Monday, October 3, 2022

Vassallo: A Conversation with Archie Manning

Archie and Eli Manning speaks at Oxford Country Club March 7, 2014. Photo courtesy of Oxford Eagle.
Archie and Eli Manning speaks at Oxford Country Club March 7, 2014.
Photo courtesy of Oxford Eagle.

I had the pleasure last week to talk with Archie about Oxford, LSU and the recent football game with Arkansas. Ole Miss’ greatest ambassador is truly a wealth of knowledge and always has the best insights.

Here’s a synopsis: Archie, what is it like for you being in Oxford these days?

Archie Manning: We always enjoy Oxford especially for football games as well as the quiet times. I love the atmosphere here, the campus, the Square, and playing golf at the country club. I truly like everything about being in Oxford. We understand you now have a new place here.

Archie Manning: We do. We needed more room and this provides even more incentive to be here more often. We’ve attended more football games this year than ever before. We are looking forward to the LSU game. This past summer when Olivia was in Paris with a group, I spent eight days here by myself. When we come, it’s not just for a weekend, but for considerably longer. Recently, we stayed for three weeks.

Photo by Jack Cofield/Ole Miss Athletics
Photo by Jack Cofield/Ole Miss Athletics Wow! What an endorsement for our beloved city! Let’s shift gears and talk about LSU, an opponent which you added several chapters to the great rivalry. Would you mind reflecting back on the 1969 game and that season in particular?

Archie Manning: We played them that season in Jackson. Charlie McClendon was their coach and that may have been his greatest team. Their defense was incredible that season. Several of their great players included Tommy Casanova, Mike Anderson and George Bevan. Mike Hillman was the quarterback. I believe we won the game 26-23. They had a chance to go for a tying field goal late in the game, but elected to go for the win. Your recall is amazing. What about the season in general?

Archie Manning: We defeated three undefeated teams in Jackson that season: Georgia, LSU and Tennessee. This was the year of the great shootout between Texas and Arkansas. With Texas winning the game, the stage was set at season end for the Longhorns to play undefeated LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Following our victory over LSU and then Notre Dame’s election to attend their first bowl game ever, the Cotton Bowl opted for the Fighting Irish. While our team had three tough losses that season (similar to 2015), how did we upstage an LSU team with only one loss for the Sugar Bowl?

Archie Manning: Coach Vaught told us prior to the Tennessee game, that he thought he could get us in with a victory over the Vols. Coach Vaught had a great relationship with the Sugar Bowl Committee as selecting bowl participants was considerably different in that era. Following the win over Tennessee (38-0) we went on to defeat Mississippi State in Starkville.

Rendering of the Oxford Country Club
Rendering of the country club You mentioned playing golf at the Oxford Country Club. The new plans announced recently for a larger clubhouse in 2016 are quite exciting.

Archie Manning: Oxford needed a country club and we have a great one. I am definitely excited about the club and the plans for the future. The housing taking place around club, the amenities such as the pool, etc. are absolutely what Oxford needs. We have many friends who are members and it’s a fun place for me and the boys. The Arkansas game was a difficult loss and a tough way to lose a game. Did this game, in any way, remind you of your game years ago with Scott Hunter?

Archie Manning: I was giving a speech that Saturday in Phoenix and did not get to see the final plays until late in the evening on ESPN. The game reminded me more of Eli’s seven overtime game with Arkansas in Oxford. In closing, any final comments about Oxford?

Archie Manning: Oxford is a special place. The home games provide us with a great opportunity to show off the city. People love coming here. I am so proud of the Ole Miss people for the way we treat our guests.

Talking with Archie is like visiting with a chapter of Ole Miss history close up. He’s always the complete gentleman and having Archie and his family as ambassadors, not only for Ole Miss, but Oxford as well, is the absolute ultimate endorsement! What a great human being!

Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a 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 or call him at 985-852-7745.

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