In October, a promising Ole Miss season ground to a halt as the SEC's Rebels lost at non-power Memphis. Now, an undefeated Memphis ranks No. 13 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Ole Miss sits at No. 18.
"It's exciting for our fans both in Memphis and here in the state to see this natural rivalry resume," Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said when the Rebels announced the series' renewal in football and basketball. "The Memphis community is a priority, and this series is important for our growing alumni base in the area."
Ole Miss fans were mad about the performance and about the fact that a road trip to a nearby mid-major was even scheduled. And when they got mad, they fired off emails to Bjork.
We filed an Open Records request to see what Ole Miss fans had to say that weekend, and the university sent us 15 pages of nearly exclusively angry emails. Here are the best ones, only edited for length.
"Never have I agreed with playing Memphis."
Why the Memphis series was resurrected is beyond me. I have been around this school and this football program my entire life. Never have I agreed with playing Memphis. We have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Today is an embarrassment and I am not surprised.
Now thanks to our coach who seems to have zero accountability and is extremely stubborn, we lost our best player today. Yes, one of the top defensive players in the nation, gets hurt playing offense. Just absolutely unreal. As a result, I have witnessed my last game of the season. It is highly unlikely that I order season tickets next season, which I have enjoyed since graduating twenty years ago. I can only handle so much frustration and mediocrity. Best wishes in your future.
Ole Miss played the Tigers annually for decades before restarting the series last season. The Rebels hold a 48-11-2 all-time advantage, which includes 27 trips to Memphis and five neutral-site games in Jackson. The Tigers travel back to Ole Miss next season.
Subject: "Once again this"
Series is a huge mistake. Recruiting and fund raising will come to a screeching halt. We expressed our concerns 3 years ago at our Thurs lunch group about this game and they are the same today. HF has some tough coaching decisions to make this year. Hopefully he has the guts to make them.
"See the light."
Coach Freeze needs to see the light of an OC and OL Coach or he won't be here as long as we hoped
That's the entire message, sent at 1:06 p.m, when Ole Miss was only losing by 10 points.
This is worse than the time Ole Miss lost to FCS Jacksonville State.
Ross-FYI, when I checked my email box this AM I have never seen such anger by our fans as with this game. I have over 35 emails from friends who are furious at this whole Memphis fiasco--from the scheduling of it to the terrible exhibition of football yesterday--did not see this much anger in the Jacksonville State loss--at least they could see the reasoning behind scheduling a home game against that type team--there are obvious weak spots on Hugh's coaching staff--you probably don't like telling your coaching who to hire and who to fire--As an AD, I would be very reluctant to interfere. But I hope you would think about it this time. If Hugh is unwilling to make some personnel changes after this season, it's going to get much louder, if that's possible--by the way, in my advancing age, I try not to take athletics too seriously--but many of my friends do!
Wait, an actual positive email!
I am sure you are getting a lot of suggestions on how to manage Ole Miss football. I am not any expert but I have watched Ole Miss play, good and bad, my whole life.
Winning is about perspective. From where I see, over forty years, I say Ole Miss is on an upturn.
We all have changes and adjustments to make. And I hope hurt players will heal without any problems first of all because we fans care about them as young men first regardless.
Coach Freeze is a smart man. Maybe not as much of a strategist as Saban or Spurrier but a very good man.
We will probably win more than we lose. At Ole Miss, that is pretty good.
Wait a second, this isn't how the internet works! I don't even see a single "bless your heart" in there. There was a teensy bit of a backhanded compliment, though.
They tried to warn you several years ago at the private luncheon.
I have tried in my 73 years to be a person who always looks at the glass half full. There are so many positive things going on at this beloved university you need a scorecard. But the entire Memphis football experience is a huge mistake that should never have happened. It was an ill conceived idea, as many of us tried to convey several years ago at the private luncheon. It was, and is, a totally everything to gain and nothing whatsoever to gain mistake, I know Hugh wanted it, so he owns it. Yes, it was just one game, and a non-conference game as well, but in my opinion, its the biggest nonconference loss we have suffered since we lost to Southern Mississippi when Archie Manning was our quarterback and we were rated in the top five.
I just retired from a very successful career as a real estate appraiser so I don't usually comment on coaching strategy. But I must say this. Going all the way back to the Boise State game last year in Atlanta I saw some deep flaws with this football team. We were assured in spring training in 2014 and into the Fall that we were going to have an improved offensive line. As the year went on, the offensive line showed no improvement and in fact became even worse over the 2014 season.
By the way, I went to the Ole Miss-Memphis games going back to the Fifties so I think I can speak from first hand experience. For most of those decades, when the game was in Memphis, we had at least 40% of the crowd. Today, TV told a totally different story, another of the things we mentioned at the luncheon.
So many of the wounds over the many years at this beloved university have been self inflected. Personally, I consider this Memphis series another one of those!!!
Hire Steve Spurrier!
I believe that our football program should call Steve Spurrier & see if we can hire him right now as a consultant. He said in his resignation press conference that he would be open to being a "consultant", and I don't know a team that needs his experienced coaching knowledge any more than the Rebels do right now. Coach Freeze has had visits from Tony Dungy (among others) in the past as either a motivational speaker or mentor, and so I believe Coach Spurrier could be viewed in the same mode.
Maybe bringing in Coach Spurrier for-whatever length of time it takes to help-, would be worth the high price I am sure he will charge. If we don't hire him, somebody else will, and then it will be too late. Although my heart says to take it out of Coach Freeze's large pay, I am fully aware that would never happen, so I will be the first to offer a contribution to this foundation for this project and I am sure that other Rebels would contribute to help this endeavor as well.
I am a CPA, and while at Freeze's age, I too had a big ego, at 62, I am more likely to admit what I don't know. As in the tax world, a coach with Freeze's experience cannot be expected to know everything. So, I bet the ol' Ball Coach could help him and teach him a thing or two.
Please know that I am not advocating to fire Freeze. Up through the AL game last year, he had done a remarkable job, although there were a few glitches along the road as we all know--outcoached/outplayed at the Peach Bowl against TCU and 'zero points scored' against AR last year. And certainly, we came home with our tails tucked in and disappointed after the FL game this year. But overall, he (with your guidance) have had the fan base pull together, the team winning, recruiting going well, ticket sales up, etc.
Plus, I have no doubt as to his Christian faith & integrity and I believe that all Rebels admire him greatly in that regard. But in the college football business, winning is STILL the most important thing, and the loss to the University of Memphis was unexpected, uncalled for, and unacceptable.
I am a long, long time season tix holder (in all 3 major sports) and attend all home, and most away football games. While I am not the largest of donors, I am a Vaught Society member and a long time Foundation high level contributor. And -I hope this isn't required in this day and age- but the monetary gifts came from MY OWN money, not some rich husband's pocketbook, as I have been divorced for 20 years. I am self-employed, with no employees. So I work many, many long hours, and part of the reason I continue to work long hours is to be able to afford OM contributions, tickets and trip! Just FYI, I signed the football (4 South Club seats), and basketball (2 Courtside Club seats) CGA (PAID IN FULL) back in October, 2011.
Well, that seems like a perfectly reasonable idea. They have golf courses in Oxford, don't they?