Former Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy, who guided his team to the 2006 Super Bowl Championship, was in Oxford on Tuesday and took the opportunity to address the Ole Miss football team prior to practice.
The video of his impromptu talk to the Rebs is on the front page of The Spirit. Dungy had two specific points to make.
"I know you had high expectations coming into the season and things have not worked out as well as you had hoped to this point. I have been through that same scenario with the Colts," said Dungy. "In fact, that happened the year we won the championship.
"I have two thoughts to leave you with. If you unite and stick together, you have the power and ability to finish the season strong, but it's up to you. Don't worry about anything anyone else is saying or any outside influences. Stick together and make it happen. Two, whether you win or lose in the last three regular season games and then your bowl game, remember that you play football, but that's not your entire life. Make sure you live the right way and trust in God so that future generations will say they want to be like the guys on the 2009 Rebel team. That's the legacy that matters the most."
Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt was elated to have Dungy speak to his team as the Rebels prepare for the stretch run, starting with Tennessee this Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
"Coach Dungy talks the talk but he walks it and lives it. He's one of the greatest coaches ever and to have him here speaking to us was a great honor," said Nutt. "He was in the vicinity and I asked him if he would speak to our team. It was very gracious of him to do it.
"It was a message that teams who stayed focused, teams who don't care who gets the credit, teams that hustle and do what's right on and off the field are the ones who end up winning."
Nutt was happy with the Rebs' performance in practice. It was a full-pad workout that went about 30 minutes beyond the planned schedule.
"I was proud of the way the kids took the field and concentrated today," Houston continued. "They had a lot of energy and went through every period with a lot of focus."
* Backup Free Safety/Strong Safety Fon Ingram (knee) was not at practice on Tuesday. If you recall, he left the game against Northern Arizona due to injury. His status for the UT game is uncertain right now. In his absence, Jared Mitchell was running with the second team defense behind Kendrick Lewis at FS. "His knee is swollen and we don't know his status for Saturday yet," Nutt stated.
* Backup MLB D.T. Shackelford is still struggling with his ankle, as has been the case for several games. "With D.T. - he's so valuable to us because he's on a couple of special teams and he backs up Jonathan Cornell. We are hoping he'll be ready," Nutt said.
* WR Jesse Grandy (bruised thigh) and SS Johnny Brown (groin) missed the NAU game, but were back in the fold Tuesday at practice. Both are said to be "ready to go" for Tennessee.
* OTs John Jerry and Bradley Sowell, who were suspended for the NAU game, were back in their familiar spots at practice, working with the first team offense. Also with the top unit were LG Reid Neely, C Daverin Geralds and RG Brandon Green.
* DE Greg Hardy was at practice Tuesday despite rumors of the contrary. Hardy and his Mother met with Dr. Bob Anderson, who did his latest foot surgery and does most of the foot work for NFL players, in Memphis two weeks ago and Anderson told Greg to finish the season. Hardy intends to do just that.
* Nutt was asked about the announcement from Chancellor Dan Jones eliminating "From Dixie With Love" from the band's play list at games. "Whatever he thinks is best, I am backing," Nutt said. "I'm sure he spent a lot of time studying it and had a lot of counsel on the subject. I believe he knows what's best."
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