Golden Football Magazine
February 19, 2021


"I can't take much credit for what I did, running with a football, because I don't know what I did. Nobody ever taught me, and I can't teach anybody. You can teach a man how to block or tackle or kick or pass. The ability to run with a ball is something you have or you haven't. If you can't explain it, how can you take credit for it?"

Red Grange, University of Illinois

Tiger Den

LSU vs the Mannings - 2002

Eli Manning's second battle with the Tigers didn't turn out as well as the first one.

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Saints Saga

Saints Playoff Games - 1990

The Saints made their second playoff appearance, visiting the Bears in a wild card game.

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Seminole Sidelines

Florida State
's first "bowl game" - 1903.

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Super Bowl XIX

San Francisco 49ers vs Miami Dolphins

The QB battle turned out one-sided.

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Football Profile: Alex Wojciechowicz

The pivotman of the "Seven Blocks of Granite" became a Hall of Fame linebacker in the NFL.

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How Well Do You Know the Rules?

Offensive player recovers a blocked field goal and advances the ball.

Green Bay Packers coaches

Short Story: The 1959 Ole Miss Rebels - 1
The 50 Best College Football Teams of All Time, Bill Connelly (2016)
Ole Miss averaged 48y per punt against LSU that evening. It was almost unfair that Jake Gibbs was good at this, considering how good he was at everything else, too. He was the Rebels' quarterback and would become the SEC's player of the year in 1960. A stud base­ball player, he also led Ole Miss to its first SEC title in 1959 and ended up playing parts of 10 seasons as a catcher for the New York Yankees. He hit 25 career home runs and was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995. Now that's well-rounded.
Good punting was also unfair, seeing how incredible Ole Miss' defense was. It was always strong under head coach Johnny Vaught, but it was particularly dominant in 1959. The Rebels allowed only three touchdowns all year, and all three were either because of special teams or a turnover deep in their territory. Opponents didn't sustain a scoring drive of double-digit yardage all year.
The defense was so good that Vaught often didn't even wait until fourth down to punt. Granted, quick kicks were still rather common in the late 1950s, but with Ole Miss it was almost a sign of arrogance. "Sure, our offense is pretty good, but we'll go ahead and give the ball back to you. You know you can't do anything with it."
For most of the game Vaught was right. If Gibbs' kick with 10 minutes left in Baton Rouge had bounced out of bounds as intended, Ole Miss probably would have cruised to a 3-0 win in Baton Rouge in the biggest game of the season. With a win, the Rebels would have almost certainly become the SEC's third AP national champion in three years. It would have been the perfect culmination of what had become a 13-year building process for Vaught in Oxford.
Ole Miss had experienced scattered success before Vaught, but nothing like this. After going 17-3 in his first two years and winning both the SEC and the Delta Bowl in 1947, his Rebels had taken a brief step backwards, then surged forward again. Between 1952-63, Ole Miss would lose more than twice in just one season. The Rebs finished in the top 10 in 1952, 1954, 1955, and 1957, and finishing 9-2 and 11th in 1958 had been a source of disappointment.
From 1959-62, the Rebels would dominate college football in the South. But the 1959 squad was Vaught's best and one of the best in the sport's history. All the punt had to do was bounce out of bounds for Ole Miss to clinch immortality.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, it checked up. On a sloppy field on a muggy Halloween evening at Tiger Stadium, it bounced right up into Billy Cannon's hands.

L-R: Johnny Vaught, Jake Gibbs, Billy Cannon and Paul Dietzel
It rained about a third of an inch on Halloween 1959 in Baton Rouge. High of 80, average humidity of 97 percent. It was a throwback to weeks earlier, a sticky late-summer day in mid-autumn. The soupy vibe permeated even the black and white footage of the game.
This might have been the most anticipated game in either program's history. Former Army offensive line coach Paul Dietzel had taken the LSU job in 1955 at the age of only 30; what his resumé lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality. He had played for Sid Gill­man at Miami (OH) in 1946-47, spent two years as Bear Bryant's line coach at Ken­tucky, and spent three years under Red Blaik in West Point.
It took Dietzel only four seasons to pull off what Vaught hadn't yet accomplished: a No. 1 ranking. Utilizing a deep squad, he used a three-platoon system - the White team (first-stringers), the Gold team (second-stringers), and the Chinese Bandits (a third string made of LSU's most energetic, physical reserves) - to soften opponents up and roll to an 11-0 record. The Tigers finished a perfect season with a 7-0 win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
This didn't sit particularly well with Ole Miss or its fans. LSU had basically cut in line, and an already strong regional rivalry had grown nuclear. When Ole Miss came to town on Halloween, a packed house of 67,500 awaited. No. 1 vs No. 3: This was the toughest ticket in college football. Legend has it that someone traded his car for seats. An even more cre­ative legend tells that someone offered his wife. LSU hadn't lost for nearly two full years, and Ole Miss hadn't lost for nearly one. The winner would become the de facto national title favorite. ...
Over the next 10 to 12 years, the college football universe would finally become fully inte­grated. In 1959, however, it was still a foreign, unrealistic concept in certain areas. Among other things, it made Ole Miss's scheduling anything but novel. The Rebels played Mem­phis 23 times in non-conference play from 1949-74, Houston 17 times between 1952-70, and Arkansas 10 straight years from 1952-61. They played series against teams like North Texas, Chattanooga, Trinity (Texas), Hardin-Simmons, and Tampa throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Predictably, then, the 1959 season started against Houston ... A confusing new Houston offense had Ole Miss on its heels at the beginning of the game [but] the Rebels cruised 16-0.
The Rebel offense struggled a bit the next week in Lexington, too. But after a scoreless first half against Kentucky, Ole Miss drove 42y in six plays to take a 6-0 lead ...A field goal and a late touchdown gave Ole Miss a second-straight 16-0 win.
Ole Miss was all-defense so far. The offense would begin to play its part, at least until the trip to Baton Rouge.
Ole Miss and LSU had combined to allow just 13 points in 12 combined games. Defense that good doesn't only require down-to-down dominance; it also requires a little extra stiffening when the opponent gets a rare scoring opportunity.
To be continued ...

Tiger Den: LSU vs the Mannings - 2002
Saints Saga: Playoff Games - 1990
Seminoles Sidelines: First Bowl Game
Super Bowl XIX - 49ers vs Dolphins
Football Profile: Alex Wojciehowicz
How Well Do You Know the Rules?
Football Quiz
Short Story: Ole Miss 1959 - 1


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