A few highlights from the Rebel Road Trip Tupelo Stop …
Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork near the beginning of his time on the podium shared with the crowd that he received a call around 11 a.m. that confirmed that athletics would be receiving a $2 million gift.
The gift brings the Forward Together campaign fund total to $110 million. Bjork said he wants to be at $120 million before breaking ground on the north end zone project of the football stadium. He’s hopeful work can begin on the stadium after this season.
On the subject of fund-raising, Bjork mentioned that the dirt dug up on the stadium’s west side to build the basketball arena has been sold to the contractor who is redeveloping Old Taylor Road.
“That’s 60 yards of dirt,” Bjork said.
Women’s basketball coach and football coach Hugh Freeze also spoke.
Here’s Bjork on Insell: “He had somebody tell him with four or five games left why are you coaching your team so hard, why haven’t you given up and started focusing on next year? He said, ‘I’m trying to win an SEC championship this year in Duluth.’ That’s the man I want coaching our team.”
Insell spoke about the growth of the program and said Freeze is a good friend and that he helps with women’s basketball recruiting.
“I don’t use the word rebuilding, because we’re remodeling. We have a great foundation,” Insells aid.
Insell also played off his age to a crowd that was generally much older. “I’ll be turning 14 in the summer,” said Insell, who is 31.
Freeze drew a standing ovation from a packed crowd at the BancorpSouth Arena before and after he spoke.
“It’ great to be here. This is kind of like home base,” Freeze said.
Freeze spoke about the importance of unity within the school and its fan base.
“If you’re not on the same road going in the same direction it’s difficult to get where you want to go.
There’s the left lane and the right lane. Seldom are we all on the yellow line together and agreeing on everything. That’s not our point. Our point is be sure we’re going on the same road, going in the same direction and arriving at the same spot.”
Freeze continued: “When Ross talks about being uncommon, I don’t know what your strengths are, but I know you have something that is of value to us and to the place you love, something you can give. Here would be my challenge to you: Do what you have been doing and one extra thing. I don’t know if that is buy another season ticket and giving to kid that cannot afford to be there, or writing encouraging notes to someone, a kid or player, or praying one time a week for a set of people, or maybe giving a million dollars, I don’t know, but it is possible for you to do what you’ve been doing and one extra thing.”
Freeze also challenged the group this way.
“We cannot let the critics take your focus off the journey. The minute we start finding where all of us want to go the critics come out from everywhere. I get it every single day. It’s angry and frustrating. I am learning. We cannot let criticism take our focus off where we are going.”