Sports Illustrated's SEC cover jinxes through the years
When you publish a magazine 52 times a year for the better part of seven decades, there’s bound to some misses. In the case of Sports Illustrated, those misses have created a phenomenon, infamously known as the “SI Cover Jinx.”
The premise is simple: If you appear on the cover, you’ll be jinxed soon after.
SEC teams frequently appear on the magazine cover, led by Alabama, which most recently appeared after winning the national championship.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 12, 2016
The Crimson Tide are also familiar with the cover’s rumored voodoo.
Here is a look at a handful of Sports Illustrated cover jinxes throughout the years and how they’ve affected SEC teams.
Sports Illustrated perfectly captured Trae Elston and Ole Miss’ jubilance in the moments after the Rebels upset No. 2 Alabama during a Week 3 tilt in Tuscaloosa.
Ole Miss was blown out two games later, but the most obvious jinx is that it was Alabama, rather than Ole Miss, that won the College Football Playoff national title.
The jinx also reserved some of its cruelty for Elston. The Oxford, Ala., native who started every game his senior year, was snubbed by the NFL Scouting Combine.
He wasn’t among the 300-plus athletes invited to Indianapolis to showcase their skills. That was despite finishing tied for second on the team in tackles (70) with fellow defensive back and combine-snub Mike Hilton.
Elston also posted four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
That wasn’t enough to warrant an invite for the Associated Press Second-Team All-American, despite projections that suggest the player deemed too small for the NFL by some scouts could be selected on Day 3 of the draft.
— HottyToddy.com (@HottyToddyNews) September 23, 2015
It took longer for the jinx to impact Mississippi State than it did Ole Miss.
The No. 3 Rebels followed up their Oct. 20, 2014 cover mention by losing five days later 10-7 to No. 24 LSU.
Dak Prescott and Mississippi State lost their first game weeks later, Nov. 15 at Alabama.
Prescott, who had thrown just four interceptions before appearing on the cover, threw seven after it, and the Bulldogs dropped three of their final four games to finish 10-3. One of the losses was to Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs finished the year ranked No. 11 by the Associated Press, followed by Ole Miss (9-4) at No. 17.
Prescott also appeared on the cover of SI’s 2015 College Football Preview holding a live bulldog along with a subhead about the Heisman mayhem surrounding Mississippi State’s all-time leading passer.
The quarterback had a great season, but failed to break the top-10 in Heisman votes.
Welcome to the big time, Dak Prescott. The new Sports Illustrated cover: pic.twitter.com/uKwKysi54S
— Charlie Burris (@Charlie_Burris) October 15, 2014
Wouldn't you know an Alabama player is on the cover of SI, again. This time it's T.J. Yeldon. pic.twitter.com/FCLFP3Eq7K
— Roll Bama Roll (@rollbamaroll) August 14, 2013
Alabama won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 but lost the 2013 Iron Bowl at Auburn on Chris Davis’ Kick-Six, ending the Tide’s bid for a third straight championship.
Michael Ford either disproved the jinx or was a long-form victim of the supposed hex, depending on how you want to perceive his Sept. 12, 2011 cover treatment when Sports Illustrated dubbed the LSU running back as the “New Tiger in the SEC.”
Ford led LSU in rushing that season as a sophomore (756 yards, 7 TDs), but combined for just 10 carries and 35 yards in the SEC Championship win over Georgia and the BCS title game loss to Alabama.
It went further downhill for Ford, who posted just 392 yards and 5 touchdowns as a junior before declaring early for the NFL Draft.
He played in a dozen games for the Chicago Bears in 2013 — mostly on special teams — but was out of the league a year later.
— Hamilton Tiger-Cats (@Ticats) October 7, 2015
This SI Jinx actually worked in the SEC’s favor after the magazine’s Dec. 2, 1985 appeal for Plymouth State running back Joe Dudek to take home the Heisman Trophy.
A young Rick Reilly implored fans to get behind Dudek, who broke Walter Payton’s record for career touchdowns. Apparently the thinking fan, and those who actual vote, see the world differently, as Auburn’s Bo Jackson edged Iowa quarterback Chuck Long for college football’s holy grail.
Dudek finished ninth in the voting.
— Charlie Brown (@OnmyGrizzy19) November 28, 2012