Ole Miss Football Vault Hitting Bookstores Friday


Few schools in the country have such a devoted fan base as Ole Miss, and no other book captures the history of their beloved Rebels quite like the University of Mississippi Football Vault®: The History Of The Rebels. As much a scrapbook as it is a history book, opening the vault is like getting a guided tour through your own personal Ole Miss football museum.

The book will begin hitting bookshelves on Friday and is available to order online at www.CollegeVaultBooks.com.

Author Billy Watkins, a 1975 Ole Miss journalism graduate, is a lifelong Mississippian who has spent 30-plus years as a newspaper reporter telling the stories of The Magnolia State’s people and their passions. The latter includes Ole Miss football, which Watkins has followed closely since he was hired just out of college as a sportswriter for The Meridian Star. He rose to the sports editor’s job in 1978 and joined The Jackson Daily News and The Clarion-Ledger as a sportswriter/columnist in 1982.

Three times, Watkins was voted Mississippi’s Sportswriter of the Year by his peers before moving in 1990 to general features at The Clarion-Ledger, where he still works. His stories have earned more than 40 regional and national awards. Watkins, who grew up in the small community of Gholson, resides today with his family in Ridgeland.

In the University of Mississippi Football Vault®: The History Of The Rebels, Watkins writes the tale of the Rebels from 1893 through the 2008 season. He mixes great game coverage with behind-the-scenes anecdotes and personal stories to present a view of Ole Miss football that you won’t find anywhere else.

The book combines Watkins’ fascinating tales of Rebel legends — Dr. Alexander Lee Bondurant, James “Blind Jim” Ivy, Homer “Pop” Hazel, Claude “Tadpole” Smith, Ray “Little” Hapes, James “Buster” Poole, Frank “Bruiser” Kinard, Tom Swayze, Harry Mehre, Parker “Bullet” Hall, Charlie Conerly, Barney Poole, Johnny Vaught, Arnold “Showboat” Boykin, Jake Gibbs, Jim Weatherly, Archie Manning, John Fourcade, Chucky Mullins, Eli Manning and others — with never-before-published historic photographs and replicas of unique memorabilia tucked inside the pages.

Explore the book’s dozens of sleeves and pockets to get your hands on a 1910 photo of James “Blind Jim” Ivy, a handwritten play chart from Ole Miss’ 7-6 win over Mississippi A&M in 1926, a 1935 clipping about The Golden Egg trophy, an Ole Miss pennant, Barney Poole’s 1946 resignation letter from the U.S. Military Academy, a 1966 recruiting letter to Archie Manning’s parents, a 1989 promotional poster for linebacker Tony “Gator” Bennett and an Eli Manning bumper sticker.

In addition, you will find reproductions of tickets and program covers from some of Ole Miss’ most memorable games — the 1948 Delta Bowl victory over Texas Christian, the 1952 upset of unbeaten Maryland, the 1958 Sugar Bowl rout of Texas, the thrill-a-minute 1969 Alabama game and the 2009 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech, among others.

The book’s foreword is provided by Robert Khayat, the longtime Ole Miss chancellor who was named as a place-kicker to the school’s Team of the Century (1893-1992).

The afterword comes from Archie Manning, who quarterbacked the Rebels from 1968 to 1970 and became one of the most beloved figures in the program’s long history. Manning, a 1989 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, said about the book, “This is the definitive book of Ole Miss football history, from the first team in 1893 to the Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech last January. It's all right here. I’m sure you will enjoy it.”

The University of Mississippi Football Vault®: The History Of The Rebels is part of the College Vault Books series from Whitman Publishing of Atlanta. The hardcover 12” by 10” book with slipcase is available for $49.95 in bookstores.

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