At least for two years. While i'm waiting to hear the final results from the MSU-USM home-and-home matchup agreement (at least I'm HOPING it's home-and-home), I got to wondering.
For USM fans, which non-C-USA matchup would be most important to us?
Mississippi State? Ole Miss? Louisville?
I leave Alabama and Auburn off this list, because it was always a road game for us, with no return games ever allowed, and we were forced to deal with Pro-Alabama/Auburn officiating 99% of the time. (No, that's not sour grapes, there are documented examples).
MSU and OM were always long instate rivals, and the team that managed to win the three games took pride in being the "Mississippi State Football Champions" (kind of like how somehow despite our horrid basketball teams, we managed to beat UNO, LSU, and Tulane to be the unofficail "Louisiana State Basketball Champions".
But then i got to thinking, was there any rivalry for USM more "heated" than Louisville? Everyone remembers how Favre became a college-household name with his 60 yard hail mary that bounced from one Louisville player to a USM player who took it in for a score. Or how there were always fights and scrums in the past when our teams met.
So which is it USM fans? Which team do you miss playing the most? (even though we now get both Louisville and MSU in the future... Come on Webbels.. not scared of us are you? Not with your #4 ranking... you coudln't be 'scared' now could you?)
Now before I cut off, I had an idea, let's take our three heated rivals... MSU, UM, Louisville... and we schedule a repeating cycle with all three teams. Say the first week (or second week,if you really want a pre-game warm up with Alcorn, MTSU, Jackson st, etc.) of the season.. we kick the season off right.
2010 - MSU @ Hattiesburg
2011 - USM @ Louisville
2012 - UM @ Hattiesburg
2013 - USM @ Starkville
2014 - Louisville @ Hattiesburg
2015 - USM @ Oxford
And then repeat the cycle in 2016... Let's face it.. Bowl games don't want in state rivals, which was our best chance to meet either of our in-state rivals (there was always talk that hte Liberty Bowl would lift that ban for USM - UM or MSU. but reportedly "Ole Miss balked" at that.. true or not, I don't know.)
It's a sure-fire money / attendance winner for all three schools... I've never known a Louisville - USM game not to sell out, and would wager that on even terms (Home-and-Home), USM and OM/MSU would be a sure-fire sell out for both schools. If any of the three teams were national title contenders, and got bumped in that week, there are still 10 to 11 weeks (which is why IMO, it should be week one of the season) of the season to rebound.