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Former Ole Miss Football Players Enjoy Homecoming Gathering

Former Ole Miss Football Players Enjoy Homecoming Gathering

OXFORD, Miss. – Texas A&M is famous for its 12th Man, a player willing to come out of the stands should his Aggies need him to do so. Saturday when Kentucky takes on Ole Miss, the Rebels will have up to a 50th man in the bleachers ready to take the field — and these players have experience.

This Homecoming weekend, Oxford is playing host to a reunion of former players and The Rebel Walk was able to catch up with a group of them Friday as they had dinner at Kings’ Steakhouse. Although he did not take credit for setting the event up, former Ole Miss quarterback John Fourcade was the obvious ringleader of the group.

“We haven’t had (a reunion) in six or eight years,” Fourcade said.

We have over 30 people here and the rest will be here in the morning. There are a couple of guys here I haven’t seen in 30 or 40 years, and they have come from all over and as far as Florida and Massachusetts.

Former Ole Miss QB John Fourcade

The group met for dinner early Friday evening, but that was just the first stop of the festivities. After the dinner plates were cleared, the former Rebels headed to The Library to meet another reunion, this one headed by Eli Manning for a party that was hosted by the owner of the Oxford nightspot.

Saturday, the group will have a tent in The Grove and then will head into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the game between the ranked foes.

Another former Ole Miss quarterback, Bobby Garner, also attended the reunion. Garner started the 1977 game against Notre Dame in which the Rebels knocked off the eventual national champions in Jackson, 20-13. The Niceville, Fla., native stayed in Mississippi after graduation and lives in the Madison area. He could not help but feel overwhelmed at seeing his former teammates.

“It is a wonderful turnout,” Garner, who played from 1976-78, said.

It is just a testament to the dedication these men have to Ole Miss. It has been 40 years since I have seen some of them, but it really seems like yesterday.

Former Ole Miss QB Bobby Garner

As recent as yesterday seems for Garner, he is also looking forward to tomorrow and wonders what it would have been like to have played for Lane Kiffin.

“I would have loved to have played for him and maybe he would have trusted me (to throw the ball),” Garner said between laughs. “When I played, we ran the wishbone and the veer, and we didn’t pass the ball much until coach (Steve) Sloan came in my senior year.”

Defensively, another player thought it might be nice to play in this era. Former linebacker Keith Fourcade would like to try even though he thinks it is a sport that doesn’t resemble the one he played.

“This is a different game,” Keith Fourcade said.

But I think I would like to play. I would like to test my pass coverage skills. Back when I was here it was more smash-mouth football.

Former Ole Miss linebacker Keith Fourcade

Keith Fourcade brought his son Chase for the weekend. Chase played at Nicholls (La.) State as a quarterback and then went on to play in the Canadian Football League. He recently signed with the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL to continue the Fourcade family tradition — both his father and his Uncle John played professionally.

“I brought my son up here so he could meet some of these guys,” Keith Fourcade said. “And I think he needed to hear some of these old war stories.”

One of those stories must’ve involved the 1981 Egg Bowl that is one of the most memorable games of John Fourcade’s career.

Mississippi State kicked a field goal on a third down with 34 seconds left in the game to take a 17-14 lead, but that gave the Rebels time to mount a last-ditch drive. With time running down, John Fourcade threw to the end zone and the Bulldogs appeared to make a game-saving interception, but State was called for pass interference and Ole Miss got the ball at the 1.

With just two seconds remaining, John Fourcade faked a handoff up the middle and then scooted around the right side to score the game-winning touchdown on the last play of his college career.

As many of those stories that were told Friday, the players were also looking forward to Saturday’s game against the Wildcats.

I am looking for Ole Miss to separate themselves. Then we can make a run and show everybody we can compete with Alabama and Georgia. We need to play physical against that basketball school.

Keith Fourcade

But if Kiffin needs, there are some former Rebels ready to put the uniform on to help.

Well, maybe not.

“Looking around the room, I think we have some guys who could still play,” John Fourcade said. “But then again, over the years we have eaten a lot of pizza, so I don’t know.”

The game kicks off at 11 a.m. and can be seen on ESPN.

(Feature image credit courtesy John Fourcade)

Steve Barnes
Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.

He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.

A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.

Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.

He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.

Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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