Egg Bowl Week 2012 is upon us. It's a unique game because there is more on the line this time than just bragging rights. State has a chance at achieving 10 wins this year, but those dreams die if they lose Saturday. Ole Miss would inexplicably make it to a bowl this year when no one thought they would if they win. Lots of stuff out there in the Social Media ranks about the two teams and how they feel about each other, so let me give credence to or lay to rest some of the biggest myths about one of the most unappreciated rivalries in the country.
Myth #1 Mississippi State fans only care about the Egg Bowl
False. If you don't believe this is false, then you should have seen the reaction to Alabama, Texas A&M, and LSU games. State fans were ticked and thought the season was a waste. Faith was then restored with the drubbing that Arkansas took from us. Call us POTMs (learned that meant Prisoners of the Moment from Metal Building Dawg over the weekend through Twitter) but most fanbases are.
If it's false, where did it orginate? Easy. State historically has not been very good, and that isn't news to anyone. They have been to sixteen bowls, this year will make 17, and ten of them will have been since 1991 counting this year. When you're a bad team, beating your rival makes that bitter pill a little easier to swallow. Any school's fans will talk lots of trash about beating their rival (that's why they are called bragging rights) but it can come across as being the only thing you care about when your team is bad. State was really bad from 2001 - 2008, with the one exception being 2007. 2009, we weren't great but we were better than most thought we would be, kind of like Ole Miss this year.
Myth #2 LSU is the real rival for Ole Miss
False, but may not have always been. Ole Miss had some great years back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I don't know that I could call them a powerhouse, but from anything i have ever read, they were a lot like Georgia. Always a contender and loaded with talent. During those times, State wasn't. Starting in 1947 and going to 1963, State didn't win a game and was only capable of getting a few ties. If you extend that time frame to 1973, State only won twice. Over 26 years, State only beat Ole Miss twice. My guess is that Ole Miss fans didn't think much about the State game during this time because they felt like they knew it was going to be a win. The LSU game was probably far more important to them. So, I can see this as having been true in the past.
Now then, if Ole Miss thinks State fans only view this as a game between two main rivals, they probably ought to realize LSU thinks the same way about them. LSU gets more hyped up for their games against Alabama now than they do any other. After years of trying to have the Arkansas game being forced on them as a rivalry, it has actually taken on a lot of meaning recently. LSU may be the real rival for Ole Miss, but the feeling is not mutual.
Myth #3 This is a one sided series
Somewhat true. Ole Miss fans love to point to the overall series record, and even if State won the next eighteen Egg Bowls, it would only then be tied. Seems pretty one sided. However, most of that lead got built up during the stretch that was mentioned in Myth #2. As a matter of fact, this series has been a run of dominant streaks by both teams. From 1911 to 1925, State won every game. From 1926 to 1935, Ole Miss won all but one game. from 1936 to 1946, State won 7 of 10. I mentioned the streak from 1947 to 1973. From 1974 to 1990, Ole Miss won 11 to State's 6, but State had to vacate two of those wins. From 1991 to 2008, is the only time period where one team did not dominate. The Egg bowl record in that time period is 9-9, and if you add the last three years, State has a 12-9 advantage over the last 21 years.
This reflects both teams standing among the rest of the SEC. We have programs that can do well, but can't seem to consistently compete for SEC championships. Since the divisional format began, only Mississippi State has made the championship game, and it was just the one time in 1998. State and Ole Miss at times in the past 21 years given teams fits and pulled upsets, but consistently challenging for the SEC crown has not been in the cards for either school. And if either fanbase thinks that is changing any time soon, well, you have probably already heard about that ocean front property in Arizona that people are always talking about selling.
Myth #4 The Egg Bowl plays a huge impact on recruiting
False, and heavily so. Let's start with the Orgeron years at Ole Miss. He went 1-2 in the Egg Bowl and still had tremendous recruiting classes. Croom brought in the best recruiting class he had in 2009 and Mullen held that class together after one of the most lopsided Egg Bowls in the history of the series went the way of Ole Miss 45-0. Ole Miss had a great recruiting class in 2011 after a very disappointing 4-8 season and State had a mediocre recruiting class at best after their surprising 9-4 season. This game may have some influence, but not to the level that most think it does.
Myth #5 The rivalry was boring until Mullen showed up
Again, Somewhat true. If you think these two schools only started hating each other, then you haven't heard the history of the cowbell. You also haven't seen this incident from the 1997 Egg Bowl
Fight between Ole Miss and Mississippi State (via craigclarke)
Not pretty stuff. It got boring after Sherrill left because their was a consensus among a lot of Ole Miss fans that Croom didn't say much about Ole Miss, but that would be wrong. A lot of people think Mullen was extremely brash for saying that they would never lose to that team again at the end of the 2010 Egg Bowl, but Croom actually once said to a local Bulldog Club that he didn't think State should ever lose to Ole Miss. He was a little more select about what he said but Croom also had things to say about the rivalry. The only problem is that you didn't have social media, camera phones, and whtever else to blow things way out of proportion like you do now.It's always been heated, but Mullen has just made an effort to fan the flames.
I'm sure there are other myths out there that I can't think of, but none are coming to mind right now. That's my take on how true they are. What do you think? Which myth is the most believable to you?