University Of Southern Mississippi

1968 Golden Eagles
(Authentic Reproduction)




1968 would mark Coach Vann’s twentieth and final year as head coach of Southern Miss. He had ushered the program into the major college division and national prominence with his defensive units and noteworthy upsets of Southeastern Conference foes. Perhaps as a farewell gift to his team, he presented the players and their loyal fans with a new uniform design that included a Green Bay gold helmet featuring a one-inch white center stripe and three-quarters-inch black flanking stripes. Each side featured a player’s three-inch, block style black identification numeral. The season began with a 3-1 start and the 17-14 loss to Alabama was a typically hard fought contest. The October 12 shellacking of Mississippi State by a count of 47-14 gave every indication that this would be a “business as usual” season but the roof caved in as five consecutive losses scuttled the year. Yielding sixty-eight points to a high flying Don Coryell San Diego State team just highlighted the poor defense that had been nationally rated to this point. Noseguard Rex Barnes was still solid as were linebacker Larry Ussery and DB Doug Rouse but there were constant breakdowns. Quarterback Tommy Boutwell ran the offense well and spent ’69 with the Dolphins as a receiver while sophomore tailback Larry Moulton, the Andalusia, Alabama star, established himself as an excellent receiver, return man, and the team’s leading rusher behind the blocking of fullback Frank Johnston and center Melvin “Hank” Autry who spent two seasons with the Oilers. Coach Vann announced his retirement prior to the last game against Tampa which the team won to close out the year at 4-6, his first losing season. His 139-59-2 record was marked by historic wins and national recognition and he would remain with the school in an administrative position. He received the honor he deserved with entry to the College Football Hall Of Fame. On November 30 former Ole Miss standout tackle and former team captain Roland Dale was named the new USM head coach. He had been successful on the high school and junior college levels and was highly respected as a long time Ole Miss assistant. He had ties to USM as one of Vann’s former line coaches in 1955 and ’56. Unexpectedly, Dale announced that he would not move from Ole Miss and on December 20, the search for a new head coach was restarted. Much to the relief of Southern fans, they were able to hire one of their own, P.W. Underwood.

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