Column: Mrs. Hall joins the SEC; memories of my favorite Longhorn and our SEC vs. Big XII debates
Annola Hall was my favorite teacher. She taught my Consumer Math class In the eleventh grade. That is a class that should be taught still because I balance a checkbook much more often as an adult than I have ever computed the area of a parallelogram.
I am a graduate of Tate High School in Gonzalez, Florida. The athletic programs there are the Tate Aggies. That was an ironic mascot for Mrs. Hall to root for on Friday nights. She was an avid Texas Longhorn. Yes, that last sentence used a verb in the past tense.
Had she stayed around another 14 days or so, she would have seen the groundwork of her Longhorns joining the Southeastern Conference. Texas would be joined by Oklahoma, so Mrs. Hall could say the Sooners rode Texas’ coattails to the SEC.
Mrs. Hall was a great teacher for a guy who is mathematically challenged. It has been four decades since I sat at that desk in the Jennings Building directly in front of hers, but I still know that interest equals principal times rate times time.
The best part of Mrs. Hall’s class was Mondays in the fall. The first ten minutes were earmarked for her and me to discuss the previous Saturday’s college football. I made sure I knew as much as I could about how Texas had beaten Arkansas or Texas Tech or SMU the weekend before.
She was equally ready with information on the Auburn game.
Uh-huh, the Auburn game. A lifetime ago before I was reformed, I was an Auburn fan. When it came time to go to college, I was all set to enroll at the school in the loveliest village on the plain. But before I headed there, I took a trip to Oxford, Miss.
From the moment I stepped foot on the Ole Miss campus, I knew that was the place for me. It was what a college was supposed to look like. The first building I ever entered there was the Lyceum. I asked a gentleman where I needed to go for pre-college registration, and he directed me. That gentleman turned out to be Porter Fortune, the Chancellor at the time.
After I headed to Mississippi, Mrs. Hall and I lost track of one another. In 1998, I ran into her at my niece’s wedding reception and of course we didn’t talk about the ceremony, my niece’s dress, nor the seven-layer cake.
We talked about college football.
SEC vs. Big XII
Of course, one of the topics of conversation was which conference was the best in college football. During that period, we had a hearty debate between the Big XII and the SEC. Even during our last conversation, she would not concede the SEC was the finest conference from top to bottom.
Mrs. Hall was a tad shocked I had shunned Auburn for Ole Miss, but after a few minutes of conversation she was convinced I made the correct college decision. That conversation included me regaling her with the story of the Immaculate Deflection. She told me again about attending the Texas State Fair and her date winning her a teddy bear at one of the game booths. It was a bittersweet prize for Mrs. Hall as later that day she sat in the Longhorns’ section of the Cotton Bowl holding a teddy bear displaying the red and white of Oklahoma.
She and I became friends on Facebook and during the football seasons we would banter about her Longhorns and Ole Miss. She would remind me how Texas waltzed into Oxford and beat the Rebels. I would respond with the fact Ole Miss had returned the favor the next season in Austin.
Mrs. Hall once told me I would love Austin. She said I would like the people, the sights and the atmosphere — and I wish she could have visited Oxford.
The way she described Austin makes me believe I would enjoy it. I have a few friends who went to school at UT and others that live in Austin, and they think I should give the Texas capital a shot sometime.
Perhaps I will.
Provided the powers that be do not use the map that put Missouri in the SEC East, Texas and Ole Miss should be in the same division soon.
So, in twenty twenty-whatever when Ole Miss visits Austin, I hope to be in Memorial Stadium. I will be there yelling, “Hotty Toddy,” at the top of my lungs for my Rebels.
But I will have something to say for the Longhorns as well.
I will also look heavenward and whisper, “Hook ‘em Horns, Mrs. Hall.”
(Feature image: Jeff Scott runs roughshod over the Longhorns)
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 Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com 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.