Saturday, March 20, 2010

An Ole Miss Hit And Run

I joke with people that if they're ever on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and draw a question about college towns, that I am your lifeline. And while every college town is unique in it's own way, there's something truly singular about Oxford, Mississippi.

There's "The Square" where the courthouse sits in the center. It's symbolic of a town that still maintains its ties to the Old South while offering a progressive education and cultural environment, channeling its most famous citizen, William Faulkner.

Nowhere is that dichotomy more evident than this street corner.

Another tug-of-war in the deep south is over the Ole Miss Rebels (former?) mascot, Colonel Reb.

While the costumed mascot has been phased out, the image still lingers all over town. To some he represents the antebellum Southern gentleman, and to some he represents the plantation/slave owner and the confederacy. It depends upon your point of view.

Does American history begin in 1865? Is the word "Rebel" too symbolic of the confederacy as well? Does Ole Miss have to change their nickname too?

The Rebels aren't the class of SEC football. The saying goes, they don't redshirt All-Americas at Ole Miss, they redshirt Miss Americas. But their football tradition is evident everywhere.

The speed limit on campus is the number of Archie Manning's retired jersey. And in the gift shop, you are just as likely to see an Eli Manning jersey, as a Michael Oher jersey. Usually offensive linemen are relegated to the shadows, but when your life is immortalized in film (The Blind Side), that changes the dynamic.

And The Grove is hands down the best tailgating spot in the country. You'll know what I mean when you get there.

And finally, the Bottletree Bakery is a must. Just off The Square, it's my favorite sandwich joint in the SEC. But it's the selection of pastries and sweets (not my thing), that got Oprah Winfrey's attention.

So there's a lot to enjoy at the University of Mississippi if you're staying for a day or recommendation is to get yourself (or at least one of your children) situated for 4 years.

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