Mississippi State University

1958-59 Bulldogs
(Authentic Reproduction)




A slight alteration was made to the helmet by removing the player identification numerals from the rear of the helmet and placing larger, three-inch black ones high on each side of the white shell with a one-inch maroon center stripe. Expectations were also high as the State Legislature granted university status to the Bulldog nation. Unfortunately the 3-6 finish included a sole SEC victory against Florida in the season opener, placing the Bulldogs in last place within the conference. Stacy, playing almost the entire year with an unpublicized back injury, finished his fine career as a Second Team All SEC choice and went on to a five year professional career as a flanker and defensive back with the St. Louis Cardinals. P.L. “Chief” Blake served the team well at end but up front it was 6’5”, 228 pound tackle Walter Suggs, guard Jack Benson, and center Tom Goode moving the pile. For 1959 Walker changed his offense to a Wing-T attack but the record got worse, finishing at 2-7 and the team did not score in five of the final six games. Quarterback Billy “Tootie” Hill directed the offense and Goode and Suggs made a number of All SEC teams. Defensive back Willie Daniel was a dependable player who became an assistant football and head track coach in Cleveland, MS but earned a tryout with the ’61 Steelers. He played from 1961 through ’66 with Pittsburgh and ’67 to ’69 with the Rams. His unfortunate descent into dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease after a successful business career is one of the more publicized relative to former NFL players and the NFL 88 Plan.

From 1960 through 1962, Mississippi State returned to the helmet they had worn during the 1949 through ’56 seasons, a white shell with a one-inch maroon center stripe and an absence of any player identification numerals. The team’s inability to win an SEC game continued, with the opening game of the ’58 season the last time they could claim a victory against a conference opponent. The overall 2-6-1 mark for 1960 by a marginally improved offense perhaps emphasized the ongoing plight of the program relative to their SEC foes. They had leadership from All American center Tom Goode, a second round center/linebacker pick for the Oilers who played four seasons with them, four with the Dolphins, and finished his nine year pro career with the Super Bowl Champion Colts. Big Walter Suggs joined Goode, playing ten years with the Oilers and DB Bobby Bethune hung on for a year with the Chargers. State always had a few outstanding players like these but lacked quality depth and numbers, and recruiting relative to conference neighbors was always an uphill battle. Fullback Billy Tohill would later be the head coach at TCU and an assistant with Birmingham of the World Football League. As an Alabama high school coach, he developed current Clemson head man Dabo Swinney. Walker brought in new assistants Paul Davis and Ken Donahue for the ’61 season to join Johnny Majors on what was in hindsight, an excellent staff. With the school mascot  officially changed to “The Bulldogs,” their improved 5-5 mark was punctuated by an 11-10 victory over Auburn, the result of a two-point conversion catch by end Johnny Baker in the season’s eighth game. This broke the absence of SEC wins dating to ‘58’s opener. Quarterback Charlie Furlow, Baker, and fullback Mackie Weaver carried the offensive load with tackle Howard Benton a standout on defense. Guard and defensive tackle Ray Osborne would be drafted by the Forty Niners but play with the BC lions in ’63.

Wade Walker would resign as head coach after the season but he remained in the AD’s chair he assumed in 1959. He made a bold moral stand in the racially charged atmosphere of 1963 by literally sneaking the MSU basketball team out of state so that they could participate in the NCAA tournament against integrated teams, in defiance of a legislative court order. He later became Athletic Director at Oklahoma and is credited with doing an incredible job enhancing their facilities and finances. Paul Davis would be elevated to the head coaching position for ’62 with a resume that included a multi-sport career at Ole Miss where he excelled in football, baseball, and basketball. World War II interrupted his years in Oxford and he won a Purple Heart with the U.S. Army in the European Campaign. He came up through the ranks, coaching at New Albany (MS) High School before posting a record at Jones County JC from 1950 to ’54 that earned him an assistant’s job at Memphis State. Time with the CFL and at Georgia got him ready for his hiring on Walker’s staff prior to the ’61 season and he seemed to be the man for the job. Unfortunately the ’62 season showed a lack of offense with failure to break out of single digit scoring but once and the result was a predictable 3-6. JC transfer halfback Ode Burrell was a sparkplug and talent was obvious with sophs Pat Watson at linebacker and Tommy Neville at tackle. Baker again stood out at end and put in four seasons with the Oilers and one with the Chargers at linebacker.

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