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Highlights from today's media opportunity with SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore and analysts Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears discussing the show's visit to Oxford for the SEC matchup between No. 3 Ole Miss and Tennessee. 

Tessitore recalls calling the first college game for the Rebels' star-studded sophomore class, Tebow talks about Bo Wallace's improvement as a quarterback, and Spears sees similarities between this year's Ole Miss team and his 2003 LSU team that won the national championship.

SEC Nation Host Joe Tessitore

On the backdrop of The Grove for SEC Nation...

"When I have done Ole Miss games before, I always get to the stadium early, so I can walk through The Grove and take that all in. It should be pretty special to have the SEC Nation set fired up. 

"When you look at our set, it should scream Ole Miss to you. When you look at it, you know what you're watching. That's one of the things I like about our set. You look at it and you know you're watching grand Southern football. It fits in beautifully here. It looks like it could be part of your campus. 

"I like how open it is, and it allows us to play to the crowd. You will see us tomorrow, when we're live on the air, stand up, turn to the crowd and interact with them during commercial breaks. This is a magic ride kind of season here, so it's going to be a celebratory kind of morning."

On the sophomore class, having called their first college game...

"That group, you knew. I could remember that afternoon, sitting there and hyping up (Robert) Nkemdiche in his debut, and you just knew it was going to happen. And to be able to say a year later that they have even over-delivered on all the hype, it's true. 

"It was an incredible recruiting class that, in a span of 18 months, has Ole Miss competing for a national title. That's as good as a group you're going to see. But it takes that kind of a group. It takes guys who buy in and all believe. Laquon Treadwell was a huge part of that. 

"I'm one of those geeks who follow recruiting, so I know the role he played in corralling everyone and buying into the vision early, a vision that's pretty easy to buy when Hugh Freeze is selling it."

SEC Nation Analyst Tim Tebow

On Ole Miss...

"What stands out is the heart they play with offensively and defensively. Everybody talks about the Landshark defense flying around, but you look at guys like Jaylen Walton fighting through tackles. That's just heart. They play together and they play as a family.

"Spending the day with Coach Freeze and the team yesterday, you could really see that and the environment they set. It seems like it's a fun time for all these players right now."

On Bo Wallace...

"He's improved a lot. In SEC play, he doesn't have a turnover. He's making big plays, but he's also not making big errors in the biggest of games. That's been huge, especially when you have a big-time defense. 

"What I like most about Bo is that courage and leadership and that 'it' factor he has, like on that 3rd-and-9 last week versus Texas A&M. 

"He knows where the sticks are, he fights through the line of scrimmage and he dives and goes over a defender to get the first down. That ultimately led to a touchdown, and they went up 28-7 and that was a huge play in the game. He has that 'it' that you can't necessarily teach."

SEC Nation Analyst Marcus Spears

On the backdrop of The Grove for SEC Nation...

"It's awesome. We should have a pretty good crowd. This is their network. That's how we resonate on campus. People understand we're more personable and we know the history of each school. It will resonate with people, and hopefully it's hyped up out here. It's a pretty big game. 

"Tennessee is not whatever they think they are. Tennessee has played everybody down to the wire. They have lost some close games. They're one of those teams on the cusp. The energy in the crowd should be good tomorrow."

On Robert Nkemdiche...

"He's a man's man. He's a beast. He plays with a high intensity level. He can knock guys back and he has great bend. I know I sound like a pro scout, but he can win with leverage and he wins with tenacity. He has it all, all of the tools. He can be a D-end or a D-tackle in the NFL. That poses a lot of problems for offensive lines. 

"First of all, you can move him, and he can be as effective from different positions. That's what I like about him. More than anything, I like his attitude and I like the way he plays."

On the transformation of Ole Miss under head coach Hugh Freeze...

"Coach Freeze has done a tremendous job. He's implemented a philosophy with this football team. He's put guys in place and he's recruited well. In order to stay atop this league, you have to have players. That's what it really boils down to. 

"All these coaches, we call them great, and we say they won so many games. It's about these players. The coaches, structurally, put them in the right position and put them in successful spots to make plays, but it comes down to the talent and the talent level. 

"We talk about Alabama, LSU, Auburn, all these schools that have been at the top. It's about talent, and now Hugh Freeze has a team that's as talented as anybody in the country. 

"You have a great quarterback who's playing really consistent right now, not turning the football over, offensive line, (Laquon) Treadwell out on the corner making plays.

"And this defense. It reminds me of the '03 LSU Tigers. It's a good mix, and it's a great group of talent, and it's coming together. Everybody is believing in what they're doing. That's to Coach Freeze's credit. It's about those guys he's putting out there on the football field, and I'm sure he would tell you the same thing."

On comparisons between the 2003 LSU team and this year's Ole Miss team...

"It starts with winning games. It starts with a belief system that you can compete against anybody in the country, that you have the talented and the play-makers to win every football game. That was our train of thought. We thought we were stacked in enough positions that there was no team you could roll out in college football and say LSU was not physically better or LSU did not have level of talent. 

