Over the past century, the Egg Bowl has produced life-long memories for players, coaches and fans alike at Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Two former participants definitely enjoyed their share and they happen to share the same first name and position – former Ole Miss quarterback John Fourcade and former MSU quarterback John Bond.
Fourcade played at Ole Miss from 1979-82 and helped direct the Rebels to three wins in four Egg Bowl contests. And Bond, who played at MSU from 1980-83, led the Bulldogs to a pair of Egg Bowl triumphs.
While both were on opposite sides, they both understood the importance of that week within the Magnolia State. But it is also talked about the other 51 weeks of the year.
“I grew up in Starkville and lived there until I was nine years old,” said Bond. I lived beside (former MSU basketball coach) Kermit Davis so I would still come back to basketball camps. Folks were either talking about the Egg Bowl that just happened or the one coming up.
“Being part of it as a quarterback was huge. You sure didn’t want to go out there and make a fool of yourself. I remember my first Egg Bowl and that there was a lot of pressure. We were in a brand-new offense (wishbone) that year. I played receiver mostly in high school so I was still getting my feet wet. It was nerve-racking that week and a lot of hype that week. Coach (Emory) Bellard tried to keep it like a normal game but it is hard to do that with the Egg Bowl.”
Unlike Bond, Fourcade did not grow up in Mississippi. But he was quickly educated on the importance of beating the Bulldogs and the heated rivalry.
“To be honest, I didn’t think much about my first Egg Bowl,” said Fourcade. “Being from New Orleans, I knew nothing of the Egg Bowl. When I was growing up and heard of the Egg Bowl, I said ‘what the heck is an Egg Bowl?’. I wondered how they came up with that name and wondered who got what if they won that game.”
“So my first year, I thought it was just another game. But my teammates told me quickly it wasn’t that way. I soon found out after that first game of the hatred between the two schools.”
Of course, in the SEC, Ole Miss and MSU had other rivals within the league. So being hated was kind of the norm, Fourcade added.
“I’m not sure how John (Bond) felt back then, but when I was playing at Ole Miss a lot of other teams hated us,” said Fourcade. “Tennessee, LSU, Florida and Alabama all hated us, too. LSU and Ole Miss fans hate each other. I never knew why they hated us so much but whatever rival we were playing that week, that was our biggest rivalry game of that week. But you get up for all those rivalry games and granted, our biggest rivalry game was that last one we played every year.”
Of course, decades ago, most of the players on both sidelines were familiar with each other and their families. Often times, former high school teammates would quickly become fierce rivals and suited up in the red and blue or the maroon and white.
“I think it was heated a lot because a lot of guys played high school ball against each other,” recalled Bond. “So the history was already there before you went to college. Then when out-of-state guys came in, they quickly learned early on and picked up their intensity with that game. Then after your four years come and go, that feeling lingers with you and remains with the guys coming in.”
Obviously, that dislike of each other is also evident among the fan bases.
“Players come and go but fans don’t,” said Fourcade. “You got eight-year-old kids hating Mississippi State folks that Egg Bowl week. Go down to Jackson and you have 60 or 70-year olds hating Mississippi State or Ole Miss that week. For whatever reason, it’s just the nature of the game. There is no intentional harm with it and without the fans, there is no football. That is what makes the Egg Bowl special, too.”
And Bond agreed.
“I actually think the bad blood is moreso with fans,” Bond said. “As a player, you do treat it more than just another game. But fans also know there is something extra behind it. You have to listen to all that crap if you lose and nobody wants to do that. It’s not like losing to Auburn or Alabama. If you lose those games, you just go back home and you don’t hear much about it.
“But if you lose the Egg Bowl, you are already back home and you will hear it (laughing).”
During their playing careers, the Egg Bowl was always held at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. So Bond nor Fourcade got the chance to play on the campus of their rival, something that is an annual event today.
“I would have loved to had that opportunity and it adds more to the game now,” said Bond. “But back then, neither school had a stadium that could compete with Jackson and hold that many people. But now both schools have stadiums that hold close to or over 60,000 fans. But when we played, Jackson had a bigger venue and the schools could make more money.
