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Vassallo Interviews: Stuart Stevens, Author of The Last Season

Stuart Stevens, right, with Ross Bjork, left, and Robert Khayat

Stuart Stevens is special in many respects. The famous author has three generations of Ole Miss history (and what a history it is!) and a résumé that rivals James Bond. I was fortunate to spend some time talking with this icon last week before the September 25th  signing of his newest book The Last Season, in Oxford.

HottyToddy.com: Stuart, before we get into “The Last Season”, is it my understanding that your father (Phineas Stevens) was one of the original founders of Butler Snow?

Stuart Stevens: That is correct. My dad had previously owned a law firm (Cannada & Stevens) with Bob Cannada prior to forming Butler Snow in the early 50s. My grandfather had also served on the Mississippi Supreme Court.

HottyToddy.com: “The Last Season” is a fantastic story about a father-son relationship that has extended over many decades. Ole Miss appears to be greatest common denominator.

Stuart Stevens: Dad graduated from Ole Miss as did I and my mother. He is now (at age 97) the oldest living member of the Ole Miss Hall of Fame.

HottyToddy.com: Speaking of your mother (Patricia), her 1940’s transfer from LSU to Ole Miss is a storybook classic.

Stuart Stevens: My mother was asked to transfer to Ole Miss to colonize the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She actually met my father as a result of Ole Miss connections following WWII.

HottyToddy.com: Wow! What an assignment! It’s easy to understand why you have been so successful in politics with this DNA. (Stuart was the lead consultant in Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid which led to winning the nomination and carrying 24 states in the general election.)

Stuart Stevens: My political consulting firm in DC had been connected with Mitt for many years dating back to his election to the Governor of Massachusetts in 1990. During the 2002 Olympics, I flew to Salt Lake City to meet with him again. We stayed in contact ever since. My political history dates back several decades all the way to my involvement in several William Winter election bids.

HottyToddy.com: When you were barely ten, your dad took you on a magical mystery tour
experiencing most of the Ole Miss national championship season of 1962.

Stuart Stevens: This actually was the catalyst for “The Last Season” which allowed me the opportunity to give back to my dad (the 2013 Ole Miss season) and relive those great memories at his age of 95.

HottyToddy.com: The greatest highlight of the 2013 season was?

Stuart Stevens: Andrew Ritter’s last second field goal in defeating LSU.

HottyToddy.com: How about from your father’s perspective?

Stuart Stevens: Just being back on campus and experiencing all the changes to the campus while living out of The Inn at Ole Miss. Every Saturday in October featured an Ole Miss home game which was a scheduling rarity.

HottyToddy.com: Apparently this was déjà vous all over again.

Stuart Stevens: Being able to attend the football practices; enjoying the fabulous fall; and
just being here in Oxford was very special. The hospitality extended to us by Chancellor
Jones, the Athletic Department and everyone else was incredible.

HottyToddy.com: Your writing history is also unique.

Stuart Stevens: “The Last Season” is my sixth work. My first book “Night Train to Turkistan” was inspired by Peter Fleming (Ian’s younger brother) who had written a book in the 1930s that led to my retracing part of the train trip he described. In 1989 (in the dead of winter) I boarded the TransSiberian railway in Beijing for a nine day trip into Moscow.

HottyToddy.com: You certainly have not pursued the safest passage throughout your career! Shifting gears, here are a couple of names. Your initial thoughts? Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Stuart Stevens: As to Trump, not a fan politically speaking, but understand why he is having so much success drawing people to him. He is having fun and it shows. The number of jobs he has created, his charitable contributions and investments in NYC are all impressive. I do not believe Hillary will be the nominee of her party either. Opposite of Trump, she seems to be having the least amount of enjoyment possible with her campaign struggles.

HottyToddy.com: Returning to the book, when and where can we Ole Miss fanatics acquire a copy?

Stuart Stevens: I will be at Square Books on Friday September 25th (5 pm) prior to the Vanderbilt game signing copies.

HottyToddy.com: Although you are enjoying tremendously living in New England, would you ever consider moving to Oxford?

Stuart Stevens: Absolutely. My sister lives in Laurel which is yet another reason to return to the Magnolia State.

HottyToddy.com: Let’s cut through the chase. Your expectations for Rebel 2015 edition?

Stuart Stevens: Like many fans I expect us to go undefeated. I will actually be attending the Alabama game with my father possibly. My favorite away stadium is in Tuscaloosa. The people there are incredibly nice. I am very much looking forward to the trip.

Because of space limitations, we couldn’t get too deeply into Stuart’s life or even “The Last Season” for that matter. However, I hope this brief discussion will lead many to Square Books to pick up a copy of the book that Ole Miss fans will be talking about during many “last seasons.”

Steve Vassallo

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. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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