"Ole Miss is in that same boat right now. Alabama has a tremendous amount of talent like they have always had, but if you go man for man in the whole country, I stack this Ole Miss team up against anybody, especially on defense."

On the Ole Miss running game...

"What Ole Miss is doing as well as anybody right now, is they're winning games defensively, and you can do it. That has been proven in the NFL and that has been proven in college, but I think Bo Wallace gives them the extra oomph that they need to win big games and put themselves in position to be in the College Football Playoff.

"The run game is a little different. Sometimes your team ins't built that way, but throwing these quick bubble screens is the same as a handoff. Getting these guys in space to make plays in the open fields is the equivalent of a handoff. Everything is not deep down the field.

"We look at turning around and handing the ball off to the running back as the run game. A lot of these teams are revolutionizing that by throwing quick hitches to receivers, then they beat a corner and they might go to the house. They have implemented stuff like that to help them out a lot. 

"Eventually, it will come town to a game or this year, where they will have to figure out to establish the run game. If they can, they will have success. They are just as good as anybody, if they show they can do that."

On the Ole Miss defense...

"You have to overcome to so much as a football team playing against this defense. The way they play, not only the way they play, but they creative turnovers. And that's huge. 

"A team can only give up 305 yards per game, which they consider pretty good, and they only gave 70-80 rushing yards, and they consider that pretty good, but when you have a defense like this that does that and creates turnovers and scores, it's tough to beat. 

"We led the league in scoring touchdowns on defense when we won the national championship. It's a formula that you can win with, and they have the guys to do it."

VIDEO: Return of The Grove

Grove Featured On GAC

GAC and Southern Living clearly now where to tailgate. The two have teamed up for an hour-long special called "Southern Living Tailgate Playbook" which visits our own Grove and Alabama's Quad for a look at tailgating done right. The show debuts tonight at 9 p.m. CT on GAC. Re-air times are listed below along with a preview.





  • September 27, 2012 9 PM CT
  • September 28, 2012 1 AM CT
  • September 29, 2012 2 PM CT
  • October 5, 2012 6 PM CT
  • October 6, 2012 1 PM CT


Follow me on twitter @CampbellKyle.


Ole Miss Makes Southern Living Top Tailgate List

Ole Miss has been selected as one of the top 20 schools for "The South's Best Tailgate" by Southern Living magazine.

The Southern Living editors huddled together to post a roster of the top 20 Southern schools with the best tailgates, and of course The Grove was tabbed among them.

They're letting fans ultimately choose the winner. Rebel fans can vote daily for Ole Miss from August 15-October 1 at southernliving.com/tailgate or via smartphone by downloading the complimentary Digimarc Discover app.  Simply scan the corresponding text in the September issue. One vote per day is counted toward the final tally. Votes placed on Saturdays count twice toward the final tally.

The winner will be crowned "The South's Best Tailgate" at a home game by November 10. The September issue featuring the schools in the running for "The South's Best Tailgate" title hits newsstands August 24.

Southern Living chose the roster of universities vying to win "The South's Best Tailgate" based on the following criteria:

-      Most Spirited: Schools that turn "fan" into "fanatic."

-      Traditionalists: Schools renowned for game-day rituals.

-    Powerhouses: Southern schools with a history of winning on and off the field (chosen based on the most bowl victories).

-      Style Setters: From sundresses to cake stands, these schools showcase true splendor in the grass.


Here are the 20 schools that made the list:

Auburn University: Boasts an entire Wikipedia page devoted to pregame rituals.

Clemson University: Caps off pre-gaming with one of the best player entrances in college football.

Grambling State University: Turns its rival match up into a weeklong extravaganza.

Hampden-Sydney College: Inspired a Brooks Brothers ad with its well-dressed "Hillgaters."

Howard University: Sports the styles that have earned students mentions on best-dressed lists.

Louisiana State University: Enlists RVs and crawfish boils to cook up a massive tailgate.

McDaniel College: Houses the nation's only drive-in stadium.

Mississippi State University: Treats its friendly fan base to ice cream made on-campus.

Southern Methodist University: "Boulevards" instead of tailgates with stylish barbecues.

Texas A&M: Wakes the school up at midnight on game day with "The Midnight Yell."

University of Alabama: Packs tents 1,000-deep on the Quad each Saturday.

University of Arkansas: Claims two football stadiums in different cities.

University of Florida: Hosts annual tailgate-turned-block party occupying nine acres.

University of Georgia: Welcomes more than 100,000 tailgaters per game.

University of Mississippi: Is home to The Grove - chandeliers, candelabras, linen napkins and all.

University of Oklahoma: Starts with "The Land Run" to lay territory claim before each game.

University of South Carolina: Tailgates in Cockabooses, 22 train cabooses turned game day suites.

University of Tennessee: Unites 150 houseboats and yachts nearby for a massive "sailgate."

University of Texas: Co-hosts annual Red River Rivalry in Dallas at the local State Fair.

University of Virginia: Tailgates against the backdrop of Charlottesville's Monticello Mountain.

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