Commentary -

Ole Miss Spirit subscribers are not bashful about expressing their opinions on our message baords. By the time we get our game story, locker room quotes, Coach O's press conference and photo gallery finished, sometimes there's nothing left to write about. It's already been said, but here's my two cents worth anyway.

After the Ole Miss-Auburn game, and the media was able to question the Rebel participants, it was apparent their opinions were as diverse as those expressed on The Ole Miss Spirit message boards.

They ranged from heartbreak to pride to finding the silver lining in a 2-7 situation to anger to coulda-shoulda to a sense of accomplishment to any other emotion you can imagine short of elation.

Elation and joy are reserved for wins and this, after all, was still a loss when all the dirt, grime and glitter was washed off of the effort.

Personally, I appreciated every comment and every emotion. I shared them and felt the same ones, to a degree.

But I'd be bugging out on you if I didn't say the person I was aligned most with was Offensive Line Coach Art Kehoe.

His assessment of the game was all over the place, as was mine, as is the Rebel fan base's.

You can read it in our From The Locker Room piece on the front page.

"I am encouraged by some things," said the man who has built a very solid offensive line against all odds, "I don't want anyone to think I'm not, but we are playing to win games and we aren't getting that done. Losing gets old."

His quotes were much more extensive than that, but that about sums it up for him - and me.

Losing does get old. Winning is the bottom line, the only line. Anything else - if your future goals are success - has to be expressed as a form of failure. Kehoe expressed that. So did Coach O and so did several players.

Starting at the top, not one soul connected with Ole Miss football is into playing close. If ties are like kissing your sister, losing close games is like kissing a drunk uncle on the lips.

But I'd like to put all of this into some sort of perspective. As rabid a fan as I am, perspective is not my forte', but I'm going to make a stab at it.

What did we really see yesterday?

One, we saw 57 scholarship players on the field and sidelines for the Rebels. I don't care whose "fault" that is - that's the reality.

Two, we saw the 7th-ranked team in the nation on the other sidelines. Up close, they looked formidable.

Three, we saw a Rebel team who in the seven previous days had been mashed by Arkansas and had gone through some personnel upheaval due to some off-the-field indiscretions.

Four, we saw more freshman and sophomores on the field in Blue than the laws of college football should allow.

Five, we saw no Peria Jerry. We saw no Chris Bowers, injured on the opening kickoff. We saw no Garry Pack. We saw no Darryl Harris or David Traxler, dressed but not ready to do battle physically. We saw coaches hamstrung by not being able to sub much.

Six, we saw the Rebels have as good a shot at winning the game as the Tigers did.

A few on our site will call those observations excuses. I could care less. I know what I saw.

I've been to over 300 straight Ole Miss football games. Some would say I'm a glutton for punishment, but that's beside the point. The point is that I have seen it all - the good, bad and ugly. I can count on one hand the number of times I've witnessed what I did yesterday.

Backs firmly pressed against the wall, the Rebels - who easily could have looked at the situation and previous eight weeks and mailed this one in - fought like there was no tomorrow, like their next meal depended on it.

They gave Auburn no quarter for 60 minutes. Not 30 minutes, not 45 minutes. All 60 of the allotted minutes in a game, the Tigers knew they were in a free-for-all.

The mid-day sun at Vaught-Hemingway dictates the East sideline is better for taking pictures, which I was halfway trying to do. That put me next to and behind the Auburn bench all day.

I know Tommy Tuberville, Don Dunn, Hugh Nall and several others on their staff very, very well. I know their nuances.

While they are pros and have been there and done that many times, they knew they had an old-fashioned gravel dance on their hands. It was in their eyes. Tommy was prowling the sidelines, berating officials with regularity, and kept a concerned look on his face the whole day.

Auburn DC Will Muschamp gathered his defensive troops after the Rebs tied the game at 17-17 and proceeded to break a grease board with his fist.

Oh, they were worried alright.

The Rebel coaches and players gave them reason to be. The Ole Miss positives were plainly visible.

From gameplanning to Patrick Willis to rugby-style punting to halfback passes to a key interception to Rory Johnson to Josh Shene nailing another field goal to Brent Shaeffer finally finding Robert Lane a couple of times to BJGE and Bruce Hall and Mico combining for over 100 yards on the ground to an undersized and young DL holding their own, it was there to be witnessed and notarized.

But the bottom line, as Kehoe dejectedly and passionately expressed postgame, was a loss.

So where do we go from here?

It's all in the staff's and player's hands, for the remainder of the year and future years.

My guess is they will finish this year playing as hard as they can. Who knows what that will reap, but it's certainly not a bad thing.

My certainty is that O and company will set their sights on recruiting to specific needs with their last eight or so slots. I look for them to go after - and procure - a stud DT, a couple of corners, a bad boy middle linebacker, and a couple of big wideouts.

A rush end would be nice too. The lack of a pass rush yesterday was, in my mind, the one thing the Rebels could not overcome.

If they accomplish that in the offseason, and the current Rebs improve like expected, there will be trouble ahead for those teams in the SEC lounging around in the paradise that is the upper echelon.

Will it get done? Only time will tell. Until then, a word of warning.

Be wary Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Alabama, et al - be very wary.

OM Spirit Top Stories