CATEGORY: FOC College Football

AUTHOR: PHELPS

FRIENDLY FIRE

By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

Saturday's annual Egg Bowl is causing Shannon Armstrong a lot of headaches this week.

Armstrong recently spent four years getting her degree from Mississippi State and, of course, calling for Ole Miss to visit the hot place down below. For the Tupelo school teacher, cheering against those loathed Rebels was never a problem until this year.

Armstrong's younger brother, Jamie, is a freshman wide receiver on the Ole Miss football team.

"I don't know how I'm going to react until they take the field," Armstrong said, sounding desperate. "I don't think I'll be able to cheer for Ole Miss."

Armstrong's mother, Barbara, a teacher at Plantersville, says she was a State fan until her son signed last year with the Rebels. Barbara, an Ole Miss graduate, said she started cheering for the Bulldogs when her daughters, Shannon and Leresa, attended MSU.

"Now, I'm cheering for Jamie," she said. "I have to support my children."

Barbara has pleaded with Shannon all week to pull for the Rebels.

"I told her she is all State and we can't have that," Barbara said.

To further complicate matters, Shannon is engaged to marry Sherrod Miller, the cousin of Ole Miss freshman quarterback Romaro Miller.

"This is becoming a problem," Shannon said.

Maybe some of the other Daily Journal readers who responded to our call for Ole Miss-MSU family rivalries can offer some advice.

The truce: Don and Debi Leathers of Tupelo went on their first date Nov. 19, 1982, one day before the Egg Bowl. Don is a former Ole Miss player. Debi is an MSU fan.

"We called a truce that night before the game," Debi said. "Mississippi State won (27-10) and I wasn't able to say anything about it."

The Leathers are friends of Ole Miss assistant coach Joe Pannunzio and have attended seven of the Rebels' games this season.

"I've really pulled for them," Debi said. "I'm also thrilled to death about Mississippi State's success."

She'll be pulling for the Bulldogs this week and says Don will be rooting for his Rebels, but their marriage will survive the week.

"Friends and family are a lot more important than institutions," Debi said. "Don gave blood, sweat and tears for Ole Miss, but his family means more to him."

Once a Rebel: Lisa Sandroni of Tupelo is an MSU graduate who grew up in an Ole Miss family and married a former Ole Miss player, Todd Sandroni.

"My family thinks that now that I've married Todd they'll convert me back to Ole Miss," she said. "I don't think so.

"I'm a State fan, even though I go to all the Ole Miss games and cheer for the Rebels. But, I'll cheer for the Bulldogs this weekend."

Todd Sandroni, a former All-SEC defensive back for the Rebels, promised his wife, before they were married, he would take her to some MSU games.

"It hasn't happened yet," Lisa said, then laughed.

Lisa says it may take some time for her to convert Todd to cheering, at least part-time, for the Bulldogs.

"I told him I wanted a Mississippi State sweatshirt for my birthday and he said my mother would have to buy it for me," Lisa said. "He said he just couldn't bring himself to do it."

Silent Rebel: Glenn and Connie Terry of Ripley have been married for 18 years, despite the fact that Glenn played baseball for Ole Miss and Connie was a volleyball player for State. Their daughter is a Bulldog and their son a Rebel.

The couple will go to the game this weekend in Starkville and may watch it from the Leo Seal M-Club Center in the end zone at Scott Field.

"We've sat there before for games, but never for Ole Miss and State," Glenn said.

As for his ties to Ole Miss, Glenn says he never mentions it during his visits to State's M-Club. "I'm not brave enough to say anything," he said.

Son of a Rebel: Patricia Allen of New Albany is an Ole Miss grad, but her son, Eric, is the starting center for the Bulldogs.

"It doesn't cause any problems," said Terry Allen, Patricia's husband, Eric's father and MSU grad. "It's not a big issue at our house. Our son plays for State, so naturally we're pulling for State."

Allen, who is the head football coach at New Albany, and his wife have been married for 26 seasons, er, years.

"We have never had one argument over a game," he said. "There are too many other important things to worry about."

Low-keyed Bulldog: Bob and Pam Bankston of Tupelo have managed to tolerate each other this week, but it hasn't been easy.

"There's not a lot of conversation this week," Bob said, then laughed. "I don't want to have to eat any words."

Bob says he's a "low-keyed" MSU fan while his wife of 13 years is a very spirited Ole Miss Rebel.

"Nobody would know what kind of fan I am unless they looked at my class ring," he said. "She decks out in all the red and blue, the buttons, and she'll have her flag. She's a diehard Rebels fan and she lets you know it."

The couple has two sons Ryne, 9, and Reid, 7. Ryne's a Rebel and Reid's a Bulldog.

Loves Rebs, marries Bulldogs: Jane Hardin's first husband, the late Rodney Mapp, was a State fan. Hardin's new husband of three years, Mark Hardin, is also a Bulldogs fan.

That makes it tough this time of year for Jane, who happens to be a big Ole Miss fan.

"I keep marrying Bulldogs," said Hardin, a native of Pontotoc who lives in Birmingham. "I can't get away from them, I guess."

Hardin says she loves the Rebels, but if State had a chance to win the SEC West she would have cheered for the Bulldogs.

"But now that they've let Arkansas beat them, I hope Ole Miss wins," she said.

Bad Bulldog: Ole Miss fan Sharon Kuykendall of Tupelo has been married for 10 years to State fan Pat Kuykendall.

She claims to be the better sport when it comes to the series.

"He's gotten better," she said, "but he's not very good about supporting Ole Miss. But, I support State. We just started going to some Ole Miss games. We used to go to State games only."

The couple's two children are State fans.

"He's bad," Pam said, referring to her Bulldog-loving husband, "and he's raising our two children to be bad."

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