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'62 CHAMPIONS RETURN

The 1962 National Championship Ole Miss football team was back in town over the weekend and joined a panel discussion in the Overby Center on Saturday morning to discuss a number of topics surrounding the undefeated season.

 
Saturday was a big day on the Ole Miss campus. The Rebels played host to the Texas Longhorns under the bright lights of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. However, on Saturday morning the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics was home to an event equally as special for Rebel football fans who remember the good ol’ days of Ole Miss football under head coach Johnny Vaught.
 
A forum discussion highlighting the 1962 undefeated, national championship team was moderated by ESPN senior writer and Clarksdale native Wright Thompson. The four featured players were Chuck Morris, Louis Guy, Glynn Griffing and Sam Owens. They each had microphones, but before the discussion was completed, many of their former teammates in attendance also joined in the conversation.
 
The group displayed its sense of camaraderie. Each player had a story about a time they were hazed by upperclassmen. Each player had a story about a time they had to run bleachers. Each player echoed the feeling of family within the team.
 
Coach Vaught did not allow the players to get married or have cars. He wanted them to have school as their top priority followed by football, and after marriage, that couldn’t be true. So with little outside entertainment, they had to come together and learn to entertain themselves in the dorm. They credit this time spent together as the reason they remain so close today. They all protected each other and wanted to see each other succeed.
 
Players also spoke of the uniqueness of Vaught, each remembering the time in Baton Rouge where he made them run out of the tunnel at the same time as the homestanding LSU Tigers.
 
“We thought there sure was a lot of people there cheering for us,”  Morris said. 
 
On another occasion, Vaught changed the play calls from left to “lent” and right to “rose.” Arkansas could not figure out the basic calls, and Ole Miss came away with a tight win to preserve the perfect season.
 
Glynn Griffing, who quarterbacked the 1962 championship and was recently selected to represent Ole Miss as an SEC legend, acclaimed Vaught’s ability to coach up the quarterback position.
 
“He coached the quarterbacks and didn’t really work much with other positions,” Griffing said. “He trusted his assistants. Coach Vaught’s expertise at the quarterback position is probably the reason he had such a good run of quarterbacks in his time at Ole Miss.” 
 
The most challenging part of the 1962 season, however, was not an opponent the Rebels faced on the field. The 1962 riots at Ole Miss during the enrollment of the first black student, James Meredith, were a distraction from the success on the field.
 
The team, for the most part, stayed out of the commotion the weekend of the Kentucky football game and kept to themselves. It was even believed that the season would be canceled due to the events, but that did not happen.
 
“We got a few days off,” Morris said. “I think we all enjoyed that.” 
 
The team moved beyond the civil unrest on campus and finished the season undefeated. They were the last Ole Miss football team to go undefeated.
 
Today, the players from the team have become many different things. They’re lawyers, doctors, political leaders, country music singers and everything in between. They remain close because of their time together in football. 
 
As Thompson said, “They’re all still 22 year olds, just in 68 year olds’ bodies.”