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franklin county times

That noise is coming from Oxford

By Staff
Dec. 14, 2001
The hollering has begun.
Ole Miss fans are screaming about the injustices of Alabama being chosen over the Rebels for a bowl game.
The arguments on both sides are plenty and have some merit.
It does seem kind of rotten that the Tide was chosen over Ole Miss even though the Rebels beat Bama and finished with a 7-4 record to the 6-5 mark of the Tide.
However, Ole Miss put a lot of this upon itself with a poor finish down the stretch, which included the necessity of a comeback from a 17-point deficit to beat lowly Vanderbilt.
The best game the Rebels played down the stretch was the seven-overtime, 58-56 loss to Arkansas. That game seemed to take a lot out of the Rebs, since they were still playing for a shot at the SEC West title at that point.
Being left out of the bowl picture this year snapped a four-year string of postseason trips for the Rebels.
That began four years ago in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, followed by two trips to Shreveport and the Indy Bowl, before last year's stop in Nashville at the Music City Bowl.
Despite being a near-the-bottom SEC selection to the bowl dance, it still looked like the Rebels might have a chance.
But, the drawing power of the Manning name apparently didn't have as much pull as the legacy that Bear' Bryant put together over in Tuscaloosa.
We can argue all day and all night about who people would rather see on television or which school would bring the most fans.
But, what it comes down to is this the bowls get to choose, and they wanted Alabama. That is their prerogative.
We don't have to like it, but that's the way it is.
USM had big affect on bowls
Not only are Southern Mississippi fans disappointed that the Golden Eagles lost their last two games, but so are football fans at Ole Miss and Colorado.
Had USM defeated Alabama, then all of this controversy would have been mute, because the Tide would not have been bowl eligible and Ole Miss would have picked up that eighth and last SEC bid. That win would have also likely have sent USM to the GMAC Bowl in Mobile.
Despite that loss, USM was still in the bowl hunt the following week. A win over TCU would have sent the Golden Eagles to the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston.
That loss also snapped USM's four-year string of bowl trips. The Eagles were in Mobile last season, in Memphis for the Liberty Bowl in 1999 and 1997, and in Boise, Idaho for the Humanitarian Bowl in 1998.
It appears that not only did USM's 14-12 loss to TCU knock the Hattiesburg folks out of a bowl altogether, but also kept Colorado from going to the Rose Bowl to take on Miami for the national title.
The TCU win added just enough points to Nebraska's strength of schedule to push the Huskers past the Buffaloes by fractions of a point. Nebraska beat TCU 21-7 earlier in the season.
According to experts, had USM won, Colorado would have slipped in just ahead of Nebraska.
Like the BCS or not, you have to admit it puts a little more intrigue into a lot more games.
Austin Bishop is the regional sports director of the East Mississippi Group and oversees the day-to-day operation of The Meridian Star sports department. E-mail him at abishop@themeridianstar.com.

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