Most in the Ole Miss football family are excited about the Rebels’ coming Sugar Bowl trip.
None more than the Mannings.
At least, most of the Mannings.
“We’ve been waiting 46 years so Livvy, and I and Cooper, all the Mannings, Eli … well, I haven’t asked Peyton yet, but we’re all pretty doggone excited,” former Ole Miss quarterback and New Orleans resident Archie Manning said. “When we moved here we said, ‘It will be great when Ole Miss comes to the Sugar Bowl.’ Then we started saying, ‘We hope in our lifetime Ole Miss comes to the Sugar Bowl.’”
I spent some time with Archie on a phone interview this evening. Most of that will help frame some Sugar Bowl stories over the coming days.
One of those main stories will be about the Rebels’ last Sugar Bowl appearance, the 1970 game following the 1969 season, in which Archie was the MVP of a 27-22 Rebels victory. He ran for 39 yards and a touchdown and passed for 273 yards and another score.
“I’m so happy for the Ole Miss family,” he said. “A lot of my teammates, we’re kind of feeling old when people say it’s been 46 years since Ole Miss was in the Sugar Bowl.”
Some other Archie comments from the interview …
Hugh Freeze: Manning was a member of the search committee that recommended the hiring of Freeze. “You can believe if we’d have not hired him he would have been on the list for the next school that came around. Hugh was really impressive.”
That said, Manning got email from Ole Miss fans who were disappointed with the choice citing Freeze’s lack of experience at the time.
Chad Kelly: Manning first saw Chad Kelly live when Kelly was a counselor at the Manning quarterbacks camp last summer. “He threw the ball well. We had 40 quarterbacks there. He could drop it in there and throw as good as any quarterback we had.”
John Vaught: Manning’s college coach loved the Sugar Bowl. He saw plenty of it, leading the Rebels to New Orleans eight times, the last when Manning was a junior. “Coach Vaught was so happy. He loved the Sugar Bowl. He’s looking down on this one with a big ol’ smile, I guarantee,” Manning said.