Quote of the Day: Click here to hear the Great Jack Cristal
TB was ten years old the last time Mississippi State played number one Alabama. I wasn’t in Jackson that day, unfortunately. But I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I’d gotten bored listening on the radio and went outside to play. I had no expectation that State would win the game. By the time I was ten, I realized I’d chosen poorly in pledging allegiance to the Bullies, but at that age, I didn’t sweat it. After that day–when it was proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that anything was possible–I started sweating it.
I was out in the front yard tossing the football to myself when I heard our neighbor Mr. Lowell whoop and holler from two houses down the street. He’d probably been underneath one of the yard cars he was constantly tinkering with. I can’t remember the exact words, but I remember being startled at the outburst. It was something to the effect of “THEY DID IT. WOOOOOOOO. SIX-THREE. WOOOOOOO. <Unintelligible hollering>. WOOOOOOO. The guy was about 6-6 and he sounded bellowed like a cross between the Jolly Green Giant and Joshua’s horn. That was in normal conversation. He was excited this day. One of the many California natives transplanted to Pascagoula to work out at Ingall’s Shipyard during the roaring 70’s, he wasn’t even a State fan. But everybody loves an underdog, and that day, everybody loved my Dogs, including Mr. Lowell.
I realized what just happened must have been even more important that I originally figured. I ran inside to tell my Dad about it. He was sitting in his rocking chair watching whatever game ABC thought was more important than our game, and he’d just seen the score. He was mildly pleased as I recall, a significant emotional outburst by his standards, and I’m sure there was a warning that I shouldn’t get too excited. After all, he’d been a Bulldog for 40 years already and he knew the euphoria would be fleeting. But I had just seen proof that anything was possible. The old man was wrong. This was MY generation of Bulldogs and we could beat anybody, any time. Even Bear’s Tide, number one in the nation, back to back national champs and a twenty something game winning streak. So I didn’t leave my radio for the rest of the season or the next. By 1982 though, I was back to finding better things to do.
There have been precious few great moments to enjoy as a Bulldog since 1980. Just enough, I suppose to keep me watching, hoping. But hope dies a little more each Fall Saturday. I don’t go to many games any more. If there is something better to do, I’ll do it now, like I did back in 1980. This Saturday, we play Alabama again and they’re back at number one. I don’t think there is anything going on, so I’ll be watching ESPN to see if we can recapture some of the magic we had on that long ago November afternoon. At least until we get far enough behind that I can no longer imagine some victory scenario. Then I’ll find something better to do, even if its just turning off the TV. I can always relive the great moments on You Tube where ole Jack is always in good voice.
Bonus Quote of the Day “I was there when we beat the Bear.” one of approximately 6 million identical bumper stickers in use in Mississippi from 1980-1985. God, how I wish I’d had one.