The Bo Wallace Roller Coaster

Between Michael Spurlock, Ethan Flatt, Robert Lane, Seth Adams, Brent Schaeffer, Nathan Stanley, Randall Mackey, Jerimiah Masoli, Zach Stoudt, Jevan Snead, and I’m spitballing…. The Ole Miss fan base has experienced its fair share of signal callers since Eli Manning ran the show in Oxford. A few had their moment of success, but it’s been a roller coaster ride since #10.

And when I say few, I mean strictly Jevan Snead – and I suppose Mackey, even if it wasn’t necessarily at quarterback. Snead’s 18-8 record, 4-3 record against teams in the top 25 and back-to-back Cotton Bowl appearances are pretty impressive. Not to mention he was 2-0 against LSU. As a side bar, and I promise this is the only one: imagine Jerimiah Masoli in the Hugh Freeze system. Wow. But, moving on.

Apart from Snead, who we were also so quick to dismiss, Ole Miss didn’t have a quarterback that could last the entirety of a season. Injuries aside, the performances weren’t impressive either; there was no stability. Along came Hugh Freeze and Bo Wallace in 2012.

The fan base yearned for stability at the position, and it finally came in the form of a 6’5″, two-star “pro-style” quarterback out of Pulaski, Tennessee. Of course, that was high school, where Wallace originally committed to play for Freeze at Arkansas State.  After he put up gaudy numbers at Eastern Mississippi Community College, Wallace earned another star, bigger offers, so on and so forth – then followed Freeze to be a Rebel. That’s the short version.

Wallace helped fill an immediate need at the position, where he and Barry Brunetti battled for reps. Wallace won the job, and helped Freeze turn a two-win laughing stock of a team, into a seven-win bowl eligible team, that gained even more momentum on the recruiting trail. In his first season, Dr. Bo was six yards shy of 3,000 yards, and 10 yards shy of 400 rushing yards. He combined for 30 total touchdowns, despite 17 interceptions looming overhead.

In his first year he was one touchdown shy of Eli’s first year in 2001, and picked the same amount of wins, seven. In his second year, he had one more total touchdowns, not to mention had more wins. Oh, and his 10 interceptions were five less than the 15 Eli had in his second year. This year, in his final season, Wallace has had 27 total scores, over 3,000 yards again, and with a touchdown pass in whatever bowl game the Rebels find themselves in, will eclipse the highest mark of his career.

We have a quarterback who has thrown for 9,400 yards, 62 touchdowns, rushed for 19, (he passed Eli’s 81 total touchdown record because of his one receiving TD in 2012), has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards, has the highest QB rating in school history. . . and the fan base tried to throw him back time after time. The stability we wanted so badly, we were so quick to reject.

After two bowl appearances – both wins, and in both he earned MVP awards – even as a senior we wanted him out. People counted down the days until Wallace graduated.

Look at a few tweets, most of which came from the Rebel faithful – including former Ole Miss star Shay Hodge.

Mr. Jones, it seemed that Wallace actually ate the Tide alive.

All for what? Because he fumbled against Mississippi State – a rival who he went 2-1 against? His only loss coming in overtime on the road. Because he threw an interception that “lost” us the game against LSU? You remember the interception that our beloved Eli threw early in his senior year in the end zone to lose us the game against Memphis. That’s a school named after a city, not a state, for crying out loud.

Wallace didn’t lose to Memphis. He only lost one out-of-conference game his entire career, to almighty Texas. Eli lost two against Texas Tech, for some perspective. Hell, Jevan Snead embarrassed a highly-rated Texas Tech team.

A college kid, who for 364 days had to look at an image of himself fumbling in the end zone, in overtime, to lose to arguably the school’s biggest rival… He came back and beat them 31-17 and didn’t bitch about it – and that’s the guy we complained about?

He gave us wins over a No. 6 LSU, No. 4 Mississippi State, and No. 3 Alabama. Two bowl wins, with a chance of a third. No other Ole Miss quarterback has been to three bowl games. He helped turn the program around, played through numerous injuries, and won football games – 24 of them to be exact, with a possible 25th.

We made memes and hashtags, called for the backup, ridiculed him, and Bo kept being Bo. Sure, he made some questionable decisions on impulse. On that same note, that hot-headedness is what we love about him. It’s what made/makes him the gamer he is. We hate that he threw the interception against LSU, but love that he had the balls to try and win the game on the road.

You may have been one of the few who stuck beside him the entire ride, for better or worse; I’d like to think I fit in that category. You may be one that still refuses to give Wallace credit, and that’s fine too. What you can’t refute, is what he has done for the program.

He was the perfect guy for Hugh Freeze to rebuild Rebel football. Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back, it shouldn’t be good/bad Bo. It should be: “Damn, Bo was good.” No one will point out the times we didn’t want Bo Wallace on the field, they will remember the times we carried him off it. Don’t look for the speed limit to be changed to 14mph, although Wallace did arguably have a better career, but cherish Dr. Bo while we still have a game left and the roller coaster grinds to a climactic halt.

*Section Photo credit to Stacy Revere, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Spruce Derden, USA Today Sports

USC Takes Down Notre Dame Effortlessly, 49-14
USC Takes Down Notre Dame Effortlessly, 49-14