has by the end of their pregame show. And the flyovers! Last year we had the Snoopy plane and at the game Saturday they showed up in the 2nd verse of the National Anthem and scared everyone half to death because we didn’t know they were coming.

    Both schools really need to do something to get the fans more excited.

  15. Tyler-for-Heisman Says:

    I completely agree with Will. I try to take my 6 year old to games with me and I find I spend most of the time wondering if he is hearing all the obsenities around him. We have one guy that sits about three rows behind us that does it all the time. I can’t even teach my son Hotty Toddy because of the foul languge in it.

  16. Raleighrebel Says:

    PA, will you be posting an SEC power rankings this week?

  17. Will Says:

    Glad to see there is agreement to the alcohol induced atmosphere. I really think it is resemblant of our society in general. But, I am realizing every day that the values of contemporary society and the values that I hold dear are polar opposites! But that’s o.k.! I have read the last chapter and I’m on the Winning Team!!

  18. SSA Says:

    The issue of drinking in the grove has been blown way out of proportion. Whenever there is an event with alcohol involved there are always some people that act like idiots. That being said, I’ve been going to the grove and UM games my entire life, and the only difference in the grove today is the number of people that attend.

    Kid friendly version of Hotty Toddy: “Hotty toddy gosh almighty who the heck are we hey flim flam bim bam ole miss by sam”

    When the players start to perform consistently, the cheers will too.

  19. m4rebs Says:

    You notice there wasn’t a defensive player calling anybody out??? You know why? Because I sit 4 rows above the Defensive congragating area when they aren’t on the field and I light their butt up everytime they come off the field. And when I say light them up, I mean good and bad light-ups. They hear me, I promise. In 2005 against Arkansas, I yelled at Kelvin Robinson and told him that HE was going to have to score for us and get the ball back for us to score against them. He shook his head yes, and much to my surprise, the next series, he ripped the ball out of the Arkansas running back’s arms and when he returned to the sideline, guess who he was jawing at…….you got it me!!! And in 2006, when the RB that was so promising that we had that always got hurt with knee problems, but was playing in a game against Auburn, dropped an easy swing pass and I yelled, “Put him at LB,” it didn’t take Patrick Willis and the rest of the Defense to give me the business back. I am one of the few that hollar like that in my section, and yes, I’ve embarrassed myself many, many times, but I’m doing what I can do. You’ll never change the staying in the Grove thing, it’s just the nature of the beast. And, the LSU ’03 game wasn’t the only loud game, the ’01 Arkansas 7 OT game was loud as crap too, and we didn’t even have anybody sitting in the South Endzone due to construction.

  20. djrebel Says:

    Raleigh, look for those tomorrow. I got busy on some other stuff and didn’t get them up last week.

    SSA, I don’t think the issue is blown out of proportion. I do think it’s a society problem that isn’t limited to the Grove, and I don’t think it’s going to change.

    — PA

  21. UMLaw Says:

    I read this blog pretty religiously and I rarely comment but I must say this thread infuriates me. I don’t really know why but maybe it’s because I’m one of those “frat types” who is routinely insulted for being a greek alumni. For the record, I also happen to be a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Ole Miss and in the top 10% of my class at UM Law.

    Look, students will be students. I don’t care where you are, at football games, students are going drink and students are going to curse. Is this rude? Yes. It is also a fact. That’s why there’s a student section. And if you choose to sit near the student section you’re going to be subjected to profanity. That is also a fact. So if you’ve got kids DONT SIT IN THE SOUTH ENDZONE.

    As for the Grove, none of you seem to know what you’re talking about. The Grove will be the Grove. IT is our tradition. Football teams, coaches, and sportswriters, come and go but the Grove will always be there. [That’s not a crack at you PA but it is a fact] Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge football fan; I’m always there for kick-off yelling my head off and when we lose you do NOT want to be around me. But be realistic folks, we haven’t won a national championship since 1962 or a SEC title since 1963. That’s 45 freaking years people! We’re never going to be a SEC powerhouse and anyone who thinks we will be is just being naive. We do, however, have The Grove, which is consistently ranked as one of the greatest football traditions in the history of college sports. Beat that with a stick. Some of you mention the non-family-friendly atmosphere. I freely admit that some groups get out of hand from time to time, especially after dark, but the vast majority are well-behaved and anyone who says different hasn’t been anywhere near our tent. Blaming the Grove for lack of enthusiasm is ridiculous. It was the same Grove in 2002 and 2003 and that didn’t seem to dilute fan support one bit. See LSU 2003 Florida 2002.

