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What A Way To Watch A Program Die

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 29, 2007

When I predicted that the Tigers would go 4-7 this season and build on that to possibly return to a bowl in 2008, the main reason for this was that in the first year without DeAngelo Williams giving opposing defenses hell, the Tigers were going to struggle anyway because of the lack of a running game — although in 2006 Joseph Doss did do some damage as DeAngelo’s replacement.

But the actual reason, from what I as well as everybody else saw last season, was the fact that the defense couldn’t stop anyone in the second half, much less a caboose rolling down the tracks along Southern Avenue — which as we all know here in Memphis, resulted in the firing of Joe Lee Dunn last year.

Wh,o from the looks of things, is doing very well these days as head coach of the Ridgeway High Roadrunners, a lofty fall for a person who was among one of the best defensive coordinators in all of college football during his time on Jackie Sherill’s staff at Mississippi State.

But the fall of Dunn, as well as the departure of those who helped build that program from a hobby-like activity to kill time before the official start of basketball practice to a bowl participant, brings me to my next point about the current state of the football program, a realization that the loss of probably the greatest Tiger ever to don a Tiger football jersey was not going to only be felt by the Tiger Nation for only a year but maybe even longer.

There is no word, or expletive, that could explain what has happened to this program as after blowing a 25-point lead against Arkansas State Thursday night — the first time that’s happened in 50 years — and now the Tigers have lost 13 of 16 games dating back to the 2006 season.

No word at all except the fact that something, if anything, needs to happen if these guys want to salvage their season — like a meteor shower or some motivation from movies like “300,” or any of the “National Lampoon” movies, to get these guys in shape or, for that matter, their heads into the game.

You can say that the reason for this is because no one wants to play at a school where they’ll be nothing more than second-class citizens at a school that is known for basketball or a conference that rarely gets time on ESPN or even a mention on Sportscenter.

But that’s no excuse as Southern Miss has been successful for years as not only an independent, but as a member of Conference USA and their core recruiting base has Louisana State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, and Auburn knocking on the doors of high school kids in Forrest County, Mississippi.

The real truth of the matter is the fact that instead of going after blue-chippers, the Tigers, who have been at or near the bottom in football recruiting for the last two years, recruit guys who are more than likely to suit up for East Tennessee State instead of Mississippi State.  In other words, leftovers that were given to the program from places like Florida, Georgia, and even the Memphis area. How can you win with players that are, at best, I-AA material?

Answer that, Mr. West.

It’s tough to explain to someone that the Tigers can turn it around, given the fact that on Tuesday night, the Tigers welcome a winless Marshall team that, a week ago, was all but carried off the field in body bags against Cincinnati to bring an end to the mini-marathon that has been the last three weeks for the team.

That’s like me telling you that DeAngelo Williams’s clone is going to walk through the tunnels of the Liberty Bowl driving Marshall’s defense crazy.

But there is one thing Tiger fans should be happy about as we head into October.

Basketball season is just around the corner.

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