Happy New(s) Year!

From a Rebel sports perspective, 2008 has a chance to be a lot of fun. And how do you spell fun, according to new Rebel Football Coach Houston Nutt? W-I-N.

We are midway through the 2007-2008 Ole Miss sports year, but with the start of a new calendar year, I am conveniently cleaning the slate, turning over a new leaf right now.

As far as I am concerned, only three things took place in the fall of 2007 - the men's basketball team went undefeated, Houston Nutt was hired as the football coach and volleyball and soccer had good fall campaigns.

The rest? Erased. . .

Of course, you know it doesn't work that way in life, but that's my New Year's resolution - put the past behind and move forward.

Forward seems so much more appealing right now. Why not take the smoother road?

The first task of 2008 is to finish what was started by Andy Kennedy and company in men's basketball.

After the 12-0 start they have had, and with Andy stating he still doesn't believe we have seen his team's "best" yet, there are no limits to what this team can accomplish.

The SEC is rugged - always has been and always will be, but this group seems to have what it takes to win more, maybe way more, than they lose in conference play.

I have heard some say "the real test will be at Tennessee next week." I don't agree. I think the real test was in San Juan against Clemson.

When the Rebs came back from a late deficit to pull that game out against an undefeated, ranked team, I knew they were for real.

A win or a loss at Tennessee will not change that opinion for me. We've got a real good team - not great but real good - and they will only get better, it says here. I'm going to enjoy the ride.

Meanwhile, there will be high interest in what Nutt and his staff will be able to pull off in recruiting.

My opinion is he will keep a fair share of the previously-committed, gain a couple of more from the previous list of the old staff and also mix in some "fresh" names that we aren't very familiar with. He may even pull two or three Arkansas commits this way, although he says he will not raid them unless the kids call him first.

Exciting stuff, for sure.

A word to the wise - Houston is going to be focusing a lot on the academics of the young men he is recruiting. Some previous "hot names" may be left out of the loop - by choice.

That will be followed up by spring training and Nutt and staff getting to know next year's team. I will be very disappointed if this year's Grove Bowl does not draw a record number of fans, 30K-plus minimum.

Personally, I can't wait to see what the new guys do with the available personnel.

Everyone who has been paying attention knows there are gaps to fill at RB, TE, LB and CB. Everyone knows what the strengths should be. It will be very interesting to see how the new coaches mesh the two and incorporate and infuse their attitudes and systems to this group of players.

And while I certainly don't believe in one-man shows, I am awfully anxious to see Quarterback Jevan Snead operate with the first team and the main receivers, etc.

In the midst of all that, Mike Bianco's baseball team and Bill Chadwick's tennis team will be two of the best in the nation. Write it down.

Makes my adrenaline pump just thinking about it.

Could this be "the year" for both? The year Billy kicks in the door for his first national title? The year Mike takes his squad to Omaha? Both could, very realistically, happen. That would not be a long shot. It's not a stretch to believe that. I know that's saying a lot, but it's true.

Bottom line? I will approach the new year with a lot of Rebel optimism, and this time I truly believe it's warranted and not just a pipe dream.

To you - Happy New Year!

Also, happy news year.

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