Rebel win in Sugar Bowl tastes sweet

Published 12:00 pm Monday, January 4, 2016

Having the Ole Miss Rebels play in their first sugar bowl since Archie Manning led the team to victory in 1970 was sweet in itself — but a 48-20 win over Oklahoma State means more to Ole Miss Athletics and our community than holding the 2016 Sugar Bowl title.

Football is important to Oxford’s economy, and the win will bring more fans to stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and shop at our boutiques during the 2016 football season. It also will bring more attention to other athletic programs  because people will look to ride the wave of success across campus.

The win in New Orleans also will benefit recruiting top-flight talented athletes and build even more momentum heading into next season. The Sugar Bowl was the only televised game Friday night and likely influenced some of those high-profile athletes to want to play football in Oxford on the next level.

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It also gives a deeper meaning to being an Ole Miss fan, as Coach Hugh Freeze described after the game.

“One of the reasons I wanted to win so bad is I know that there are people that pull for Ole Miss, that support us, that probably worked a 10-hour shift yesterday driving a truck making $15 an hour to be able to drive here and watch us play, because it’s not a cheap ticket or a cheap event… that’s a big deal to me.”

People from Lafayette County and even across all of the state of Mississippi got in their cars and traveled down to New Orleans over the holiday weekend to watch their Rebels. They paid for costly tickets, costly hotel rooms, gas and were in the stands in red cheering loudly.

We can only imagine the highways filled with the Ole Miss car tags, our athletic logos on bumpers and streamers attached to cars in a trek south and west. It must have been a beautiful sight for fans.

Supportive fans are a big deal to us, too. And we’re proud to live in a community with a football team that has fans who are willing to make sacrifices to support and cheer their players to victory.

Congratulations to the Ole Miss Rebels, and to the team’s thousands of loving fans, who undoubtedly played a role in securing our 2016 Sugar Bowl win. And thank you again to the fans, who have stuck with the Rebels through and through during the entire season, whether it was a blowout or a heartbreaking loss that still stings. You build up the team and you build up the community spirit.