    On to Cook and Oher. When I was in high school at Tupelo I was involved in a lot of performing arts. During performances we really drew energy from lively crowds and conversely, we would complain when the audience was not as active. The retort we always received was “you are here to perform for the audience, the audience is not here to perform for you.” The same holds true here. Quit blaming the fans for your lackluster performances. Win and we’ll be loud.

  22. john Says:

    I agree with UM Law except I don’t like his doomed outlook at the football team, but that is how lawyers think ๐Ÿ™‚ (by the way, I’m a lawyer.)

  23. bigdraws Says:

    Beowulf
    Chapter 1:

    NOW Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,
    leader beloved, and long he ruled
    in fame with all folk, since his father had gone
    away from the world, till awoke an heir,
    haughty Healfdene, who held through life,
    sage and sturdy, the Scyldings glad.
    Then, one after one, there woke to him,
    to the chieftain of clansmen, children four:
    Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave;
    and I heard that — was –‘s queen,
    the Heathoscylfing’s helpmate dear.
    To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,
    such honor of combat, that all his kin
    obeyed him gladly till great grew his band
    of youthful comrades. It came in his mind
    to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,
    a master mead-house, mightier far
    than ever was seen by the sons of earth,
    and within it, then, to old and young
    he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,
    save only the land and the lives of his men.
    Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,
    for many a tribe this mid-earth round,
    to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,
    in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,
    of halls the noblest: Heorot1 he named it
    whose message had might in many a land.
    Not reckless of promise, the rings he dealt,
    treasure at banquet: there towered the hall,
    high, gabled wide, the hot surge waiting
    of furious flame.2 Nor far was that day
    when father and son-in-law stood in feud
    for warfare and hatred that woke again.3
    With envy and anger an evil spirit
    endured the dole in his dark abode,
    that he heard each day the din of revel
    high in the hall: there harps rang out,
    clear song of the singer. He sang who knew4
    tales of the early time of man,
    how the Almighty made the earth,
    fairest fields enfolded by water,
    set, triumphant, sun and moon
    for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,
    and braided bright the breast of earth
    with limbs and leaves, made life for all
    of mortal beings that breathe and move.
    So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel
    a winsome life, till one began
    to fashion evils, that field of hell.
    Grendel this monster grim was called,
    march-riever5 mighty, in moorland living,
    in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
    the hapless wight a while had kept
    since the Creator his exile doomed.
    On kin of Cain was the killing avenged
    by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.
    Ill fared his feud,6 and far was he driven,
    for the slaughter’s sake, from sight of men.
    Of Cain awoke all that woful breed,
    Ettins7 and elves and evil-spirits,
    as well as the giants that warred with God
    weary while: but their wage was paid them!

  24. farley662 Says:

    So basically, if they start winning, then the fans will come back? Here I thought fans were fans all the time no matter what! Who knew!!!!!

  25. farley662 Says:

    Oh, I get it now! You should only go to games when things are good! Who wants to go support your fellow students when they are crap. And why should they play hard for people who could care less? Explains so much about State and OM.

  26. imarebel Says:

    Tyler for heisman, there is an alternate way to do the hotty toddy. I also have a young son and am cautious at which version I yell on Saturdays.

    Are you ready… HECK YES…DANG RIGHT
    Hotty Totty gosh almighty, who the HECK are we
    Flim flam bim bam Ole MIss YES MA’AM.

    When my son Cade is present this is the route we take.

  27. Chad Says:

    Law of life according to UMLaw, “Don’t sit next to dumb people, they know they are fools, and their foolishness will rub off on you.” And my personal favorite,”The Grove is a tradition that is more important than some ole sport.”

  28. UMLaw Says:

    Chad, first, don’t put words in my mouth. I never called any of the students “dumb” or “fools”. If they are “dumb” or “fools” then I guess I’m pretty dumb and foolish since I sit there every Saturday. My comment was not a shot at the students but a warning to families with small children.

    As for your other allegation, The Grove is not more important than football because at Ole Miss the two are one in the same.

  29. Chad Says:

    Just pointing out that you seem to say that if we don’t want foolish people to influence our life, stay away from them. However, from the experiences I have had at Ole Miss games, the best way to aviod being around drunks is to stay at home.

  30. Tyler-for-Heisman Says:

    My son is not “Hearing Impaired.” He knows the guy next to him is not yelling the same words he is.

