Everywhere I look on the internet, I am seeing stories about the 2009 Ole Miss Rebels; Almost every pre-season poll has Ole Miss in its top 10.
This is all great news for this Rebel fan, since I was just a baby when my Rebels were last mentioned in these conversations, yet I want to urge all Rebel fans to use caution when building your own pre-season poll in your hearts.
There is no doubt that outside of the Florida Gators, no other SEC team returns a better nucleus of talent from their previous season, but that doesn’t always translate into what we want it to. It has been discussed at lengths by every blogger on the World Wide Web that Ole Miss will have a target on their back this year.
The Rebs will no longer be the hunter but will become the hunted. Some schools perform better from the underdog position and recent history has shown Ole Miss to be no different.
It is my opinion that a team packed full of talent, operating under a “nothing to lose” attitude can pull off some very unlikely wins. However the 2009 Ole Miss Rebels will have a lot to lose. For a change, Alabama and LSU can be coming to Oxford with the least to lose.
If the Rebels are not running on all eight cylinders then the season could turn to heartbreak for Reb fans all over the Magnolia state.
Another reason for wanting to pull back on the reigns of Rebel mania a little bit will be the other SEC schools on the schedule. While I will be the first to admit that Ole Miss has one of the best schedules that one could hope for in the SEC, you can’t dismiss the fact that they have to play Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt.
Those are just the 2008 Bowl teams that are on the Rebel schedule. There are also conference match-ups with Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, and the always unpredictable Egg Bowl against Mississippi State.
I am sure that these teams will have a ton to say about whether Ole Miss wins the West and goes to Atlanta for the Conference Championship game. They certainly are not going to read all the stories and say “Well Ole Miss has already won! We might as well stay here in Tuscaloosa."
No, that is not going to happen, they are going to play the games and if there is one thing I have learned from a lifetime of following the SEC, is that anytime two SEC teams meet on the gridiron, either of them can win.
I do not want to sound like I am not buying into the hype.
I also don’t want to sound like I don’t think the 2009 Rebels have a golden opportunity, but I do want to caution against building your hopes up to a total frenzy. This does nothing to help your team in my opinion, because if a loss occurs, then the fan base scrambles and thinks that all of their expectations were wrong. This of course translates into negative feelings toward the team. I just don’t see how this helps to win more games.
I am enjoying being in the conversation, but I just want to keep it all in perspective. I want Ole Miss to be a goal oriented team. Set your goals in the order in which you must achieve them.
First things first, you have to beat Memphis, then Southeastern Louisiana, and so on. Of course October 10th looms large on the Rebel horizon but don’t forget the trip the weekend before, to Nashville. Win the West and then worry about the SEC.
Let’s play one game at a time Rebel fans.
I have faith in our coaches to keep our team grounded, but what is out there to keep our fan base from insanity? A strong fan base with realistic expectations will not weaken after a loss, but will rally behind their team.
Let’s be that fan base and let our last Hotty Toddy be as loud as our first.
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