Posted: 11/15/2012 10:33 PM
-------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------ Vamp's bedtime stories- Ole Miss/LSU
Yes sports fans, it's LSU week, or almost. Since we have an open date, I'll get started early this year. The TigerRag board has asked me every year to write what they've affectionately referred to as Vamp's bedtime stories about the Ole Miss/LSU rivalry series. Nobody from over there has asked yet but I'll start tonight anyway.
Let's begin in the beginning. The oldest rivalry amongst SEC West teams is in fact Ole Miss/LSU. The 1st game was played in Baton Rouge in 1894 and was won by the Rebs 26-6. The students built bonfires on campus and sent our team off to play two games in three days. A train blasting down the tracks at 30 mph took our team to New Orleans to beat Tulane and then on to Baton Rouge and victory. The results of those games were telegraphed back to campus and the bell in the Lyceum was rung to signify the victory to the students, faculty and citizens of Oxford. This may be Ole Miss' oldest tradition.
That 1st game between Ole Miss [back then referred to as Mississippi] and LSU got alot of ink in our state and La. because it was a "strange Northern game" played by Southerners. Ole Miss was said to have a big advantage in that their coach, although never having played the game himself, was a Harvard grad and "highly intelligent student of the game" while there. Harvard was the top football program in the land. LSU's coach had no such "intimate knowledge of the game".
Then in '96 the return game was played in Vicksburg and LSU got even whipping us 12-4. This '96 team would be LSU's 1st perfect 6-0 season and 1st conference championship [Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association].
In 1897 because of a widespread Yellow Fever epidemic in the South, no games were played. However it was during that year that in a contest voted on by it's students, Mississippi began to be known as "Ole Miss". "Cotton Boll" came in 2nd in the contest.
The 1st ballyhooed contest between Ole Miss and LSU came in 1899. The Times Picayune in N.O. got wind of the college football story of the year in those parts. Ole Miss would play LSU in Meridian that year and it was rumored that we would play a monster in that game. And the rumor turned out to be true as all 6'4 and 300#'s of Fatty White was just too much for the much smaller Tigers to handle [a man that size back then was in fact a monster as most players weighed less than 140#].
And the great victory over LSU earned "Fatty" instant star status in Miss as he would later become Gov. Hugh "Fatty" White. Every govenor in the history of the state of Miss has been an Ole Miss grad [save 1] but "Fatty" was probably the most popular one [elected in a la ndslide] because of the great 11-0 win over LSU in 1899.
And Ole Miss would continue for a few years to keep up with LSU in football but not for long. Along about the time the forward pass was legalized in 1906 [ but no one tried it much for fear of the 5 yard penalty if the pass was incomplete], LSU began distancing itself from us on the field. In 1908 LSU actually won it's 1st NC according to some poll. Their biggest rival became Tulane, only an hour and change away and better competition.
Back then nobody played games far away from home. Trains were the only way to go and they were notoriously undependable. Ole Miss could hardly get LSU to play us in Oxford at all because the rail system in north Miss was not good so our home games against LSU were played in larger towns in south Miss with better tracks. A 10 hour [back then] trip to Oxford was a scary thought and LSU just refused.
Just for a little perspective on t he times, by 1912, college offenses began getting 4 downs to gain 10 yards and a 1st down instead of 3.
By 1913 a small, unknown Catholic school up North hired a guy named Knute Rockne and beat #1 Army with the dangerous forward pass. 1914 was a big year for Ole Miss in that it was their 1st win over LSU in the 20th century and it was also the the 1st college football game ever where the players wore numbers on their jerseys.
LSU would soon begin a 14-1 run of dominance that completely relieved them of their worry about us as a competitive rival and fixed Tulane as their undisputed #1. Back then we weren't much of a rival for anyone claiming Miss A and M as our big game but it would be 11 years [1926- the birth of the Egg Bowl Game] before we would beat them.
Most fans would point to the hiring of John Howard Vaught as HC in 1947 as the beginning of the real rivalry between Ole Miss and LSU but I would beg to differ and point to a great Ole Miss team in 1938 coached by Harry Mehre and led by AA Parker Hall. This Ole Miss team would bring home the win [20-7] for the 1st time in 11 years against LSU. LSU, coached by legendary Bernie Moore, had gone 9-1 in 1937 losing only to national powerhouse Vanderbuilt 7-6. The Tigers were the odds on favorites to win the SEC in 1938. The great upset win was described as a great job of coaching by Mehre who had transformed the Rebs from a defeatist bunch into "a roaring beast bringing to mind the ledgendary skills of William Sherman, the Civil war general whose Yankee juggernaut marched through Georgia and later became president of Louisiana State University when it was often called the Ol' War Skule".
This was the 1st great Ole Miss team and the 1st game since 1899 that LSU fans began to sit up and take notice as the Rebels [which they were 1st named that year-previously the Flood] would no longer be the laugher it had been for 15 years.
At any rate, LSU was an established college football powerhouse by the '30's and Ole Miss had been pretty much the bottom of the barrel for at least 20 years but was on the rise. Tulane was LSU's #1 game every year and a worthy opponent and Miss A and M was Ole Miss's and more than worthy. Things at Ole Miss and LSU would pretty much stay that way until the fall of State's fine program when Allyn McKeen [one of the SEC's best all time coaches] was fired and Tulane's program went down during the '40's.
Part 2: tomorrow
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