Feudin' Words

Here's a question you'll never see posed to the lucky sap sitting across from Regis on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Regis: For $4,000. Into what apparatus do Mississippi State University alums teach their offspring to deposit bodily waste?

Nearest open kitchen receptacle

Nearest toilet

Nearest Ole Miss football helmet

Nearest sump pump

Lucky Sap (who's from Connecticut and contributing nicely to the show's history of bad contestant humor): Gee, that's a tough one - I didn't know they potty-trained in Mississippi. Hah-ha.

Regis (seriously): Oh yes.

Lucky Sap (now thinking politically correctly): Well, not that there's anything wrong with any of the answers, but I think B, nearest toilet, makes the most sense.

Regis: Final?

Lucky Sap: Final.

Regis (pausing for a good three seconds, which the audience mistakenly perceives as a drama-building effect - but which really gives him ample time to laugh to himself, to wonder how such clueless people repeatedly manage to make it onto his show, and to regain composure... so that he can feign sympathy): No, I'm sorry, Lucky Sap. The answer is C, the nearest Ole Miss football helmet.

Now who among all of you playing along at home would've answered C, the nearest Ole Miss football helmet? Well, I know one guy who would.

He's a Nicholasville resident and a Mississippi native and Mississippi State grad. And either he's very good at Adobe Photoshop or he knows someone who is.

This guy, let's call him, "this guy" to protect his identity, recently emailed me a picture of a baby, naked, squatting over (or into, depending on your angle) an Ole Miss football helmet, blue with red script calligraphy. The baby, sex undeterminable, had sandy blonde hair and two Mississippi State maroon tattoos: one on the left cheek of the face, and one on the left cheek of the buttocks. The baby, who could feasibly be this guy's child, was smiling, either for joy or for gas; within the context of this picture, both reasons seemed logical.

The picture's caption read: MISSISSIPPI STATE POTTY TRAINING.

The caption could've also just as easily, just as appropriately read: WHAT'S BEST ABOUT COLLEGE FOOTBALL.

I'm not necessarily saying that naked babies defecating in Riddell headgear is good for the game, nor am I thinking that parents should tattoo their toddlers to tout their alma maters.

Rather, I consider this computer-generated image a photographic essay connoting the cultural impact of the most considerable component of college football: The Rivalry.

Rivalries are the blue chip stocks of the college football economy. Rivalries are Halloween, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Memorial Day wrapped up into one. Rivalries are used to elucidate philosophical ponderings and physiological phenomena.

In a rivalry, the phrase "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is defamatory and punishable by law.

As represented in the aforementioned picture, rivalries even affect home life. CFFs (College Football Families) rear their children in the rigid ways of The Rivalry as if it were religion. Georgia Techies are groomed to abhor Georgians. Brigham Youngsters learn to loathe Utahites, Utahbles, Utes... or whatever else the good folks from Utah U. call themselves. And, naturally, Mississippi Staters discover at a tender age that the devil dresses himself in Ole Miss red... and blue.

This weekend, catch a part or all of these three games (Georgia Tech vs. Georgia, BYU vs. Utah [on Friday], and MSU vs. Ole Miss). But if your schedule permits you to catch only one of them - and shame on you for that - don't miss Miss. St. and Ole Miss. The two have played 96 times (that's one more time than UK and Tennessee and 13 fewer than Minnesota and Wisconsin, the longest lasting rivalry in Division-I ball), with Ole Miss leading the series 54-36-6. The MSU-Ole Miss contest is called the Egg Bowl because the winner gets a trophy with a big golden egg laid atop it. The game is intense and deliciously theatrical - complete with frequent pre- and post-game exchanging of pleasantries (fists), egg flinging, and pride packed so thick you can stand on it.

But if none of these games fits your fancy, try Texas vs. Texas A&M. West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh. Or Southern Methodist vs. Texas Christian, which play for a trophy called the Iron Skillet (and you thought the Iron Skillet was just a greasy restaurant off of I-65 at exit 86 between Elizabethtown and Glasgow).

And as you pause to express gratitude to the Lord for his goodness this Thanksgiving, please remember the rivalries. They are blessings. Pure in ugliness.

And eternal in enmity.

However, Thomas Babington Macaualy, the English scholar known for his magnificent five-volume History of England, published from 1849-61, would argue this. He said once that, "With the dead, there is no rivalry."

But with all due respect, Lord Macaulay, that's poppycock.

For you've never been to Mississippi. You don't know this guy and his picture of the tattooed baby that's likely his kid.

And you've never attended the funerals of his ancestors, who were buried in Mississippi State maroon... in the event that they ran into those bedeviled Ole Miss Rebels in the afterlife.


Ag Dean Named

M. Scott Smith will be the new dean of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture on Jan. 1, 2001, pending Board of Trustees approval, Chancellor Elisabeth Zinser announced this week.

Selected following a national search, Smith succeeds C. Oran Little, who is retiring as dean of the college after serving UK for 27 years, the last 13 as agriculture dean.

In addition to being the chief administrative officer of the college, Smith will direct the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, both statewide entities with links to national networks.

Smith, 51, has been with UK since 1978. He currently is associate dean for research, associate director of the Agriculture Experiment Station, and professor of agronomy. He began his career as professor of soil microbiology. In 1989 he was named chair of the Department of Agronomy.

"The UK College of Agriculture has a tradition of excellence in teaching, research and cooperative extension," Smith said. "Now we must build upon that strength while responding to the pressing needs of farm families and communities throughout Kentucky." The UK Board of Trustees is expected to approve Smith's appointment at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Mmm... local beer

It was only our commitment to fine journalism that led Ace to the gala opening fest for Kentucky Ale, the new beer by the newly re-opened Lexington Brewing Company (now at 401 Cross St). As we sampled glass after glass, we came to a few conclusions: 1) The beer, a cross between pale and red ales, was rather tasty and about the coldest beer we'd ever had; 2) The new brewing company's "authentic, on-site Irish pub" was not nearly as authentic as McCarthy's, having no drunks in it; 3) free peanuts were arguably the finest food in existence; and 4) by the sixth or eighth beer, we were the best friends ever. But then we got into an argument about whether Limestone water (used in KY Ale) was a good or bad thing, so we left in a huff. -RB

KTLA Predicts Voting Chaos!

Well, UK Journalism professor Richard Labunski did in his recent book The Second Constitutional Convention: How The American People Can Take Back Their Government warned that chaos would ensue if one candidate won the electoral vote while the other won the popular vote. According to a press release, Labunski's book "urges abolition of the Electoral College and direct election of the president, [and] argued that the antiquated system for choosing presidents was likely to give the election to the second-place candidate;" Labunski also hopes the Internet can be used to organize a constitutional convention of the American people. Guess we shoulda read the book. Hey-20/20 hindsight and all, right? -RB

We Don't Need Volunteers?

Not true. But it is true that more people volunteer to help out in homeless shelters over Thanksgiving and Christmas than any other time of the year. In fact, some people have to be turned away. It's a great sentiment of course, but there's a need for volunteers all year long, and not just the holidays, says Jill Messer of First-Link of the Bluegrass. "People should pick another day, like their birthday," suggests Messer, so that volunteer help can be found more easily and regularly. After all, there's a need for help all year round. -RB