Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Last Season (copy)

The prologue begins, “It was the first Ole Miss game that season in Jackson, and I’d been looking forward to it all summer.” Stuart Stevens was 10-years-old when he memorized the Rebel football roster. The list was taped to the wall above his bed where he could go over their names before bedtime.
“I knew the names of every starting Rebel as though they were family members: the all-American quarterback Glynn Griffing; the running back Lou Guy; the fullback and linebacker Buck Randall. I knew them all. The way the radio announcers described them was how I thought of the Rebels: ‘rocket-armed’ Griffing; ‘swivel-hipped’ Guy; ‘bruising’ Randall. They were like titles bestowed upon knights competing on fields of battle.”
The year was 1962 and Stevens was reminiscing over the game his father took him to at Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss. He remembers his mother fussing about wearing a jacket. He remembers his father holding his hand as they walked in a crowd to the stadium. He remembers the Rebel flags everywhere and an agitated fan yelling from a car, “Go to hell, Kentucky!”
It was the start of what Stevens called a “perfect season in that most imperfect year.” That year, Johnny Vaught coached a winning streak and was awarded the SEC Coach of the Year. It was also the same year James Meredith walked onto the Oxford campus flanked by federal marshals to become the first black to enroll in classes.
Political strategist to Mitt Romney, Stuart Stevens, suffered his first ever loss to an otherwise perfect career. Fast forward to 2012, as he walks slowly down the hall of the hotel to tell the Romney family they just lost to President Obama. The walls began to move in as he senses his own pending loss. How much time will he have left with his 95-year-old dad and 86-year-old mother?
The next day Stuart states, “I woke up at the age of 60 and realized that what I wanted most in the world was one more season. With my father and football and the Ole Miss Rebels. It didn’t need to be a perfect season. One last season would be perfect enough.”
Stuart Stevens’ book, “The Last Season: A Father, a Son, and a Lifetime of College Football,” is a must read for any Ole Miss fan. Each chapter is a chronological step in the 2013 “last” season Stuart spends with his dad. Flashbacks abound as Stuart navigates the treacherous crowd with a much slower but alert father. You will find yourself smiling with the familiar Ole Miss fans as they go out of their way to help, and you will laugh at a father whose 95-year-old wit is fresh.


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