“But it was still a lot of fun going to Jackson and playing in front of 65,000 people. I believe either the 1980 or 1981 game is still one of the largest crowds ever to see an athletic event in the state.”
Naturally, Fourcade and Bond had fond and successful memories of their days performing in the Egg Bowl. For Bond, his first-ever Egg Bowl experience sticks out to him when the Bulldogs won 19-14. Bond also recalls his junior year at MSU when the Bulldogs capped off the year with a 27-10 victory over the Rebels.
“The first one would be my favorite memory,” said Bond. “Then I would I would say my junior year would be the next one. We had a great offense my junior year and I think it’s still the most productive offense in school history. On the second series of the game, I took one for about 65 yards and we just moved the ball at will that game.”
And contrastly, Fourcade’s favorite Egg Bowl was actually his last one and rightfully so. After all, he scored the game-winning touchdown on the final play from scrimmage to give Ole Miss a 21-17 victory.
“Whether you are playing high school, college or in the NFL, you always dream of making that play to win the game with no time left on the clock,” said Fourcade. “So that one sticks out. It was a great way to end my college career, walking in for that touchdown on my final college play for the Ole Miss Rebels.
“And that season, we had lost some close ones and things didn’t work out as we planned. It was the end for us seniors and we just put everything together in that last game. We gave it all we had for 60 minutes while Mississippi State only played for 59 minutes and 30 seconds. A lot of folks don’t remember that but Mississippi State decided to kick a field goal and left me 30 seconds on the clock. That was plenty of time for us.”
Of course, Bond has a different take on that Egg Bowl in 1981, as do fans from both sides and it’s an argument that still lasts today. Before Fourcade and the Rebels got in position for the game-winning touchdown, pass interference was called on the Bulldogs in their own end zone, and set the stage for Fourcade’s heroics on the next play.
“Believe it or not, that pass interference is the first thing I think of when someone says Egg Bowl,” said Bond with a laugh. “Our guy never touched the receiver and that was awful. But the reason it sticks out is because we had three plays that year that lost three games for us – Ole Miss, Alabama and Southern Miss. We could have won 10 games that year. So that really sticks in your craw, especially with that official apologized later for that call, sent a letter of apology to Coach Bellard and then retired from officiating.
“I like to tell people I won four Egg Bowls and lost two of them (laughing). We had that horrible call and then the wind-blown field goal deal my senior year.”
But Bond added that questionable call should have never decided the fate of that outcome.
“Coach Bellard didn’t say much after that game but you could see that it was eating him up,” said Bond. “He said ‘well, that’s the way the ball bounces’ but you knew he was upset about that call. But as players, we knew we should have been out in front enough to where it didn’t matter. You could never count Ole Miss out and we gave them their shot and they took it.”
Which Fourcase did despite Ole Miss lining up in the wrong formation.
“Another thing that isn’t talked about that much was the penalty State got for kicking the ball,” said Fourcade. “After that penalty in the end zone, one of their guys kicked the ball out of frustration and the ball got moved to the one-yard line from the two.
“And it is funny now because it worked, but we lined up in the wrong formation on that touchdown. We didn’t have a tight end on one side and the guy flanked out wide. We ran the 38-option goal line but we still walked in. I remember before that play walking to the sideline saying ‘this is the end for me and no one is touching the ball but me’.”
As noted, Fourcade made the most of the opportunity, and walked off the field that day in Jackson with the Egg Bowl Trophy lifted high above his head. He began his college career knowing little of the Egg Bowl but exited the rivalry with a great understanding of that game.
As have many before him and as many will after him.
“In my eyes, hell yea it was pass interference,” said Fourcase with a laugh. “But maybe that official was an Ole Miss fan and gave us one. But the question we need to ask John Bond is why their coach kicked a field goal and left me 30 seconds (laughing). I was happy they kicked that field goal on third down and that was actually one of the biggest mistakes of the game. I know coaches sometimes kick it on third down in case something happens instead of kicking it on fourth down. But it came back to haunt them.” - MSM