I talked to Sans Russell at the ticket office Wednesday at closing time. We thought season tickets would be gone by Friday. They were gone Thursday morning.
Amazing. But what level of amazing is it?
That Ole Miss sold out of season tickets for football is amazing. But it shouldn't be. Ole Miss should have been selling out of season tickets for years. The product just wasn't there.
It is now, and that it wasn't for years is no negative reflection of the blood, sweat, and tears spilled by coaches and players, managers and trainers since the Archie years.
But it hasn't been the same since about the time No. 18 went to play for the Saints.
Even back then, Ole Miss wasn't selling season tickets in great abundance. Seems like I remember somebody telling me one of Archie's years Ole Miss sold 17,000 season tickets. The crowds were much bigger than that. Gameweek and gameday sales were large.
The Loyalty Foundation (now UMAA Foundation) only began in 1969, so winning and asking fans for additional money for seats and scholarships didn't coincide for long.
Ole Miss made some mistakes. Ole Miss didn't capitalize on its prosperity. In some ways Ole Miss got complacent. Ole Miss felt good about its football and thought it would last forever doing things the way they'd done them for years.
Don't get me wrong. There was effort and a lot of people who loved Ole Miss thought some of the decisions they made would work. But a lot of them just didn't work out, for an abundance of reasons.
When Ole Miss stood at the top of college football, officials should have done what Georgia did, or Florida did. Or even LSU and Tennessee.
Continue to build facilities and not settle for an occasional bowl, which is what seemed to happen for quite a while. Billy Brewer's five bowls in 11 seasons was a significant accomplishment given a weight room of high school proportions, among other inadequacies.
The above mentioned schools had larger populations to draw from. Still do. Those sunbelt states grew faster than Mississippi. That was a disadvantage for Ole Miss.
So was deciding where home was. Oxford? Jackson? Memphis? Yes, for the under-college-age crowd among us, Ole Miss did play home games in other places than Oxford. More remotely located schools, mainly in the south, like Ole Miss, State, Alabama, and Auburn, took their games to the people. Now the people come to them. (Except in Arkansas, where Little Rock is home of the Hogs a couple of times a year).
Ole Miss played its last home game in Jackson in 1996. Ole Miss played its last home game in Memphis that same year.
When the Rebels finally called Oxford home for all its "home" games, that's when things changed. Tuberville was here. Eli was coming. Condos were bought. Oxford grew. More sky boxes and club seats were sold. Bigger and more elaborate Grove tailgate plans were made.
There's been a hiccup or two. The 2004 season comes to mind. The 0-8 in the SEC in '07 does as well.
Finally, though, with the facilities and direction the program has taken, the Rebels are again the talk of the nation, the cover of magazines, in the polls among the top 10.
It's taken a while, but this is the way things should have always been.
Maybe not eight Sugar Bowls in 18 years like once upon a time. The competition out there is strong every time you kick it off.
But who among us doesn't think the Rebels should have made Atlanta a time or two already and at least three or four Sugar Bowls since Archie held the Miller-Digby trophy signifying the MVP of the New Orleans classic after his junior year?
We sat there late Wednesday as the phones literally rang off the desks at the ticket office and fans were still strolling up to the windows. We knew online there were fans buying them up, too.
As I wrote in my earlier story today, when fans called about not getting their individual tickets to SEC home games, many were just ordering season tickets on the spot. Multiple ones.
It should have always been this way. It slipped away for a while. It will take a lot of daily work to keep it going.
It appears to me things are in place to do that this time. The response by ticket-buying fans seems to indicate they believe that in a big way, too.
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