Ole Miss, Memphis renewing rivalry in football, Men's hoops

By Ole Miss Media Relations

From OleMissSports.com …

OXFORD – Ole Miss will be renewing its Mid-South rivalry with Memphis on the football field and the basketball court.

In a joint press release with Memphis Athletics, Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork announced Wednesday the institutions have signed a four-year contract to renew their football series, resuming in 2014 and running through 2017.

The schools have also agreed in principle to the continuation of the men’s basketball series as soon as scheduling permits.

“It’s exciting for our fans both in Memphis and here in the state to see this natural rivalry resume in both sports,” Bjork said. “The Memphis community is a priority, and this series is important for our growing alumni base in the area.

“From a football standpoint, Coach (Hugh) Freeze and I have the same scheduling philosophy and agreed it was imperative to continue to brand our program and put the Ole Miss flag in Memphis.”

The 2014 and 2016 football games will be played in Oxford, while the 2015 and 2017 encounters will be staged at the Liberty Bowl, which is in the midst of a $40 million renovation. Recent upgrades include two new HD video boards, new sound system, installation of Astroturf, new light standards, new elevators, a facelift to the exterior and more improvements to come.

Memphis, who joins the BCS in 2013 as a member of the Big East conference, replaces Clemson on Ole Miss’ 2015 and 2016 schedules after that contract was mutually terminated.

The series will provide a homecoming of sorts for Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze, who spent 13 years in the Bluff City as a classroom teacher, coach and administrator at Briarcrest Christian School. Freeze was the Saints’ head football coach from 1995 to 2004, leading the program to six straight state championship games.

“The city of Memphis was a wonderful home to my family and I, and I look forward to playing in front of the many great fans we have there,” said Freeze, who a four-time Associated Press Coach of the Year at Briarcrest. “I’m thrilled to see the Ole Miss presence in Memphis continue to grow.”

The Rebels and Tigers began playing football during the 1921 season and met 59 times before the previous contract ended following the 2009 season. Ole Miss holds a 47-10-2 lead in the series and has won the last five meetings.

It is tied with Alabama as the Rebels’ sixth-most played series and most frequent with any school not currently or formerly in the SEC. Ole Miss has prevailed in 14 of the last 18 meetings with Memphis dating back to 1988.

From University of Memphis …

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – University of Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen announced today, in a joint press release with Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork, that the two institutions have signed a four-year contract to renew their football series that ended in 2009. The new contract calls for the series to resume in 2014.

“I am very pleased to announce that the University of Memphis and the University of Mississippi have agreed to a new football contract which will begin in 2014 and run through the 2017 season,” said Bowen. “This series is such a great fit for both teams, and given our close proximity, it makes for a natural rivalry among fans from both schools”.

The Tigers and Rebels began playing football during the 1921 season and met 59 times before the previous contract ended following the 2009 season. Ole Miss holds a decided 47-10-2 lead in the series that saw the first six contests played in Oxford.

In 1963, the Tigers hosted the Rebels at Crump Stadium in Memphis and shocked the college football world by tying No. 3 ranked Ole Miss, 0-0. Four years later in 1967, Memphis gained its first-ever win in the series, 27-17, at Liberty Bowl (Memphis) Memorial Stadium.

“We are excited to have Ole Miss back on the schedule,” Bowen stated. “With the addition of such football programs as Miami, Missouri, Duke and Ole Miss, I believe that Tiger fans will begin to see that we are adamant about upgrading our schedule”.

The two athletic directors have also agreed in principle to enter into formal discussions pertaining to the continuation of the basketball series between the institutions, as well as other sports.