Mississippi State University

1963-65 Bulldogs
(Authentic Reproduction)




Coach Davis surprised loyal fans with a change in the Bulldogs helmet design and a terrific 7-2-2 season that ended in a Liberty Bowl victory over Villanova in a frigid Philadelphia. A change was made to a maroon shell adorned with a white bulldog head logo on each side, and white two-inch NCAA style player identification numerals on both the front and back of the helmet. The new helmet may have helped inspire a very good core group of players to a fourth place finish in the SEC with center/linebacker Pat Watson and tackle Tommy Neville named to All America teams. Two-way lineman Bob Dugan was drafted by the Bills and played with Toronto in the CFL for a season, but the winning formula was the leadership ability and occasional pass from quarterback Roy “Sonny” Fisher to Tommy Inman combined with the rushing of speedy fullback Hoyle Granger. Halfback Ode Burrell was versatile and terrific and followed with a solid five year career that included an All Pro season with the Oilers. Much of the rushing was done behind guard Justin Canale [see HELMET HUT    http://www.helmethut.com/Features/Dr.Ken130.html ]. Fisher’s SEC leading interception total also sparked the defense, with many of MSU’s players going both ways to the tune of the eleventh best team in the nation when the final polls were tallied. Tying Ole Miss 10-10 was very much like a victory, and the squad’s first bowl appearance since 1940 had their followers full of excitement.

Once again, with returning stars and the ’63 tie with Ole Miss, Bulldog supporters were expecting a lot for the 1964 season. Once again, a season giving indication of sustained success delivered disappointment. Quarterback Don Edwards was injured against Florida in the season’s second game and though he came back late in the year and back-up Ashby Cook did a credible job, the 4-6 finish carried by the rushing of Granger, speedy soph Marcus Rhoden, and Bill Moore who was with the CFL BC Lions in ’66 was a major let down. Outstanding line play came from Canale, Grady Bolton who played with Saskatchewan of the CFL in ‘66, Percy “Bootsie” Larson, and decorated offensive tackle Tommy Neville who had a lengthy twelve year stay with the Patriots, finishing his pro career with the Broncos and Giants. Pat Watson, with Neville, completed his eligibility with a number of All SEC selections, played in the CFL for two seasons and then embarked on a thirty-two year assistant coaching career at a number of universities, including State in ’70 and ’71. Justin Canale who had broken family tradition by playing at State instead of Tennessee, opened the door to the recruitment of two more brothers and then had a pro career that included offensive line and place kicking duties with the Patriots and Bengals of the AFL, Montreal and Calgary of the CFL, and Memphis of the World Football League. Defensive end Bill McGuire was solid. The defining moment of course came with the first victory over Ole Miss since 1946, a 20-17 finish that was broadcast on national television. The win over the rival Rebels elevated the expectations for ’65, especially with one of the weakest schedules in the conference. Another 4-6 finish was a major disappointment, especially with fullback Granger attracting national attention and super-fast track star Marcus Rhoden in the backfield. Granger became the hammer in the Houston Oiler backfield for five years, two of those All Pro seasons, went to the Saints for a year and then returned for a final season with Houston. A 4-0 start led to the fan base adoption and constant local radio play of the popular song, “Catch Us If You Can” but scoring but seventy-three points  while giving up double that in the final part of the season led to six consecutive losses despite excellent play by sophomore linebacker D.D. Lewis and defensive end Fred Corley.

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