Saturday, November 27, 2021
Homesport'Maybe we were brought here to bring a state together': Kiffin, Leach...

‘Maybe we were brought here to bring a state together’: Kiffin, Leach and the new era of the Egg Bowl

A couple of months following Mississippi Point out employed Jackie Sherrill as its mentor in 1991, then-Ole Pass up coach Billy Brewer welcomed him to the Egg Bowl rivalry by calling him a “recurring liar.”

The insult stemmed from what Brewer considered had been incorrect recruiting tactics becoming utilized by the Bulldogs. He alleged that Sherrill had contacted a previous Ole Skip quarterback who experienced transferred to Texas A&M and enlisted his support in seeking to sway a Black recruit away from the Rebels. The SEC reprimanded Brewer for his remarks.

“I haven’t spoken with the Reverend Sherrill,” Brewer stated at SEC Media Times that 12 months. “I do not believe he has my mobile phone number, and I damn guaranteed really don’t have his.”

The Egg Bowl won’t have the pageantry of ArmyNavy, the nationwide title stakes of the Iron Bowl, or the regional relevance of “The Activity” played involving Michigan and Ohio Condition. In actuality, there has been only 1 occasion — in 1941 — when the Egg Bowl was played although the Bulldogs and Rebels both equally still had a possibility to acquire the SEC.

It’s possible which is why in 1991, immediately after the Bulldogs defeated the Rebels 24-9 in Sherrill’s to start with time, Sports Illustrated called the Egg Bowl “potentially the saddest rivalry in all of Division I, a battle for pleasure in a state in which pleasure comes hard, then runs far too deep and stays far too lengthy.”

For most every person outside the house of Mississippi, it can be basically the only university soccer sport to look at on Thanksgiving evening (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN Application). But for all those individuals dwelling in the Magnolia Point out, it really is nevertheless the only sport that issues. And for a prolonged time, the rivalry was as substantially about tearing the other facet down as profitable.

Steve Robertson, an author and sportswriter who has included the Bulldogs considering the fact that 2001, advised ESPN in 2017, “It’s the two runt puppies in the SEC West preventing for the hind teat. When you last but not least get locked on that hind teat, you do what ever you have to do to remain there, even if the other person has to starve.”

Make no miscalculation: The animosity involving the schools runs deep and has frequently percolated from the leading. Sherrill, during his 13 seasons as MSU’s mentor from 1991 to 2003, refused to get in touch with his team’s biggest rival by its preferred identify. Former Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen basically referred to it as “The College Up North.” Before Mullen’s initially Egg Bowl sport in 2009, his gamers walked more than Rebels jerseys taped to the locker home floor.

C.R. “Dudy” Noble, the namesake of Mississippi State’s baseball area, performed 4 sports for the Bulldogs and then coached at Ole Pass up from 1917 to 1919. He as soon as famously told a newspaper reporter: “I already know what hell is like. I at the time coached at Ole Miss.”

“When you are at Mississippi Condition,” previous Bulldogs coach Sylvester Croom told Athletics Illustrated in 2018, “you master to loathe Ole Skip.”

Not any longer.

With two outsiders guiding Ole Miss out on and Mississippi Condition into Thursday night’s video game at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi, the Egg Bowl appears to have far significantly less vitriol than standard. Just like the Middle East desired Jimmy Carter and Drake and Kanye needed J. Prince, Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach seemingly came alongside at the suitable time for the Egg Bowl.

“A person reported the other working day [that] we sort of don’t make perception to be in this article,” Kiffin stated this week. “We get along. Perhaps we had been introduced right here to provide a point out alongside one another. It truly is soccer. You really shouldn’t dislike individuals just simply because they went to a particular college.”

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With the Egg Bowl forward, No. 12 Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin discusses No. 25 MS State’s Mike Leach’s sustained accomplishment with a fairly “simple” video game plan.

