Ole Miss is finally beginning to respond to Mississippi State, although I wonder if Ole Miss people would characterize it thusly.
Last night, Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone said in a press release about a forthcoming capital campaign, “It’s time to bring championships back to the state’s flagship university.” UMAA Foundation executive director Danny White, on Twitter, used the term “flagship” as well. I’ve not heard that term thrown out there very often.
MSU, of course, likes to say it’s the “people’s university,” and then there are those “Our State” billboards that feature coach Dan Mullen.
Here in Hoover, coach Houston Nutt was asked about those billboards, and he pooh-poohed MSU’s marketing strategy.
“Using valuable energy on something like that is a waste of time,” Nutt said, adding that energy should be devoted to recruiting, developing players and winning games.
Speaking of recruiting, Nutt doesn’t think those billboards have hurt Ole Miss there.
“You checked recruiting this past season, right? It didn’t affect us. We had the best recruiting (class) in the state of Mississippi.”
The Rebels did indeed sign more highly rated in-state players than did MSU, but Mullen has said that he doesn’t put much stock in star ratings, and he has said he’s happy with the 2011 class.
Nutt understands the state of things, of course, in that MSU has defeated the Rebels twice in a row. He hasn’t beaten Mullen, and he is fully aware of how losing the Egg Bowl affects his players and fans.
“The reason they’re loud right now is they’ve won the last two years,” Nutt said of MSU. “…That’s a real intense rival, I understand that. Our fans have to live with that for a full year. … The only thing you can do is you have to do it between those lines, and our players know that, our coaches know that. As far as marketing, we have marketing people to do that.”
One more thing: Nutt was asked to assess the SEC Western Division. He mentioned every team but MSU.