Nobody liked to have fun like former Ole Miss football coach Johnny Vaught.
He was a frequent visitor to the golf links. In between his birdies and double-bogeys, Vaught cracked a few jokes. And then he played on.
Vaught made friends easily. He was endearing, inviting and always up for a good game of something or the other. Vaught had some good aim, too. He was an avid hunter, and he loved to go dove and quail hunting in the morning before heading on over to his office at Ole Miss.
From morning until night, Vaught was a good sort. He was a smart man with a good sense of humor. But his greatest quality of all was his ability to motivate. For 25 years from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s, Vaught was the toast of Oxford.
Now that is Mississippi and not jolly ‘ol England. Vaught turned Ole Miss football into a winning proposition. The Johnny Rebs won like they had never done before or since.
Vaught won more games than anyone in Ole Miss football history. The country fried coach was an innovator, an instigator and a champion in life. Vaught believed in hard work, good fun and details.
He loved to coach and loved to win. In 25 autumns at Ole Miss, Vaught had 24 winning seasons and one losing campaign. He learned from it all – the good, the bad and the ties.
But he prospered and propelled the Rebels to the upper level of college football. Vaught’s teams won with defense first, offense second and of course, an explosive passing game. Some of the best ball tossers and runners in SEC history played for Mr. Johnny Reb.
Charley Connerly, Jake Gibbs and Archie Manning played, learned and won under Vaught’s steady guidance. They did it the Ole Miss way with few turnovers, a balanced offense and a stout defense.
In the Vaught years, Ole Miss football went 19061-12 with six Southeastern Conference champion ships and three national titles (1959, 1960, ’62). The Rebels won the Sugar Bowl five times. With Vaught, Ole Miss won 14 straight bowl games during one tasty run of domination.
Vaught’s teams at Ole Miss had nine seasons with no less than nine wins. The Rebels won in a number of different ways, too, with the wing-T attack and then the Iformation offensive scheme.
The Rebels also won games and SEC acclaim with the passing game. Johnny Vaught showed Ole Miss how. They loved to throw the forward pass. The Rebels were fundamental and precise. They and their coach were ahead of their time.
With Vaught as their head coach, the Johnny Rebs also won 72 percent of their games during a 25year span. Vaught and Ole Miss beat some of the best, too. Six times, Vaught and the Rebels defeated Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The Johnny Rebs also beat the Volunteers and Tennessee legend Robert Neyland in three out of five games. Johnny Vaught lived to be 96 years old.
The quail hunter and football icon was just a country boy all the way down to his muddy boots. Life in the South can be heavenly. It was for Johnny Vaught, who lived every hour to the fullest with his pumpkin pie, of course.