The circumstances that led to Kiffin and Leach coaching in Mississippi could have only happened in a rivalry as unpredictable as the Egg Bowl. In the 2019 edition, in a breathtaking sequence of occasions that are however remembered by Point out supporters as “Piss and Overlook,” Rebels receiver Elijah Moore caught a two-property touchdown with four seconds to engage in. After scoring, he dropped to all fours in the conclusion zone, lifted his leg and pretended to urinate like a doggy. After a 15-lawn unsportsmanlike perform penalty, the Rebels missed a 35-lawn excess issue try, and the Bulldogs received the recreation, 21-20.

Three times later, Ole Pass up fired coach Matt Luke, and Kiffin was hired from Florida Atlantic. The Bulldogs fired coach Joe Moorhead right after losing to Louisville in the Tunes City Bowl about a month later and lured Leach away from Washington State.

Due to the fact arriving in the condition, Kiffin and Leach have traded a lot more compliments than jabs. When the Rebels hosted ESPN’s Faculty GameDay clearly show in their well-known Grove on Nov. 13, Kiffin was the guest picker. When Kiffin was asked to decide on concerning Mississippi State and Auburn, he reported, “Mike Leach is the best offensive mentor in The us. I am using Mississippi Condition.” His answer drew boos from the household crowd.

Leach, who coached versus Kiffin’s groups whilst he was at USC in 2012-13, would not consider the bait.

“He is setting the phase for a genuinely excellent Egg Bowl,” Leach said at the time. “I’d be lying if I informed you he failed to assume he’s the greatest offensive coordinator. It was modest of him to say … We’ll just enable the adore keep coming [in] both instructions.”

Essentially, equally offenses have been quite superior. The Rebels, led by Heisman Trophy prospect Matt Corral, are averaging 36.4 details and lead the SEC in hurrying (230.6 yards) and full offense (517.5 yards). The Bulldogs average 31.8 factors and direct the league in passing (390.4 yards). MSU sophomore Will Rogers qualified prospects the league with 374.1 yards per recreation, while completing 76.1% of his makes an attempt with 34 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

In his 20th time as a head coach, Leach’s model of the Air Raid offense is alive and effectively. The Bulldogs have tried 593 passes — 51 far more than any other FBS workforce.

“It definitely is wonderful. It goes against what you would believe,” Kiffin mentioned. “I assume there was a believed out there among a good deal of people, together with coaches, that the SEC had figured it out final year and it slowed them down there all over sections of the 12 months. Clearly that was not the scenario mainly because now they’re suitable back again to in which they started out.”

Kiffin mentioned it’s the exact same offense Leach was working when the coaches competed on the West Coastline.

“Typically when you you should not evolve you do not preserve up with the match,” Kiffin said. “You get fired. You get handed by. Which is why individuals are not huddling and working I-development football for the most component any longer. But in some way he arrived up with one thing a lengthy time back that just retains operating.”

With a victory in the Egg Bowl, Ole Miss can gain 10 online games in the standard season for the first time in college history and remain in the hunt for a New Year’s Six bowl recreation. Mississippi State has gained 4 of its previous five game titles, is bowl eligible and would like nothing extra than to spoil its rival’s postseason options. The Rebels held off the Bulldogs in a 31-24 victory very last year.

“I’ve waited for this week for nonetheless numerous days it’s been due to the fact I threw a Hail Mary [on] the last perform of the match final yr,” Rogers explained to reporters Monday. “I have been waiting for this.”

So has absolutely everyone else in the condition, even if their coaches are on much more friendlier conditions than people of the earlier.

“I do believe they genuinely like every single other,” stated Mississippi Currently columnist Rick Cleveland, who has included higher education soccer in the point out for additional than 4 a long time. “I really don’t feel it is really likely to do everything to the rivalry general. I never feel Ole Miss and Mississippi Condition lovers are all of a sudden heading to begin playing good. I consider the hatred will significantly outlast Kiffin’s and Leach’s stays in Mississippi.”

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