It is better to keep the money in the state. It is better for Ole Miss not to play against lower Division I opponents than Southeastern Louisiana and Jacksonville State, Murray State or Southeast Missouri, as well as other teams they have played in recent seasons. The Rebels will play Austin Peay in 2021. Quick question: Which is going to bring more fans to Vaught Hemingway Stadium? Austin Peay, or Alcorn State. Alcorn, that’s who. I will be reacting to Thursday’s announcement by saying, “Better late than never.” This is something that should’ve happened long ago. In 1983, I proposed to Ole Miss and Mississippi State that Southern Miss play the Mississippi SWAC schools. It was logical. These games would generate more interest, sell tickets and benefit two Mississippi Universities instead of one. In 1987, Southern Miss broke the ice with a memorable win against Jackson State in SWAC. Southern Miss defeated JSU 17-7 on a beautiful October afternoon in Hattiesburg. This game was the largest at-home USM attendance record. To contain the crowd, end zone seats were built. This was a major win for Southern Miss, and a significant money-maker for JSU. It was a great example of sportsmanship between players. After that game, I was able to see Jackson State and USM players enjoying their post-game boxes of food together. Southern Miss has played Jackson State and Alcorn three times since then. USM has won six of the six games and only two were close (Jay Hopson nearly beat the team that he coaches in 2014). Three of the top 10 USM home attendance matches – all-time – were against Alcorn and JSU. Mississippi State was the first SWAC school to play in 2009. The Bulldogs beat Jackson State 45-7. State has won every one of the four games, including against Alcorn and JSU. This is Ole Miss’s first ever. This is a great idea. It’s better to be late than never. Imagine the chaos that would have occurred if the Rebels, Bulldogs, or Golden Eagles had played Alcorn in 1994, when Airness was setting all NCAA total offense records. He was also one of the top candidates for the Heisman trophy. Although Ole Miss would likely have won, it would have been great to see how Joe Lee Dunn would defend Steve McNair. Alcorn has been one of the most prominent HBCU football programs in recent years. Hopson was the catalyst for the Braves’ transformation, and Fred McNair (Steve’s older brother, and the original Air McNair) has continued to take it. Alcorn has been in the SWAC championship in four of the six seasons and has won back to back league championships. The greatest fear for larger schools is: What if we lose? It would be impossible to live with that. You may also find out that your coach isn’t doing his job if you lose. It’s better to be late than never. Many people may wonder: What about Mississippi Valley State? Why is the Valley not playing one of the three largest Mississippi schools in the past? Valley has historically not funded 65 scholarships in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. This means that a win over the Delta Devils cannot be counted towards the six wins required for larger schools to be bowl eligible. This is a major dealbreaker. This is a risk that bowl division schools can’t take. Mississippi State cancelled a game with Valley in 2013 because a win would not have been counted towards bowl eligibility. Valley lost $350,000 in payday due to the cancellation. It is a problem for MVSU. Valley could make a huge profit from a money game, which would allow it to finance more scholarships. Valley cannot get a money-game because it can’t afford the scholarships. It’s a Catch 22, if ever there was one.