Gators’ Franklin named club’s Player of the Week
Photo: Ole Miss Athletic Director Keith Carter speaks prior to his appearance at the Memphis Touchdown Club gathering Monday night. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
The Ole Miss football team is off to a good start this year and gets a passing grade from the man who oversees the entire athletic program at the University of Mississippi.
Athletic Director Keith Carter was featured at the Memphis Touchdown Club event at the Hilton Memphis Monday night. Carter saw the now 17th-ranked Rebels defeat Tulane 37-20 Saturday in New Orleans.
“I think we played some good football with a lot of new guys and coach Kiffin and his staff are trying to feel those guys out,” Carter said. “But, to win a really tough game at Tulane, a really good team and well-coached team, was a really good positive for us.”
Ole Miss broke open a tie game at the start of the fourth quarter and scored 20 points in the final 15 minutes to come away with the win at Tulane’s nine-year old Yulman Stadium, which seats 30,000 fans. The Green Wave plays six of its home games at the venue and Ole Miss fans were disappointed their game was not played at the Caesars Superdome, which is air conditioned indoors instead of the hot and humid New Orleans outdoors in the afternoon.
Carter was still impressed by the support the Rebel fans brought to the game. He said the Rebel red really stood out in the stadium.
“We were given 3,000 for that game but I think we had 5-6,000 people there, maybe more than that,” Carter said. “It looked like it took over half of that stadium. It’s always great when you get that kind of support, especially on the road.”
Another venue that should be packed is Tad Smith Coliseum, aka the Tad Pad, which will be used as a basketball arena for the first time in years on Nov. 17 when new coach Chris Beard leads the Rebels against Sam Houston State. The throwback game, which will also honor former coach Rob Evans and his teams, was brought about at the urging of the new coach, Carter said.
“He had done it at Texas Tech and Texas, played at some older venues, and had been very successful,” Carter said. “When he saw Tad Smith and realized that we still had our old building standing, he said we needed to try and do this. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Carter said the building has only been used for Ole Miss spirit squads since closing in favor of the Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss, but had to pass fire code and facilities approval before it was ready to hold a basketball event once again.
During six seasons from 1992 to 1998, Evans won 86 games with the Rebels, turning them into a powerhouse by the end of his time in Oxford. During the 1996-97 season, Evans led Ole Miss to their first 20-win season since 1938, claiming the program’s first SEC West title. For his efforts that year, Evans was named the National Coach of the Year by College Hoops Insider and the SEC Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.
Another Ole Miss basketball coach has now placed the women’s program in the national conversation as Yolett McPhee-McCuin has taken her Rebels to heights not seen in years.
“She came into a situation five years ago that was really tough,” Carter said. “The cupboard was pretty bare and was at a really low mark. In five years she has taken her team to the Sweet Sixteen and beat a number one seed on their home court. I think our roster is going to be good this year again and hopefully we can continue to have that kind of success.”
Monday’s Memphis Touchdown Club gathering also gave Carter a chance to see one of coach Lane Kiffin’s top football recruits for next year. Lake Cormorant lineman Kamarion Franklin, an Ole Miss commit who is rated as one of the best in the country, was named the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Prep Player of the Week with the Memphis Touchdown Club.