The Grove Never Disappoints
By Ashley Y.
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The Grove is a 10-acre nirvana in the middle of the Ole Miss campus. The Grove is where the south’s finest go to tailgate.
I will be the first to admit it: I was not looking forward to thousands of Texas fans swarming into Oxford, MS. Oxford is one of my favorite towns in America, and the idea of that much burnt orange in the vicinity is just nauseating. However, I have come away from this weekend impressed. Impressed for the first time at the positive thoughts of Texas fans.
I was born and raised in Texas, and have many years of observing UT fans under my belt. I was born into a "Hotty Toddy" and "Wooo Pig Sooie" family in a world surrounded by "Hook ‘Em" and "Gig ‘Em". It is tough for an SEC fan in Texas. Longhorns seem to think that SEC country is a parallel universe anomaly where great things happen but “do not matter” because everything is “greater in Texas.” Longhorn fans have an air of confidence around them big enough to make Kanye West seem humble. They believe Texas is, quite literally, the only team in America, and that the SEC is just not that great.
With all these shenanigans, I was interested to see how Texas fans would respond to Oxford, and I have to say I was, shockingly, impressed. Oxford is the quintessential SEC tailgating spot. There is no place that equals the Grove. The Grove is a 10-acre nirvana in the middle of the Ole Miss campus. The Grove is where the south’s finest go to tailgate. If you have never seen the Grove on game day, it needs to go on your bucket list now. There are thousands of tents set up on campus and each one comes complete with chandeliers, the good dishes from you mom’s kitchen, secret family recipes, satellite TVs, candelabras, fried chicken, and enough beer and whiskey to last you until Wednesday.
Girls are strewn about in their sundresses, high heels, and designer handbags. On their arms are males clad in dress pants, suits, collared shirts, bow ties, and on this particular occasion, OU garb, just to piss off the visiting enemy. If you have never been to an SEC game, you are probably thinking this is a hyperbole. Trust me; I’ve seen it all. The Grove is a special place, and all Ole Miss fans share the desire to show off their sacred space to anyone who will listen.
I was just sure that when I woke up on Saturday, I was about to be accosted with thousands of Longhorn fans in cutoff jorts and t-shirts expected to, not only fit in, but to take over Oxford. Instead, what I found was mass amounts of people dressed to the nines (thanks for adhering to our dress codes) and ecstatic about the new experiences they were about to encounter. (I would also like to personally thank the group of guys in chaps. Nice work.)
All of the Texas fans I encountered were incredibly inquisitive and truly wanted to experience a proper SEC game day. Fans made sure that they understood the culture and background of the school. One of our inquisitors wondered, “What is a Hotty Toddy?” Sure, it is an alcoholic beverage, but it is also the famed chant that Ole Miss students long to cheer on any day that is not game day. Our official response was “It’s like Hook ‘Em or Gig ‘em.” After all, great answers cater to the knowledge of the student.
In addition to their interested nature, it seemed that all the Texas fans were truly impressed with the overall experience. As I was walking into the Grove for the Walk of Champions late Saturday afternoon, some fans in orange were walking behind me. As we turned the corner and they got, what I will presume to be, their first glimpse of the Grove, their exasperated “Oh my gosh's" will forever remain in my memory. It was as if they had just gotten a glance of Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny; these amazing things they had heard of, but did not believe existed. The Grove is truly something that needs to be experienced at least once, if not every Ole Miss home game.
Texas fans, Ole Miss would like to thank you. Since the Longhorns had never played in Oxford, it was tough to imagine what this weekend would bring. We hope that you enjoyed your weekend in town, and we appreciate all that you brought. Things may be bigger in Texas, but they are always better in the Grove.