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Billy Brewer, a Rebel through and through, will live on in Ole Miss memory

When Chucky Mullins was positioned inside the locker room at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in 1989, Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer wanted his players to see their friend before the biggest game of their lives. The paralyzed cornerback uttered the words, “it’s Time,” and a moment would be etched into the lore that is Rebel football for years to come.

Homer E. “Billy” Brewer died in Memphis this past Saturday, the city where so many Ole Miss memories would be made. Ironically enough, Brewer lived 83 years on earth; the year, 1983, he would be named new head coach by then Director of Athletics Warner Alford.

Born in Columbus, MS, Brewer will not be remembered as the most successful coach in Ole Miss history. In fact, he never won more than nine games in one season, and did so only twice in an eleven year run. In that span, Ole Miss would make five bowl games and win two of them.

What he might lack on paper was replaced ten-fold with love, respect and old-fashioned friendship.

Brewer was known to put his hand around his players and tell them he loved them. In later years, he would talk glowingly about how proud he was of his former players as fathers and husbands, rather than athletes on the gridiron.

“Coach was wonderful to play for, tough but fair,” remembers former defensive back Todd Sandroni. “He always told us to take care of our business (in the classroom) and if you did he was always there for you. I’ll miss him.”

Brewer played quarterback, defensive back and punted from 1957 to 1960 under Johnny Vaught. Mississippi would win the National Championship in 1959 and 1960. Brewer is the second-winningest coach in Ole Miss history, behind Vaught, and was to the Rebels’ “Team of the Century” in 1993.

“He loved Ole Miss to this day,” former Ole Miss quarterback John Darnell said.

Darnell led the Rebels to the 1989 Liberty Bowl win.

“I will forever be grateful for the opportunity he gave me to play for him. I’ll miss him greatly,” Darnell said.

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