By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
OXFORD, Miss – It speaks to the unbelievable success of the Southeastern Conference. When a team loses two of its first three games, it’s time to go full blast on the panic button, right? Maybe, given the astronomical expectations of programs in this league, but it’s also important to keep things in perspective.
Ole Miss has opened up with just one win in its first three contests this season, defeating Southern Illinois, but falling in a one-point loss to BYU and getting dominated 30-7 by Vanderbilt this past Saturday. Should Ole Miss fans expect better? Probably so. But remember, this isn’t your father’s Vanderbilt team anymore.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone addressed many of the questions and concerns regarding the Rebels’ football program. The veteran administrator says that he is focused less on the team’s recent loss to the Commodores than on the “totality” of his program’s success.
“There are a number of ways to measure success,” Boone said. “We did have two really good years going to the Cotton Bowl back-to-back. I don’t think you should ignore those things. This is our life nowadays; it is a life of instant gratification. It is about what have you done for me lately. I am not going to argue that; that is what our fans expect. The scope of two Cotton Bowl wins in a row probably lasted a week until everybody started worrying about recruiting, spring ball and who would be our quarterback. You can’t judge a program on one season or game. You have to worry about totality.”
Still, Boone admits there are issues that need to be corrected within this season’s football program and says he and head coach Houston Nutt are dedicated to making those things happen.
“Like me, I’m sure that everyone that loves Ole Miss is clearly frustrated at this point in time,” Boone said. “Houston and I met yesterday and had a good discussion. He is committed to correcting some of the issues that he sees as correctable within the program. That is what his job is and that is what he will be doing. My job is to give these coaches what they need to be successful. I need to make sure I do that. I would like to say that these are only the first three games. They have not met the expectations that need to be met.”
It always seems to happen – it’s like a mob mentality. When enough people seem to think things aren’t going right, they start talking about changes in the coaching staff. The attitude turns negative and it seems to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Boone is committed to making sure those types of things don’t happen at Ole Miss before the victories begin flowing.
“When there are times like this, and I have been around them before, people can get tentative,” Boone said. “I don’t want our coaches to walk on egg shells if they see me. I want to step on some eggs. I want us to come out with some fight and fire. To the extend I can eliminate any barrier that they have to think about during the day and let them focus on coaching and motivating players, I want to do that.”
The Rebels have their first opportunity to turn the tide beginning Saturday against Georgia with a 12:21 p.m. ET kickoff on the SEC Network.
I don’t question the Ole Miss fans for expecting greatness out of their team. That is the expectation of every team in this conference, which makes for a very difficult road to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game. Still, from the perspective of someone who has worked inside college athletics, it is nice to see the support of Boone and his administration, backing Nutt and his coaching staff while they work to find their way back to the winning track.