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Sharing the Ole Miss Experience

Sharing the Ole Miss Experience

OXFORD, Miss. — There is much that is special about being part of a multi-generational Ole Miss fan family and being able to share experiences over the years with the people you care most about. But it is also a great pleasure to welcome new people to the fold and have the privilege of introducing them to everything the University and the city of Oxford have to offer. My group of friends and I have had many opportunities to do that over the years and this past weekend was just the latest chapter. 

Over the years at our tailgate, we’ve brought in first-time visitors from Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Brooklyn, NYC, Baltimore, Norwalk CT, Colorado Springs, Omaha, Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, New Iberia LA, Key West, Syracuse, Atlanta and other places I’m sure I’m leaving out. Many of those first-time Atlanta visitors’ children ended up coming to Ole Miss and their families are now part of our group. 

One of those visitors over the years was John Sciarappa, cousin of our Diane (Sciarappa) Morgan, from Cleveland, Ohio. John travelled down with about thirty family and friends in an RV/van/car convoy for an Ole Miss-Alabama game. No, not the ESPN Gameday/Katy Perry/Senquez Golson INT/best-day-in-Oxford-ever one. (I had my friend Tim Kenney from Syracuse in for that.) The 62-7 loss one. John described it thusly:

Besides the fact the heat and humidity felt like we were walking through hot soup, the incredible hospitality and beautifully dressed women made tailgating in the Grove one of the most pleasant college football experiences ever. Then we got in the stadium and felt the excitement of the fans, students and band build up to a crescendo pitch and the mayhem of D.K. Metcalf’s first play 75-yard TD pass. Of course, Alabama went on to score the next 62 points but once we got our hands on some chicken-on-a-stick at the gas station all was right in Oxford!!!

John Sciarappa, friend of The Friendship Tent, describes his experience

Another visitor that same weekend was Peter Bothe, who came in from Los Angeles. Peter is a Green Bay Packer season ticket holder, and he admittedly did not have high expectations for the Ole Miss experience. He was primarily coming to spend time with friends and celebrate the birthday of G Morgan. He ended up being blown away by the city of Oxford, the people, the music scene and the food. “Chicken on a stick is a national treasure. (Are you sensing a theme here?) How is it possible the rest of our country is blind to its crispy and juicy magnificence?”

Regarding the actual tailgate and gameday experience, Peter said it blew him away. “From the opulent and welcoming tailgate setups to the pageantry of underclass fraternity and sorority pledges dressed to the nines, it was simply incredible. Despite potentially offending people from my motherland, the Grove is the best single tailgate/gameday experience, inclusive of a lifetime of tailgating at Lambeau Field, I’ve had the pleasure of attending.”

Fred Mathers and his wife came down from New York City that same weekend for their first visit as well. They are originally from across the pond and Fred had this to say of their trip:

For two Brits experiencing their first college football game, it was a baptism like no other. The intensity in the Grove was matched by the crowd in the stadium. Not sure we’ve ever seen such a brilliant mixture of fun and frolicking at one event.

Fred Mathers describes his trip to Oxford

If ever there was a weekend that exemplified the “We may lose the game. But we never lose the party.” saying, that one was it. For the record, I for one am very thankful that phrase is appropriate much less often than in previous years. 

Vandy Weekend

Well, you and I both know that a trip to Ole Miss never disappoints and that we love to show it off. For Vandy weekend I had the pleasure of welcoming Scott Burns, John Collins, Paul Friday and Kevin Fitts. We all worked together for seven years from 2015-2022. During those years I saw them many times on work trips around the country and for regular meetings at our headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota and later Dubuque, Iowa. They’ve had to listen to me talk about everything regarding Oxford, the Ole Miss campus, and our athletic teams for probably more than they cared to hear (And we redshirt Miss Americas!)

Clint Crockett (far left) joins his friends in The Grove. (Photo courtesy of Clint Crockett.)

It had been almost a year-and-a-half since we’d all been together, and I decided the best way to remedy that was to invite them down for an Ole Miss football weekend. After considering everyone’s schedule we determined the Vanderbilt game would work. So, they all booked flights to come down — Scott from Connecticut, Kevin from North Carolina, Paul and John from Michigan. (Paul is a Spartan fan. John a Wolverine.)

