This is the fourth Egg Bowl I will watch from the perspective of a Mississippi St. Bulldogs blogger. When I was at Maroon and White Nation for my previous three Egg Bowls, leading up to the game I wrote something about trying to act with some civility when it comes to trash talking the Ole Miss Rebels fans you’ll encounter this week.
A lot of people think I am against trash talk. I’m not against it, but I don’t participate in it because it often gets carried away. Things quickly go from talking about the ineptitude of the Ole Miss run defense or the embarrassment of the South Alabama loss to talks of how ugly someone’s sister is. It’s why I try to refrain.
But for the people who enjoy it, and for those who can keep it from getting personal, it can be fun to get into a little friendly back and forth banter. The problems start when it is no longer friendly.
The Egg Bowl Rivalry has been one of the most heated and intense rivalries there has been. It hasn’t always gotten the publicity of the Iron Bowl Rivalry simply because there has never been too much on the line during the series history.
The closest thing to national relevance the Egg Bowl has seen was in 2014. Many people thought the game had College Football Playoff implications because Mississippi State entered the contest as the fourth ranked team in the country. After watching Ohio State jump both Baylor and TCU in the Final Rankings, I don’t think that was ever actually the case.
The banter between fans was highly intense this offseason. Both teams went an identical 19-7 in 2014 and 2015 with Ole Miss going to two New Years Six Bowls and Mississippi State going to one. The Bulldogs were going to take a natural step back losing Dak Prescott, but Ole Miss and its fans were confident (one might even say arrogant) that they would compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Most of the talk was centered on the ongoing NCAA investigation for Ole Miss. State fans used it to say the good times for Ole Miss were coming to an end. Ole Miss fans tried to claim it was just State fans finding a pathetic excuse for Mullen being 1-3 in the Egg Bowl since Freeze took over. It was ratcheted up another notch when news broke the NCAA was granting immunity to players Ole Miss recruited but signed with other teams, Mississippi State players being some of those who were granted immunity.
Then it was taken even further when it was discovered high school football powerhouse South Panola had hired Elite Dawgs Message Board personality Lee Wooldridge, aka Coach 34, to work as a coach on its football team. Ole Miss fans let their displeasure be known and Wooldridge resigned so Lance Pogue wouldn’t have to face the criticism.
Then the season started, and the disappointment for fans began. For Mississippi State, it started early with the humiliating season opening loss to South Alabama. Sure Ole Miss started the season 2-2, but most people thought there was a good chance the Rebels would run the table the rest of the way. But after Ole Miss lost to Arkansas, the reality this would not be the season most Ole Miss fans thought it would be began to sink in.
There have been a few barbs thrown, but the intensity we’ve seen in years past just hasn’t been present. Ole Miss Assistant Athletic Director Barney Farrar helped provide some more ammo for State fans as has this photo that surfaced late Thursday.
Swag Kelly is rehabbing like a pro pic.twitter.com/EknqQA4rpc— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 18, 2016
But even those events didn’t produce the normal reaction we usually get. It’s hard to get excited about the failings of your rival when you’re struggling to stay relevant on your end.
But it could all change this week. The two teams face off, and there really won’t be any other distraction for either team’s fan base to get distracted. The gloves are likely to come off, and the insults will fly.
Many of the people who engage in the banter on Twitter have resorted to using anonymous accounts because the attacks can be so vicious. People try to report online antics on Twitter and Facebook to employers in an attempt to get them fired.
It shouldn’t ever come to that. This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation, but the banter should never get to the point where people are wanting to enact severe retribution for things said online. While that’s true, even the most vile things said online are just words by people you don’t know in real life, so you shouldn’t try to find out who the person is and start reporting it to their employer. The reality is this is just football, and it should never be taken so seriously.
I don’t know who is going to win this game. Both teams have terrible flaws that play right into the hands of the other team’s strength. But as the days lead up to the game, most fans are going to try to insult the other fans why their weakness isn’t as bad and their strength is so much better. To those of you who do it, have fun. Just try not to get too carried away.