Former Ole Miss Head Football Coach Billy Kinard, 84, Passes Away
July 2, 2018
OXFORD, Miss. - Billy Russell Kinard, 84, who took over as head football coach at Ole Miss when legendary coach John Vaught retired following the 1970 season, passed away Saturday, June 30, 2018, at his residence in Fort Payne, Alabama, following an extended illness.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Tuesday, July 3, 2018, at Grace Presbyterian Church, located at 5760 Gault Avenue, North in Fort Payne. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, July 3 at the church from 12-2 p.m. A private graveside service will be held at a later date.
Kinard is survived by his wife of 62 ½ years, Kay H. Kinard; son Billy Kinard, Jr., daughter Kathy Kinard, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Pearl Wooley Kinard and Major Henry Kinard; brothers Ernest Kinard, Frank “Bruiser” Kinard, George Kinard and Henry Kinard; and sisters Juanita Kinard and Dean Kinard.
When Kinard was selected to succeed Vaught, he became the first alumnus to serve as the Ole Miss head football coach, having played defensive back and halfback (1952-55) for Vaught, who had coached the Rebels 24 years, but retired following a heart attack suffered in mid-October of 1970.
In his first season as head coach, Kinard led Ole Miss to a 10-2 record in 1971, the finest finish for the Rebels since 1963. The season included a 41-18 victory over Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl and a No. 15 national ranking by the Associated Press.
Following a 5-5 mark in 1972 and a 1-2 start in 1973, Vaught came out of retirement to replace Kinard for the remainder of the season and to also become the Ole Miss athletics director. After the 1973 campaign, Vaught once again retired, but remained on as athletics director.
Kinard also served one season as head football coach at Gardner-Webb University in 1978. His overall head coaching record was 20-14-1.
As a player at Ole Miss, Kinard earned four letters in football and two in baseball. He was a third-team All-SEC pick in football in 1955 and earned All-SEC first-team baseball honors in 1956 when coach Tom Swayze’s team claimed SEC Western Division and NCAA District III titles before finishing third in the College World Series.
Following his senior season, Kinard was selected in the second round (25th overall pick) of the 1956 National Football League draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played his rookie season (1956) with the Browns and then two years (1957-58) with the Green Bay Packers before ending his professional career in 1960 with the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League. Between his time with Green Bay and Buffalo, Kinard coached at Mainland High School in Florida in 1959.
Before returning to Ole Miss as head coach, Kinard had spent the 1970 season as defensive backfield coach under Frank Broyles at Arkansas. Prior to his single season with the Razorbacks, he had been a defensive back coach at Georgia (1967-69), Florida (1964-66), and Auburn (1962-63), working under Vince Dooley, Ray Graves and Shug Jordan.
Kinard also coached defensive backs in the NFL, working for the Green Bay Packers (1974-1975), Cleveland Browns (1976-1977) and New England Patriots (1979-1980). He concluded his career as a coach and teacher in Alabama high schools.
Born on December 16, 1933 in Jackson, Mississippi, Kinard graduated from Jackson Central High School in 1952, He was selected to All-Big Eight Conference and All-State honors at halfback in 1951 and earned three letters in football. Kinard also starred in basketball at guard and in baseball as a catcher.
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