The player’s coach: Ole Miss’ Billy Brewer noted for kind nature, love of team

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2018

In the eyes of many across the Miss-Lou, former Ole Miss great Billy Brewer showcased a style of coaching filled with just the right mix of grit and heart.

As the second winningest coach in Rebel football history, Brewer died Saturday at the age of 83.

For former Ole Miss lineman and South Natchez graduate Tim Brown, there’s no doubt Brewer stamped his love on every single player.

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Now living in Vicksburg as a pastor, Brown and his brother Burkes both played for Brewer in the 1980s.

“Since I first heard the news, I have been reflecting on my time and what it was like to be a player underneath him and my relationship with him,” Brown said. “If you were going to play for Coach Brewer, you were going to play tough and hard-nosed, but he was definitely a player’s coach. He loved us all dearly.”

After carrying on the Ole Miss tradition of his father and Natchez native Allen Brown, Tim Brown said the most special part of his relationship with Brewer came after he played football.

Tim Brown’s son, Ben, will be a redshirt freshman for the Rebels this fall after graduating from St. Aloysius in 2017.

“The last time I saw Coach Brewer was about a year ago. He was able to have a few meals with my son, and that was really special to me that Ben got to know him,” Tim Brown said. “As competitive as he was, he had a huge heart.”

Brewer not only impacted those closest to him, but those watching from afar, too.

“I thought he did a heck of a job,” Vidalia High football coach Dee Faircloth said. “He was a nice guy, too.”

Faircloth, who is ready to lead the Vikings for his 44th season this fall, remembers meeting Brewer once on a recruiting visit.

“He wanted one of our top linebackers. He had about six or seven guys with him with these bright red jackets. It was Ole Miss red,” Faircloth said.

“I enjoyed talking to him. I just remember him being an outstanding human being.”

During his career, Brewer coached Ole Miss to eight wins over rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, as well as two wins in the Liberty Bowl and one in the Independence Bowl.

For Faircloth, he doesn’t mind such guys like Brewer who know how to build a dynasty.

“I pull for guys like (Alabama’s) Nick Saban and (New England’s) Bill Belichick,” he said. “I like a tough old coaches who don’t put up with any crap.”

Cathedral School basketball coach Matthew Hall agreed with Brown about Brewer’s softer side.

An Ole Miss grad himself, Hall said he does his best to emulate Brewer’s kindhearted nature.

“He was a really good coach for us. I loved him, and he’s definitely one of my favorites,” Hall said. “All the stuff I’ve ever read is about how he loved his players and I always thought he was really cool for that.

“I try to remember that with my team, you aren’t just coaching them now. You hope they appreciate all you’ve done for them and you are able to keep a relationship with them in the future.”

Though Hall never met Brewer, said it doesn’t take much to see the obvious success he had on a program he made his own for 11 seasons, coaching from 1983-1993.

“He is one of the greatest to come through our school,” he said. “It’s a sad one to lose for the Ole Miss family, the SEC and Mississippi.”