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Amazing first game in The Vaught

As most of you know, I’m the “new guy” in town and I am experiencing for the first time all that Oxford and Lafayette County has to offer.

One of the big offerings is college football and to say I’m a fan is an understatement. Football is a passion for me and has been for as long as I can remember.

In fact, just a couple days after my fifth birthday, I remember watching a black and white TV from my home in northern California as Archie Manning dropped a 33-32 decision to Alabama in one of the first primetime televised games. How did the red-head from Drew do that night? He threw for more than 400 yards and completed more than 30 of his 50 passes and a pair of TDs.

That was the night I fell in love with not only college football, but also Ole Miss football.

I was fascinated with the fact that this guy I was watching on TV was from the same small Mississippi town as my Mom. That love affair with Archie and Ole Miss football continued through my childhood and continues today as I am well into mid-life. The one thing lacking, however, was the fact I had never been to the Grove on game day or been inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to witness a game.

Now, I had been to a few Ole Miss football games in the past when the Rebels routinely went into the Super Dome and drubbed Tulane during the John Fourcade years. But watching a game from “The Vaught” has always been a dream.

It became a reality this past weekend and to say it lived up to all expectations is an understatement.

First, there was the Grove.

Now, I grew up on  the Mississippi Coast and have been to more than one Mardi Gras parade in Gulfport and Biloxi and, of course, New Orleans. Those venues for a party are quite unique, but I could not prepare myself for what I was in store for when I stepped onto the Grove.

It was overwhelming.

Since moving to Oxford, I have been told more than once that I would not believe how incredible the Grove is on game day.

They were right.

Just the sheer volume of people, the food, the marching band and cheerleaders firing up the throng of folks was a sight to behold.

The Grove was awesome, but when I walked through the gates of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the first time, my heart skipped a beat.

As I sat there and watched the Rebels run rough-shod over UT-Martin, I couldn’t help but think that this was the same field where my boyhood idol once scrambled and I was young again.

Rob Sigler is managing editor of the Oxford Eagle.