Battle For The Golden Egg
The 2015 Ole Miss-Mississippi State matchup will be the 112th meeting between the two schools and the 86th Egg Bowl. Ole Miss holds a 62-43-6 advantage in the all-time series dating back to 1901, and the Rebels hold a 56-26-5 edge in the "Egg Bowl." The following is the background as to how the Ole Miss-Mississippi State football game came to be known as the "Battle of the Golden Egg" or even "The Egg Bowl." Many of the excerpts are reprinted from the book "Mississippi Mayhem," written by WIlliam Banner, III.
Oddly, huge roars went up from both sides at the final whistle, not just from the Ole Miss stands. While the A&M players walked slowly off the field with heads bowed, wrote one newsman, the Maroon student section stood and sang the alma mater.
But on the east side, pandemonium. Well wishers rushed "like madmen onto the field," Webb Burke said in his 1957 interview. Some fans made a dash for the goal posts. Irate Aggie supporters took after the ambitious Ole Miss group with cane bottom chairs, and fights broke out. The mayhem continued until most of the chairs were splintered.
As explained by the Reveille, A&M yearbook, "A few chairs had to be sacrificed over the heads of these to persuade them that was entirely the wrong attitude."
As described in a story for the Commercial Appeal by Ben Hilbun, who one day would become president of the Starkville school, "The phantom of victory, that for thirteen years eluded Ole Miss, returned to the bearded Berserkers ... and they won over A&M, their traditional rivals, 7 to 6." Ole Miss students fought for the goal posts, he continued, "but were restrained."
Ole Miss fans couldn't believe their victory. Through all their 13 defeats since 1910 (they did not play in 1912, 1913 and 1914) they had only scored in three games, counted just 33 points to A&M's 327, an average of 25-3.
Injuries to players were expected. But not to spectators. Ole Miss and A&M students, shocked by the battle that erupted after the game, vowed that it must not happen again.
The result was the Golden Egg, a trophy to cool the heat of battle, instituted the following season by joint agreement of the two student bodies.
Meanwhile, "The Battle of Starkville" continued in student newspapers. The Reflector denounced other newspaper stories complimenting the clean play, especially that of Ole Miss. The Aggie writers thought the Ole Miss players used some unfair tactics. The Mississippian asked, "Why 'gripe,' ye Aggie Scribe? Wait til 'next year'."
The Reflector described the post-game battle. Only a band of "hoodlums," a writer declared, would swarm onto a field of victory to secure souvenirs. The Mississippian replied that the Aggie chair brigade which defended the goal posts "came to the field with malice aforethought ... with the intent of staging a 'free for all' ..."
A&M approved the suggestion of an award, and Ole Miss, two weeks before the game, officially added its approval. The trophy, to be called "The Golden Egg", would be a regulation-size gold-plated football mounted on a pedestal. Costs of approximately $250 would be shared by both schools. Ole Miss students held a tag day to raise funds.
The joint resolution of the two student bodies declared they agreed on the trophy "in order to effect a better understanding in athletic relations, to foster clean sportsmanship, and to promote a lasting tradition..."
A brand-new series between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi A&M College began on Thanksgiving Day, 1927; the first Battle of the Golden Egg.
Of course, it was the Ole Miss-A&M slugfest, played before a crowd of 14,000 for the first possession of the gold football which was to become symbolic of supremacy in this annual feud-battle.
It was actually the 25th meeting of the two combatants. And for the second time in four years it was Push versus Pass, a heavier line versus a lighter passing attack. And once again the Pushers prevailed, except this time the pushing team was Ole Miss. The score was 20-12.
Purser Hewitt of the Clarion-Ledger described it best: "On the sidelines a band garbed in red and blue played 'Give 'em Hell, Mississippi' and on the gridiron a team wearing the same colors did that very thing..."
Unlike last year's brawl ending, the 1927 game closed with a highly dignified ceremony, the first presentation of the Golden Egg. As previously agreed in the inception of the egg, the schools first sang their alma maters, Ole Miss, as winner, sang first. The captains of the two teams, presidents of the two student bodies and the heads of the two schools met in the center of the field. B.M. Walker, president of A&M, presented the trophy to Alfred Hume, chancellor of the University, who turned it over to Ole Miss captain Applewhite.
The Mississippian, Ole Miss' student newspaper, reported "sincere handshaking" among players of both teams. And, "Throughout the day not a single demonstration of violence was committed..."
Captain Applewhite, proudly holding the Golden Egg, was carried from the field on the shoulders of "a score of students."
The Egg is one of the most treasured possessions of either school. It is engraved with the score of each year's game and stands in a place of honor. When a tie occurred, the previous year's winner kept it for the first half of the year, then it went to the other school.
A year earlier, the Clarion-Ledger headline on game day had been "Egg Bowl Is Up For Scramble" and the following day it was "Egg Bowl '77: State 18, Ole Miss 14." In 1978, with both teams apparently out of the bowl picture, Executive Sports Editor Tom Patterson decided to do something extra to spice up coverage of the annual grudge match, instructing his staff to follow the "Egg Bowl" theme throughout the week. The result was an award winning special section on Sunday, which recounted in great detail the Rebels' stunning 27-7 victory over the highly-favored Bulldogs. In that game, John Fourcade made his first start at quarterback to become the first Ole Miss freshman since 1945 to receive the starting nod at the signal-caller slot. The special section was a big success and the die was cast. Patterson's idea, for the most part, has been continued by the paper since 1978. Although it's officially the "Battle of the Golden Egg," most members of the media now refer to the annual bloodletting simply as the "Egg Bowl."
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