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BC Interruption: For all of the traditional powers, I feel like Ole Miss is a newcomer to the top of the SEC hierarchy. The 21st century in particular has been really kind to them. Would you agree with that, and what is it that makes the Rebels such a dominant team these last few years?
Red Cup Rebellion: No one could probably tell you that much about Ole Miss baseball prior to our Super Regional in 2005 when we lost to the later CWS champion Texas. I feel like it all starts with the head ball coach in Mike Bianco who's finishing his 16th season as the skipper. He catches a lot of hate with his coaching style and decisions but in the end, he's the winningest coach in Ole Miss history and has built the program to what it is today through recruiting, player development and facility improvements.
BCI: Tell me about the Rebels as a team. Are they more of a hitting team or are they a pitching/defense constructed roster?
RCR: The team is primarily anchored by their bullpen (37-1 when leading after six innings with the one loss coming in the SEC tourney from a rare blown save by closer Wyatt Short) and the hitters in the 3-5 hole (Tate Blackman, J.B. Woodman, Henri Lartigue). The starting pitching hasn't been great and rarely make it past the 5th or 6th inning but they haven't needed to with the talented and deep bullpen. Other than the 3-5 hole hitters I mentioned, the team has been relatively streaky at the plate. Defensively, look for J.B. Woodman to track down almost every ball in the outfield as well as throw some poor soul out at home plate who hasn't done their scouting report on the rocket arm he has. Errol Robinson at SS is the SportsCenter smooth operator of the infield and will undoubtedly make some nasty bare handed plays this weekend.
BCI: Swayze Field - besides having the greatest name ever for a baseball field - has some serious fan support. What's the atmosphere like for a home game at Ole Miss?
RCR: All opposing team players will get their fair share of heckling this weekend. You'll hear it from your regular fans in the grandstands, the alcohol imbibed left field loungers or the beer tossing, foul mouthed students in right field. I'm always intrigued to see what other teams' fans and players will think when experiencing their first home run beer shower, solo cup race or Love is Gone, a 5th inning stadium dance ritual led by the OM dugout.
BCI: Given how crazy this weekend could be as a regional, give me a reason why Ole Miss wins the bracket and give me a reason how someone beats them.
RCR: I don't mean to sound like a homer, but I definitely think that the Rebels will have the deepest and all around more talented team in Oxford this weekend. However, as we all know especially with baseball, just because you have the better team on paper doesn't mean diddly. I think the Rebs will win because our hitting has come around full force and the depth of our bullpen will be able to push us through the weekend. That being said, this regional isn't considered the toughest regional by many pundits for no reason. Each of the other teams has a shot of pulling the upset and it will of course start on the mound. If the bats go cold and the curse of untimely hitting hits the Rebs like it did mid season, it could be a rough weekend in Oxford.
BCI: What's the weirdest thing northerners can expect this weekend when they arrive in Mississippi?
RCR: Just how downright damn nice everyone will be. Aside from the heckling, I'd expect all Ole Miss fans to be very welcoming to any and all fans that make the trip from New Orleans, Boston or Salt Lake City. We are the Hospitality State after all. You can also expect to put on a couple pounds with all the delicious food and sugar laced sweet tea.
BCI: On a scale of one to blackout, give me the most potent stuff you can drink in the Grove.
RCR: I pretty much keep my Grove cooler stocked with three different types of bourbon: 1) Cheap for people that like to mix, 2) Mid-tier for guests/lower level family who like it on ice, 3) High end for myself and loved ones. You can actually drink at Swayze as long as you are in the outfield and have it in a cup, just like the Grove. No glass permitted so pack your liquor in plastic and keep your beer in cans.
If any of y'all have questions or need recommendations on what to do in Oxford, just shoot me an email at smeargleRCR@gmail.com. Hotty Toddy!