Three times in history the Egg Bowl rivalry got ridiculous
Published 11:06 am Monday, November 20, 2017
The Egg Bowl rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State reaches a fever pitch each year during Thanksgiving week. Fans on both sides know it doesn’t rank high among the all-time best college football rivalries. IT DOES, however, come in first place for pure, unwavering spite—a distinction given earlier this year by CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli:
“Mississippi is a state without any professional sports teams, and these two schools have always presented that sports outlet. You chose a side — or, in reality, a side was chosen for you — at birth, and then you spend the rest of your days arguing with anybody that chose the other side.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the shared hatred between these two fanbases. It’s taken nearly 120 years for the Egg Bowl rivalry to foster enough bitterness to top Fornelli’s list, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some downright nasty moments along the way.
Nov. 30, 1905: Taking the Town
Ole Miss and Mississippi State (then Mississippi A&M) faced off in Jackson for the first time in 1905, which was also the first time the game was held on Thanksgiving. A&M finished off Ole Miss 11-0, at which time everyone probably got on their trains and went home, right?
From the Jackson Daily News (Dec. 1, 1905):
“Several youngsters hurried to an undertaking shop, procured a big pine coffin, and a dummy baby was rigged up labeled ‘Ole Miss,’ and placed inside the gruesome receptacle.”
First of all, WHO sells a coffin to a bunch of rowdy college students? And where did the baby come from?
“Then, the entire student body from Starkville numbering 700 strong, marched up and down the principal thoroughfare with gladsome shouts of victory and singing college songs. The student band discoursed funeral marches en route, and the youngsters had a gay time until the hour for the departure of their special trains arrived.”
ARE YOU TELLING ME THE MARCHING BAND PREPARED FUNERAL MARCHES FOR THIS OCCASION? (Also, did they take the coffin home?)
The 1977 Egg Bowl was noteworthy for a few reasons. For one thing, it was the first time the game was called the Egg Bowl in the pages of The Clarion-Ledger or anywhere else.
And also everyone clearly lost their minds.
An hour before kickoff, an MSU fan ran across the field with a “wadded-up Rebel flag,” reported the late Tom Patterson, then the Clarion-Ledger’s sports editor who coined the “Egg Bowl” title.
Shortly after, an Ole Miss fan decided to retaliate by running up and jerking the head off of the MSU bulldog.
“The mascot, not the real dog,” Patterson wrote.
A cheerleader recovered the giant bulldog head and all seemed calm as it was almost time for kickoff.
“Moments before the game, State fans formed a wall of bodies for the team to run onto the field. The State fans got too close to the Ole Miss side of the field. They were pelted with oranges.”
Nov. 25, 1926: The Fight that Inspired the Golden Egg
Most Egg Bowl fans know the origin story behind the name. In 1926, Ole Miss was ready to snap their 13-game losing streak in the series, which is exactly what happened with their 7-6 win over the Aggies.
What happened after the game changed the shape of the rivalry forever.
Another account from Mississippi A&M’s 1927 volume of Reveille:
“Several Ole Miss fans let their ardor get the better of their good sense and decided to move the A. & M. goal post over to Oxford. A few chairs had to be sacrificed over the heads of these to persuade them that was entirely the wrong attitude, but even they had a ‘swell’ time.”
The postgame scuffle inspired a plan to award a trophy to the winning team each year “with the primary purpose of creating a better spirit between the two institutions and preventing any fistic encounters which may occur at the end of the game.”
Though some accounts infer the trophy wasn’t called the Golden Egg until after it was made and fans realized it looked more like an egg than a football, that was merely a coincidence.
From a November 1927 press release from Ole Miss published in The Clarion-Ledger: “…the trophy will be a gold football mounted on a metal base and will be called ‘The Golden Egg.’ This trophy is to cost not more than $250 and will be purchased by tags sold to the students for 25 cents. …”
Ironically (and fittingly), the Battle for the Golden Egg, born from the desire to find common ground and avoid future fights, has evolved into one of the nastiest rivalries in college sports.
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