By Jack Harmon
There are countless Ole Miss fans in the world, most especially in Mississippi. Many are your average fans, but some are superfans. Of those, Jim Stephens is surely one of the most dedicated Ole Miss fans of all.
In his Oxford home, Stephens has two full-sized rooms of Ole Miss memorabilia and autographs and more items are stored in a building on his property.
Graduating from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology in 1982, Stephens went on to serve in the Army for three decades.
From the time he was a young boy, Ole Miss was ingrained in his lifestyle, but not until he got out of college did his collection of memorabilia start to grow and pick up.
“All my family have been Rebels,” Stephens said. “All I’ve known since the time I was little is Ole Miss.”
While Stephens collects all types of memorabilia for Ole Miss sports, he focuses on Ole Miss football and Ole Miss yearbooks.
Since 1897, Ole Miss has had a student yearbook every single year, and Stephens takes great pride in the collection. He has most of them.
“I was missing 14 yearbooks. Again, the first Ole Miss yearbook was published in 1897,” he said. “(Recently) I purchased a 1922 Ole Miss yearbook, leaving me 13 shy of a full collection.”
Most of these yearbooks are in great condition for their age. While Stephens says he hopes to complete his collection one day, he understands and is content if he does not find more due to the rareness of some of the old ones.
The majority of his yearbook finds come through online shopping. But Stephens also has made a few connections along the way to help as well, mentioning that some people have given him yearbooks for great prices and he is very appreciative of it.
In his two rooms, some of the corners are specifically dedicated to Ole Miss athletes and coaches. One of his corners, which is probably the most impressive, is the Chucky Mullins corner. He has many pictures and autographs, and autographs and pictures of all of the recent Chucky Mullins award winners.
Stephens also has other corners that are similar to Chucky’s corner, such as ones honoring Coach Johnny Vaught. The collection also includes a Manning Family Corner.
One of the most interesting pieces in his collection is the Sugar Bowl section. Ole Miss has a rich tradition of going to the Sugar Bowl, and Stephens has every single program of the 10 Sugar Bowls that Ole Miss competed in dating back to 1953.
When asked if he made it to the Sugar Bowl this year, Stephens replied with an almost baffled look on his face and said, “Oh yeah, I was there.”
The collection is very neat and organized with items placed in chronological order, showcasing how Ole Miss memorabilia how evolved through time. Some are more than 100 years old, but still are in amazing condition.
Also in the vast collection are three decorated Christmas trees, which might be unusual because Christmas is several months away. But they are up for a good reason.
“I keep up three Ole Miss Christmas trees all year because every day is Christmas for me,” Stephens said.
That comes as no surprise. Jim Stephens is truly an Ole Miss superfan.