Former Ole Miss coach influenced Winfield

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 3, 2009

As mayor of Vicksburg, Paul Winfield hopes to incorporate some of the lessons he learned while playing football for former Ole Miss coach Tommy Tuberville.

Winfield, who last month won the Vicksburg mayoral race over two-term incumbent Laurence Leyens, played strong safety for the Rebels in 1995, Tuberville’s first year at the university.

“The thing about Coach Tuberville is he was a macro manager,” said Winfield. “He believed in setting the right course and, in doing so, hiring good people and then empowering them to their jobs.

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“That right there is something I want to do for Vicksburg as mayor,” said Winfield, who was sworn in privately Wednesday and publicly will take the oath during ceremonies at 6 tonight at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

“He (Tuberville) was intense, but he allowed you to make mistakes, as long as they weren’t critical ones. The best thing about him is that he prepared his players for just about every situation,” said Winfield, who played two years of Ole Miss football, the first one under coach Joe Lee Dunn. “They called him a gambler, but to him, they were just calculated risks. That’s because when we ran those trick plays, we already worked weeks on them.”

Tuberville left Ole Miss in 1998 and then spent 10 successful seasons at Auburn before stepping down in 2008.

Preparation, attention to detail and visibility are three things that Winfield learned from his time with Tuberville’s Ole Miss program and hopes to carry into his four-year term as Vicksburg’s mayor.

“I think what you will see from me that will be different than the previous administration is that I will be a lot more vocal and very visible to our city’s athletes and their athletic events. I want to reach out to our high school-aged kids and put together the right type of programs. I want to solicit their involvement toward volunteerism and working for their community. To that end, I want to expand the Recreation Department so that it can include all of the city.

“I want to offer more summer employment for them, but a key requirement is that they must have good grades,” Winfield said. “We want to get the earrings out and pull the trousers up.”

In Vicksburg, Winfield played football for Vicksburg and Warren Central high schools.

“I played for Coach (Jim) Sizemore at Vicksburg and then for Coach (Robert) Morgan at Warren Central,” he said. “Playing high school football does some of the best things about instilling great values. But in reality, we need to instill those values to our youth in the sixth and seventh grades. That’s where we are losing them, at least on the education side.”

Winfield knows all about the football talent in the county, but would like to see more high school players make grades to qualify for college football scholarships.

“There is so much talent in Warren County,” Winfield said. “But we’ve had very few playing football in the SEC. And a lot of it is because they don’t have the grades.

“One of the things you see here is the number of former Warren Central players who now work for the county road crews and in Vicksburg, the former Gators who work for the city. I could put together, in a week, a pretty good college football team.”

As mayor, Winfield said he wants to be accessible and proactive in dealing with problems from the city’s athletic facilities.


Contact Jeff Byrd at