October 8, 1934|
May 12, 2018 (aged 83)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1972–1973||Southeastern Louisiana (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Tournaments||1–1 (NCAA D-I-AA playoffs)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|1 Southland (1982)|
Homer E. "Billy" Brewer (October 8, 1934 – May 12, 2018) was an American football player and head coach. He served as the head football coach at Southeastern Louisiana University from 1974 to 1979, Louisiana Tech University from 1980 to 1982, and University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) from 1983 to 1993, compiling a career college football coaching record of 125–94–6. He was also the host of an Ole Miss Rebel football post-game call-in show.
A native of Columbus, Mississippi, Brewer first came to Ole Miss as a player for the Rebel teams of Johnny Vaught. He played quarterback, defensive back, punted, and held for placekickers from 1957 to 1960. Ole Miss named him to its "Team of the Century" in 1993.
Brewer died on May 12, 2018 at age 83.
Brewer first coached at Lee High School in Columbus. In 1971, he joined Heritage Academy, a newly formed segregation academy. When Brewer later accepted a coaching position at Ole Miss, he told the Clarion-Ledger that his involvement with the all-white academy was his "own business" and that it would not impact Ole Miss's efforts to recruit black players.
After a brief professional career, Brewer went into college coaching. He coached defensive backs at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana from 1972 to 1973. In 1974, Brewer was named the tenth head football coach at Southeastern Louisiana and he held that position for six seasons, from 1974 to 1979, compiling a record of 38–24–2.
Brewer was head coach at Louisiana Tech from 1980 through 1982, posting a record of 19 wins, 15 losses and a tie. His last season at Tech (1982) saw his Bulldogs win the Southland Conference title with a 10-3 record. They lost to Delaware 17-0 in the first round of the Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) playoffs.
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Brewer took over at Ole Miss in 1983, succeeding Steve Sloan, who was 20-34-1 in the previous five seasons. Brewer's previous affiliation with Ole Miss made him a favorite in some circles at Ole Miss. An "outsider" had served as head coach since the end of Vaught's second stint in the position in 1974. Others, however, thought that Brewer's ties to Vaught and Vaught's associates were the only reasons he was considered for the position.
With Ole Miss behind the rest of the Southeastern Conference in terms of talent, Brewer was never able to win a conference title. However, many of his teams were known for over-achieving, embodying the scrappy persona of their combative coach. On the flip side, some of his teams failed to live up to those expectations after being the subjects of considerable preseason hype.
In his first season, Brewer guided the Rebels to their first winning regular season since 1977 with a 7-4 mark (they were subsequently awarded a win over Tulane by forfeit a year later). The Rebels also received their first bowl game invitation since 1971 and met Air Force in the Independence Bowl played in Shreveport, Louisiana. Ole Miss dropped a 9-3 decision to the Falcons and finished with a 7-5 record.
During his 11-year tenure, Brewer led the Rebels to six winning seasons and five bowls. He was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1986 (8-3-1 record), which saw the Rebels return to the national rankings for the first time in over a decade and tie for second in the SEC--their highest finish in 11 years. They just missed out on their first SEC title in 24 years due to a 22-10 loss to the University of Tennessee the second to last game of the season.
The next year, the Rebels returned nine starters on both sides of the ball, and expectations were as high as they had been in more than a decade. However, they flopped to a 3-8 record, a severely disappointing mark even considering that they were hobbled by NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations under Sloan. They were outscored 127-47 in the season's final three games. Following a 35-6 loss to a mediocre Kentucky team that put that year's team at 1-5, an anonymous group of students under the name Students Against Billy Brewer even took out an ad in the university student newspaper calling for Brewer's firing.
The 1988 team, with little expected by most people, defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa on their homecoming for the first time in history, came from behind to win two more games and looked to be in excellent position to secure a winning season and bowl berth. But the Rebels fell to Tulane in a devastating 14-9 upset on homecoming and also suffered a very heartbreaking loss to a 5-6 Tennessee team at home before rallying to trounce Mississippi State 33-6 in a severe thunderstorm in Jackson. Ole Miss would go 8-4 in 1989, and in the aforementioned 1990 season would notch nine wins and again narrowly miss an SEC title due to a loss to Tennessee. They also made their first appearance in a final media poll since 1971 and played in the 1991 Gator Bowl--their first New Year's Day bowl appearance since the 1970 Sugar Bowl at the end of Vaught's next-to-last season. However, none of the nine wins came against a team with a winning record. Brewer garnered SEC Coach of the Year honors that season.
In 1992, Ole Miss posted yet another nine-win season and finished with a national top 15 ranking. But the next year and what turned out to be Brewer's last, Ole Miss would become the first team ever in college football to finish with a losing record (though they were awarded a win by forfeit over Alabama years later, giving them an in-the-books winning season) despite leading the nation in total defense.
