/This college football season, if we have one, might be strangest since 1918

This college football season, if we have one, might be strangest since 1918

It’s not coincidental that this was the last pandemic the world has seen. This was going to be an exciting football season for the Magnolia State, as we knew it months ago. First, Ole Miss hired Lane Kiffin last December. Mike Leach was hired by Mississippi State a month later. Two college football’s most prominent players, who were once friendly rivals from the continent’s other side, moved to Mississippi. The 2020 season was sure to be different and interesting. We didn’t know… then came the pandemic. We still don’t know. Every day, things change. Let’s take a moment to pause and think about what we know. * This fall, the SWAC, which includes Jackson State, Alcorn State, and Mississippi Valley State, won’t be playing. It is hoped that the spring schedule will be abbreviated. We’ll see. * This is also true for the Gulf South Conference. The Heritage Bell Classic that pits Mississippi College against Delta State will not be held until at least next spring. * While Mississippi’s junior colleges delayed their season to October, East Mississippi Community College, a perennial powerhouse that has won five national championships, will not be playing. Buddy Stephens, EMCC coach, stated that the well-being and safety of his players is paramount. “There are too much unknowns to place in front of my players moving forward at the moment.” * These unknowns have caused the Pac 12 and Big Ten — two of college football’s five power conferences — not to play fall sports. This has led to open rebellion from some coaches and players, as well as at least one Big Ten school (Nebraska). * The Southeastern Conference has postponed its season to Sept. 26, and will play a 10-game schedule (all league games), followed by a championship match. If the schedule goes as planned, State will open at LSU, the defending national champion. Ole Miss will host Florida. It will be a brutal schedule of league games. There are no cupcakes. Leach and Kiffin are expected to earn millions. According to reports, Kiffin makes $4 million per year and Leach $5 million. That could translate to $1 million per victory in 2020. Eli Johnson, Ole Miss senior centre, was the first to leave Ole Miss in 2020. He played all 12 games. He is right, and who could blame him? David Johnson, a sports writer, was Eli’s father. He spent several weeks in ICU on a ventilator and almost died from COVID-19. Eli Johnson, who has already graduated with his Masters in Criminal Justice, has been through many injuries. * It is difficult to determine what changes most often these days. Both have been affected by the pandemic. In recent days, three of the Golden Eagles’ most talented players have opted to leave: Racheem Boothe, defensive end Jacques Turner and Jaylond Adams, wide receiver/return specialist. All three say they will be entering the transfer portal. Steven Anderson, a reserve running back at 260 pounds, is the same. He is one of the largest in the country. Conference USA will start in September, unlike other leagues that have delayed or postponed the season. Southern Miss will open its home against South Alabama on Sept. 3. With Jackson State, Auburn, and Tennessee Tech all having had to be replaced, the Eagles’ schedule continues to evolve. The schedule now includes Tulane and North Alabama home games. It’s difficult to keep up. The 2020 season must be more eccentric than 1918. Ole Miss played four games while State played five, and State only five, in the 102-year-old pandemic that ravaged Mississippi and the country. State beat Ole Miss by 34-0 at Starkville, and 13-0 at Oxford. Dudy Noble’s Ole Miss side scored more points than you and me against State. Noble returned to State the next year. We only hope that things will get back to normal soon._x000D