Strike a 'team' pose; Rebs to bowl

Some players in college football like to strike the Heisman pose after a big moment. After Ole Miss beat Louisiana-Monroe, Jason Cook struck a much different one.

Cook, a team player if ever there was one, stopped in his tracks as he headed to the locker room, looked up at the remaining Ole Miss students cheering wildly, crouched down just a bit and moved his arm back, then forward.

As if he were bowling. Like Wii bowling.

Cook and his Rebel teammates are now bowl eligible, a first for Ole Miss since leaving Dallas on Jan. 2, 2004, with a Cotton Bowl win against Oklahoma State.

The drought is over. Six wins and the Rebels are spending some holiday time somewhere together.

It all reminds me a bit of the drought-ending Motor City Bowl season of 1997. The Rebels hadn't been to a bowl since 1992.

Detroit the day after Christmas never looked so good.

To bowl for the first time in five years back then, the Rebels had to beat Mississippi State to get there and did so with that dramatic Patridge to Peterson two-point conversion.

This time around, based on the SEC's bowl tie-ins and the number of teams who appear to be in the mix for postseason, this Ole Miss team has two games to spare before bowling – no pun intended.

Against the team now known as the War Hawks, the Rebels bowled a 300 game. Or close to one.

At 59-0, you'd have to give them an A-plus. And it starts with their head coach.

Houston Nutt slapped the big rat trap that's bolted down to the podium in the team meeting room during his postgame remarks. I jumped. I'm sure others did, too.

He used it all week to get the players' attention. Obviously it worked. There would be no Louisiana-Monroe upset over an SEC team like there was in Tuscaloosa last season when the War Hawks won 21-14 against Alabama.

But winning this big and becoming bowl eligible didn't happen overnight. It's been building since Nutt expressed those now famous words, "They remember in November."

November's been good so far. Win the next two and it'll be unforgettable indeed.

Nutt's talked about "one heartbeat" since he's been here. He admitted in the postgame after this one that he saw some good individuals who made up his first Ole Miss team when he arrived. But it took a while for them to become a true team.

They are "one" now and believe in what's going on around them every day in this program.

As the Ole Miss Band started a cheer of "Houston Nutt, Houston Nutt" while the clock ticked down, there's no doubt why Ole Miss football is fun again, especially for the players. It's Nutt and his staff.

Players like Jason Cook, who has been on every Ole Miss football team since that last bowl game back after the 2003 season.

Cook was only in on an extra point kick against Louisiana-Monroe, according to Nutt, who held him from further action due to a concussion he suffered in the Auburn game two weeks ago.

But nobody looked any happier than the senior fullback from Suwanee, Ga. And he struck a pose to prove it.

Not the Heisman one. The "bowling" one.

For that is indeed what these Rebels will now be doing.


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