Fans of Mississippi State and Ole Miss don't want to hear this, but Southern Miss has been best FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), formerly known as Division I-A, in the state. Neither the Bulldogs nor the Rebels can boast what the Golden Eagles have right now.
Sure, Ole Miss can claim 13 straight winning seasons under legendary head coach Johnny Vaught from 1951 to 1963. Mississippi State had eight straight winning seasons under Allyn McKeen from 1939 to 1947 (no team was fielded in 1943 at most schools due to World War II).
But USM has posted a winning season every year since 1994. That is 18 straight winning seasons in a row. There are only three schools that have more active consecutive winning seasons than USM: Florida State (36), Florida (25) and Virginia Tech (20). Southern Miss is actually third if you count the vacated wins by Florida State in 2006 and 2007.
Think about that for a second. Incoming freshmen have never lived through a losing season at Southern Miss. No college or university in the state can make that claim to their incoming freshman class.
Ole Miss and MSU fans will argue that they play in the toughest conference in the land: the SEC. I would counter that USM has had 18 straight winning seasons without the large financial windfalls that being a member of the SEC has afforded UM and MSU.
There is no telling what USM could accomplish if it was part of a major conference and got chunks of the big BCS that MSU and UM get each and every single year. I can still hear Bulldogs and Rebels fans screaming about they play a harder schedule year in and year out.
Southern Miss might play in what SEC fans would consider a lesser schedule, but in Conference USA, the Golden Eagles still have to beat those teams. Just like every other school in the country.
In other words, just because a 1A, 2A or 3A high school might not play the biggest schools in the state, if one of those had 18 straight winning seasons, it would take nothing away from their accomplishment.
What Southern Miss has done over the last 18 seasons should not be dismissed no matter the conference. USM's 18 straight winning seasons and 14 bowl games over the same time period.
Southern Miss has made a bowl game 14 of the last 15 seasons and has reached a bowl game for 10 straight seasons. When USM finally has a losing season, we might not see another streak like this in the state in our lifetime.
The only sad part of USM's accomplishments is that the Golden Eagle fans don't fill up M.M. Roberts Stadium week in and week out to witness them. Southern Miss fans should fill up "The Rock" for every game to cheer the players on.