Epic Sports, 2000.
With this year’s exciting football season, even booksellers find a way to participate in Mississippi’s football madness. Rick Cleveland’s Vaught: The Man and His Legacy is a pictorial history of Johnny Vaught, the Texan who became an icon in Southern football and led the University of Mississippi through 25 seasons of some of its most historic football from 1947-1973. Ole Miss won six Southeastern Conference championships under Vaught and the team has not won another championship since then.
What was the secret to the Legendary Vaught’s success? Cleveland addresses this question throughout the book. Robert Khayat cites Vaught’s natural leadership abilities: the assembly of the best coaching team, the setting of goals and maintaining of focus, and the recruitment of players who could meet those expectations. The late Bruiser Kinard added that Coach Vaught wanted his assistant coaches to problem solve on their own. Vaught is quoted saying, “I didn’t want yes-men; I wanted people who would speak their mind.” Vaught earned his staff’s respect and they stayed with his team for a long time.
When Vaught: The Man and His Legacy was released in 2000, the 91-year-old Vaught graciously joined Cleveland for signings at bookstores and other venues. Signed copies of “Vaught” are great mementos to Mississippi’s football history. Rick Cleveland has spent over 40 years sharing his love for writing and sports with Mississippi and beyond. As I watch this historic football season unfold, I can’t help but wonder if Cleveland will be able to keep his book-writing pen still.