The Grove and Ole Miss produce one of the most unique college football experiences in the South and nationwide. The Sporting News ranked it among college football’s greatest traditions and described The Grove as “the Holy Grail of tailgating sites.” In listing America’s top sports colleges, Sports Illustrated named Ole Miss the nation’s No. 1 tailgating school.
When Billy Brewer became head football coach at Ole Miss in 1983, he was searching for a way to allow his team to experience the atmosphere and pageantry Rebel fans enjoyed in The Grove while tailgating on gameday. The Grove is a 10-acre grassy plot of ground in the center of campus which is heavily shaded by large oak trees.
Taking a different route two hours before kickoff each home game Saturday, Brewer would walk with the team from Kinard Hall, the athletic dormitory, across campus to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
In 1985, Brewer started going the same route each Saturday as the team would break The Grove on the east side of the Student Union and then proceed down a sidewalk which runs through The Grove. Ole Miss fans fight for position on both sides of the sidewalk and greet the players with loud cheers. The braver fans even reach out and touch the players as they pass before them.
In the fall of 1998, a “Walk of Champions” arch was erected on the east side of the The Grove, where the Rebel players begin their walk for every Saturday home game. The “Walk of Champions” arch was given to the University by the 1962 Rebel football team, which is the only squad in Ole Miss football history to finish a campaign with a perfect record (10-0). The 1962 team won the SEC title and was also named National Champion by the Litkenhous Ratings.
What has become a tradition on Ole Miss football Saturdays continues today.