Grove Bowl Weekend - Something for All

Ole Miss knows how to throw a party, and this weekend it's putting on arguably its biggest of the year. Grove Bowl Weekend is always like that. There's so much to do.

The spring football game at 1 p.m. Saturday takes center stage, and all that surrounds it is just as important – from the appearances of Eli Manning and Patrick Willis at 10:45 a.m. in The Grove to the public unveiling of Houston Nutt's football program at Ole Miss.

Stop right there for a moment. If you can‘t get pumped up already, then you can't be a true Rebel fan.

But there's more. Much more.

Mike Bianco's baseball team, on a seven-game win streak, hosts old rival LSU, Bianco's alma mater. And since it's the former Tiger catcher's eighth season as the head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, some of that aspect has worn off by now.

Still it's the first time the Tigers have played in Oxford since Bianco said he was staying put a couple of summers ago and turning down an opportunity to take a look at what LSU had to offer when that job came open.

Tiger head coach Paul Mainieri, in his second season, brings a 21-11 team to town. They're 5-7 in SEC play, and the Rebs are currently 7-5 and alone atop the SEC West. Overall Ole Miss is 22-11. Gametimes are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

There really won't be much of the rivalry aspect in this one on the field. Maybe in the stands. It's all about winning games and moving up at this point in the season. Come late Sunday, the 2008 SEC season will be at its halfway mark, and these two teams want to be in the thick of the race or at the top when the three games are over.

The spring's largest crowds yet will attend, so it should be one of those special baseball weekends in Oxford we've all come to enjoy so much.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State will battle it out on the Palmer-Salloum Center's tennis courts Saturday at 11 a.m. in the regular season finale. The Rebels have already wrapped up a solo SEC West title for the seventh straight season. This one has that rivalry aspect to it as well, and with the SEC tourney coming up next weekend, both teams will want to head to the tournament site in Fayetteville on a winning note.

The Rebels are 17-4 overall and 8-2 in SEC play, while the Bulldogs are 8-10 and 2-8. Ole Miss should win but the Rebs will have to play well to avoid the upset at the hands of the arch-rival and forget the fact that they already have an SEC West trophy ordered. Georgia, by the way, has won the overall SEC crown in men's tennis – again.

At the Ole Miss track stadium on Saturday starting with field events at 10 a.m., the Rebels host the Ole Miss Invitational.

The meet will feature teams from around the region including individuals from Alabama, Arkansas State, Illinois, Memphis, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Southern Miss, Tulane and UAB, as well as others.

"We are expecting a really nice field this year, and it should be a great meet," Ole Miss head coach Joe Walker said. "We are looking forward to showcasing our great athletes, who are some of the best in the country."

The Lady Rebel track team is ranked 21st nationally while the Rebels are ranked 30th.

Women's soccer is hosting two matches Saturday. This is actually out of season for them as their regular season is in the fall. The Rebels play Vanderbilt at 10 a.m. and Memphis at 5 p.m.

And the Chucky Mullins Courage Award Banquet is Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the IPF. Nutt will address those in attendance as the award's recipient will be announced.

All these sports opportunities will be well-run, first-class events. I've seen it over and over at Ole Miss through the years. If UMAA hosts an event, it's normally done right and gets high marks from the visiting teams involved.

Earlier this week the Rebel golf team hosted the Bank of America Intercollegiate in Madison. The tournament, a first for Ole Miss in this era under the leadership of Coaches Ernest Ross and Jonathan Dismuke, got rave reviews.

"The tournament was fantastic," said Coach Mark Guhne of the winning UT-Chattanooga team. "The golf course was great. It's a place we would want to come to every year. Ernest and Jonathan both did an excellent job with this event."

We see that a lot at Ole Miss with events such as this. And this weekend everywhere you look it will be just like that. So take in what you can and enjoy being on campus again.

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