Column: Ole Miss Football is Making it Rain
OXFORD, Miss. — It was 1915 and the city of San Diego was plagued with more than just a seasonal dry spell. Reservoirs had reached extremely low levels that made the everyone from farmers to politicians worry if they could survive this plague for much longer.
Then, on December 13, 1915, the City of San Diego decided to employ unconventional measures in the form of one Mr. Charles Mallory Hatfield. Hatfield was a sewing machine salesman by day and self-proclaimed moisture accelerator aka “living rainmaker” by night.
Hatfield boldly took center stage and vowed he could have the Morena Reservoir overflowing within a year. Were the San Diegoans crazy to entertain such an unconventional way to get results? At the same time, what did they have to lose?
As far-fetched as the idea was of employing a man like Hatfield to call down the rains, it was not at all unprecedented. In fact, many farmers, ranchers, and even mine operators would hire these so-called rainmakers who were known to craft secret chemical formulas they burned in hopes of producing fumes that would make the heavens bring down the rain.
At that point in 1915, Hatfield already had completed 17 commercial contracts, from Texas to Alaska and across southern California, that had, in fact, resulted in rain in some form or fashion.
The city of San Diego made a gentlemen’s agreement with Hatfield, employing the rainmaker to see if he could revive the city that was thirsty for the vital lifeline.
So the story goes that Hatfield set on the journey at the start of 1916, going deep into the woods just 60 miles east of the city where he began to construct his tower near the banks of the Morena Reservoir. There, he changed the course of history for a moment in time with his an unusual experiment. Lo and behold, the drops slowly fell upon the city, the clouds finally opened, and the rain gradually kept coming for the next few weeks.
By January 15, the miracle finally happened — the clouds parted and rain descended onto the California mountains, bringing as much as 17 inches. When it was all said and done, San Diego County had received almost 30 inches of rain in the month and January, 1916 became the wettest period in the history of the region.
To everything, there is a season. There will be highs and lows, times of prosperity, and times of drought.
If any program has known this sort of story, it is Ole Miss. After a period of a few years that were akin to a drought, the Rebels’ have their own rainmaker in head coach Lane Kiffin.
Coach Kiffin’s and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s offense is No. 1 in the nation in scoring (52.7 ppg) and in total offense (1,907 yards).
On Saturday, Ole Miss embraced the elements and after two hours of delays, brought its own kind of rain down upon the field, scoring 61 points in the win over Tulane — and they could have scored far more.
Yes, it surely appears as if the drought is over for Ole Miss. This marks the best start for a Rebels’ team since 2015. Ole Miss heads into the off week ranked No. 13 in the nation and sits at 3-0 after putting on a heck of a display to defeat the Green Wave.
A little rain never hurt anyone, and the Rebels wasted no time getting things going as they scored two touchdowns on their first two drives Saturday in the 61-21 win over Tulane. Henry Parrish struck lighting first, taking it in and scoring from 19 yards out. Then, Matt Corral made it rain, taking it in himself on the ground for a nine yard-score, and the Rebs kept rolling like thunder.
Offensively, Ole Miss finished the game with a school record and tied for an SEC record with 41 first downs. Corral had seven scores, four on the ground and three through the air, tying Showboat Boykin’s record that had stood since 1951. The Ventura, California native completed 23-of-31 passes for 335 yards through the air, and he rushed for 68 yards on 13 carries. Running back Jerrion Ealy led Ole Miss on the ground with 103 yards on 15 carries, while Jonathan Mingo had a day with a career-high of six catches for 136 and one score.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rebs are continuing to rise to the occasion. Maryland transfer Chance Campbell has proven to be an impact player since he arrived in Oxford. He finished the game Saturday with eight tackles and one sack. Sam Williams also notched a sack of Tulane’s Michael Pratt.
Making it Rain in Tuscaloosa
Ole Miss opens conference play on the road Oct. 2nd against the No.1 Crimson Tide in hopes of ending the drought — the Rebs last beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2015. Ole Miss is using this bye week to work on its own areas of potential improvement as well as prepare for the much-anticipated road trip to Tuscaloosa.
In this case, let’s hope when it rains, it pours!
(Feature image: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)