Published on November 24th, 2014 | by TLV News0
“Growing Up in Oxford the Son of a Bulldog” by Carver and Taylor Rayburn
“The Son of a Bovine”
by Thomas McCarver Rayburn
I’ll never forget the look on Pat Tatum’s face when “Hail State” was played at the conclusion of my father’s funeral. Shock. Then a smile. Then a slight shake of the head. Defining the moment of S.T. getting in one more jab at his numerous Ole Miss friends as his body was laid to rest in Oxford Cemetery.
November 1, 1986, was the day my father introduced me to Mississippi State football. At just eight years old, it was also the day I figured out they were not the team for me. Too much Clanga.
We woke early that day. Dressed warmly and comfortable for a 90 mile trip to Starkville from Oxford in a Bronco II. The trip was one on the path less traveled as we ran out of gas just outside of Okolona. Not a good start, Dad.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 19 at the time were set to host No. 8 Alabama, on campus for the first time since 1962. The games had been played in Jackson when Mississippi State hosted up until that day.
The game was electric before kickoff. Then, it started. Bobby Humphrey rushed at will against the Dogs that day, racking up 284 yards on the ground in a 38-3 Alabama victory. The ride home to Oxford was somber. I think he smoked about 40 Winstons before we made the turn into Lakeway Gardens.
“Still haven’t seen that team win a home game,” he said. “They never won a game I was at in college, either.”
I’ll pass on the Bulldogs, Pops. Besides, all my friends growing up in Oxford were crazy about Billy Brewer. I’ll rebel and be Rebel. It’s more fun to cheer for the home team. You can be the nonconformist.
Flash forward to 2012. My son Hart was given an opportunity to choose his team early on. At just eight months of age, the Clanga side of the family decided it would be a great idea to give the newest Rayburn a cowbell. Within minutes of receiving the worst gift I could ever imagine, Hart promptly vomited on the bovine’s badge of honor. Case closed.
Carver Rayburn is Tommy Rayburn’s second son. Carver graduated from Ole Miss in 2002 with a degree in Journalism-Public Relations.
“A Fox in the Hen House”
by Samuel Taylor Rayburn
To most people’s surprise, there are actually a few Mississippi State fans who have invaded and been raised in the confines of Oxford, Mississippi.
I am one of these few.
My father was a State fan and raised me my first six years to love Mississippi State. There were three sons before me to defect his alma mater for the enemy. So, as my mother once told me, he did what he could to guarantee that I would not do the same. My casual baby clothing included two themes: Harley biker clothes or State gear. We went to almost all the home games via RV, and watched every away game from home.
So 2014 is a bittersweet season: my dad is not here to witness it. The eleventh anniversary of my dad’s death is November 30th and he would be in rare form now—barely believing we were number 1 in the country, even if for only five weeks.
Mississippi State has had a magical year, one with many ups and downs, great highs, the Auburn game, and horrible lows, the Alabama game. But one thing is certain: for the first time ever Mississippi State will roll into Oxford with both teams ranked in the top 10.
Growing up in Oxford a State fan actually stinks, a lot, especially when Ole Miss wins the Egg Bowl. I’ve literally heard every cow joke one could think of and I’ve been told of how the cowbell is an abomination and about a half billion times that Ole Miss leads the Egg Bowl series. But I get it, it comes with the territory. And through it all I am the same, a State fan—what I was raised to be.
My father’s death when I was just six gave way for my determination to remain a Mississippi State fan. It has given me a resilience and toughness to stick through the rough and hard times, to stay who I am when nothing seems to go right for my team, to never abandon ship.