The Moments of 2014

Ole Miss athletics achieved some memorable and important “highs” in the calendar year of 2014. Some long-sought-after goals were accomplished along with visionary plans for an even more productive and exciting future. Let’s take a look back at ten moments in the past 12 months for Rebel sports.

10 – Ole Miss 87, Mississippi State 85 in overtime in women’s basketball

Ole Miss women’s basketball has a rich and storied history filled with winning teams and all-star players. But since a NCAA Tournament Elite Eight finish in 2006-07, the road has been rough. Matt Insell, in his first year as Lady Rebel head coach in 2013-14, led his team to its first Southeastern Conference win of the new era on Jan. 23 in Oxford. Tia Faleru paced Ole Miss with 29 points and 15 rebounds. But it was a last-second tip-in by Kenyotta Jenkins in the extra period that put Ole Miss over the top as the Lady Rebels claimed victory over MSU.

9 – Track & Field and Cross Country success

Coach Brian O’Neal led the Rebel program to some significant accomplishments. In his second year as head coach at his alma mater, O’Neal ‘s men’s track & field team placed in a tie for 24th in the final team standings at the NCAAs in Eugene, Ore., in June, giving the program four straight Top 25 NCAA team finishes including both indoor and outdoor track. It's the first time in school history the Rebels have finished in the Top 25 at four consecutive NCAA track & field meets. In the new school year this fall, the men’s cross country team competed in the first NCAA Regional championship and also the Nationals for the first time in program history as well as matching the program's best SEC finish (runner-up). The men’s cross country team finished 29th nationally.

8 – Chadwick retires and is inducted into the College Tennis Hall of Fame

Ole Miss legendary tennis coach Billy Chadwick hung up his coaching whistle in May. Chadwick's Ole Miss men’s teams made 21 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including one NCAA Team Championship Final (1995), the NCAA Semifinals four times, the NCAA Quarterfinals nine times and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen 16 times. His teams finished ranked in the nation's Top 5 seven times and earned a Top 10 ranking 15 times. The Rebels won five overall SEC Championships, 10 SEC Western Division titles, and three SEC Tournament Championships. Individually, Chadwick coached three NCAA Champions, six SEC Champions, 28 All-Americans, 73 All-SEC selections and 76 NCAA individual qualifiers. Seven of his players ranked No. 1 in the nation.

7 – Ground is broken on a new arena

On July 31, the official ground-breaking ceremony for a long-awaited new Ole Miss arena took place at the site on the corner of All-American Drive and Hill Drive near the west side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. “Today is ceremonial, but it also shows it’s a reality,” Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “We have seen the construction fence, the dirt being taken out and the parking garage up, but you have to celebrate a milestone like this. Today was about the ceremony and the reality, but it was also bringing the Ole Miss community together and having our student-athletes see it firsthand.” The Pavilion at Ole Miss will not only be a destination point for the Ole Miss men’s and women’s basketball programs, but for the entire athletics department and university as well. Capacity for many events will be approximately 10,000.

6 – Pole vaulter Sam Kendricks wins more titles and then turns pro

Sam Kendricks added to his historic collegiate legacy in 2014, then announced he would become a professional. In his three-year college pole vault career, Kendricks was USA champion, World University Games champion, two-time NCAA champion, two-time SEC champion, five-time All-American, six-time SEC athlete of the week, 2014 SEC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year and 2013 Bowerman Award semifinalist. He has held the No. 1 pole vault in the world on multiple occasions, and established school records for indoor (18-8.25) and outdoor (19-0.75 - fifth-best in NCAA history). "This is a hard decision and the timing of it has been difficult for me," Kendricks said of turning pro. "I believe this is the best decision for my family, and I've gotten their full support in many ways. I love being an Ole Miss Rebel."

5 – Ole Miss baseball wins Lafayette Super Regional

Ole Miss baseball hadn’t participated in a Super Regional since hosting Virginia in 2009. The Rebels had been in Super Regionals in 2005 in Oxford, 2006 in Oxford, and 2007 at Arizona State. Then this season, after winning the Oxford Regional, the Rebels went to Lafayette, La., to face the host team, Louisiana-Lafayette, which for much of the season had been ranked No. 1 in the nation. After losing the opening game 9-5 to the Ragin’ Cajuns, Ole Miss bounced back to win games two and three by scores of 5-2 and 10-4. The Rebels headed to Omaha, Neb., for their fifth appearance in the College World Series but their first since 1972.

4 – The Battle for the Golden Egg

Ole Miss football made it two of three wins over its arch rival in the Coach Hugh Freeze era as it won back the Golden Egg it had lost in 2013 with a resounding 31-17 victory against Mississippi State in Oxford in late November. The Rebels entered the game No. 18 in that week’s College Football Playoff poll with a record of 8-3. MSU was having its best season in history, ranked No. 4 in the CFP poll and with a record of 10-1. But the Rebels pinned the second loss of the season on the Bulldogs and knocked them from a potential spot in the national semifinal bowl games. Ole Miss now leads the overall football series against the Bulldogs by a 62-43-6 margin in a rivalry that began in 1901.


The Ole Miss baseball team, in head coach Mike Bianco’s 14th season, advanced to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., after winning the Lafayette (La.) Super Regional in June. It was the fifth time Ole Miss had advanced to college baseball elite eight, but the first time since 1972. Ole Miss finished in a tie for third, which marked the highest finish for an Ole Miss baseball team nationally since the 1956 team – the first Rebel baseball team to make it to Omaha – finished third. In 2014, Ole Miss lost to Virginia twice to be eliminated. But in between those losses, the Rebels defeated Texas Tech and TCU to finish 2-2 at TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha. The Rebels completed the season with a record of 48-21. Vanderbilt defeated Virginia in the championship series for the national title.

2 – New Year's Six Bowl appearance

In the first year of the new College Football Playoff format, Ole Miss was among the final 12 teams that were selected by the committee to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl. Those bowls, some of the more historic in college football history, are the Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Peach, Fiesta, and Orange. Ole Miss finished No. 9 in the final regular season poll and is pitted against TCU, which was No. 6, in the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Ironically, Ole Miss had begun its season in that same venue with a 35-13 win against Boise State in the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. Ole Miss also announced at the Peach Bowl press conference in December in Oxford that it would expand Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to 64,038 seats by the 2016 season, along with other upgrades in 2015 and 2016.

1 – GAMEDAY comes to The Grove as the Rebels beat Alabama

Ole Miss defeated No. 1 ranked Alabama 23-17 in Oxford on Oct. 4 as ESPN’s College GameDay came to town. The victory against the Crimson Tide, televised nationally by CBS, was the obvious highlight of the day. But the appearance of ESPN’s highly-popular College Gameday show and its cast of characters – Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, and David Pollack – was almost as exciting as the game itself. For years publicly stating their No. 1 as-yet-visited destination was Oxford, Ole Miss, and The Grove, GameDay finally made it to northern Mississippi in early October. Coupled with the victory over the Crimson Tide, Oxford had never experienced a weekend quite like that one.

OM Spirit Top Stories