All the recent talk about the upcoming seasons with Ole Miss playing a home-and-home with Georgia Tech and Texas in football, I thought I'd bring out my own opinion on who I believe my Rebels should get as some non-conference games. Over the past, it seems as though we schedule teams before they make it to big-time, which happens to be the year we play them.
For instance, catching Texas Tech when they started to make their mark with the spread in 2003. Playing Wake Forest in 2006 when they were supposed to be the bottomfeeder of the ACC, but went on to win the ACC and appear in a BCS game. Here's another, how about Missouri? Ole Miss scheduled them for 2006 and 2007, guess what happened? Chase Daniel, that's what happened.
Maybe we can catch Georgia Tech and Texas in a down year. Doubt it.
If I was the athletic director at Ole Miss, here are some games I would schedule that are definitely winnable, and as well as some that can get you respect.
5) Duke(ACC) - I know what you're thinking. Are you kidding me? Just hear me out first. No, I'm not kidding you. I liked David Cutcliffe as the Ole Miss coach. He did a great job as the coach on the field for Ole Miss. Winning season after winning season until after Eli's senior year, he posted a 4-7 record. Athletic Director Pete Boone asked Cutcliffe to get a detailed plan to improve the defense and recruiting (which Cutcliffe had backed off of as soon as Eli signed, wonder why?) and to fire his assistants. Cutcliffe refused. Fired. Now, the media proclaims that it was such a bad decision to let Cutcliffe go. Guess what? If it was such a bad idea, why did no other program hire him? Oh yeah, and if he was in good shape for recruiting, why did he resign from Notre Dame as assistant head coach after not even making it to his first game because of health problems? God Bless the guy in his future, but I agree with getting rid of him as coach in 2004.
Now, after going back to Tennessee, he's accepted the Duke Head Coaching job. He somewhat has some bad blood with some of the Ole Miss administration, and a lot of the fans don't particularly like him that much after all the media controversy. Not only would this series give us a Cutcliffe vs. former team matchup, but it would actually be an intense Duke football game (no I didn't say basketball game). Who would've ever thought?
4) Notre Dame(Independent) - Here's another fellow 3-9 team from last season. Unlike Ole Miss, Notre Dame can be a 3-9 team one year with a soft schedule and then have the ability to win 10-11 every year, according to preseason media (of course!). It's definitely a winnable game, which I can now hear the Notre Dame people shouting "We're better than Ole Miss!". I now realize that yes, Notre Dame can win 9, 10, even 11 games next year. Have you checked out their schedule? They don't have to face Florida at the Swamp, LSU at Tiger Stadium, Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Wake Forest in Winston Salem, and Arkansas at Fayetteville as your away schedule. Mmmmmhmmm? Now, you understand that Ole Miss winning 6-7 games this season is going to be a challenge, but it will be less of a challenge in the future if we schedule a non-conference team that has been consistently overrated in the recent past. It will also allow for some respect points from the media, maybe? I suppose if Ole Miss did beat Notre Dame, we'd see a box score on the ESPN Bottomline, unless they "forgot" to put it in the Bottomline. Yep, I could see that. Well, Ole Miss would have at least bragging rights. And, if we lost, it was Notre Dame, right ESPN?
3) Hawai'i (WAC) - Nothing like a trip to the islands. Beats going out to Wyoming and getting your butt kicked. And, on top of that, we get to see those Warrior guys act crazy and act insane during the game, along with their fans. Have you ever watched one of their games? We're enthusiastic in Oxford, but wow! That's all I need to say. What a vacation? I'm all up for it. Hawai'i has been one of those teams where everyone wants to watch, but will they still be after Colt Brennan and June Jones left? It'd be a nice time to jump on the Rainbow Warriors and get a nice trip out of it.
2) Nebraska(Big 12) - I can hear Trev Alberts (former ESPN analyst and Nebraska alum) now. Ole Miss are the "runts" of the SEC. This was in 2004. Did you set a curse on us or something? Oh well, maybe it isn't a curse, maybe it was resentment after your bias against Ole Miss came to a halt after you saw the Rebs take down your beloved alumni in the Independence Bowl a couple years ago. I will hand it to Nebraska though, they are on the rise. I'd like to see the Rebs play a team with some tradition and overall good program.
1) Oregon- Let's just go ahead and play the Pac-10. I'm tired of hearing how the SEC is scared, because I find that hard to believe. Maybe it could be the Southeast doesn't feel like travelling to the Southwest. Looking at our non-conference schedule over the years (besides Wyoming), it really looks as though Ole Miss likes to stay in region. Wake Forest, Missouri, Texas Tech, etc. Let's just go out there one year and play a team like Oregon. While we're out there, let's stop by the Nike HQs and get them to make us 1,593,081 different uniform combinations for our jerseys. If we were to win this game, why wouldn't it give the Rebels some respect? Would it be one of those games where if Ole Miss won, it's because they're in the SEC? Would it be one to hear forever if we lost? It's worth a shot to shut the West Coast bias up.
Now, I can hear the Big 10 guys now. Why not us? Alright Big 10, I would've scheduled a team like Ohio State or Michigan, but Ohio State has too many important games on their schedule, such as Youngstown State and Ohio, wouldn't want to mess that up. I will give the Buckeyes some credit, going out to Southern Cal takes some guts. Let's see if the USC can prove their claim as one of the SEC's best (if they were there), since the SEC's best have showed Ohio State what's up the past two years (OSU's fans still hear the S-E-C chant ringing in their ears). It's okay Ohio State, if you do win, expect another Big 10 title without a championship game and another consolation prize in the national championship. The ratings will just keep getting lower and lower seeing you guys play.
I know there's some people that's reading this that are ready to go off on me with the "Where do you come from as an Ole Miss fan to go off on other programs?". Go ahead, I can take it. But for the record, go ahead and do some research on Ole Miss in their team's history and see if they're not a decent SEC program over the past 75 years. Don't take the past four seasons as if they've been the past 40.