Goin' Down South To Spread The Gospel Of SEC Baseball

First of all, I want to thank all of the Stoolies for the massive response I got to my first blog about my one year journey since I quit drinking alcohol. I was blown away and it inspired me to start doing a lot more blogging as another outlet to contribute to Barstool Sports. I am all about giving the people what they want. In case you missed it, here’s the link.

In today’s blog, I am going to recap the first week of my wild trip back to the South to build college baseball content for Barstool. Originally, I was planning to fly to Memphis from New York on Tuesday April 20th to go to Oxford for the LSU baseball series and spring football game weekend. About a week before the idea hit me to head out early on Friday the 16th instead so I could check out the #6 Ole Miss at #4 Mississippi State baseball series at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville. The plan was to hit three famous college baseball venues (Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Swayze Field in Oxford, and Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge) to help spread the gospel of SEC Baseball to the Stoolies around the world. 

My old college buddy of 20 years Bo Jolly scooped me in Memphis on Friday night and we stayed in Oxford before shooting over to Starkville Saturday morning for Game 2 of the Ole Miss-Mississippi State series. It was Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville and the town was popping. Thanks to Katie Alligood (producer of The Jordy Culotta Show in Baton Rouge) for hooking us up with two tickets to both the Saturday and Sunday games.

I had been hearing rumors about how nice Dudy Noble was but seeing is truly believing. It was the nicest college baseball stadium I have ever been to and I am by no means a Mississippi State fan. Huge props to what they have built there. I was with a couple of the architects in right field at the Saturday game & they could not have been more hospitable to us. They had a grill out there with amazing food & did it right.

I was very fortunate to be at the Saturday game as Ole Miss Junior Lefty Starter Doug Nikhazy pitched the best game I have ever seen live by an Ole Miss player. He threw a complete game one hitter with 12 strikeouts as Ole Miss blasted State 9-0 to even the series. I heard only one cowbell the entire game. Right after the game I ran into some younger Ole Miss fans and we were just a little fired up!

We drove back to Columbus after the game to stay with Bo’s father who I have known for many years. On Sunday, we headed back to Starkville for the rubber match. It turned out to be a helluva game with State erasing a 5-2 deficit to win 7-5 after a key 3 run bases clearing triple in the 6th inning. I heard a lot more cowbells and the atmosphere was incredible. I was impressed by State closer Landon Sims who was not fooling around to end the game.

We were in a section right in front of the Miss State fraternities. Right after the game, a frat kid saw my shoe was untied & told me “If your fatass can, tie your F* shoe & get the F* back to Oxford!” I started laughing & immediately filmed this video with the State frat kids as they celebrated the Bulldogs winning the series.

We drove back to Oxford after the game for the next week. I was able to make it back in time for my good buddy from Proud Larry’s days Austin Smith’s 30th birthday party. I ate my first crawfish of 2021 & hung out with old friends. It felt like old times in Oxford again.

This was my first big trip back since moving to New York to work for Barstool Sports. I did make it back right before Christmas for a basketball game but it was super low key with Covid and the Holidays. This trip was the farthest thing from low key. On Monday we shot this After Dinner Mintz with a Widespread Panic “Postcard” theme as a welcome back to Oxford.

I definitely did not lose any weight in Oxford as I had a blast patronizing the local restaurants and giving them some love on my social media. I ate at City Grocery, Ajax, Tallahatchie Gourmet, Canteen, Oxford Creamery and Big Bad Breakfast to name a few. It is amazing how good the culinary scene is there now. I remember being a student back in 2001 when there was literally 20% as many good options. 

Playboy Marty made his arrival on Tuesday to help out with the Barstool content. It was great to see him after a few days of doing this on my own. We hit up the midweek Ole Miss vs. Arkansas-Little Rock game that night and had a blast in left field. I have been part of Tent 11 with some of the City Grocery crew in left-center field by the flagpole since 2014. Tailgating with my close friends at Swayze while grilling out is my favorite Oxford pastime. Our grill master Sox Richardson is a one of a kind Mississippi legend. 

The Tuesday night game ran really long with Ole Miss ended up winning 11-6. The weather flipped from warm to 40s with a howling wind that night. We had a small crew but ended up having a big time out there. I had a chance to hang out with singer/guitarist George McConnell (Kudzu Kings, Widespread Panic 2002-2006) who I have been a fan of for years. He was super cool & loved hearing about my journey with Barstool Sports living in New York. I always make a point to see him at Proud Larry’s or with the Kudzu Kings whenever I can. 

Wednesday turned out to be a beautiful day. Martin and I walked around the gorgeous Ole Miss campus filming content. We walked around the Grove, the Circle and even my old fraternity house. Strolling campus will always be one my life's greatest simple pleasures.

In the afternoon, we headed over to the Manning Center to meet with Ole Miss football coaching staff. I owe a massive thank you to Paris Buchanan (Ole Miss athletic department marketing) and Ole Miss Co-Defensive Co-Ordinator Chris Partridge who could not have been cooler to me. It is an honor for me to represent Ole Miss nationally and they get that I take it seriously. 

At precisely 3:00 PM, Ole Miss head football coach Lane Kilffin walked out to shoot this After Dinner Mintz video with us inviting Dave and Big Cat to the Grove for LSU-Ole Miss in the fall (#PartyInTheSip).This was one of the highlights of my Barstool journey so far getting Lane on After Dinner Mintz!

