Mississippi State University

1949-62 Bulldogs
(Authentic Reproduction)




The new head coach of the Maroons would be Arthur “Slick” Morton who introduced a white helmet with a one-inch maroon center stripe for the 1949 season. Morton was orphaned at the age of eight and his hardened edge was further honed as he led Louisiana’s Tallulah High School to two consecutive state championships. Often playing without a helmet due to an equipment shortage, his combed-back blonde hair gave him his nickname and he was personally recruited to LSU by Governor Huey Long. As captain and leader of Tigers teams that went to three Sugar Bowls, he produced Felix “Doc” Blanchard as a high school coach before taking the head job at Southeastern Louisiana College. After one season he returned to LSU as ends coach for two years, and taught the T-Formation to quarterback Y.A. Tittle. This earned him the head coaching position at Virginia Military Institute but after two years and a 9-8-1 record, he missed coaching in the SEC. Wondering why the powers at Mississippi State would fire a coach who at the time had the best record in the conference, he was told that his experience with the T-Formation and a desire to move MSC into the “modern age” made him their first choice. Despite having future Tulane and TCU head coach Jim Pittman as team Co-Captain, Morton’s ’49 squad went winless, managing a 7-7 tie with Clemson in an 0-8-1 season that was bolstered by the play of tackle Jim Champion who spent two seasons with the New York Yanks. 1950 brought improvement to 4-5 and one of the biggest upsets of the season as the Maroons upended mighty, and otherwise undefeated for the season, Tennessee 7-0 in the year’s second game, earning Morton the United Press Coach of The Week Award. Led by 6’, 130 pound quarterback Frank “Twig” Branch, and the rushing of Bill Stewart, Wally Beach, and Tom Rushing, the T-Formation was well established. Defensive back and punter Max Stainbrook teamed with Ohio import and VMI transfer Joe Fortunato and future N.Y. Yanks and Dallas Texans (NFL) defensive end Arthur Tait, to provide enough defense to rank the squad seventh nationally.

Hoped for improvement would not materialize and there were no major upsets to get the faithful through the ’51 season which resulted in another 4-5 mark. Getting waxed by Ole Miss 49-7 in the finale convinced Morton to enter the construction business where he became quite successful, and he originated the Mississippi High School All Star Game. His former player Bill Stewart, killed in the Korean War, has a trophy in his name presented to the game’s outstanding player. Scoring but twenty-three points against their major opponents sealed Morton’s fate, although Fortunato, who received some All America mention, center and linebacker Jack Manley who played with San Francisco in ’53, and tackle Bill Pyron played well defensively.

Murray Warmath, who had served MSC as line coach under Allyn McKee, further enhanced his reputation doing the same under Red Blaik at West Point. An All SEC guard and end for General Neyland’s Tennessee teams, Warmath was considered to be one of the best line coaches in the country. He left Mississippi State to serve in the Navy, returned from the military to coach at Tennessee before joining the Army staff, and was an excellent choice as 1952’s head coach, one that would install the Split T Formation. Warmath’s staff was outstanding, with Darrell Royal brought in to teach the new offense, and former State players Jim Pittman and Billy “Spook” Murphy who would become Memphis State’s long time head coach. The staff brought in Jones JC transfer Jackie Parker to run the show and football was revived in Starkville via exciting games and a 5-4 record. Fortunato was outstanding at both fullback and linebacker, moving on to a great twelve year career with the Chicago Bears that included three All Pro and five Pro Bowl selections, but Parker was the star, setting a new Southeastern Conference scoring record and earning the title of the SEC Most Valuable Player. Up front, center and Captain Bo Reid and linemates Joe Cimini and Ken Deloe stood out and Hal “Cubby” Easterwood looked to be a big time player.

Before 1953 kicked off, Royal left MSC after but one season, taking the head coaching position in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos. Parker however returned and had a tremendous senior season. The 5-2-3 year noted but one SEC loss, bowing to Bear Bryant’s great Kentucky squad and Parker was the engine that drove the train despite being physically pummeled in every game. Far from a one man show, Parker was ably backed up by Bobby Collins. Easterwood was considered the best center in the nation by some and backs Art Davis and George Suda provided plenty of power.


