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Ole Miss, Memphis to Renew Rivalry

Posted by Mark Dondero | July 18, 2012 / 10:18pm | College Sports, Local Sports
 Ole Miss will be renewing its Mid-South rivalry with Memphis on the football field and the basketball court.

 In a joint press release with Memphis Athletics, Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork announced Wednesday the institutions have signed a four-year contract to renew their football series, resuming in 2014 and running through 2017.

 The schools have also agreed in principle to the continuation of the men's basketball series as soon as scheduling permits.

 "It's exciting for our fans both in Memphis and here in the state to see this natural rivalry resume in both sports," Bjork said. "The Memphis community is a priority, and this series is important for our growing alumni base in the area.

 "From a football standpoint, Coach (Hugh) Freeze and I have the same scheduling philosophy and agreed it was imperative to continue to brand our program and put the Ole Miss flag in Memphis."

 The 2014 and 2016 football games will be played in Oxford, while the 2015 and 2017 encounters will be staged at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, which is in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation. Recent upgrades include two new HD video boards, new sound system, installation of Astroturf, new light standards, new elevators, a facelift to the exterior and more improvements to come.

 Memphis, who joins the BCS in 2013 as a member of the Big East conference, replaces Clemson on Ole Miss' 2015 and 2016 schedules after that contract was mutually terminated.

 The series will provide a homecoming of sorts for Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze, who spent 13 years in the Bluff City as a classroom teacher, coach and administrator at Briarcrest Christian School. Freeze was the Saints' head football coach from 1995 to 2004, leading the program to six straight state championship games.

 "The city of Memphis was a wonderful home to my family and me, and I look forward to playing in front of the many great fans we have there," said Freeze, who was a four-time Associated Press Coach of the Year at Briarcrest. "I'm thrilled to see the Ole Miss presence in Memphis continue to grow."

 The Rebels and Tigers began playing football during the 1921 season and met 59 times before the previous contract ended following the 2009 season. Ole Miss holds a 47-10-2 lead in the series and has won the last five meetings.

 It is tied with Alabama as the Rebels' sixth-most played series and most frequent with any school not currently or formerly in the SEC. Ole Miss has prevailed in 14 of the last 18 meetings with Memphis dating back to 1988.
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