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A Maroon-Clad Rebel: Alex McDaniel Supports Ole Miss Band With Rival Colors During Egg Bowl

Alex McDaniel is a prominent journalist and Ole Miss alum, but she donned maroon and white on Thanksgiving night to support the Ole Miss band. Here's why.

Alex McDaniel is an Ole Miss fan through-and-through, but she attended Thursday night's Egg Bowl clad in maroon and white for a cause that's close to her heart.

McDaniel got her degree from the University of Mississippi in 2010, and she spent most of her undergraduate years a part of the Ole Miss band, "The Pride of the South." It is for that cause that she has raised money over the past calendar year: to get her school's band a new practice field on campus.

"Over the years, every now and then, I'd kind of remind people on Twitter that the Ole Miss band has a terrible practice field," McDaniel said. "It's just a field. It doesn't have turf or lines. They have to spray paint all their lines, which is unheard of for a big conference school."

As a prominent Ole Miss alum who was a part of the band, McDaniel was approached about the university's giving day to help raise funds for the band. McDaniel reached out to her friend Brian Hadad of SportsTalk Mississippi to help with some plans.

"I just started throwing out some ideas," McDaniel said. "I made a joke that if we can get State fans to donate, I'll go to the Egg Bowl. I don't care. I reached out to Brian Hadad, and it was early one morning, and I said, 'Hey, let me run this by you: If 100 State fans donate, I'll go to the Egg Bowl as a State fan.'"

Then, the donations took off.

McDaniel has over 26,000 followers on Twitter, and she is known for her journalism prowess and her Ole Miss fandom, so Mississippi State fans jumped at the opportunity.

"I think the first day, we got 138 State fans who donated," McDaniel said. "Over the course of two days with that and the Ole Miss fans and a lot of my friends, we raised $25,000. Their overall goal is about 2.1 million, but it was the most the band had ever raised on Giving Day, and that's going up against things like the law school."

McDaniel's love for the band came in her time clad in red and blue in The Pride of the South, and she originally thought she wanted to be a band director before her love for journalism won her heart.

"I was a music major for most of undergrad, so I didn't switch to journalism until my senior year," McDaniel said. "I had to cram all of my classes in two years. I just knew I needed more digital media experience if I was going to get a job.

"I knew I wanted to be a writer. I loved teaching, and I still love music, but I knew I was going to regret it if I didn't become a writer."

For McDaniel, The Pride of the South is a family, and that sentiment was solidified when her father passed away in 2014. Once he passed, she reached out to David Wilson, the director of the band, to see if a small portion of their ensemble would play for his funeral.

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"I thought they would have some kind of taps situation which would have been more than we ever expected," McDaniel said. "I had not talked to him again, and it was just a long shot because he loved the band. When we pulled in, it was an ensemble of 15-20 people.

"He had basically gone and talked to every first chair player of every section and said, 'Do this for her.' To have a group of people show up for you on the darkest day of your life just because you were a part of something, it touched me so much."

Although that was not what cemented her love of the band at Ole Miss, it certainly didn't hurt matters, and now, she has made it her mission to improve their practice facilities in the coming years, even if it meant wearing maroon and white for the annual Egg Bowl.

Although she made this deal with Hadad of SportsTalk Mississippi, she would not let him touch her wardrobe for Thursday night.

"I wouldn't let him decide what I wore," McDaniel said. "Look, I'll wear the colors, but I don't want to lose my sense of style."

Once she braved the Mississippi State tailgate scene, had been adorned with temporary Bulldog tattoos and a custom cowbell, McDaniel was ready for the game action itself. An avid fan of the Netflix series 'Ted Lasso,' McDaniel's cowbell was even themed after one of her favorite shows.

"I thought that was so touching," McDaniel said. "I really loved that. Throughout the day as I got more branded, it really started to hit me like, 'Oh my gosh. What have I done?'"

The rules for McDaniel's "Mississippi State fandom" were that she couldn't audibly cheer for the Rebels and had to ring her cowbell when Mississippi State made advances on the gridiron.

For a die-hard like her, though, she wasn't always able to keep her fandom under wraps.

"I don't remember if we scored or what, but this guttural sound came out of me," McDaniel said. "It was almost like a growl, and Brian looked at me like, 'Are you okay?' I think it was just so repressed that it was my body reacting."

Outside of her support for The Pride of the South, McDaniel has a successful journalism career under her belt. She currently works as the managing editor for For The Win, a part of the USA Today network, and has experience with SB Nation.

You can follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexMcDaniel.