Road Trip

It was an early wakeup call Friday for Ole Miss alumni and fans in the north central Mississippi area as the Rebel Road Trip 2015 breakfast was called to order at 7:30 a.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.

The years have passed but the message remains the same as it did in 2012, with a few tweaks here and there. And that is this.

No matter the odds and the opposition, keep the faith, stay positive, and build daily on the momentum that began when Dr. Dan Jones, chancellor of The University of Mississippi, announced the selection of first Hugh Freeze as head football coach and later Ross Bjork as athletics director.

Although the Chancellor was not in attendance on this morning, he was a part of all 15 stops on that first Rebel Road Trip back in 2012 as Ole Miss alumni and fans got to know not only their new head football coach and AD but also the leader of The University of Mississippi.

This morning, as he has all week, Bjork urged Rebel Nation to stay united and not be divided as it apparently was prior to 2012. Ole Miss fans heard from Bjork, who was introduced by Clay Cavett of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. Then Bjork introduced head baseball coach Mike Bianco, who urged Rebel fans to stick with the team through nine upcoming Southeastern Conference games – all in Oxford - and help lift them back to the NCAA Tournament.

Then Bianco introduced Freeze, and the head football coach of the Rebels, heading into his fourth season, reiterated what Bjork had said about unity and excitement and enthusiasm, being positive, staying together, and moving forward.

Afterward the media assembled got a chance to briefly ask some questions of Freeze and Bjork.

Some highlights:

Freeze –

* On the Rebel Road Trip: “I enjoy the meetings and seeing the Rebel people. We ask them to come to our campus so much, the least we can do is to get out and be with them. The most difficult part for me is just being so out of touch with our players (for a week) with exam time coming up and academic issues. It’s just a long week but it’s so much fun being with the Rebel people and the passion that they have.”

* On his thoughts on the team since the spring game and the summer workouts ahead: “With the kids we had out there (this spring), we were very successful, and I believe we got better. I have great trust in Paul (Jackson) and his staff, and he knows what he’s got to get done for them to get into the fall camp ready to roll. All our kids are going to be here in the summer.”

* On having players like Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson as visible players in the upcoming NFL draft: “That’s a stat I bring out sometimes. For us to win the number of games that we have in three years - and we’ve had one draft pick - speaks volumes for the job our staff and kids have done. It’s just not normal in this league, particularly with zero offensive linemen or defensive linemen (drafted). Now that we’re getting a few in it, you’re really happy for them, and it’s great exposure for those kids.”

Bjork –

* On this being Rebel Road Trip No. 4 during his tenure: “It’s hard to believe. But it’s still the same energy. What’s been cool is that just about every place has been packed, really with the exception of one place, and the energy that’s out there. Everybody’s fired up about Ole Miss. That’s what makes this worthwhile to do it. People get excited to see you. (Winning) makes people believe and gives them confidence and puts what we’ve been talking about into perspective that we can do it. Now let’s keep going and reach the higher ground we’ve talked about.”

* On The Pavilion at Ole Miss: “We are on schedule for January, 2016, SEC play. Everything is tracking toward that. They should have the building enclosed by July. It’s tracking very, very well.”

* On basketball tickets for next season: “We’ll have a coliseum package and a pavilion package. We’re still in our fundraising mode. We really haven’t opened it up to the masses yet, and we will do that early this summer to give people a chance to buy all the tickets.”

* On other facilities: “The (football) west side press box and suites are being redone. That’s all on schedule for August. The south end zone suites in the club seating area will be done along with new restrooms and concessions along the main concourse. We had to pull out the club lounge area (underneath) because of the way the bid process works, and that won’t come in until next year. As soon as the season is over this year, the north end zone will start. The track (and field complex actual surface) is set to start later this summer. The FedEx Starnes building (renovations) will start later this calendar year, along with Gillom Center. We’re moving a few pieces around. We’re looking at indoor tennis. We only have three courts. Can we get six somewhere? So there are things that are evolving to make sure we’re doing it the right way.”

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