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Ole Miss vs. Cal: Southern Culture vs. Counterculture

Ole Miss vs. Cal: Southern Culture vs. Counterculture

OXFORD, Miss. — Cal visits Ole Miss Saturday, and you’ve no doubt been reading a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of each team. But when the Bears leave the San Francisco Bay area for Dixie, it will also be a clash between two distinct histories and ways of life.

Call it Southern Culture vs. the Counterculture. 

Although we have other articles posted analyzing the merits of the offensive and defensive lines, secondaries, schemes, etc., we decided to put Cal and Ole Miss, Berkeley and Oxford and the Bay Area and the South under the microscope to see which is indeed better in a variety of categories.


Elvis Presley (Photo credit: Michael Ochs/Getty Images)

The Bay Area has produced artists in several genres including: The Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, Green Day, Metallica, the Steve Miller Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Huey Lewis and the News, the Pointer Sisters and Sly and the Family Stone.

The South is the Birthplace of the Blues, the King of Rock and Roll and the Home of Country Music.

ADVANTAGE: The South. Sure, the Bay Area has produced a lot of artists, but it is a good bet each was influenced by the music that came from the South.


Dr. Timothy Leary coined the phrase, “turn on, tune in, drop out,” in the Bay Area, and he was an advocate of the use of LSD.

In the South, Moonshine was, and still is available. In Southern lore, moonshiners were romanticized because of their evasion of Revenuers.

ADVANTAGE: The South. A car can’t run on acid.


Cal is known as the Golden Bears, and that makes sense–California is known as the “Bear Republic.” Ole Miss has the Rebels’ name and Tony the Landshark on the sideline.

ADVANTAGE: Cal. Their Bear is cool. That bear that roamed the Ole Miss sidelines for a few seasons…not as much. Even though Rebels and Landsharks are iconic, Ole Miss couldn’t pull off that Bear thing like Cal has.


Both Berkeley and Oxford generally have the same foods for breakfast, except one. An exhaustive search of restaurants in the Berkeley area found not a one that served grits!



North Berkeley has an area known as the “Gourmet Ghetto.” Oxford has the Square. Believe it or not, these two areas are practically clones. Each has restaurants, art galleries, bookstores and shops that locals along with tourists flock to.



William Faulkner (Photo credit:

Cal has Thornton Wilder, author of “Our Town.” That play has been produced at nearly every high school in America.

Ole Miss has William Faulkner and John Grisham.



The Bay area has, well, the bay. San Francisco Bay which is spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge is also the location of Alcatraz.

Oxford has Sardis Lake. Hey, Bill Dance used to fish there.

ADVANTAGE: The Bay Area in a big way.


In Berkeley and the Bay Area, trail mix and avocados are the snack of choice.

In the South, boiled peanuts.

ADVANTAGE: The South. It is doubtful an avocado could be found in a filling station on a rural Southern highway.


Berkeley has the Claremont Hotel; Oxford has Rowan Oak. The century-old Claremont is perched overlooking San Francisco Bay and is on the list of Historic Hotels in America. Rowan Oak was home to William Faulkner, and he wrote many of his works there.

ADVANTAGE: Berkeley. With apologies and a tip of the hat to Mr. Faulkner, we can’t have a nightcap at Rowan Oak and watch the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge.


Cal has Robert Culp of “I Spy,” Rita Moreno from “West Side Story,” (she has also pulled off the rare four-peat by winning an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy), and of course, Mark Hamill of “Star Wars.”

Ole Miss boasts Kate Jackson of “Charlie’s Angels,” Cynthia Geary of “Northern Exposure,” Gerald McRainey of “Major Dad,” and Morgan Freeman of too many favorites to name.

ADVANTAGE: Ole Miss. Yes, Hamill was Luke Skywalker, but Morgan Freeman has played everything from a Civil War soldier, to a prisoner, to Nelson Mandela, to God, Himself,…and in the the current hit movie “Angel Has Fallen,” he’s the President of the United States and sports an Ole Miss cap. 

Come on, Morgan Freeman would be hard for anyone to beat.


The Bay Area gets earthquakes. The South gets hurricanes and tornadoes.

ADVANTAGE: Push. Mother Nature isn’t too fond of either of the two.


Cal has the Sather Tower. Ole Miss has the Lyceum. The Sather Bell Tower is the third largest bell tower in the world, measuring 307 feet. It also houses many of the fossils of the university’s Department of Integrative Biology. The fossils, most from the La Brea Tar Pits, are housed there due to the tower’s cool, dry interior.

Built in 1848, the Lyceum was the original building on the Ole Miss campus and it housed classrooms, lecture halls, faculty offices and the library. Today it houses the university’s administration and the Lyceum Bell is believed to be the oldest college bell in the country.

ADVANTAGE: Push. A very cool push.


Berkeley has bottled water and something they call drip coffee. Ole Miss has sweet tea.

ADVANTAGE: Ole Miss. Bottled water can be purchased anywhere and doesn’t water have to drip through the grounds to make coffee? Plus, on a hot afternoon, no one asks for a nice refreshing drip coffee, they want sweet tea.


Cal has what it calls “Tailgate Town” next to the stadium. Ole Miss has The Grove.

Ole Miss Football vs LSU on November 21st, 2015 in Oxford, MS. (Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics)

ADVANTAGE: Are you kidding? Hotty Toddy!

Well, there we have it, a comparison of the two combatants in this week’s game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

There is one observation that was made during all the research into Cal, Berkeley and the Bay Area: It is not all that much different that Ole Miss, Oxford and the South.

So, a word of advice for the Grovers Saturday – if you come across a Cal fan, invite them into your tent and have a conversation with them. You might find there are more things in common than not.

But offer them some boiled peanuts, grits and sweet tea–those people have been deprived long enough.

Hotty Toddy!

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for, and as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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