The Vassallo Interviews — Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor who interviews Oxford’s and our region’s leading personalities.
Steve said, “Hoppy Langley (former No. 4 for the Rebels) is one of the greatest field goal kickers in the history of Ole Miss football, if not the greatest. As a freshman, Hoppy got the Bear’s attention when he kicked the winning field goal to defeat the Tide in Jackson. Now three-plus decades later, Hoppy and his beautiful wife, Stephanie, are planning their move to Oxford.
HottyToddy.com — Hoppy, to start out with, you have got to share with everyone where the name “Hoppy” originated.
Hoppy Langley — When I was small boy, I used to love to watch the Red Skelton comedy hour. He played a character named Clem Ka Diddle Hopper. Unable to pronounce the entire name, I would ask my mom when “Hoppy” was coming on. She thought the way I said “Hoppy” was cute so she started calling me “Hoppy” and my nickname was born.
HottyToddy.com — You continue to follow the Rebels closely. You’re a huge fan of Bo Wallace. Tell our audience (in your opinion) why Bo is so special and highly gifted.
Hoppy Langley — I am a big fan of Bo’s for a lot of reasons. Bo is a competitor and very talented. He’s fought through a lot to get where he is. Becoming our starting quarterback after stops at two schools, an injured shoulder and playing for a coach as demanding as you will find anywhere. I do believe he would be even better if he had a punishing inside runner to take some of the pressure off of him. I shudder to think where we would have been without him since he has been our quarterback. When he leaves Ole Miss, he will own every passing record in school history. He is very special and in my opinion, the best in the league, period.
HottyToddy.com — You were a key part of an Ole Miss team that defeated Bama. What would you say to the 2014 Rebels to see that happen again this year?
Hoppy Langley — Understand that in a person’s lifetime, there are few opportunities like this that come along where the “stage” is this big. When Bama week comes, prepare each day at practice to play winning football on Saturday. When game time comes, play each play relentlessly to the end, ignoring the bad calls, the mistakes, no matter what happens. Play each play for your families, your teammates and our great university.
HottyToddy.com — Stephanie loves Ole Miss and Oxford despite being an Alabama alum. Are there ever stressful moments on Saturday afternoons?
Hoppy Langley — Only one time in 31 years of our marriage has it ever gotten stressful over the Bama game. It happened one time, when we lost to Bama when a long pass we converted was ruled incomplete by the replay official, Doyle Jackson, denying us an opportunity to score and win the game. What sent me over the edge was when Nick Saban popped his mouth off stating Ole Miss fans didn’t show class at the end of the game. About Saban’s usual arrogant way of expressing himself, I told Stephanie and some of her Bama friends, using some choice words of my own, that Nick Saban acts like he’s a lot taller running his mouth when he’s surrounded by a bunch of Alabama Highway Patrolmen. My wife laughs about it now but, I meant it and it will be a cold day in …. forgive me lord Jesus, before I take it back.
HottyToddy.com — You grew up in South Carolina. How did you find Ole Miss?
Hoppy Langley — I wrote a letter to then Head Coach Ken Cooper using a fictitious Ole Miss alumnus’ name telling him about a kicker named Hoppy Langley from Aiken, South Carolina, that they should recruit. At the time, Ole Miss was after a kicker from Pascagoula named Bubba Toups who eventually went to the school “out in the field” (State). When Toups chose State, Coach Cooper came to my school on a Friday in February and had me kick for him. Coach Cooper watched me kick and flew me down to the campus the next day. Every time I ride by the old football office on campus, where Coach Cooper offered me a scholarship, it brings back memories of that great day in my life.
HottyToddy.com — Your father had one of the most interesting jobs in the country. Can you share a “Masters Moment” with us?
Hoppy Langley — My Dad was the Editor of the Augusta Chronicle Herald until he retired. With his job, I tagged along with him to the Master’s Tournament every year from the time I understood golf etiquette until my early twenties. My father was well connected with many great pro athletes who would come to the Masters every year. As a kid growing up wanting to play football, it was a thrill when at the tournament my Dad introduced me to Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. Ironically, when I played in the East/West All Star game my senior year, he was one of the television announcers and we discussed my Dad. My Dad passed away in 2011, and I miss him greatly.
HottyToddy.com — Shifting gears, why did you and Stephanie decide to relocate to Oxford after many years in Memphis?
Hoppy Langley — Simply put, Oxford is the greatest place on this earth a person could live. Even if Ole Miss weren’t in Oxford, I would feel the same way. As an extra benefit, we have the university here. I love Ole Miss and the many friends I made here while in school. It’s a great place for all of us to gather. My wife loves the “elegance and class” of Oxford. It’s a natural environment for her.
HottyToddy.com — What was the funniest thing that ever happened to you while a member of the Ole Miss Rebels?
Hoppy Langley — My teammates and I shared many funny moments in Vaught Hall, at that time the athletic dorm. Most of those funny moments were of teammates who did great impressions of our coaches and rock stars. The funniest thing that ever happened to me was being awakened late one night by a bottle rocket shot by Jim Hawkins and Eric Smith, that exploded when it hit the headboard of my bed!
HottyToddy.com — Describe the setting that led to your game winning field goal versus Bama?
Hoppy Langley — With the game tied, we had driven the ball to the Alabama 17 yard line in the 4th quarter when the drive stalled and Coach Cooper called for the field goal team. I believe Alabama called time out just as the field goal team was about to get in place. Coach Cooper called us over and told us we were special and we were going to win this game right here…and we did! I think of Coach Cooper often.
HottyToddy.com — (LOL) Did Stephanie ever tell you that she had hoped you would have missed the kick?
Hoppy Langley — There are some things wives should never tell their husbands (laughs). We didn’t know each other when I made the kick but, I think today she is proud that I did make it. We don’t talk about it too much because to her and my two great kids, I’m better known around the house as the fix it guy or the yard man. I don’t “rub it in” because I enjoy being married to her!
HottyToddy.com — Returning to the 2014 Rebels, what do you like most about this squad?
Hoppy Langley — Besides the fact that they are very talented, they appear to love and care about each other. Because of this they play well together. They all seem to thrive off of each other and want to push each other to be better. While the wins and losses are important, the relationships they are formulating in this time at Ole Miss is what will matter most to them as they move further down the road in their lives.
HottyToddy.com — What was life like in the football dorm while at Ole Miss?
Hoppy Langley — It was our sanctuary. My freshmen year Coach Vaught was the athletic director and Coach Alford succeeded him. Both of them made sure their athletes had nothing but the best! I think my teammates would say their most fun times in college was the time they spent with teammates in Vaught!
HottyToddy.com — Which of our opponents concerns you the most this year? Pick only one!
Hoppy Langley — At this point, I would say Texas A & M. On offense they spread you out and they give you a lot of different looks. Their defense is much improved too!
HottyToddy.com — Compare Oxford now to the one you knew in the 1970’s.
Hoppy Langley — The Oxford of now compared to the one of the 70’s is totally different! Oxford today offers all of the modern-day conveniences and at the same time allows people to reconnect with the past. Even if this isn’t your home, when you come here, you feel like you are home!
Hoppy Langley is one of the reasons thousands of diehards (like me) continue to follow the Rebels through thick and thin. Once a Rebel, always a Rebel. You can count the number of times with your fingers that we’ve defeated Bama in our lifetime. In Hoppy’s case, he can do it with his toes!
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford. Steve’s lifelong dream has been to live in Oxford full-time. “I am now living my dream daily as is my wife Rosie, who works with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce,” Steve said. You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 985-852-7745.
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