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That’s a nice jersey, you wear it to all the games?

June 29th, 2010

All right folks, wipe those affiliations off your sleeves and let’s talk a little college football.
It’s pretty amazing what gets people’s blood boiling in this business.
Write a story about how 190,000 people in Mississippi could have their electric bills go up by more than 33 percent because big business wants a new toy to play with, and you get a note or two, mostly from CEO or PR types concerned about their image.
If you criticize the governor, there will be a few more people calling to make their feelings known.
But have someone write a feel-good story about a long-time Mississippi businessman who happens to be a former big-time college football quarterback, and then sit back and watch the fireworks.
We recently ran a story on Jackson’s Glynn Griffing, which detailed the successes of his insurance business over the last 40 years after he starred at quarterback for Ole Miss during the school’s winningest era.
Phone calls, e-mails, letters and I think some smoke signals began pouring in complaining.
About what?
The story included mention that the Rebels won three national championships during Griffing’s tenure at the Oxford school.
Only in the South could a feel-good story about a former athlete turn into what some readers believe to be a covert attempt to mislead the public on issues of national security.
“Why do you hate Mississippi State so much?”
That was one e-mail. There was another I probably wouldn’t repeat unless we were in a bar.
There are lots of football fans out there who like to point out that Ole Miss never won an “official” national championship. Their argument: The Rebels were never crowned by the Associated Press (AP) or United Press International (UPI).
Those were the only recognized organizations for handing out such designations, the haters like to say.
Unfortunately, college football has been without any real structure for naming a champion for as long as there has been big-time college football.
When the story about Griffing was turned in to me, I was aware of the circumstances.
However, my reasoning, as a former sports editor, has always been that college football has created this issue, and teams that won shouldn’t suffer because of the sport’s stubborn ineptitude.
The organizations that voted Ole Miss champs in 1959, ’60 and ’62 are many of the same that have voted seven other SEC schools champs at one time or another. Because the NCAA has never recognized any school as a Division I-A (or FBS) champion, and these other groups (like Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, FW, National Championship Foundation and Williamson) were considered legitimate by most in the business, there is no reason to not mention Ole Miss among schools to win national championships in football.
That surely doesn’t change a lot of people’s minds, but before you hit “send” on the next e-mail, at least first take off your favorite team’s jersey.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

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