The University of Mississippi football team has made tremendous strides under Hugh Freeze the last two seasons. They have recruited well and played well. The Rebels entered Saturday’s game at No. 1 Alabama eager to prove to the SEC and the rest of the country they were ready to compete at the highest level. Unfortunately for Ole Miss the Tide has and does compete at the highest level and has done so for the vast majority of the Nick Saban tenure.
Ole Miss was shut out 25-0 in a victory showed the dominance of Alabama, but it also showed an improved but not nearly ready to be elite Rebel squad whose delusions of BCS glory evaporated on a Red Elephant hunting ground Saturday evening. The Rebels are better but are much more Vanderbilt than they are Alabama or LSU at this point.
The blowup came in the form of Tyler Siskey, a former Ole Miss Coach who had worked with Freeze at Arkansas State whom Saban hired at the end of last season. Siskey is listed as Associate Director of Player Personnel at Alabama. This means, in essence, he is a logistics guy. Siskey was spotted in the Alabama press box with binoculars during the game. ESPN’s Todd Blackledge pointed out several times how advantageous it was to have someone who knew the tendencies of Hugh Freeze and the Rebels. He further explained how the Tide seemed to be locked in to what the Rebels have been doing all night. This was just the Kool-Aid some of the disappointed Rebel fans needed and took to Twitter to expound on their conspiracy theory that Siskey was disloyal and somehow was to be blamed for the 25-0 pasting. Note to Rebel fans: Every coach in the country was somewhere before he was with your school. Was it an advantage in having Siskey as opposed to not having him? Sure, I will bite on that one, but to say he cost you the game delves into conspiracy theories worthy of a Jesse Ventura guest appearance.
Bottom line is Alabama is significantly better and deeper at virtually every position than Ole Miss. The Rebels were pounded because, as Freeze stated, they had no answers for the Crimson Tide who dominated the line of scrimmage. Alabama’s defense may actually be pretty good when playing someone other than Johnny Manziel, who makes a lot of defenses look bad. So the Rebels have to regroup, dry off the powder and get ready for a trip to an improving Auburn team followed by heavyweights LSU and Texas A&M in Rebel Land.
The old adage in coaching is it isn’t the plays but the players that make or break you. The Rebels learned that first hand courtesy of Saban and company last week where their program is when compared to the elite. The rest of the season awaits, and for the Rebels to seriously make a move up they need to win two of the next three games. Auburn is on the road, but a winnable game. The real test of staying power in the SEC is your ability to win home games, and hosting LSU and Johnny Football on back to back weeks will tell the Rebels and the world exactly how far they have come and how far they have to go. Their season hangs in the balance.