In his 11 seasons, Brewer led Ole Miss to eight Egg Bowl victories over in-state rival Mississippi State.
At Ole Miss, Brewer compiled a 67-56-3 record, placing him second on Ole Miss' all-time wins list behind Vaught.
However, Brewer's tenure at Ole Miss was marred by allegations of recruiting improprieties that twice led to run-ins with the NCAA. The Rebels were banned from post-season play and live television for the 1987 season after a two-year investigation found that Ole Miss recruits had received cash and other gifts from boosters. The penalties were a source of embarrassment for Dr. Gerald Turner, then Ole Miss' chancellor and previously the head of the NCAA's President's Commission, and one of the first milestones in Turner's stormy relationship with Brewer. "We have made some mistakes," Brewer said at a news conference following the announcement of the sanctions. "We are being punished for those mistakes, and we do not intend ever to be in this situation again."
However, in December 1993, Brewer and Ole Miss were again hit by allegations of recruiting violations. The NCAA would eventually cite the program for 15 transgressions, all of them serious and some of them embarrassingly lurid. An NCAA report said that Ole Miss boosters and coaches had offered recruits gifts, including cash and, in one case, a car. Boosters were also accused of breaking national rules by taking recruits 30 miles outside of Oxford, sometimes to strip clubs in Memphis. Most damningly, the NCAA alleged that Ole Miss officials knowingly allowed the violations to occur, demonstrating a lack of institutional control of the football program.
The charges forced Athletic Director Warner Alford to resign in July 1994. One day later, Turner fired Brewer, granting him 30 days' paid leave but no other severance package for the three years remaining on his contract. Later that year, the NCAA, when announcing severe penalties against the Ole Miss football program, found Brewer guilty of unethical conduct. Specifically, it stated "There was unethical conduct by a former (Ole Miss) head football coach (Brewer), who was found to show a continuing pattern of disregard for NCAA rules in the operation of the football program ((Jackson, MS) Clarion Ledger, November 18, 1994, p.6-7C)." Brewer sued the University for his dismissal, eventually receiving several hundred thousand dollars.
In the last several years, Brewer has taken a more prominent role again in Oxford, appearing on television ads and on a radio show. He was inducted to the Ole Miss M-Club Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.
Players in the Pros
NFL/CFL players coached by Brewer at Ole Miss include Andre Townsend (DE, 1984-1990), Buford McGee (RB, 1984-1992), Lee Davis (DB, 1985-1987), Timmy Moffet (WR, 1985-1987), Freddie Joe Nunn (DE, 1985-1996), Barry Wilburn (CB, 1985-1996), Kent Austin (QB, 1986-1996), Jeff Herrod (ILB, 1988-1998), Joe Mickles (FB, 1989-1990), Stevon Moore (CB, 1989-1999), Wesley Walls (TE, 1989-2003), Tony Bennett (OLB, 1990-1997), Pat Coleman (WR, 1990-1994), Willie Green (WR, 1990-1998), Randy Baldwin (RB, 1991-1996), Kelvin Pritchett (DT, 1991-2005), Tyji Armstrong (TE, 1992-1998), Chad Brown (DT, 1993-1995), Everett Lindsay (OT, 1993-2000), Tim Bowens (DT, 1994-2004), Dewayne Dotson (FB/LB, 1994-1997), and Norman Hand (DT, 1995-2004). Other NFL players coached by Brewer include Horace Belton (RB), Calvin Favron (LB), Donald Dykes (DB), and Anthony Vereen (DB).
Head coaching record
|Southeastern Louisiana Lions (Gulf South Conference) (1974–1978)|
|Southeastern Louisiana Lions (NCAA Division II independent) (1979)|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Southland Conference) (1980–1982)|
|1982||Louisiana Tech||10–3||5–0||1st||L NCAA Division I-AA Semifinal|
|Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference) (1983–1993)|
|1983||Ole Miss||7–5*||4–2||T–3rd||L Independence|
|1986||Ole Miss||8–3–1||4–2||T–2nd||W Independence|
|1989||Ole Miss||8–4||4–3||T–4th||W Liberty|
|1990||Ole Miss||9–3||5–2||T–3rd||L Gator||21||21|
|1992||Ole Miss||9–3||5–3||2nd (Western)||L Liberty||16||16|
|1993||Ole Miss||6–5^||4–4^||T–4th (Western)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
- "Billy Brewer October 8, 1934 - May 12, 2018". www.memorialfuneral.net. Archived from the original on May 14, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
- Hudgison, Chris. "Former Ole Miss football coach Billy Brewer passes away". Mississippi New Now.
- "What Billy Brewer says about". The Clarion-Ledger. December 24, 1982. p. 17 – via Newspapers.com.
- Southeastern Louisiana University Lions football coaching records Archived February 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.