The LSU Tigers made their way to Oxford on Thursday for a 3 game SEC series. Ole Miss ace Gunnar Hoglund was scratched before the game with right shoulder soreness. There were rumors floating around the outfield of him being shut down for the year. I taped this video previewing the series right after I heard that & was a little salty. Luckily those rumors turned out to be false.

LSU came in struggling at 4-11 in SEC play but still has a lot of young talent headlined by RF Dylan Crews who hit a 3 run bomb in the 8th. LSU ended up winning 5-4 as Ole Miss hitter Calvin Harris struck out with the bases loaded to end the game in the 9th. This loss put Ole Miss record at 0-4 in the 3 major sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball) against LSU for 2020-21 with 3 heartbreaking losses. 

I did yoga Friday morning with my friend & teacher Lydia Siniard. I started doing yoga with her in early May of 2020. I remember telling her the very first day something special was going on and we had a great time talking about all that a year later.

On Friday afternoon Marty and I were invited to the Tuohy Center (Men’s Basketball) to meet with Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. Coach Kermit and I have a lot of mutual contacts from our Baton Rouge ties (he was an assistant at LSU for 5 years under John Brady & I worked for 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge). I am a big fan of his because I covered Louisiana Tech for 3 years while his Middle Tennessee teams were busy winning 6 straight Conference USA titles including upsets of Michigan St. & Minnesota in NCAA Tournament. 

We then went into the practice gym only to meet the living legend of Ole Miss basketball, Marshall Henderson. His personality was everything I hoped it would be. Could not have been more fun or engaging. We shot around for a little bit then Marshall joined me for this After Dinner Mintz.

LSU hammered Ole Miss 7-2 Friday night behind a gem from starter AJ Labas. Vibes were really low in Swayze & it felt like the season was slipping away. In true Ole Miss fashion, I decided to not let the loss affect my mood too much & headed to Proud Larry’s to see Garry Burnside play some Mississippi Blues Rock after the game. As always I gotta try to keep some funk in my soul! The show was freaking incredible & it felt like old times in there. I rocked out with a bunch of old friends and could not have had a better time. Marshall Henderson showed up at midnight for the last hour too which was too much fun.

Saturday morning, I was honored to go over to David Magee’s house to meet with him and his family. He founded the Magee Center for Alcohol & Drug Abuse on Ole Miss campus. I could not be a bigger fan of how he has made an unspeakable tragedy (loss of his son William) into something so positive to help others who are struggling. 

The final game of the baseball series was an early start on Saturday at noon. I tried to put on a brave face to pump up the Rebel fans but it was tough after the back to back losses. Ole Miss started the SEC 6-0 and had slipped all the way to 9-8 at this point. 

The game felt like an extension of Friday night as LSU was blasting Ole Miss. The one and only Marty Mush showed up in the 5th inning & was blown away by our left field tailgate. We had crawfish, gumbo & the grill rolling that day. I loved seeing him in Oxford. He played college baseball & appreciated the atmosphere. With LSU crushing Ole Miss 9-1 in the 8th, I sent out this tweet:

Literally less than 60 seconds after I hit send, all hell broke loose in the bottom of the 8th when Peyton Chatagnier hit a 3 run homer to cut it to 9-5. Next thing I know Ole Miss had the bases loaded. Then TJ McCants hit a grand slam to tie the game and it was pandemonium!

Ole Miss was able to hold LSU scoreless in the top of the 9th. Then on the first pitch of the bottom half, Kemp Alderman hit this walk off bomb to seal the all-time comeback for Ole Miss & basically save the season. Swayze Field was ON FIRE! I caught the students coming out of the student section for this insane postgame video with Marty Mush.

It started pouring down rain right after the game so we took our time walking over to Vaught Hemingway Stadium for the spring game. Thanks to my old ATO fraternity brother Smitty Smith for hosting us in his suite. I also went down to the athletic suite on the field during the game & want to thank Matt McCloughlin for hosting me.  

By far the highlight of the spring game for me was getting to meet & hang out with Ole Miss fan Henry Ullrich and his father. “Super Hen” is an Ole Miss legend and lights up every room he is in. He was born with severe health issues and has inspired the entire Ole Miss sports community with his positive attitude & bright smile. I have been following him since my Shreveport radio days. His father Jeffrey Ullrich was awesome too and I could not have enjoyed meeting them more. Ole Miss coaches and players have an incredibly unique relationship with Super Hen and have fully embraced him. Henry’s Dad could not say enough positive things about the athletic department, coaches and players. The Ullrichs love Ole Miss.

Saturday night I hopped around the Square with my Barstool co-workers Marty Mush, Zah, Youngstown Bob and Playboy Marty. We hit some of the younger bars in Round Table and The Library. We basically got mobbed at both in the most positive way. I got hit with the magnitude of Barstool Sports fame in the Library. It was one of the craziest things I have ever experienced getting recognized in public like that. I am glad I lost a bunch of weight last year because I felt like I was in 3,000 pictures. This is still the honeymoon phase and I am grateful to have so much support. I am thrilled to take as many pics as people want as I could not give these damn things away 9 months ago!  I felt so much love in Oxford all week!

That concludes a wild week in Mississippi that had just about everything I love in life. From sports to food to music to old friends, this one had it all. Thank you so much Oxford and Ole Miss for all the love and hospitality! I still cannot believe how this all happened overnight and am shaking my head as I write. In Part 2 of the Southern trip blog, I will be discussing my ill-informed tweet about going on vacation and my trip to Baton Rouge.