By Chelsea Harris
On October 8, 1988, the Ole Miss Rebels stunned the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium as they took home their first victory against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. At the time, the Rebels were 0-14 in games in Tuscaloosa, and on this day Alabama was ranked No. 12 at the time.
Former Rebel assistant coach and player Eddie Crawford said it was the best defensive effort for four quarters he had ever seen, according to the Rebels’ defensive coordinator that day. That defensive coordinator was the one and only Robert Youngblood of Oxford.
Youngblood described the game as one of his most exciting and memorable experiences during his long and successful coaching career. As he sat in his rolling chair at University Sporting Goods in Oxford recently, he explained why this game meant so much to him as well as the players.
“Alabama is Alabama. We were on top of the world,” Youngblood said of the victory. “It was very rewarding to play as the underdogs in front of that sold-out crowd and win.”
But this historical moment is not the only reason that Youngblood is revered in the world of athletics. He has been able to leave a mark at all of the athletic programs of which he has been apart.
Youngblood coached at Tupelo High School for three years before he met Coach Billy Brewer at Lee High School in Columbus. From then on, the dynamic duo took on coaching football programs for many years, beginning with Lee High for 11 years.
Youngblood went on to become the defensive coordinator with Brewer as head coach at Southeastern Louisiana for five years and Louisiana Tech for three years. In 1983, Brewer was hired as head coach at Ole Miss, his alma mater.
Youngblood worked as the assistant head coach for the Rebels for seven successful years for the Ole Miss football program and moved on to work at Oxford High School as an assistant football coach and athletics director.
After OHS head coach Johnny Hill left to become head coach at Tupelo, Youngblood was named as the head coach at Oxford High. The Chargers went 9-3 in 1996 and 1997 under Youngblood. They also went to playoffs every year between 1990 and 1998, while he was either an assistant or head coach, and were Region Champions in 1990, 1994, and 1995.
Youngblood loved his football journey through all those seasons.
“If I had to do it again, I’d go on the same trip,” he said. “Very blessed to be in some good schools and coach great kids and work with some great coaches. It was the best of times.”
However, “the best of times” may not include a game Youngblood was coaching at Oxford High against New Hope. It was his first as OHS head coach, and on one play the players accidentally ran him over on the sidelines during a rainstorm. His knee was messed up after that unfortunate incident.
But don’t worry. Even retirement in recent years couldn’t stop “Coach.”
He currently assists with sports team apparel at University Sporting Goods located on the Oxford Square while also serving as the warm, sweet, and humorous “work grandpa,” as the retail employees describe him.
“Leaving Ole Miss, going to the high school in Oxford, starting with a new athletic program and seeing the results… it was very rewarding,” Youngblood said, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d do the same thing.”
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