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A nightmarish ending for Spook Murphy's dream
Dan Jenkins
September 28, 1964
Coach Murphy and his Memphis State Tigers thought they could upset Mississippi, but the Rebels put them right in their tank
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September 28, 1964

A Nightmarish Ending For Spook Murphy's Dream

Coach Murphy and his Memphis State Tigers thought they could upset Mississippi, but the Rebels put them right in their tank

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Talk was one of them. Cordill was relaxed and confident before the Ole Miss journey. "We've had some family feuds out there on the practice field," he said, "but that's good for you. I know one thing. We've got one of the best teams in the nation. Last year we didn't really think we had a chance to beat Ole Miss until after we had tied the game and knew we were better than they were. This year we know it for sure."

Mississippi knew no such thing. The team's attitude before the game was serious, almost grim. The players regarded last year's tie as an insult, and in an effort to atone for it they practiced last week in strict privacy. Reporters, photographers, students—all were banned from Mississippi's workouts.

Drawn by the prospect of a bitter rematch, people began arriving on the Mississippi campus at 9 o'clock in the morning and parked in the Grove, a pleasant little park surrounded by buildings in the center of the campus. Men raised the trunks of the cars and lifted out folding chairs, hammocks, tables, quilts and iceboxes. Women removed huge baskets of fried chicken and sandwiches. Children romped through the trees. Couples played bridge at the tables, read newspapers and magazines. Some slept as they waited for the game. Some listened to the noises of the traffic confusion and wondered if the police were drinking coffee in the school cafeteria. Several were.

Meanwhile Ole Miss Publicity Director Billy Gates worked hectically to find passes for the pro scouts to get through the gates of the stadium. There were just no tickets remaining. As Gates worked out the problem, one man asked how Ole Miss, a big school, really felt—really—about having Memphis State as an opponent?

Gates, his shirt unbuttoned, his brow moist and the phone ringing, studied the question carefully and chose a word. "Crummy," he said.

As the game began and Spook Murphy's sweet dreams quickly turned sour, the pro scouts did not have to struggle very hard for explanations of why it was happening.

" Memphis State is so jittery," said Don Klosterman of the Chiefs. "The Ole Miss defense gives'em the off-tackle, but they don't take it. They're sure tight. Woodlief, their linebacker, is a good one, though. He's staying after them. Even if you're as good as Ole Miss you can't win unless you take it to them."

Charlie Flowers of the Chargers, a former Ole Miss All-America, had the simplest explanation. "This is the best Ole Miss team I've ever seen," he said.

Although dazed by the quickness and the thoroughness of his team's defeat, Spook Murphy was equal to the occasion. "We thought we were movin' into the big time," he said, "but it looks like we're gonna have to tread water for a while."

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