Tuffy Bourland, a blast from the past…
Long-time Columbus coach and educator Jim “Tuffy” Bourland, the MVP of the first Mississippi High School football all-star game, died at the age of 81 last August.
In the accompanying photograph, you see Bourland’s son, Jackson radio executive John Bourland, with his dad’s souvenir sweater jacket from that first all-star game played back in 1950.
Then known as Jimmie, Bourland had been a high school All-American fullback at Aberdeen. In the all-star game, he led the North all-stars to a 26-6 victory over the South, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown — all in the first half.
There was a story behind that.
“The last time he carried the ball in the first half, he was tackled and accidentally kneed in the kidney,” John Bourland said. “He knew he was hurt and then at halftime, he had blood in his urine. The coaches told him to put on his street clothes and go back to the hotel and go to bed.”
Later that night, Bourland received a visit from Mississippi State coaches, who offered him a scholarship while he was flat on his back and in agony.
Bourland, who was not for nothing nicknamed Tuffy, accepted. He played the next two seasons at State, before he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After two years of service, he finished his college football career at Mississippi Southern where he met his wife.
Jim and Vicky Bourland spent their lives in education in the Columbus school system.
Those early all-star games were sponsored by the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters in conjunction with Mississippi State. Wrote Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Bob Hartley in the program for the second all-star game, “Last year over 10,000 people filled Tiger Stadium for the inaugural classic. It was the culmination of an idea Coach Arthur “Slick” Morton had when he first came to Mississippi State in January, 1949. . . . When lights are installed at the new Memorial Stadium it will mean that more than 20,000 spectators can be assured of a seat for this great classic.”
The Bourland family has donated Jimmie Bourland’s sweater jacket from that first all-star game — a piece of Mississippi sports history — to your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame where it will be part of our high school collection on the museum’s mezzanine.