Ole Miss coach Billy Russell Kinard passes away at 84

OXFORD, Miss. – Billy Russell Kinard, 84, who took over as head football coach at Ole Miss when legendary coach John Vaught retired following the 1970 season, passed away Saturday, June 30, at his residence in Fort Payne, Alabama, following an extended illness.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Tuesday, July 3, at Grace Presbyterian Church, located at 5760 Gault Avenue, North in Fort Payne. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, July 3 at the church from 12-2 p.m. A private graveside service will be held at a later date.

Kinard is survived by his wife of 62 ½ years, Kay H. Kinard; son Billy Kinard, Jr., daughter Kathy Kinard, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

When Kinard was selected to succeed Vaught, he became the first alumnus to serve as the Ole Miss head football coach, having played defensive back and halfback (1952-55) for Vaught, who had coached the Rebels 24 years, but retired following a heart attack suffered in mid-October of 1970.
In his first season as head coach, Kinard led Ole Miss to a 10-2 record 1971, the finest finish for the Rebels since 1963. The season included a 41-18 victory over Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl.

Following a 5-5 mark in 1972 and a 1-2 start in 1973, Vaught came out of retirement to replace Kinard for the remainder of the season and to also become the Ole Miss athletics director. After the 1973 campaign, Vaught once again retired, but remained on as athletics director.

Kinard also served one season as head football coach at Gardner-Webb University in 1978. His overall head coaching record was 20-14-1.

As a player at Ole Miss, Kinard earned four letters in football and two in baseball. He earned All-SEC baseball honors in 1956 when coach Tom Swayze’s team claimed SEC Western Division and NCAA District III titles before finishing third in the College World Series.

Three of his older brothers, Frank (Bruiser), George and Henry also played football at Ole Miss. Bruiser, who is considered one of the greatest players in Ole Miss history, was a two-time (1936-37) All-American and is a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

During his four varsity seasons at Ole Miss, Frank Kinard helped the Rebels finish 34-6-3, win Southeastern Conference championships in 1954 and 1955 and play in two Sugar Bowls and one Cotton Bowl.

Following his senior season, Kinard was selected in the second round (25th overall pick) of the 1956 National Football League draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played his rookie season (1956) with the Browns and then two years (1957-58) with the Green Bay Packers before ending his professional career in 1960 with the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League. Between his time with Green Bay and Buffalo, Kinard coached at Mainland High School in Florida in 1959.

Before returning to Ole Miss as head coach, Kinard had spent the 1970 season as defensive backfield coach under Frank Broyles at Arkansas. Prior to his single season with the Razorbacks, he had been a defensive back coach at Georgia (1967-69), Florida (1964-66), and Auburn (1962-63), working under Vince Dooley, Ray Graves and Shug Jordan.

Born on December 16, 1933 in Jackson, Mississippi, Kinard graduated from Jackson Central High School in 1952, He was selected to All-Big Eight Conference and All-State honors at halfback in 1951 and earned three letters in football. Kinard also starred in basketball at guard and in baseball as a catcher.

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