Vaught coach statue, designed by Sessums, dedicated Saturday

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 31, 2008

OXFORD – An imposing six-foot statue, honoring legendary OleMiss football coach John Vaught, will be dedicated here Saturday infront of the Starnes Athletic Training Center on campus.

The sculpture was commissioned by the M-Club Alumni Chapter anddesigned by Brookhaven’s Dr. Kim Sessums.

Unveiling ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. and are open to thepublic.

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Sessums, known internationally for his sculptures, paid closeattention to detail when he was creating the likeness ofVaught.

There is a scar on Vaught’s right cheek that was included. Thecoach always wore a ring on his left hand which included diamondsfrom a set of earrings worn by his mother.

Vaught’s traditional sideline game attire was a suit, includingcoat and tie, and hewore alligator leather shoes. He always kept aspiral notebook in his left coat pocket, used for drawing upalignments and plays he would review prior to and during games.

Sessums downplayed his role in the statue’s development.

“This statue is not about me,” said Sessums. “It’s about CoachVaught and his career at Ole Miss.”

Sessums sculpted the Vaught figure in his garage, using ClassicClay. He transported it to a foundry near Memphis on Memorial Dayfor final casting, first in wax and then in bronze. The clay statuewas placed in an enclosed trailer and surrounded with dry ice tokeep the clay from melting in the high heat and humidity.

“I had some dressing up work on the wax figure,” said Sessums.”I had to do some fine tuning on the hands and the football and theface.”

Sessums used a lost-wax technique in creating the image. It willweigh around 1,600 pounds. He started in January of 2008 andfinished in late August.

“As an artist, I want people to realize that it captures theessence of Coach Vaught,” Sessums added.

Scheduled speakers at Saturday’s dedication include formerM-Club Alumni Chapter President Bobby Bailess of Vicksburg,Chancellor Robert Khayat and Athletics Director Pete Boone.Afterwards, Bailess, Khayat, Boone and all other former Vaughtplayers will be asked to help unveil the statue.

The Vaught statue sits on an elliptical granite base. Jim Eleyand Associates of Jackson, along with Harrell Construction, handledthe design of the surrounding area.

With the Vaught statue, fans will have the opportunity ongamedays to reflect on the great accomplishments of the winningestfootball coach in Ole Miss history. After capturing theuniversity’s first conference title in his initial 1947 season,Vaught led the Rebels to additional SEC titles in 1954, 1955, 1960,1962 and 1963.

Three of his teams, in 1959, 1960, and 1962, won shares of thenational championship. Vaught took Ole Miss to 18 bowl games,winning 10 times including five victories in the Sugar Bowl. Hisoverall record with the Rebels was 190-61-12.

The plan for a Vaught statue has been two years in the makingand grew into a more than $250,000 project. The M-Club has raisedapproximately $170,000, and donations of any size are still beingaccepted.

With a gift of $10,000, the donor will receive a limited editionreplica of the statue, measuring 19 inches high on a 4-inch woodenbase.

Several of the only 25 made are still available by contactingClay Cavett at (662) 915-7375. All donations are taxdeductible.