Ole Miss football Grove Bowl 'Party In The Sip' maybe not the biggest but possibly most unique | Suss

Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

OXFORD — Jacquez Jones had the best drip. According to Jacquez Jones, anyways.

Ole Miss hosted the Grove Bowl on Saturday, a spring scrimmage it marketed all week as a "Party In The 'Sip." The Rebels kicked off the party with a red carpet fashion shoot before the game where players and coaches could show off their fashion sense, or "drip." 

Lane Kiffin and quarterback Matt Corral showed up in suits. Recruiting director Alex Collins showed up in a Canadian tuxedo of denim on denim. Co-defensive coordinator Chris Partridge sported a golden mask. Defensive assistant Marquise Watson showed up cosplaying as Charlie Conway from "The Mighty Ducks." 

But to Jones, no one outshone Jones.

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"I'll have to say me," Jones said while wearing an orange floral shirt and black sunglasses atop his head. "I'm going to vote myself."

As far as spectacle goes, the Grove Bowl didn't quite live up to its "biggest party the US has seen in two years" billing. The pregame coaches' softball game lasted one inning. The much-ballyhooed dunk tank ended up only being used once. A good number of fans showed up, but intermittent rain caused them to scatter early and probably kept a number of them away.

Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin celebrates after his team scores a touchdown during its spring game.

Still, there was a uniqueness to this experience. The softball game was something new. The dunk tank was something new. The student field-goal kicking contest during halftime was something new, and the red carpet photoshoot was something new.

Even if Ole Miss didn't host the biggest party in the country, it at least bucked the trend of conventional spring games. 

And unlike most spring games, this Grove Bowl felt like it zipped by. Unless there were less than four minutes left in a half, the clock kept running on incomplete passes and out-of-bounds plays. Special teams were limited to extra points and punts against air. Halftime lasted four minutes. When freshman quarterback Luke Altmyer threw a touchdown with about 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the coaches just decided to end the game.

"I liked the atmosphere," Jones said. "I ain't gonna lie. If it was me, and it was raining, I would've gone to the house. But (the fans) staying out in the rain, it was big."

Spring games by their nature aren't evaluative necessities. The only thing a coach can learn in a spring game that he can't learn in any other spring practice is how his players will react to playing in front of crowds. And even that's not that valuable when the stadium is charitably half full.

That's why less focus should be on ensuring the game is good and more focus should be on ensuring the fans have a good time. Then the follow-up should be selling that fun time to fans and recruits who didn't attend with photos and videos of the spectacle.

If that's the goal of a spring game, the Grove Bowl served its purpose.

"I don't think we probably were the biggest in the U.S.," Kiffin said. "But our guys had fun. We were trying to make it fun. The stuff before was pretty cool. The coaches got into it, dressing up and all that. If I was watching, I'd say that's a fun place to go. I'd go there."

Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or nsuss@gannett.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.