There are some who believes beating the rival goes a long way in recruiting. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze isn’t one of those.
“I think that goes in cycles. It depends on the kid. Some kids have natural tie-ins and an affection for one more than the other. That given year it may motivate some kids more to go help the school they have more affection for. I’ve seen it in some cases where you’re talking to recruits you may have one year where five it matters to and 10 it doesn’t. It will come down to the relationships, their affection for each school, the family ties. I’ve seen it work both ways. I don’t think there’s any recipe you can put on it. I know it doesn’t hurt, and it’s going to help you with some, but I don’t know that’s going to be … by the time February rolls around there are a lot of things that have occurred. A lot of people have made decisions. A lot of relationships have been built. It’s not the only factor, but it doesn’t hurt, and it will help in some cases. I don’t think it carries a ‘We won, so we’re going to get X amount.’ That depends on the kid,” he said.
Ole Miss won the game last year and went on to sign a consensus top 10 class.
With a class of 21 commits Ole Miss is currently ranked No. 13 by Rivals.com, the most recent bump coming last Friday. While the Rebels would lose to Missouri the following day, they got a win that night when four-star wide receiver Markell Pack flipped from Florida State to Ole Miss.
Recruiting aside there was no loss for evidence of what beating Mississippi State meant to Ole Miss last year. It started when Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork made the decision that Rebels fans rushing the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium would be acceptable behavior. Bjork was willing to foot the bill with the SEC fine that was to come.
Coaches often talk about the importance of bowl practice for young players. While that is important, the bowl game itself, the dominating win over Pittsburgh inside a stadium almost filled with Ole Miss fans would never have occurred without first defeating Mississippi State.
The bowl game was a hugh wave of momentum on which to ride into the off-season.
Freeze said winning the Egg Bowl created a “considerable amount” of momentum.
“If you don’t have the opportunity to go play in the bowl game with the extra practices, then to be in a bowl game where recruits can watch and see. For several recruits, that may have been a determining factor in their decisions. Just the overall confidence and feeling from our fans and people that are around it. We created some momentum from that game last year, a considerable amount.”
Here’s what defensive coordinator Dave Wommack had to say on the topic:
“It was huge last year. Last year was last year. It’s important to fans, coaches and players, this state. It certainly catapulted us into a bowl game, which was huge. We got to spend more time with our players, working with them. It absolutely helped us in recruiting too. It’s a big game.”