Memories of the Bulldogs

During my broadcast days, Bulldog fans would unplug my radio connection, throw things at me and boo me unmercifully. In the Ole Miss-Mississippi State series, no holds are barred. Ed Orgeron will soon figure that out, if he doesn't know already. It goes with the territory.

Ever since Mississippi State defeated our Rebels in "that" football game we've been getting bad-mouthed from Bulldog fans, players and even a few backhanded jabs from their coach Sylvester Croom.

That's alright. It goes with the territory.

Their fans haven't known Ed Orgeron long enough to hate him. Let him steal a few blue chip recruits and expect to be told we bought them with new cars, cash or Rebel beauties.

That too goes with the territory.

When we win a few of these family feuds you will think we hired our brother-in-law to officiate the game.

That will be territorial as well.

Orgeron may not yet be on their you-know-what-list but I certainly was. Seventeen years with the Rebels endeared me to the Bulldogs so many times in so many ways. A few examples.

One year when we played the Dogs at Scott Field, I walked into the broadcast booth and didn't know whether my crew was laughing themselves to death or whether they were plain hacked off. Hanging from the crossbar of the goal post was a full sized bed sheet painted as a banner. It read "Go to Hell Stan Torgerson."

I sent one of my spotters to climb the post and retrieve it, which they did. I still have it, folded nicely in a storage closet as a memo of my popularity in Starkville.

But that wasn't the only memory of Dogs students and fans that still is fresh in my mind.

In the old gym, before they built Humphrey Coliseum, the door to the Rebel dressing room was located behind one of the baskets. It led to a stage and then down some steps to the floor. Our team bus would drive to an outside door, that led into the dressing room and, when it was game time, we would come out into the gym.

Every urinal and every toilet in the dressing room had an Ole Miss logo glued to the porcelain in an unspoken method of imparting a message about bodily functions and the University of Mississippi.

I always came out before the team in order to climb up the steps to the broadcast level. The MSU kids would start to boo the minute they saw me, along with imparting some choice comments on my parentage. It got so bad my wife and my statistician wouldn't walk out with me. They would hide in the dressing room until I made it to the safety of the booth, then sneak out so no one knew we were together. Then and only then Gordon Church, my stat man, would make his way up to the broadcast area and my wife would sit off to the side as if we were perfect strangers.

When the new Humphrey Coliseum was built it was designed with a broadcast area in the middle of the home crowd area. We had a table and chairs about 20 rows up in the grandstand from which to work but there were students on all four sides. The kids delighted in standing up in the rows behind my work area and pelt me in the back of the head with used hot dog wrappers, empty popcorn boxes and other concession stand debris.

I complained to athletic department officials and they offered to surround my work space with plastic walls. I told them that wouldn't work because without a roof on the broadcast booth the kids would just lob the trash over the wall. I asked to be moved to floor level, where the sports writers sat, away from the crowd.

I was told that wouldn't be possible since it would be altering the original design. So I went to Ole Miss Coach Bob Weltlich and told him of my problem and State's refusal to change it.

Weltlich found an instant solution.

"You tell them," he said, "that if they won't do what you ask, the next time they come to our place we will seat Jack Cristal directly in front of the Ole Miss band."

That did it. MSU agreed to put me down at courtside.

I thought my problems were over. I was 15 feet from the wall that separated floor level from the crowd. I had underestimated their kids.

The game was close. One to three points most of the way. Finally with about 55 seconds left the Rebels grabbed a small lead. And at that point my earphones went dead.

I turned around and a student stood there grinning at me, holding my AC cord in his hand. He had pulled the plug out of the wall and taken me off the air. Our stat man ran to the wall, chased the kid away and plugged me back in but by this time the game was over and the Rebels had won. I still remember saying with my first words after I returned to the air, "Ladies and Gentlemen you have just missed the most exciting finish of any game this year."

Some day Ed Orgeron and his players will learn that Ole Miss-Mississippi State is more than just a football game. It is war on a smaller scale and the enemy is capable of saying anything, doing anything to make life miserable for wearers of the Red and Blue.

It goes with the territory.

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