Are we starting to feel ‘normal’ yet?

Published 3:42 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2022

By Steve Stricker

Are you ready?  It’s been so very long since anything felt “normal” but today, this 2022 fall, this Ole Miss, this right now Saturday, September 3, 2022 feels so familiar – is the sky falling?

We are, Ole Miss – the same thing that has made you and me love the University of Mississippi, is what Lane the Train Kiffin has found as well in his forever home here at Ole Miss – it just feels right. 2020 Lane’s first year as our head coach under so many negative variables with Covid brought us Respectability; 2021 ushered, the Big Stage; 2022 – we must put on our Rebels, Land Shark, Ole Miss, seatbelt as this is “The Season” where all that anguish, adjustments, uncertainty, weirdness – comes together!  Are you ready??

Reports I’ve read online stated that Ole Miss is “overrated” this season.  Hold on – review what Kiffin has done since becoming our head coach – WIN! He is now settled in Oxford, love’s Ole Miss as do we, has his own recruiting team, is a proven winner, and I think we are scary “underrated” and that Ole Miss, Lane and the Rebels, are going to blow this season away!  You feel it too, don’t you Rebel Nation faithful?!

Nothing good lasts forever, but neither does the bad…. Compared to the last COVID-19 years, our world turned upside down, this is NOT a normal Ole Miss Fall 2022 semester, with the previous 2020 weird academic and football season under first year head coach, Lane Kiffin shortened, odd changes from regular schedule to SEC only, masks, limited seating, NO GROVE, and although today feels somewhat magically “normal” it also feels wonderfully, weirdly unfamiliar – and wait – yes, NORMAL – Amen, its time?! GO REBELS!!

Ole Miss finished that Pandemic 2020 season with our flamboyant new head coach 5-5 and an Outback Bowl victory over Indiana, 26-20 – Kiffin was exciting and a good fit for Oxford and the University of Mississippi…but would he stay…his coaching record suggested two years and out….

Well, here we are, Coach Kiffin’s third season on this beautiful Saturday, September 3, 2022 and its Game Day in Camelot…AKA Oxford, MS as #21 Ole Miss meets Troy of Alabama today at 3:00 pm in the Vaught – Lock the Vaught and ROCK IT, y’all – and the legendary, mind-blowing, Grove is OPEN!!!  Welcome home, y’all Rebels!!

After finishing the 2021-2022 season 10-3, the first 10-win season in Ole Miss history, ranked #11, Sugar Bowl appearance, awesome quarterback Matt Corral injured early in the first quarter and we lost to Baylor 21-7.  Credit Kiffin and our ensemble of hungry Landsharks as the Associated Press for this 2022-2023 ranked Ole Miss #21 in the top 25 NCAA Football ratings for the first pre-season ranking since 2016.

This is not only the first Kiffin “normal” season, its’ ours as well in many years – right y’all Oxford peeps?!  In a recent interview, Lane said that after his previous seasons coaching with other teams, we might not believe it, but he needed Ole Miss more than it needed him; I totally disagree, as we needed his “magic” and excitement so desperately in 2020 – but his comment made me respect him all the more…and although I’ve not yet met him, he is rapidly working his way onto my list of heroes and feel this season, with his and our talented team – is going to open some eyes and put him smack on my list!

Here we go Rebels, here we go!  Have a swell wonderful first Saturday on this your healing trip back to your birthplace and Peace Out – you know, we got this, deep breath – bloody hell, can’t wait for this season, for today!! GO REBELS!!

Steve is an Oxford resident, worked on Campus, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, is an LPC, NCC, and can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.