By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
If you’re a Mississippi State fan needing something to do this summer, take some time to ponder this: The Bulldogs could be very good in all three major sports this coming year.
If you’re an Ole Miss fan, well, as my man Parrish Alford pointed out in Wednesday’s paper, MSU’s recent success and future prospects probably make you uneasy.
The Bulldogs got the best of the Rebels in 2010-11, winning the Egg Bowl, sweeping both men’s basketball matchups and taking three of four in baseball, including two of three in Oxford.
This strikes at the heart of rivalries: While it’s bad enough to see your team doing poorly, the misery is compounded when your biggest rival is succeeding, and especially when some of that success comes at your team’s expense.
Conversely, success is sweeter when your rival is suffering. The Germans call it “schadenfreude,” and fans revel in it.
MSU went 9-4 in football and pounded Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Basketball wasn’t so good, but Renardo Sidney was able to shut up Rebel fans in their own arena. And MSU came within eight outs of reaching the College World Series for the ninth time (Ole Miss has made it four times, most recently in ’72).
If Ole Miss had won more head-to-head battles with MSU, then its failures elsewhere would’ve been a little easier to swallow.
A quick aside: Some Ole Miss fans will claim MSU is not their chief rival, but that LSU is. That is a lie.
Some MSU fans would say the same, citing Alabama as a bigger rival. I don’t believe them, either.
These are the two biggest Division I schools in the state. It’s not that hard to figure out.
As Parrish outlined in his column, Ole Miss has a chance to be good again in football and hoops, and you figure the baseball team will bounce back.
MSU’s goal is to build on the momentum created by football coach Dan Mullen and baseball coach John Cohen, and the basketball team returns more than enough talent to make some noise in the SEC.
Chance for history
State could make some history of sorts. You might already know this, but here it is anyway: MSU has never had its big three programs gain berths in a football bowl game, the NCAA basketball tournament and NCAA baseball tournament in the same academic year.
That could happen in 2011-12. The football squad is set up for another winning season, while the baseball team is finally starting to become what Cohen envisioned three years ago.
As for basketball, it’s the wild card here. I give you last season as Exhibit A, and while this coming campaign looks promising, you’ve probably learned to keep a wary eye on that bunch.
Here’s one thing I do know, and Parrish mentioned this: Everything is cyclical. MSU’s dominance of Ole Miss will not continue unabated. If he sticks around much longer, Mullen will lose to the school that he refuses to mention by name.
A couple of years of now, this rivalry could be going in the other direction. So, MSU fans, bask in the possibilities this summer. Ole Miss fans, be patient.
In a rivalry such as this, superiority is a fleeting thing.
Brad Locke (email@example.com)covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com.