  31. Tyler-for-Heisman Says:

    I don’t sit in student section and we have our fair share of drunks around us come game day. UMLaw, maybe when you finally get out into the real world you will see the problem isn’t contained to the student section.

  32. Will Says:

    “Look, students will be students. I donโ€™t care where you are, at football games, students are going drink and students are going to curse.”

    Objection overruled. Counselor, you are out of order! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Just for the record, if I can help it, I do not sit near the student section. The issue I am talking about isn’t in the student section.

    If our biggest tradition in football is The Grove…we are doomed. It is nice and fun to be at the walk-through, but I long for the tradition to be that we dominate on the field and that those who watch can do so without threat or harm by those around them. Utopia? maybe so….but it is nice to dream.

  33. Jimmy Barbee Says:

    If memory serves me correctly, I don’t believe that Ole Miss has won a SEC game in Oxford since the Egg Bowl where they beat Miss State 20-17 on 25 Nov 2006. I don’t know what when on at this Grove feast that day. Maybe someone should go back and review what took place there; the day of the last SEC victory for the Rebels at home. I don’t think that grove activity will cause a player to funble away a victory or team turnovers in assisting the opponents to come away victorious. Maybe the fans should just start “whistling dixie”!!

  34. UMLaw Says:

    Tyler-for-Heisman, I do not live or watch the game in some isolated ivory tower. I’m well aware there is unruly conduct outside the student section. That is unfortunate but its not a problem that’s unique to Ole Miss. Travel anywhere and go to any major sporting event and you’re going to be subjected to that kind of conduct.

    However.

    At least the drunks are yelling! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  35. Jimmy Barbee Says:

    When I as a teenageer in the early 50’s, I sold cokes at the Ole Miss football games. In those days Mississippi was a “dry state” bylaw. Hard liquor was very present during those games, just the containers were kept concealed. So, same today as yesterdays, just more open to view these days.

  36. m4rebs Says:

    Any way you slice it, these guys have fortitude. It’s very frustrating for us dedicated fans that have been there year after year and living and dying (and mostly dying) with loss after loss after loss. How many times can you go to a game and scream your guts out only to have your rear-end handed to you in a paper sack with another L. We have arguably been one of the worst programs in the nation for the past 4 years, and that takes some time to get some people back. Yes Farley, it does take wins to keep fan interest up, and I don’t think that is different than ANYWHERE in the country, not just in the state of Mississippi. I’ve been there through the good and bad, but I don’t blame somebody for not coming. I’m the one that called people out earlier in the year to quit complaining about PPV coverage for Home games and I got shredded. Now the players call out the fans for not coming, and somehow it’s not a financial issue like was thrown up in my face, it is a drunkade stupper issue. I just don’t get it. The bottom line is this, we win, it generates excitment with the fanbase, which puts butts in the seat, which puts decibles in the air, which gets TV cameras at the games, which equates to exposure across the country, which means better recruits to the University, which means higher quality football. I’ve posted this about 1 year ago where the daisy chain began with coaching quality. It’s all one big cycle. Get in position to play a meaningful game, the chrowds will come and the fans will be happy and the players will be excited about playing in front of crazy fans. There’s only so much abuse a fan base can take, right Draws & Farley????

  37. DFW Reb Says:

    I never post…….but enough is enough.

    UM Law—-Great Points, I completely agree. (Expect for the never win the SEC comment :))

    It is unfortunate that one of the top 5 tailgates in America is not more appreciated.

    Also, wasn’t Urban Meyer quoted after last year’s game, “Let’s get the H@LL out of here.”—–after escaping with a win?? So that wasn’t an intimidating environment? The point is, like it or not, winning teams bring more fans than losing teams, especially after 5 years of losing. Your core fan base gets you around 50K at Ole Miss. The sellouts, or SRO, happens when the Rebels are Winning. Wow—–just like anywhere else!

  38. bigdraws Says:

    I dunno Matt. I’ve had season tickets for 30 years and apparently I still haven’t learned my lesson.

  39. bornarebel Says:

    I agree with BartlettReb. We need a family section. It does not have to be big. I think it would probably sell out. They could do it for a year and if it does not go over well then do away with it. It’s not like the stadium is sold out. I live in Jackson, TN. We have a minor league baseball team here and it has a nice size family section. It is full every time I go to a game. We all know how people act when they drink and it is nice to have a section set aside for families. This is one of the biggest reasons why I do not want to take my family to a game. I don’t want to hear people yelling out foul language and I will not pay money to have my children hear it.

  40. bigdraws Says:

    Would be a nice place for church groups and such to go, too.

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