They can take Ole Miss’ wins, but not memories

Published 8:17 pm Thursday, February 14, 2019

One of Talbot Buys’ treasured possessions is the ring he received for being part of the Ole Miss football team that stomped Oklahoma State in the 2015 Sugar Bowl.

The NCAA isn’t coming for that — yet — and Buys says they’ll have a hard time if they do.

“For all they know I might have pawned that thing,” he said with a laugh. “They’ll never find it.”

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They did try to steal his and his teammates’ accomplishments, however. The NCAA this week stripped Ole Miss’ football program of 33 victories between 2010 and 2016. Thirteen of those were when Buys, a former Porter’s Chapel Academy standout and current Vicksburg resident, was an offensive lineman for the team from 2014-16. Somehow, the 2015 season survived unscathed.

The NCAA’s ruling is, hopefully, the final piece of sanctions stemming from violations committed during that era. College sports’ governing body came down hard on Ole Miss and this was a final poke in the ribs before the matter is put to bed.

The NCAA has to do that once in a while to try and keep everybody in line. Taking scholarships, TV time and bowl games from teams are standard penalties to scare everyone straight. Taking past wins is also a normal part of the package and is completely, utterly stupid.

On Oct. 4, 2014, Ole Miss beat No. 1 Alabama 23-17. Thousands of fans stormed the field in a moment of unbridled joy. The victory rocketed the Rebels to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, got them on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and was one of the high water marks of the modern era of Ole Miss football.

The NCAA says it never happened.

Do you hear me!? It. Never. Happened.

The problem is, it did. There are pictures and witnesses to prove it. The game pops up on the SEC Network from time to time. The teams Ole Miss beat don’t get do-overs. It doesn’t take anyone back in time and reset the standings with a win that might help them get to the SEC championship game.

“They can’t take away what we did on the field, all the work we put in,” Buys said. “They can’t erase memories. To me, those are three of the best years in the history of Ole Miss football. We know what we accomplished.”

We all do. The NCAA got its pound of flesh. We’re keeping the memories. They did happen.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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