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Rulers of the SEC - Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 1959-1966

Rulers of the SEC

Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 1959-1966

By James R. Crockett
Hardcover : 9781496835550, 264 pages, 8 b&w illustrations, August 2021

How two Mississippi universities won twelve of twenty-four championships to dominate sports and reign supreme in the SEC


During the years 1959–1966 Mississippi universities dominated the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in the big three sports—basketball, baseball, and football. Of the twenty-four championships that could be earned in those sports, University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) won six and Mississippi State University (MSU) won six. That is, the two Mississippi universities won twelve of the championships. That left the remaining twelve championships for the other members of the conference.

Picking up in the late fifties, James Crockett explores the most decisive wins in each major sport, beginning at the source of these victories: the extraordinary coaches and their interesting personalities. With each year, Crockett charts the unreal rise within the SEC conference and the many hardships that faced these beloved teams as their students, faculty, and traditions changed all around them. Stars and coaches that shine in the book include John Vaught, Tom Swayze, Jake Gibbs, and Donnie Kessinger from Ole Miss; and Paul Gregory, Bailey Howell, Babe McCarthy, and the amazing SEC Champion Bulldog basketball team of 19621963.

Rulers of the SEC: Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 1959–1966 enraptures readers with harrowing victories and multiyear, dynastic championships. It is a tale of great coaches, great athletes, and great teams as they adapted to a controversial era of college sports.


"Whether you’re a Bulldog, Rebel, or Golden Eagle—or follow one of the state’s other fine public and private institutions of higher learning—Rulers of the SEC: Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 1959–1966 celebrates a time when Mississippi universities found a way to compete successfully for championships with scant resources. "

- Daily Journal

"This book chronicles a unique period in Mississippi athletic history when Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi were in the upper echelons of the Southeastern Conference in football, baseball, and basketball. James R. Crockett has done the heavy lifting of research and puts the numbers in the hands of those who most enjoy arguing about these numbers—fans of Mississippi State and Ole Miss. "

- Sid Salter, chief communications officer at Mississippi State University

"Rulers of the SEC: Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 1959–1966 tells a history of college athletics that is often overlooked outside of Oxford and Starkville. People who want to relive the joys of their youth or who want to learn more about the teams they already love will be interested in this book. "

- Nick Suss, Ole Miss sports reporter for the Clarion-Ledger

"James R. Crockett’s Rulers of the SEC allows the Ole Miss and Mississippi State faithful to take a fascinating journey back in time to relive an era (1959–1966) when the Rebels and Bulldogs combined forces to win Southeastern Conference championships in the sports of football, basketball, and baseball. In this unique book, Crockett gives detailed accounts of the games and provides an avenue to remember those great coaches and athletes who gave us so much joy. "

- Langston Rogers, sports information director, University of Mississippi (1981–2010) and member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame