This offseason, we're reaching out to fans of various college football programs with one goal in mind: to dispel with (or, in some cases, confirm) our preconceived notions of what that fanbase is like and come up with new and exciting ways to make them angry in the future. First up, the good people over at Red Cup Rebellion help you Better Know An Ole Miss Fan.
What's the most inaccurate stereotype of Ole Miss fans?
That we're all rich or, at the very least, in a higher tax bracket. While Ole Miss does attract a significant chunk of its student body from (and mostly return them as alumni to) the lily-white suburbs of Jackson, Memphis, Dallas, and Atlanta, the school is still located in the poorest of these United States. There is a sizable portion of the Ole Miss student body and fan base from Mississippi's more rural, blue-collar communities. That this group has been largely ignored is, admittedly, a bit of our own doing. Ole Miss sorta markets itself as a school Rhett Butler would have proudly sent his children, and a previous athletics director was widely rumored as having dismissed certain fans as being a part of "the cap 'n' t-shirt crowd," but there seems to be an ongoing and terribly overdue effort by the current administration to de-stuffify the place.
What stereotype should we be mocking instead?
Oh, no, please, continue to mock the upper-middle class Southern suburbanite culture that defines much of the Ole Miss student body and alumni clubs. If there's any group that needs to be knocked down a peg or ten, it's the big fish from small ponds who think of Ole Miss as a sorta country club that they've paid dues into and not, y'know, a public university. I say all of this with the luxury of distance and hindsight, because criticism I've just levied could easily describe me from 17-22ish, with strong residual effects still lingering in my vapid personality well into this, my 29th year of age. That said, no true Ole Miss fan isn't without his or her fair share of self-loathing, so I suppose this is all terribly appropriate.
If an Ole Miss fan has to be roommates with a fan of another team, which one are they most likely to get along with?
I think Ole Miss fans have this idea that the answer is something like UVA or Georgia because "flagship school!" and a general affinity for golf, but the real answer is Mississippi State. While our "Odd Couple" living arrangement would definitely lead to petty, childish conflicts, it would rarely escalate beyond that -- Mississippi State's not gonna callously poison the herb garden out back, for example. Yeah, it may be seen by both parties as settling a bit, but we're already used to being in each other's business and we've got enough on each other to all but guarantee that nobody misses paying the rent.
And, in our neck of the woods, the alternative roommates are Southern Miss or Memphis, which ain't gonna happen because I don't care how much you put down as a pet deposit you can't let a free-roaming iguana live in this fucking condo, Memphis.
What's the worst subsection of your fans?
Can I say "the racist ones," because it's the racist ones. Maybe I shouldn't put it so bluntly, because that's pretty damn heavy-handed and I've already spent the better part of this Q&A session on a moral high horse, but there is a subsection of Ole Miss fans that deserve rebuke for their insistence that Ole Miss should be a vessel for their Old South symbology. These are the groups of fans who - and I shit you not - confronted me for high-fiving Ole Miss' brand new, totally weird, but kinda cute (I guess) bear mascot on the sidelines of the Sugar Bowl, because doing so is a tacit endorsement of the 13-year-old ouster of the beleaguered Colonel Reb. Ole Miss was dragging a good Oklahoma State team all over the damn Superdome in the Rebel program's first Sugar Bowl appearance since the Nixon Administration, and these people were fussin' over a mascot.
And that's a pretty innocuous story when compared to numerous examples I'd rather not take the time to list.
What is a Mississippi fan's most delusional but firmly held belief?
That any sort of high-level football success is sustainable at Ole Miss. Maybe, just maybe Hugh Freeze can break the mold, but for the better part of 50 years, Ole Miss football has struggled to win at a high level, let alone consistently. There are plenty of reasons for this, chief among which is a simple dearth of resources. Ole Miss is the second-smallest SEC school, and is located in the smallest (and poorest) SEC state. Ole Miss doesn't have the money to build a Death Valley or pay the salary of a Nick Saban, and that's not going to change any time soon.
That said, Hugh Freeze is a Mississippian - he was born in Oxford, no less - and has done a great job of supplementing a base of local high school talent with some blue chippers from neighboring states. His staff has been very stable during his time at Ole Miss, and he has proven an ability to win games against top-flight opponents. So maybe it's not so far off to think tha--
See, I told you. I'm doing it again. I'm doing that thing I said we do.
What is a Mississippi fan's deepest fear?
Mississippi State winning any sort of championship in anything, the possibility of which could also be called a "delusional but firmly held belief."