Johnny Vaught

John Howard Vaught (May 6, 1909 – February 3, 2006) was an American college football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) from 1947 to 1970 and again in 1973.

Johnny Vaught
Vaught in 1947
Biographical details
Born(1909-05-06)May 6, 1909
Olney, Texas
DiedFebruary 3, 2006(2006-02-03) (aged 96)
Oxford, Mississippi
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1936–1941North Carolina (line)
1942North Carolina Pre-Flight (assistant)
1946Ole Miss (assistant)
1947–1970Ole Miss
1973Ole Miss (interim HC)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1973–1978Ole Miss
Head coaching record
Tournaments6 SEC (1947, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962, 1963)
Accomplishments and honors
SEC Coach of the Year (1947, 1948, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1979 (profile)

Born in Olney, Texas, Vaught graduated as valedictorian from Polytechnic High School in Fort Worth, Texas and attended Texas Christian University (TCU), where he was an honor student and was named an All-American in 1932. Vaught served as a line coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under head coach Raymond Wolf from 1936 until 1941. In 1942, Vaught served as an assistant coach with the North Carolina Pre-Flight School.[1]

After serving in World War II as a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy, he took a job as an assistant coach at Ole Miss in 1946 under Harold Drew, and replaced Drew as head coach a year later. He did not take long to make an impact, taking a team that had finished 2–7 and leading it to the first conference title in school history. He led the Rebels to additional Southeastern Conference titles in 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962, and 1963. To date, Vaught is the only coach in Ole Miss history to win an SEC football championship. He also dominated the Egg Bowl rivalry with Mississippi State, going 19–2–4 against the Bulldogs.

His 1960 team finished 10–0–1 and was the only major-conference team to go undefeated on the field that year. As a result, it won a share of the national championship; it was awarded the Grantland Rice Award from the Football Writers Association of America after the bowl games. In those days, the wire services crowned their national champion before the bowl games. It is very likely that Ole Miss would have finished atop one poll, if not both, had they been taken after the bowl games as they are today. His 1962 team finished 10-0 and finished third in both polls; to date, it is the only undefeated and untied season in school history.

Vaught took Ole Miss to 18 bowl games, winning 10 times including five victories in the Sugar Bowl. Only two coaches held a winning record against Vaught: Paul "Bear" Bryant, with a record of 7–6–1 against Vaught, and Robert Neyland, with a record of 3–2.

Vaught suffered a mild heart attack on October 20, 1970. His longtime line coach, Bruiser Kinard, served as interim head coach for the remainder of the season,[2][3] though Ole Miss credits the entire season to Vaught.

Vaught formally retired after the season. Billy Kinard, Bruiser's younger brother, succeeded him; he was appointed by his older brother, who had become athletic director.[4] However, after a lackluster start to the 1973 season, Ole Miss fired Billy Kinaird and demoted Bruiser Kinaird. Vaught was named athletic director, and also served as interim head coach for the remainder of the 1973 season.[5]

Vaught's overall record at Ole Miss was 190–61–12. His 190 wins are far and away the most in school history. When Vaught arrived, Ole Miss ranked 9th in all-time SEC football standings. When he retired in 1970, Ole Miss had moved up to third, behind only Alabama and Tennessee. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. In 1982, Ole Miss honored Vaught by adding his name to Hemingway Stadium. On February 3, 2006, Vaught died at the age of 96 in Oxford, Mississippi.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference) (1947–1970)
1947 Ole Miss 9–26–01stW Delta13
1948 Ole Miss 8–16–12nd15
1949 Ole Miss 4–5–12–49th
1950 Ole Miss 5–51–511th
1951 Ole Miss 6–3–14–2–1T–3rd
1952 Ole Miss 8–1–24–0–23rdL Sugar77
1953 Ole Miss 7–2–14–1–1T–2nd
1954 Ole Miss 9–25–01stL Sugar66
1955 Ole Miss 10–15–11stW Cotton910
1956 Ole Miss 7–34–24th
1957 Ole Miss 9–1–15–0–12ndW Sugar87
1958 Ole Miss 9–23–23rdW Gator1211
1959 Ole Miss 10–15–1T–2ndW Sugar22
1960 Ole Miss 10–0–15–0–11stW Sugar32
1961 Ole Miss 9–24–13rdL Cotton55
1962 Ole Miss 10–06–01stW Sugar33
1963 Ole Miss 7–1–25–0–11stL Sugar77
1964 Ole Miss 5–5–12–3–17thL Bluebonnet20
1965 Ole Miss 7–45–34thW Liberty17
1966 Ole Miss 8–35–24thL Bluebonnet12
1967 Ole Miss 6–4–13–2–1T–6thL Sun
1968 Ole Miss 7–3–13–2–15thW Liberty
1969 Ole Miss 8–34–25thW Sugar138
1970 Ole Miss 7–44–24thL Gator20
Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference) (1973)
1973 Ole Miss 5–3[n 1]4–33rd
Ole Miss: 190–61–12106–39–10
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. Billy Kinard coached the first three games, all non-conference, of the 1973 season before he was fired. Vaught replaced Kinard and coached Ole Miss for the final eight games of the season. The Rebels finished 6–5 overall.

Harry Davis of Moss Point, MS was coach Vaught's first football recruit.


  1. "Ten grid games for Navy school". The News and Courier. Charleston, SC. The United Press. July 12, 1942. p. 14. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  2. "John Vaught suffers mild heart attack". Hattiesburg American. October 22, 1970. p. 1 via
  3. "Ole Miss AD Lauds Coach". The Clarion-Ledger. January 22, 1971. p. 1C via
  4. "It's Official – Billy Kinard Replaces Vaught at OM". The Clarion-Ledger. January 22, 1971. p. C1 via
  5. "Ole Miss Replaces Kinard With Vaught". The Greenville (SC) News (AP story). September 26, 1973. p. 28 via
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