That’s what Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was doing at his Monday presser.
“It matters how we play, and I hope it matters to our fans. They need to be here to support these young men,” Freeze said. “Hopefully our fans understand the importance of being here to support these guys.”
There hasn’t been a home game on the schedule where Freeze has had to encourage attendance.
This game it’s necessary, and frankly, you can’t blame fans who might choose to pass on this game.
Whether power five conference Division I teams (FBS in the NCAA lingo) should continue playing Division I-AA teams (FCS in the NCAA lingo) has been a point of national discussion.
There here and now for Ole Miss is exactly why this game is important. It comes at a time when the Rebels are beaten down physically.
Ole Miss could be without as many as five starters or co-starters this week. The Laquon Treadwell injury was front and center. Everybody saw that. Denzel Nkemdiche was lost against LSU. Laremy Tunsil didn’t play against Auburn. I’Tavius Mathers and Trae Elston sustained concussions against Auburn.
There are others who are playing hurt.
This is not a bad time to play an FCS team.
There will be plenty of fans who will attend because they believe a football Saturday on campus beats a day anywhere else. Many more will choose to attend than not attend.
However, for many who make the most of that experience every week, getting the tailgate ready is no easy task.
It’s further complicated by the parking — or lack thereof. Some of that will be alleviated when the garage is ready for next season. Fact is, the school could use more than one garage.
For some people the general expense of tickets and travel might make a day off worth considering.
Food prep, parking and travel aren’t issues when you can watch on TV, and now even the Ole Miss-Presbyterian game is on TV.
One Twitter user on Monday encouraged season ticket holders who may choose not to attend to give their tickets to families with children, a great idea.
Freeze is approaching this from a family angle too. He’s right. His players deserve support.
For individual families — some who have been present at road games in Atlanta, Nashville and/or Baton Rouge — a day off so they can be all in for the Egg Bowl or perhaps a Fayetteville trip could also be a right answer.