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Brian Ferguson – Letter to the Editor

Due to a computer malfunction, this article printed incorrectly.  Below is the correct printing.

If I had my ultimate Christmas wish, I would wish for a new Athletic director at my Alma Mater, Ole Miss. Pete Boone is in his eighth year as Athletic Director, one that has had many challenges.After eight years of struggles, it is time to find someone who is commited to taking the Rebels to the next level.Many Rebel fans are tired of the same old ups and downs in football, not making it to Omaha or the NCAA tournament. The attitude that next year is going to be our year is getting very stale. The hype that we get with a new transfer quarterback, that fails to meet expectations is also getting old.

After eight years as the Athletic director, we have been to four bowl games, zero trips to Omaha, and zero trips to the NCAA basketball tournament. The biggest accomplishment other than two Cotton Bowl victories was the Women’s basketball team making it to the Elite Eight. That resume’ has mediocrity written all over it.

There have been positives in Boone’s tenure at Ole Miss, the addition of the South End Zone, restructuring of Swayze and the additions of the Indoor Practice Facilities. We are a long way from where we were fifteen years ago but it is kind of hard not to be. A personal friend, Billy Brewer also former head football coach,  has spoken about many of the challenges he was faced with while coaching here. Our facilities weren’t much improved from Louisiana Tech, the school he transfered from. We have been behind the rest of the SEC for many years and we still are.

When is the North End Zone going to be closed in? When are we going to have a new basketball stadium? We are behind every school in the SEC including Mississippi State in size of our basketball stadium. We are at the bottom of the SEC in the capacity of our football stadium, besides Vanderbilt and the School Down South. We should be working on moving towards the top not comfortably staying at the bottom, where the previously mentioned live.Many wonder why we can’t get people to the basketball games in December, anyone think it might have to do with how uncomfortable the Tad Pad is?

We still have a lot of excess baggage in contracts from previous coaches. Many people would have looked to find a new Athletic Director after living through the Orgeron era. After all, Boone was responsible for hiring him. We also have a lot of coaches on staff that have positions that don’t really do much of anything except receive their pay check. It seems for someone who is tight with money that he would structure the program to keep from having this happen.

The one thing that isn’t explainable is our record, compared to the recruiting classes that we have had in football and baseball. The one thing we have been doing right is recruiting.

We have brought in a lot of talent over the past eight years and we still haven’t made it to Omaha or competed in the West in football. Most Ole Miss fans aren’t asking for a lot just the ability to compete in the SEC West. We are still the only school out of the SEC West who hasn’t made it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.

Mike Bianco, head baseball coach, won his argument with Boone, when Boone threatened to do away with students drinking in Right field. Bianco, coming from LSU knew that you had to have students on board in order to have their support. He won and right field is bigger and better than ever. Maybe he should also help students in other sports as well. These are the people you are relying on to support you when they graduate and years down the road. Let more students in to the basketball and football games. More would come if they didn’t have to pay nearly half of what is costs of a regular ticket.

We lived through the dreaded decision to remove the Colonel in 2003 that has drastically decreased donations. It seems to me the focus should be on other areas such as winning than what or who the mascot is. There is a lot that could be said about this debacle that has wasted a lot of the Ole Miss faithful, money and energy. Im sure everyone remembers the terrible images of Rowdy Rebel and Rebel Bruiser.I’m also sure we remember the light at the top of the tunnel for Rebel Red Alert that looked like something bought at K-Mart. Marcus in the end zone cheering on the Rebels, that often times confused me. I would look toward that end zone forgetting that I was at an Ole Miss game and thinking for a second I could have been back in high school. The Orange County motorcycle that all of 100 people bought tickets for when the raffled it off. Then came the latest decision to spend even more money and the best decision they could come up with was the Rebel Black Bear. Take a second and ask other SEC schools what they think about this and be prepared to be laughed at. This all went about to remove a mascot. Love the Colonel or hate him, it didn’t take all this to remove the mascot.

The administration likes to say that the latest move was student-led. How is something student-led when you create a spirit group on campus, fund it until you get the job done, and then dispose of it before the next semester? This is what happened when Boone created the Cardinal club. The University also hired the Ramey Marketing agency in September, but didnt have the student vote until February. It sounds like to me someone should start promoting the positives of the school rather than hiding from our own shadow. It is time to put focus where it needs to be and that is back to making sure we compete.

It is time to give Houston Nutt, the Ole Miss football coach, the resources he needs in order to win. We have had coaches stuck in airports left waiting on planes for hours because Boone wouldn’t upgrade tickets. If I had a boss that didn’t believe I could handle my job, I think I would look for employment else where as well. This is exactly what Nutt has been rumored to have done the past two years. If we lose Nutt, I hate to see who would come work for the Al Davis of college football. Nutt wants complete control over his program so that he can make sure there is communication at every level. Many could see just by watching the team this year, there wasn’t that one true leader on the field. Maybe, it is just an example of how the entire Athletic Department is run. We may not have a true leader at all over the entire Athletic Department.

It is time for Rebel administration to get serious about winning, improving facilities and taking us to the level of competition that we are competing against. It is time for Pete to let his tight grip go of the money and start heading us in the direction that the other schools in the SEC already are. Maybe, it is time to find someone who will lead us in the right direction.

If I get my Christmas wish, I wish Pete the best of luck with future novels and his classes with a certain Mississippi business owner on how to be nice to people. My hope is that Pete finds a job in what he knows best – banking – which is where he was before he became AD and maybe this time, unlike last time,  he can stay there.

Brian Ferguson ‘07

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