They all arrived on Friday and that night involved stops at City Grocery, Boure, The Growler and the Coop. A good time was had by all, I can assure you. Saturday morning, we put our name in at Big Bad Breakfast and during our wait managed to go to University Sporting Goods, see Rowan Oak, take a quick tour of campus, and still get back in time to sit for 30 minutes before our table was ready. As always, it was worth the wait. 

Before we headed to the Grove, Paul discussed hearing about the atmosphere at Ole Miss over the years and that it was something he wanted to see first-hand. He would know about big-game experiences having witnessed many Big Ten contests including seeing his Spartans knock off a No.1 ranked Ohio State team in 1974 when Woody Hayes was still coaching. (Note the game wasn’t officially declared to be over until 46 minutes after the final play. You can read about it here: 1974 MSU-Ohio State ending still bizarre 40 years later (

We made it to our tent around 2:30, and my guys got to experience everything tailgating at the Grove has to offer. (Did I mention we redshirt Miss Americas?) As usual our tent was packed, and we had other first-time visitors who happened to be Ohio State fans. So, on our beautiful campus in Oxford, Mississippi at our tent we had Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State fans all enjoying some adult beverages, laughing and talking. And every one of them was loving it. 

Shortly before we walked to the stadium, I had the most amazing discovery of the weekend. I didn’t have to teach Paul the Hotty Toddy cheer. His high school in Saginaw, Michigan – St. Stephen – was chanting it at their pep rallies and games in the late 1970’s. How crazy is that? So, he helped me teach the other guys and they were ready to roll. 

The game was one of those rare Ole Miss SEC contests that was never in doubt, so they were able to just take it all in. I enjoyed watching them as much as I did the game. They made friends with other fans sitting nearby and followed the protocol of my group in section N, that if you go to buy beer you have to buy two so you can give one to someone else when you return. 

Our in-game experience is top notch, and they enjoyed the music, the fireworks, the videos, the band, the cheers and everything about it. I would have loved to have another drone or laser show, but its really hard to complain at all. Ole Miss games make for a good time. 

Clint Crockett and friends enjoy the Ole Miss win over Vanderbilt in Section N of Vaught-Hemingway.

Scott is originally from Toronto and didn’t experience his first college football game until he was in college and he and some of his buddies drove down for a Michigan-Washington State game. After the weekend he said how great it was to have the full Ole Miss experience, describing it as “epic.”

Kevin told me after he arrived home that people were so welcoming and that he felt like he met a new friend just about everywhere. He also mentioned that he saw Ole Miss shirts all the way from Memphis to Charlotte and even a few on his flight back to Raleigh.  

John described it as an awesome southern football homecoming weekend you can only experience in Oxford, Mississippi.

It was wonderful to be together with them all again, relive some great memories and make new ones. We’ll get together again. Probably in Oxford, Mississippi. 

Hotty Toddy, boys! For Ole Miss and Saginaw, Michigan!

(Feature image courtesy of Clint Crockett. From left to right: John Collins, Kevin Fitts, Scott Burns and Paul Friday at the entrance to the Walk of Champions.)

Clint Crockett

Clint Crockett

Clint is a native of Pensacola, Florida with a BA and MBA from Ole Miss. He’s a season ticket holder for football, baseball and basketball who has made countless road trips to watch the Rebels play over the years. He’s witnessed the highs (2016 Sugar Bowl), the lows (Bryce Drew), and everything in between. He has three grown children (Will, Wes, and Reagan) and currently resides in Oxford with his wonderful wife Janna.

About The Author

Clint Crockett

Clint is a native of Pensacola, Florida with a BA and MBA from Ole Miss. He's a season ticket holder for football, baseball and basketball who has made countless road trips to watch the Rebels play over the years. He's witnessed the highs (2016 Sugar Bowl), the lows (Bryce Drew), and everything in between. He has three grown children (Will, Wes, and Reagan) and currently resides in Oxford with his wonderful wife Janna.

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