Oh, sure, fan excitement was boiling over for football because of Dan Mullen, but he had not yet accomplished anything beyond an Egg Bowl win and high ticket sales.
In basketball, starting point guard Dee Bost was hoping for reinstatement from the NCAA after belatedly withdrawing from that summer’s NBA Draft, and highly touted big man Renardo Sidney was going to have to sit out the first nine games of the season because of an NCAA suspension. The team had failed to reach the Big Dance the prior season.
And the baseball team was coming off its worst season ever as far as its SEC record (6-24).
There was widespread optimism within the athletic department that better times were ahead, and as an objective observer, I could understand the reasons for it. But at that point, as August dragged on, nothing was guaranteed.
As it turned out, it’s not been all roses for MSU. The football team certainly showed out, but the basketball squad showed its rear end in Hawaii and stumbled to a 17-14 finish and missed the postseason.
The baseball team has shown signs of life and, in a tightly packed SEC West, has a very good shot at winning the division and/or reaching the NCAA regionals.
There is one area in which MSU has unquestionably shined, dominated even: Against Ole Miss. Mullen earned another Egg Bowl win, the basketball team swept the season series, and now the baseball team has kept it going.
Entering Friday’s (late) game, MSU had won the first two meetings of the year – the Governor’s Cup in Jackson, and Thursdays’ SEC series opener in Oxford.
MSU has never swept the Rebels in the big three sports during an academic year. Ole Miss did it once, in 1971-72. The last time MSU swept the season series from Ole Miss in baseball was 1997.
So, obviously, this is a big deal.
You want to win against other teams, too, but if you’re dominating your biggest rival the way State has Ole Miss, that makes for a pretty good year.
The Bulldogs should enjoy this while it lasts, because as my little history lesson just showed you, such thorough dominance is not the norm. However, all three programs give MSU fans reason for long-term optimism.
One more thing about this year of Rebel bashing: Only one of MSU’s victories occurred in Starkville – the second basketball game.
That means Ole Miss fans have gotten a good view of the Bulldogs’ triumphs. I don’t think they saw that coming back in August.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com.