Rebels gain respect even in loss

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Losing while gaining respect has often been the butt of many jokes, but the still 25th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels did just that last Saturday while carrying No. 10 Alabama to the wire before losing 30-24.

The reason is that coach David Cutcliffe’s Johnny Rebs, although now 5-2, are not considered a struggling team, rather one fulltime competitive and a team that’s dangerous every Saturday. Like top league (SEC, for instance) football teams whose losing close isn’t too harmful to it’s own poll ratings.

Bragging, of course, isn’t recommended in any case. But the Rebels did gain respect and continued ranked in the nation’s Top 25, even in defeat. And Rebel head coach Cutcliffe is in town for a 6 o’clock visit this evening to talk Ole Miss football to an audience at the Eola Radisson and WQNZ-95.1 listeners. Live. Here.

Email newsletter signup

To the USM Golden Eagles – their emergence last week as a Top 25 team was as big a news item as any. The current No. 21 Eagles have lost two games, both to Top 10 teams, and beaten good ‘uns like East Carolina,&160;Army and fellow conference C-USA team Tulane.

Actually, when coach Jeff Bower’s Southerners practically trampled competitive Army 24-0, many took a second look at USM. And when you think about it, the Eagles might have their hardest games behind them. The Southerners could go 9-2 on the season and as C-USA champs receive a big bowl bid. ‘Cause they’re good, something they proved even in losing to Nebraska and Texas A&M. Note:&160;Case of loser’s gaining respect.

Mississippi State’s unbeaten defending SEC West kingpins, No. 12 in all the land, probably still face the hardest part of their ’99 schedule. Gotta say it, and ditto for Ole Miss. Both’s wagon could be loaded.

This Saturday in Starkville the Dawgs face an LSU team headed nowhere – can’t seem to win. But SEC&160;football fans know what that means: Nothing! Then there’s Kentucky in Starkville, but Alabama and Arkansas are played away before that &uot;dreaded other&uot; foe, Ole Miss, comes calling.

Ole Miss and LSU stage a typical Tigertown &uot;Saturday Night Live&uot; show a week from now, Oct. 30. Who can ever forget Halloween Night 1959, and Billy Cannon’s late 89-yard touchdown run that devastated the Rebels 7-3. After LSU comes Arkansas, Georgia and State for the Rebels, who had better be ready.

Meantime, the LSU Tigers just don’t seem to be able to shore up defensively in the SEC. You have to wonder why, and blame head coach Gerry DiNardo some. And you just have to believe that LSU powers-to-be will largely hold him accountable because he is, after all, the head coach.

I missed LSU to beat Kentucky last week, but guessed right on Ole Miss to lose to ‘Bama, and USM to switch Army.

State is the choice this week to sweep aside defenseless LSU 38-6. And how about USM&160;31-17 over a pretty good Cincinnati team? Ole Miss is idle.

HURRIED&160;HASH:&160;Here’s a genuine salute to 1945-48 old Natchez High star athlete Claude Porter, who had it all as well to later coach NHS’ 1954 basketball team to the Big Eight championship, 79-59 behind Tony Byrne’s record 42 points. Then even later to serve as Natchez Public Schools superintendent … His football prowess at Co-Lin before attending Delta State University, where he also excelled on the gridiron, has him landing in the Co-Lin Athletic Hall of Fame this Saturday…Claude’s always had leadership capabilities; I’ve watched him lead. Congratulations, Claude.

…Remember today’s David Cutcliffe show at 6 p.m. live on the radio from the Eola Radisson, where the public is invited to show up and view it live in the flesh.