RIP: USM football great Bobby Holmes

Every university needs fans such as Ken Shearer. Ken, a former football manager at Southern Miss, has become the school’s unofficial sports historian. Today, he writes about the death of Bobby Holmes, one of USM’s all-time football greats.

By Ken Shearer

Robert Harold “Bobby” Holmes, age 85, died Sunday, April 6, in Biloxi.  Bobby Holmes was one of the great quarterbacks and indeed great football players in Southern Miss football history.  He was also an outstanding high school coach in Mississippi for many years.

Originally from Tallassee, Ala., Bobby came to then-Mississippi Southern in 1949 from then-Perkinston Jr. College where he had been a Jr. College All-American.  He had also been an All-State high school player in Alabama.  Despite being 5-9, 170 pounds and not real fast, he had a great arm and was an elusive runner.   In those years, USM played in the Gulf South Conference and Bobby made all-conference both years.

In 1949, he completed 56 out of 99 passes (53 of them to the illustrious Cliff Coggin) for 903 yards.  In 1950 he completed 52 out of 90 (without Coggin) for 660 yards.  He also could run the ball, rushing for 193 yards in 1949.  After 64 years, you’ll still find him in the record book.  In 1949, he returned two punts for 82 and 95 yards for touchdowns, against Alabama.  That 177 yards in punt returns is still a USM record for a single game.  The USM Media Guide also will show where he led the team in total offense in both 1949 and 1950, despite being somewhat overshadowed by the indomitable Bubba Phillips.

Bobby was elected to the Southern Miss M-Club Sports Hall of Fame in 1966, its second year of existence.  He earned his degree in 1951 and a MA in 1957.  He coached for many years at several places including Biloxi and Moss Point and was also a school administrator.

Bobby Holmes could probably have played for many teams in the country but most of the big-named schools didn’t think so we were fortunate to have him at Southern Miss.  The funeral is being handled by Riemann Funeral Home in Biloxi but arrangements are incomplete.

Another great Golden Eagle has gone home.

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