Hugh Kellenberger, sports editor and columnist for the Clarion-Ledger, knows the ins and outs of the modern Egg Bowl rivalry better than I and better than most. Ole Miss fans may tolerate Mississippi State fans, or vice versa, but neither group is forced to interact with the other on a regular basis. As part of his job, Kellenberger gets to see the best and worst of Rebels and Bulldogs. After "thinking about this column for a while," as he wrote on Twitter, Kellenberger shared his view of what has become a nasty rivalry between fans.
Been thinking about this column for a while: has the Egg Bowl rivalry gone too far? https://t.co/TJ3URxXJU5— Hugh Kellenberger (@HKellenbergerCL) July 2, 2016
In the piece, Kellenberger makes two important points. First, this nastiness and celebratory attitude that comes around when the rival school has issues (like Laremy Tunsil's suspension or Dak Prescott's DUI) is not limited to the lunatic fringe of fans. The picture he paints is one that many college football fans can understand: where normal, otherwise respectable humans are free to sling the lowest of insults thanks to the anonymity of online access. With only one game and short college football seasons to occupy the rivalry, the off-field missteps become the new arena. He describes it as "a demented game of, 'anything you can do, I can do better.' Instead, it's 'anything we did, I can find something you did worse.'"
The second point is why things have become so much more intense. Sure, online access connects us all in ways that were not previously available, but Kellenberger correctly asserts that the rapid rise of both programs at the same time have contributed to the heated nature of the battle. When the Egg Bowl is as intriguing as the Iron Bowl, outsiders celebrate the uniqueness of the moment. Inside that rivalry, it sounds like fans are willing to cut each other down to claim the solo spotlight.
Hugh Freeze, in a Sunday afternoon Twitter session that also included some photos of him getting doused with water on a golf cart, helped Kellenberger promote the message of civility.
Totally agree. It has gone to far. Both sides should rejoice that we are relevant in college football. https://t.co/SZALLatYyC— Hugh Freeze (@CoachHughFreeze) July 3, 2016
OK and now here's Freeze getting doused with water.