I first saw this story in the Athens paper last week and thought to myself, "This will not end well." Sure enough, Dan Jones, the newly-minted Chancellor of the University of Mississippi ordered the marching band this week to stop playing the popular song From Dixie With Love at all athletic events.
Now, don't get me wrong... I actually like Ole Miss. I also would like nothing more than to see Ole Miss football rise to a high level again, because that would mean more TV exposure, and you can never get enough TV time for the ladies of the Grove. (I actually mean the ladies of the grove... that's not a backhanded slap at the football team.)
From Dixie With Love combines Dixie, the de facto Confederate Anthem, with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, which we are all familiar with, and which was one of the most popular Union civil war songs. The furor and outrage has come because during the Battle Hymn portion of the song (at the point which Georgia fans would yell "G-E-O-R-G-I-A" or, possibly, "To hell with (insert team currently being played here)), many Ole Miss fans yell, "The South will rise again."
This chant can be heard in the following video (props to Paul Westerdawg for "braving" the Grove to get this):
Of course, this issue is highly-polarizing, but I would like to chastise both parties here. First, to Dan Jones. Shame on you, Mr. Jones, for inciting this conflagration. I understand that you likely have a Michael Adams-sized need to establish your absolute unquestioned authority as the dictator of Mississippi... most University leaders these days have such a requirement built into their character, it seems. And the easiest way to establish yourself as Il Duce is to arbitrarily knock off a beloved icon or tradition at your school. To claim that a song being sung in jest by the fans is a major threat to the image of the university is simply ludicrous, however. It's clear that the fans are joking, and if you ever actually were present for a performance of the song, you would see Ole Miss fans smirking and laughing every time the words come out of their lips. Do you honestly think that the vast majority of Ole Miss fans, while singing that song, are thinking anything other than, "Ole Miss will rise again" when those words roll across their lips?
Now to the Ole Miss fans. Don't be ignorant. The south has already risen again. Four of the last six Presidents have been from the South. In that same time, no presidential candidate has won an election without taking at least three southern states. Carmakers have relocated and/or opened up new manufacturing facilities in the south. Technology companies have flocked to the south (especially Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina) in incredible numbers. And most importantly to virtually all of us, the SEC is collectively the undisputed king of the college football world.
The fact that the SEC apparently hasn't lifted the state of Mississippi football along with the rest of the conference is your own fault, not ours. I mean, you had Tommy Tuberville and let him leave. Then you brought David Cutcliffe into town, only to ride him out on a rail after coaching the best Manning ever to play at your school. At this point, I'm putting the over/under on Houston Nutt's welcome at 3-4 more years. He's bound to mouth off at exactly the wrong time and tick somebody off, which will tick somebody else off, and it'll probably coincide with one disappointing season, which will be all it takes. You need to get used to the fact that, right now, you're not the Yankees screwing with Joe Torre and Billy Martin. You're more like the Chicago Cubs screwing around with Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella.
Ole Miss fans, change your chant and yell what you really mean... "Ole Miss will rise again."