Former Ole Miss football coach Billy Kinard dies at 84

Published 8:52 pm Monday, July 2, 2018

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Former Mississippi head football coach Billy Kinard has died at the age of 84.

The University of Mississippi said Monday that Kinard died Saturday at his home in Fort Payne, Alabama after an extended illness.

Kinard was a defensive back and halfback in the 1950s under Ole Miss legend Johnny Vaught, with the Rebels winning Southeastern Conference championships in 1954 and 1955 and playing in two Sugar Bowls and one Cotton Bowl.

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When Vaught retired after a heart attack in 1970, Ole Miss promoted star football alumnus Frank “Bruiser” Kinard from assistant football coach to athletic director and hired younger brother Billy as head football coach.

Billy Kinard was a success at first, leading the Rebels to a 10-2 record in 1971 including a Peach Bowl victory over Georgia Tech. But Kinard’s record fell to 5-5 in 1972 and then 1-2 at the start of 1973. Vaught returned from retirement to replace Billy Kinard and also became athletic director.

Billy Kinard was selected in the second round of the 1956 National Football League draft and played professional football for four years, including 1956 with the Cleveland Browns, 1957 and 1958 with the Green Bay Packers and 1960 with the Buffalo Bills of the then-American Football League.

Before his head coaching turn at Ole Miss, Billy Kinard was an assistant coach for defensive backs at Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Arkansas. After he left Ole Miss, he coached one year at Gardner-Webb in North Carolina.

Billy Kinard also played baseball at Ole Miss, earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1956 when the team finished third in the College World Series.

Besides Bruiser, a tackle who was inducted into both the college and pro football halls of fame, Billy Kinard had another two older brothers who also played football at Ole Miss.