This Saturday, September 7, Mississippi College will kick off this year’s football season, battling Millsaps during Backyard Brawl. MC and Millsaps have been rivals for a long time running, and today I will share a Collegian article from 1977 speaking of this same rivalry and throwing it back even further to the 1950’s. The article tells of stories of an actual brawl during a MC-Millsaps basketball game, cars being crushed, and a kerosene-lit fire on Millsaps’ campus with the ‘MC’ initials burning. So here it is; Volume 80 Issue 15, that was originally printed on April 22, 1997.
A Blast from the Past: Rivalry with the ‘Saps
Before Mississippi College students began frying the Fighting Okra of Delta State, they had a very heated athletic rivalry with a college team on the other side of Jackson– the Millsap Majors.
Dr. Van Quick, vice-president for Alumni and Student Affairs at MC, was the trainer for the MC athletic teams from 1951-1955. He remembers it as a “good rivalry.”
According to Quick there was always something taking place between MC and Millsaps.
“One time some students blocked Highway 80, so Millsaps students couldn’t come to MC. A Millsaps boy flipped his convertible and crushed it, but he wasn’t hurt too badly,” Quick said.
“My senior year the golf course at Millsaps was set on fire by some MC students with kerosene. The fire was blazing the letters ‘M’ and ‘C’.
Dr. H.D. Smith, an alumnus of MC, said, “I remember some students did some crazy and wild things to the ole ‘Saps.”
Although some students participated in acts of rivalry, some took part in less violent forms.
“At that time MC and Millsaps students wore beanies. We would try and steal as many buttons as we could off each others beanies and put the buttons on our beanies,” Quick said.
To this day, there is a Millsaps beanie in one of MC’s trophy cases that serves as a reminder of the once-heated rivalry that ended in 1960 because of a fight among students at a basketball game.
The Clarion-Ledger reported in a Feb. 6, 1997 article that the fateful basketball game was at the City Auditorium in downtown Jackson, where Capital Towers is located today. Wooky Gray, a Millsaps football player, went into the stands to claim a flag that was taken from the Millsaps Kappa Alpha fraternity house by a MC student.
The Clarion-Ledger article states that John Smith, MC’s current defensive end and linebacker coach, was a senior at MC. He said, “Chuck Brandon went to a fraternity party at Millsaps and brought back the flag. We took it to the game and after the first two points, we’d throw it up to the ceiling and let it float down.”
Gray and his crew proceeded up the steps saying they wanted their flag back without any trouble. Then Barry Landrum, an MC student, hit Gray in the mouth.
“After that, well, the fight went from there into the whole crowd,” Smith said.
The game stopped when the fight broke out. The players sat on the floor and watched. When the game restarted, MC won 131-72.
Since then, the two colleges did play each other in basketball and baseball games, but the football rivalry ended.
Quick, Dean of Men at MC in 1962, stated that after the rivalry ended, there was a freshman student who hung the Millsaps KA flag out of his window during the first week of orientation.
Quick confronted the freshman, the student stated that he “thought it was the thing to do.”
– Kelly Shannon, 1977 Collegian Staff Writer
I’ll be honest–I did not realize MC had this kind of spunk before reading this article. It seems Mississippi College students were much more perilous in the 50’s and 60’s than the current day. Hopefully it will stay nonviolent, as much as you can get during a football game, at this year’s Backyard Brawl facing Millsaps.
– Jordyn Gunn, Online Editor