Thursday, November 24, 2005

Behind The Scoreboard
By Claude Vinson

November means rivalries

Over 10 years ago when I first became a weekly columnist for The South Reporter, I did a story about the tradition of football in Holly Springs.

Rust College and Mississippi Industrial (M.I.) College provided many enjoyable Saturday afternoons for the gridiron fans in the area.

I also did a brief historical account of the very origin of the game itself. Ironically enough, the game was started in November on the sixth day of that month in 1869.

This game which played in New Brunswick has for decades been officially recognized as the first football game between two colleges. Without going to the depths which I did in that article of long ago, Princeton and Rutgers, both New Jersey schools, were already enjoying rivalries in other activities.

The non-sanctioned game used 25 players on each team and there were no passes or spectacular runs. The ball could be advanced only by kicking or batting. The best of 10 was declared the winner. Lore has it that Rutgers won that game 6-4.

So it is only fitting that the best games of football, at any level, are played in November.

If one can remember, before we went to the Super Bowl premise, teams like the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, new York Giants, etc., staged the most memorable contests on Turkey Day (Rust and M.I. generally played each other on that day). And still the traditional rivalries in the South continue in the most satisfying fashion. Records and past exploits are usually discounted and disregarded during November. Indubitably some of these games have dire consequences, but for the greater part it is school pride and bragging rights.

And the columnist brags each season that the SEC has more teams in the nation’s Top 25 than any other league or conference. This season there are six, which is double the number from any other conference.

So as you go about your convivial revelry during this Thanksgiving holiday, be safe and enjoy all it has to offer. And say a silent, thankful prayer for those Princetonians and Rutgerions, who started all of this delightful madness.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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