Griffing makes passing grade for Miss. Hall’s Class of 2002

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2001

[08/09/01] Ask Ole Miss fans to name the greatest quarterbacks in the school’s history, and they’ll likely say: Archie Manning, Charlie Conerly, Jake Gibbs and Eagle Day.

But Culkin native Glynn Griffing did something none of the fab four did he led the Rebels to a perfect 10-0 season, which he completed with a record-setting MVP performance in the 1963 Sugar Bowl.

His achievements weren’t forgotten by members of the Jackson Touchdown Club.

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Thursday, he will be introduced as a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2002. With eight inductees, it’s the largest class in the 40-year history of the hall.

“It’s something that you hope for, growing up, but you don’t really expect,” Griffing said by telephone Thursday morning.

Especially when you’re on a team that had three All-American quarterbacks on the roster at one time.

“There aren’t many of those,” Griffing said with a chuckle.

Joining Griffing will be former Hinds Community College and LSU star Earl Leggett, Ole Miss teammate Ralph “Catfish” Smith, ex-Southern Miss quarterback George Sekul, Carolyn Henry (tennis), Samye Johnson (volleyball), T.B. Ellis Jr. (Jackson State athletic director) and Verlon Biggs (football). Ellis and Biggs are being inducted posthumously.

From 1960 to 1962, the most successful stretch in Ole Miss history, Griffing was content to play defensive back while playing sparingly at quarterback until his senior year. He completed 127 of 235 passes for 1,757 yards and 23 touchdowns for his career.

The only thing that kept his numbers down at Ole Miss was the talent around him and coach Johnny Vaught’s platooning system. Gibbs made All-American in 1960 and Doug Elmore was an All-American in 1961. Griffing followed in their shoes, making All-American in 1962.

The Rebels went 29-2-1 his three years on the varsity squad.

That kind of success was nothing new to Griffing. He led Culkin to a 26-4 mark, including 10-0 his senior season, playing for Irwin Baylot.

“He was so enthusiastic and energetic,” Griffing recalled of his high school coach. “He was so positive, and we sometimes didn’t have enough people to scrimmage. He was a good coach the kind you want kids to play for.”

Griffing had a Sugar Bowl-record 257 yards of total offense the sixth most in Ole Miss bowl history to lead the Rebels to a 17-13 win over Arkansas, capping the only perfect season in Ole Miss history. He was 14-of-23 for 242 yards and a touchdown to break Davey O’Brien’s 24-year-old Sugar Bowl passing yardage record. He rushed for the winning touchdown in the third quarter.

Griffing also had the most yards rushing (45) and passing (163) in the Rebels’ 12-7 Cotton Bowl loss to Texas the previous year.

He was the Senior Bowl MVP after passing for three touchdowns in one quarter and his College All-Stars beat the NFL champion Green Bay Packers, 20-17, in the Chicago All-Star Game.

He was drafted by the New York Giants in the fourth round and the Houston Oilers in the 14th round. He played just one year of pro ball, with the Giants.

He had a “good rookie year” but came back to Mississippi after he was cut before his second year and opened an insurance business.

“There were some personality problems,” he said. “It was a good experience, but pro football wasn’t what I thought it would be.”

He owns Glynn Griffing & Associates in Jackson.

Leggett, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, was a member of the Hinds team that won the Little Rose Bowl in 1954 before going on to LSU and a 12-year playing career in the NFL.

He went to three Super Bowls as a defensive line coach (Oakland and Denver).

He was a first-round draft choice of Chicago, where he played on the famed “Monsters of the Midway” defense for nine years.

The Bears beat Griffing’s Giants, 14-10, for the NFL championship in 1963. Leggett also played for the Los Angeles Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” before concluding his career with the New Orleans Saints.

He is also in the Hinds and National Junior College halls of fame.