John Cox: View from the Press Box
Many years ago at Southern Miss when Bobby Collins was the head coach during the late 1970s and the early 1980s, and future M-Club Hall of Famers like Reggie Collier, Sammy Winder, Marvin "The Rock" Harvey, Hanford Dixon and The Nasty Bunch were competing for the Golden Eagles, the team and the fans began to chant at every game "I believe, I do believe, yes, I do believe."
They had confidence that whenever the Golden Eagles took to the football field that they were going to win and as we all know they won a whole lot more than they lost. During that era, they climbed to as high as No. 8 in the United Press International poll in 1981, played in bowl games and captured wins over teams like Alabama, Florida State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, just to name a few. There were bumper sticks, buttons, signs, banners and billboards that all said "I believe."
I am getting that same vibe around Golden Eagle football this year. As Todd Monken has brought our football team back into the national spotlight, he has his team believing in playing the game the right way, having fun while doing and focusing on the things that put you in position to win. With just two games to go in the race for the Conference USA championship, the Golden Eagles are just one of four teams that have a chance to win the title.
I think I am going to break out my "I Believe" button as we go down the stretch of the 2015 season, because when our Golden Eagles believe and, as we as fans believe, there is no telling what we might accomplish. I have a feeling that "Eagle Fever" is about to break loose again.
When the Golden Eagles get set to take on Old Dominion this Saturday afternoon at the Rock, it will be the 11th time that Southern Miss has played on Nov. 21 in its history. The first time they played on this date was back in 1931 when traveled to Cleveland, Miss., to play Delta State. The last time the Golden Eagles played on this date was back in 2009 when they entertained Tulsa and defeated the Golden Hurricane, 44-34, in a game that featured interestingly enough, the first weather delay in Roberts Stadium history, a 90-minute lightning delay in the second half. Believe it or not, that was the first time we had ever played at home on Nov. 21, after playing on the road on that date the first nine times in the school's history.
Perhaps the most exciting game on that day was in Jackson's Memorial Stadium in front of 23,000 fans, the largest crowd at the time in the stadium's history. The Southerners, as they were known then, turned in their finest defensive performance of the season in shutting out the mighty Georgia Bulldogs, 14-0. Toward the end of the first half, Hugh Laurin Pepper intercepted All-American candidate quarterback Zeke Bratkowski's pass on the Georgia 42-yardline and returned it for a touchdown, and Bucky McElroy added a second half score in the victory.
Look forward to seeing you on Saturday at the Rock for Southern Miss and Old Dominion, the first ever meeting between these two teams in football. Our radio broadcast on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network gets started at 1 p.m., with the Golden Eagle Tailgate Show live from the Coca-Cola stage at Spirit Park. Our pre-game show this week will feature senior offensive lineman Bradley Nugent in the Golden Eagle Closeup, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Chip Lindsey with the Inside Scoop, the 1997 Southern Miss-Cincinnati game will be our focus on Great Moments in Southern Miss football, plus of course, our exclusive pregame visit with Coach Todd Monken, an update on what is happening in Conference USA, and Lee Robert's game day match-up.
Southern Miss to the Top!!!