Low key off the field but red-hot and competitive on it, Jackie Parker earned his entry to the College Football Hall of Fame. At 6’ and 180 pounds he was not physically imposing but had the quiet confidence that allowed him to excel at whatever he attempted. Born Jack Dickerson Flanagan, he and his older brother were adopted by Carroll Parker when his mother remarried. Despite almost succumbing to a ruptured appendix and a flesh-eating fungal disease that almost led to amputation of a leg and foot, he became a standout baseball and football player at Knoxville’s J.F. Young High School. He lost part of his senior football season to pneumonia and was married at the age of sixteen, limiting his college football offers. He again excelled at Jones (MS) JC, leading them to an undefeated season with legendary exploits that led to his membership in the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame, but had to accept a baseball scholarship to Mississippi State because married football players were not given scholarships. Assistant Coach Darrell Royal was the perfect teacher and Parker was the perfect Split T quarterback although he was also great in the defensive backfield. He turned down an offer from the Cincinnati Reds to instead set SEC and MSC records that stood for decades as the most dominant player in college football. “Ol’ Spaghetti Legs” was a two time All SEC choice and a ’53 All American with 1952’s 120 points scored, a record that stood for decades. It was no surprise that he “did it all” by leading the team in interceptions, punting, and returns during his time at State, and added Academic All American to his impressive list of accomplishments. In the Canadian Football League, he is considered to be among the top few players of all time, a member of the CFL Hall Of Fame, and his fifteen year career resulted in three Grey Cup Championships, multiple All Pro seasons, and a slew of career, single season, and single game records. To many at State, Parker remains the greatest football player in school history.

With momentum building, supporters were upset that Coach Warmath chose to leave Mississippi State prior to the ’54 season to take the same position and install his same offense at Minnesota. In his eighteen years there, he won two Big Ten Championships, the 1960 National Championship, took the team to two Rose Bowls while winning one, and became the first major college coach to actively recruit African American athletes and play one, Sandy Stephens, at quarterback [see HELMET HUT   http://helmethut.com/Chiefs/Stephens.html] . Warmath finished a distinguished career as an assistant coach and then scout with the Minnesota Vikings. Credit Dudy Noble, MSC Athletic Director for coming up with an immediate and well received solution to the head coaching absence. State was never an easy sell with facilities that lagged behind the other SEC schools and recruiting difficulty that stemmed from the school’s isolation and relative lack of female students. Noble put out the call to Darrell Royal, only a year removed from his assistant’s post with State and a year into his head coaching career with the Edmonton Eskimos. Noble encouraged Royal, who had been a true all-star defensive back and quarterback for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma after serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, to walk away from his Canadian contract, noting that any legal decision would be adjudicated in a State of Mississippi courtroom. Royal hired his former OU teammate Wade Walker as his line coach and recruited well. He instilled an even higher level of discipline than the disciplined Warmath and great motivation. With Bobby Collins, the future MSU and Southern Methodist head coach at quarterback and defensive back, Hal Easterwood as an All America center and linebacker, Art Davis, younger brother of past MSC star Harper Davis as the SEC’s Most Valuable Player, fullback Charles “Dinky” Evans as the Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner of the SEC, and guard Bill Dooley, another future collegiate head coach, Royal produced a solid 6-4 record. His 1955 edition was also 6-4 and would have been better if All American Davis who frequently ran well behind tackle Jim Barron and All American guard Scott Suber, hadn’t been injured halfway through the schedule against Kentucky. Davis a First Team All America and Look Magazine College Player Of The Year had somehow made it to the end of the season and a number of post-season all-star games with a significantly damaged knee, one that would prevent him from fulfilling his potential as the Steelers first round draft choice.

Once again, Bulldogs fans would be unhappy watching a successful coach leave, with Royal choosing to take the head position at the University of Washington. After one season there, Royal of course went on to become one of college football’s greatest coaches, spending the 1957 through ’76 seasons at Texas, winning three National and eleven Southwest Conference titles, playing in sixteen bowl games, and producing numerous All America players.

The 1956 season began with assistant Wade Walker at the helm. Darrell Royal and Walker were part of a contingent of older, hardened service veterans who entered the Oklahoma football program with real purpose and they produced champions under Wilkinson. Walker was a two year captain and four time All Conference tackle as well as a First Team All American in ’49. Drafted by the Chicago Cardinals he instead became an assistant coach at North Carolina State, and then at Texas Tech, and Mississippi State. He assumed the dual roles of athletic director and head football coach but dropped to 4-6 with young quarterback Billy Stacy as the driving force of the squad. Stacy was All SEC and led the conference with 1074 total yards, throwing often to All SEC receiver Ron Bennett who was named an Academic All America. Guard Billy Fulton and tackle Don Conkle were the muscle up front.

Coach Walker dressed up the helmets for the ’57 season by placing black player identification numerals on the rear of the white shell that still displayed the maroon one-inch center stripe. The program gave indications it had turned a corner while posting a 6-2-1 record, finishing with a national rank of fourteen, and Walker won SEC Coach Of The Year honors. This high water mark season in Wade’s MSC career again rode the vast talents of quarterback Billy Stacy, again an All SEC choice, and the rushing ability of Bubber Trammell. His defense was anchored by guard Jack Benson and fullback/linebacker Bill Schoenrock and the Bulldogs managed a 7-7 tie against hated Ole Miss. The team refused an invitation to the Tampa, Florida Cigar Bowl, not realizing that there would be no other post-season opportunities until the ’63 Liberty Bowl.

If interested in any of these Mississippi State helmets please click on the photos below.