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Coach “O” Yea, Bower Nay

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on November 27, 2007

On the day that Ole Miss gift-wrapped a victory to Mississippi State, I wrote that in order for Ole Miss to get back to its long-gone glory days it would have to make wholesale changes in the football program.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

There was no doubt in my mind that Coach Orgeron had to go. Outside of wins and losses — but mostly losses — the Orgeron era was, in so many words, a complete wash and waste of time to the University of Mississippi and its fans.

Changes had to be made in Oxford one way or the other.

But in the case of what has transpired down in Hattiesburg with Jeff Bower, who on Monday afternoon was forced to resign for undisclosed reasons after 17 years with Southern Miss, is a travesty and to say for the fact that letting him go was a good idea is completely stupid.

Before Boise State, Hawaii, and Utah captured the hearts and minds of the college football scene, Southern Miss was setting the standard for mid-major football programs by playing top notch teams from what would later become BCS Conferences in the late 80’s and early 90’s under Curley Hallaman and a quarterback by the name of Brett Favre.

And then when Bower took over, the Golden Eagles rose to the national spotlight by being touted as having one of the best defenses in the country and one of the best running backs in Derrick Nix.

Want more facts?

Since 1994, Southern Miss, under Jeff Bower, has been the most successful program in the state of Mississippi, garnering four conference championships and one C-USA East Division championship, as well as 10 Bowls in the last 11 years.

And although Mississippi State and Ole Miss have had short periods of success during that time, the two schools (State and Ole Miss) have gone a combined 103 years without an overall conference championship.

Since 1994 Ole Miss has had four coaches, while State has had two in that same time span.

While Ole Miss and MSU has been under the gun as far as NCAA violations are concerned, Southern Miss has been squeaky clean over the last 14 years.

Bower graduated his players, many of which came back to serve the university in various capacities and had few brushes with the law.

Ole Miss had 20 still-unnamed players, who thought that stealing little items from Tupelo and Montgomery hotels would be a good idea, wound up playing in the Egg Bowl on Friday afternoon after causing their mayhem.

In other words, class (USM) versus stupidity (Ole Miss).

There was no reason, I think, for Southern Miss officials to get rid of Bower, a man who dearly loved the Golden Eagles and who bled black and gold to the fullest.

When I think about the Bower incident, I think about what happened here in Memphis when native son Larry Finch was forced out by a guy who knew nothing about the contributions that he made to basketball in Memphis 10 years ago.

It took four seasons for the Tigers to return to relevance and a bad hire in Tic Price for them to see the light.

Wonder how long will it be for the Golden Eagles to fall to earth and then return to glory.

Any takers?

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