Egg Bowl Warfare

‘Tis the time for all those football grudge matches! In Mississippi, we call ours the Egg Bowl. The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and Mississippi State University have the tenth longest uninterrupted series going back to 1901. The winner is awarded the trophy which turned out to be shaped more like an egg than a football. Both teams have had years when the only good thing in their season was the Golden Egg Trophy.

There have been many down-to-the wire nail-biting finishes, but never one so unreal as in 1983. With the score 24-23 in favor of Ole Miss, Mississippi State freshman kicker Artie Cosby kicked the ball straight and true headed right through the goal posts. At the last second, a 40 mph wind gust pushed it up and back making the ball fall short of the goal line, taking away what looked like a sure win for State. Many rather irreverent jests followed with suggestions that the timely wind showed God was an Ole Miss Rebel at heart or questioning whether God might be cited for interference with a kicker.

For many years, the game was played on Thanksgiving night. The holiday hasn’t been quite the same since 2003 when they moved the Egg Bowl to the weekend, and I’m glad to see it back on Thanksgiving this year. Not that there weren’t complications with having it on the holiday. We frequently had Thanksgiving dinner with the Mississippi State branch of the family. Since the game came on late in the afternoon, we would finish our pie and head back to the hotel. I never could figure out which was harder – sitting on my hands and not gloating when Ole Miss played well or hiding my misery when they enjoyed Mississippi State’s triumphs. It just worked better to enjoy all the company and good food but watch the game separately.

How interesting it became when one of those nieces brought her prospective husband Don to meet the family. With a bit of chagrin, Sallie introduced him as an Ole Miss grad. One of my sisters did her usual introduction of herself, as she has to all the new in-laws, as the favorite aunt. [If you have been reading this blog long, you guessed right. It was Beth.]  I pointed out that I got extra points in this case since I was the only aunt who graduated from Ole Miss.

I don’t know how Don has handled watching the game with all those rabid State fans. I do know he and Sallie are raising a child who’s getting mixed messages. They’re handling it with a sense of humor – at least until Charlie makes a decision to go to one school or the other. They sent my favorite Christmas card last year and have given me permission to use the picture. I’m thinking Charlie might do better as a referee than some of the others I’ve seen call the Thanksgiving games.

In the meantime, Charlie is a little confused. When his extended family went berserk cheering after State beat Arkansas last week, he shouted, “Go, Ole Miss!” Just the same, before you get to feeling too sorry for Charlie, it could be worse. His parents could have gone to Alabama and Auburn.