Mississippi College athletics are mourning the loss of a legend, as former head football coach and athletic director John M. Williams passed away on Sep. 2 at his family home in Byram.
Williams played football at Port Gibson HS and Copiah Lincoln CC before finishing his playing career at Mississippi College, graduating in 1957. After college, he began his successful coaching career at high schools across Mississippi, including championship seasons at both Magee and Biloxi High. Following this successful run, his alma mater came calling and Williams became the Choctaw’s head football coach in 1972 as the school joined Division II.
His success would continue at MC as he helped lead the football program into a new golden age. Beginning with a 10-3 mark in 1979, the team’s run of success culminated in 1989 with a Gulf South Conference championship and winning the National Championship. Throughout that run, the Choctaws only notched one losing season and never lost more than five games. After winning the 1989 Division II National Championship, Williams capped off his MC career with another 11-3 season in 1990 before stepping down after 19 years as the Choctaws’ head coach. His 122 career wins put him second all-time at MC behind only Stanley Robinson.
Outside of his football accomplishments, Williams drew the admiration of a number of other significant figures at MC. In an article posted on gochoctaws.com, former players Tom Gladney and Jerry Jett expressed their appreciation for their former coach. “He was the man you wanted your boy to be. He showed every one of us how to be a man,” said Gladney, speaking about the lessons Williams taught his teams. Jett, speaking about his ability to motivate, said, “He was the kind of person that he wouldn’t ask you to do anything he hadn’t done. And he had the uncanny ability to make you think you could do anything.” In addition to his own players, Williams impacted MC sports as a whole as he played a major part in bringing former athletic director Mike Jones in as basketball coach.
A legend that brought the football program to new heights and mentored many young men in his program, Williams ushered in a new era in Choctaw athletics and is responsible for some of the greatest moments in Choctaw history. He should be mourned by the entire MC family.