Quote of the Day:
“In the East, college football is a cultural exercise. On the West Coast, it is a tourist attraction. In the Midwest it is cannibalism. But in the South it is religion. And Saturday is the holy day.” —former Alcorn State Head Coach, Marino “the Godfather” Casem
Ah, the smells of freshly mowed grass after a rogue summer thundershower. The sound of the air conditioner’s never ceasing drone. The sight of shoe polish painted on SUV rear windows boasting “Little League World Series Bound!”. It must be time for football.
It is July in Mississippi. Thus, it is time for the annual statewide debate on whether Mississippi State and Ole Miss should play Southern Miss in football. Short answer, “of course.”
The excuses for the “Big Three” not playing one another are legion, but basically it all boils down to the fact that in the late 1970’s and 1980’s USM won too many times against their in-state SEC affiliated opponents. As a State fan, its embarrassing to not play Southern because they will beat us more often than we like. I realize that most State and Ole Miss fans disagree with my contention, and if you are one of them feel free to state your case below. Here is TB’s epistle on why they should play.
- Currently Ole Miss and State play four non-conference games. One is generally against a lower division team, one against a regional opponent such as Memphis or Tulane, one is typically a power conference foe and one is a wild card or a “buy” game. In recent years that wild card game has been difficult to schedule. Teams like UAB that were formerly willing to travel to Starkville or Oxford in exchange for a one time check are now demanding 2 for 1 deals where our schools have to play road games in places like Murfreesboro, TN. College football games are big time economic events, not only in ticket sales but in gas, food, beer, hotel and merchandise sales and in the services associated with putting on a large social gathering. According to one article I found, the economic impact of a football game at Southern is about 2 million dollars, so I’ll use that number. If State and Ole Miss made their “buy” game a home and home with USM, there would be two additional big time games in state each year–a 4 million dollar per year economic boost to a state that needs it, and I think that is conservative. Let’s take it a step further. If instead of paying an out of state lower level team to come to Mississippi each year the big three all rotated playing a SWAC school a conservative guess is another 3 million per year would stay in state that would’ve otherwise gone out. It is a certainty ticket sales for all these games would exceed the games they are replacing, so the numbers could well be higher. And with good scheduling–early season dates or Thursday nights– and the proliferation of televised games in 2009, there is a much higher likelihood now than there was back in 1988 that a MSU/USM or OM/USM game would be televised. I think it is reasonable to expect an economic impact to the state of Mississippi at somewhere between 70 and 100 million dollars per decade. We could use it.
- It would be a helluva lot of fun.