On September 1, 2021, James R. Crockett discussed his new book Rulers of the SEC: Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 1959-1966 as part of the History Is Lunch series.
From 1959 through 1966, Mississippi universities dominated the Southeastern Conference in the big three sports―basketball, baseball, and football. Of the twenty-four championships that could be earned in those sports, the University of Mississippi won six and Mississippi State University won six.
“Those two Mississippi universities won twelve of the championships,” Crockett said. “That left the remaining twelve championships for the other members of the conference.”
Crockett explores the most decisive wins in each major sport, beginning with the extraordinary coaches and their varying personalities and charting the shifting social landscape that faced the teams as their students, faculty, and traditions changed 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 SEC Champion Bulldog basketball team of 1962–63.
James R. Crockett is professor emeritus at the University of Southern Mississippi and adjunct professor of accountancy at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Power, Greed, and Hubris: Judicial Bribery in Mississippi; Hands in the Till: Embezzlement of Public Monies in Mississippi; and Operation Pretense: The FBI’s Sting on County Corruption in Mississippi, all published by University Press of Mississippi.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are broadcast from the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building.