It’s Official: Annual pays tribute to Egg Bowl

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Sunday’s paper brought the first of the several 2003 Football Previews to my doorstep.

The papers which I read have published pigskin previews.

Some have been college only, some high school only, some have combined the two and a couple of the papers published one of each.

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The 2003 College Football issue in this Sunday’s Clarion-Ledger caught my eye because of an article discussing the 100-year history of the Egg Bowl.

Of particular interest was an article about the last-minute field goal attempt by State’s Artie Cosby, which would have won the 1983 game for the Bulldogs.

The attempt came with 24 seconds remaining on the clock and State trailing 24 to 23, and the kick would come from the Ole Miss 17-yard line.

Cosby’s kick appeared to be plenty long and straight between the uprights, but it was blown back over the crossbar and landed in the end zone.

The ruling in question is from NCAA Football Rule Book, Rule 8, Section 4, which states: &uot;If a legal field goal attempt crosses over the crossbar between the uprights and is dead beyond the end line (the line at the back of the end zone) or is blown back and does not return OVER the crossbar and is dead anywhere, it shall score a field goal. The crossbar and uprights are treated as a line, not a plane, in determining forward progress of the ball.&uot;

That play situation from the 1983 Ole Miss vs. State game is admittedly a very rare occurrence, but had nonetheless been discussed at every SEC Football Officials Clinic in my memory.

Much later that same evening, I was passing through the Atlanta airport returning from officiating another game elsewhere when I ran into Bert Ackermann, a head linesman who had officiated the Egg Bowl.

His first words to me were, &uot;Well, what could have happened did happen.&uot;

Though I could not officiate Ole Miss games and wasn’t present for the &uot;Immaculate Deflection,&uot; as the kick became known, I was present as the SEC officials’ observer for another interesting event in the Egg Bowl series.

The 1997 game was played at Scott Field in Starkville. During pre-game warmups a fight broke out which eventually involved most players from both teams, as well as a few recruits standing on the sidelines.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol had to eventually break up the melee. While all of that was going on, I was on the elevator on my way up to the press box.

When I got there, everybody was buzzing about what had happened and wanted to know if I was going to write it up. I’m sure my blank stare gave them my answer.

There is now an article in the Collegiate Conference Commissioner’s football officiating manual which states &uot;at least two game officials will be on the field 60 minutes before game time when players from opposing teams are on the field.&uot;

Hopefully this will stop trouble before it begins. Instead of refereeing fights, the game officials can concentrate on football and make it official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. Reach him at