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Mississippi College Football In 2023: What To Know About The Choctaws

Mississippi College Football In 2023: What To Know About The Choctaws

The Mississippi College football team returns in 2023 as a member of the Gulf South Conference. Here’s what to know about the program.

Oct 11, 2023 by Matt Cannizzaro
Mississippi College Football In 2023: What To Know About The Choctaws

Mississippi College was a middle-of-the-pack performer in the Gulf South Conference in 2022, finishing the season with a 3-4 conference record and a 4-7 overall mark. It was an improvement from 2021, however, when the Choctaws were 2-5 in the GSC.

John Bland, who became the 15th head football coach at Mississippi College in January 2014, will return in 2023 for his 10th season in charge. He is 23-59 overall and has only recorded one season of .500 or better, a 5-5 effort in 2019.

A highlight of the 2022 season for Mississippi College was the team’s 500th win, a 49-40 victory over Valdosta State in October. 

In 2023, the Gulf South Conference will include nine teams (up from eight) and return three that finished with winning records in 2022. Among the returning teams are the University of West Florida and Delta State, which posted 6-1 records in conference play to share the Gulf South title. 

West Florida finished 2022 with a 12-2 overall record, and Delta State was 11-2. West Florida made the NCAA Division II semifinals, losing to eventual national champion Ferris State.

Gulf South football action will be streamed live on FloFootball and the FloSports app, including all of Mississippi College’s Gulf South games.

Here’s What To Know About Mississippi College Football:

What Year Did Mississippi College Start Playing Football?

Mississippi College played its first season of football in 1907 and posted a 1-0 record, a 6-0 win over Chamberlain-Hunt.

Mississippi College’s largest margin of victory came in 1909 – a 94-0 win over Chamberlain Hunt Academy.

The Choctaws are 500-473-36 all-time. 

The school’s longest-tenured coach was Stanley Robinson, who served 26 years from 1920-1953 and won 124 games. 

In What Division Of College Football Does Mississippi College Play? 

Mississippi College plays at the NCAA Division II level. 

The Choctaws moved down to Division III for the 1996 season and moved back up for the 2014 campaign. 

How Many Times Has Mississippi College Football Made It To The Playoffs?

The Mississippi College football team has reached the postseason six times – five at the Division II level and once while playing in Division III.

Division II – 1979, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991

Division III – 2009

The Choctaws rolled through the 1989 playoffs, defeating Texas A&I (34-19), St. Cloud State (55-24), Indiana (Pennsylvania) (26-14) and Jacksonville State (3-0).

Despite claiming the Division II national title in 1989, Mississippi College was forced to vacate its lone national title by the NCAA Committee based on infractions for recruiting violations that were deemed to give the Choctaws a “tremendous competitive advantage.” The decision came in January 1993.

When Did Mississippi College Football Join The Gulf South Conference?

Mississippi College joined the Gulf South Conference for the 1972-1973 academic year. The Choctaws’ football debut in the GSC was for the 1973 season. They went 3-4 in conference play.

MC dropped from Division II to Division III and left the GSC after the 1995 football season. The team landed in the American Southwest Conference, which was founded in 1996.

The time away was lengthy, but the Choctaws returned nearly two decades later and resumed football action in 2014.

Has Mississippi College Football Ever Won The Gulf South Title?

Mississippi College is credited with three Gulf South Conference football titles – 1979, 1988 (shared with Jacksonville State and Tennessee-Martin) and 1990.

The Choctaws played in the American Southwest Conference from 1996-2013, winning the title in 1997 and 2009 (shared with Mary Hardin-Baylor).

Who Is The Mississippi College Football Head Coach?

John Bland has been the head football coach at Mississippi College since January 2014.

In nine seasons with the Choctaws, Bland has compiled a 23-59 record, with just one season of .500 or better (5-5 in 2019). In Gulf South Conference competition, Bland is 12-47, winning one or less games six times.

Bland’s first year at the helm for the Choctaws also marked the team’s return to the Gulf South Conference and the NCAA Division II level. Mississippi College had been playing football at the Division III level since 1996.

Prior to joining the Choctaws, Bland spent eight years at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, where he was 70-21 with five Mid-South Conference titles. He was named Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year five times. 

Bland also made stops at Rice University (quarterbacks coach for five seasons), Southern Arkansas Univrsity (assistant coach from 1994-1999 and head coach in 2000), Central High School in Tennessee and as a graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas.

Bland lettered four times as a quarterback at the University of Arkansas, where he helped the Razorbacks to four bowl games. 

Who Is Mississippi College Football’s Biggest Rival? 

Mississippi College has faced Millsaps more times than any other opponent (52), but the two haven’t met since 2013, the final season of MC’s stint at the Division III level (1996-2013).

Their first meeting was in 1920, and the rivalry game became known as the Backyard Brawl, since both schools were located near Jackson, Mississippi.

The rivalry existed across multiple sports until 1960, when a fight at a basketball game led the schools to part ways for four decades. The football matchup resumed in 2000. 

Mississippi College leads the series 31-15-6.

Another longtime rivalry for Mississippi College began in 1935 and remains current. MC and Delta State University have met 42 times in the Heritage Bell Classic, with Delta State holding the all-time advantage at 24-16-2. 

Mississippi College won the first meeting 33-0, kicking off a streak of four straight victories. Delta State has won nine of the last 10 meetings, including a 52-38 triumph in 2022.

The two teams battled annually while Mississippi College was part of the Gulf South Conference, and that streak lasted from 1973-1995. When MC returned to the GSC, the rivalry resumed (2014).

The winner of the matchup also takes possession of the Heritage Bell Classic trophy. 

The trophy was introduced in 1979 and features the scores of every meeting from 1935-1995 on its face. It also includes a small bell on top, with statuettes of a Choctaw and a Statesmen on either side of it. 

Mississippi College has faced a number of other teams more than 20 times, too: West Alabama (49), Samford (40), Louisiana College (38), North Alabama (35), Ouachita Baptist (32), Jacksonville State (23), Arkansas-Monticello (22), Henderson State (22), Valdosta State (22) and Austin College (20).

Where Is Mississippi College?

Mississippi College is in Clinton, Mississippi. The school received its first charter in 1826 as Hampstead Academy, which was changed to Mississippi Academy a year later. After becoming a college in 1830, the name was changed to Mississippi College.

In 1831, the school became the first coed college in the country to award a degree to a female student.

Notable Mississippi College Alums

Former Mississippi governors Phil Bryant and Ross Barnett, Mississippi senators Mary Lou Godbold and Lee Yancey, United State Congressman Gregg Harper, former professional wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr., Team USA track & field medalist Larry Myricks, former first lady of Mississippi Carroll Waller and baseball writer Dayn Perry.

Jake Allen, Larry Evans, Major Everett, Fred McAfee, and Michael Williams are among the former Mississippi College students who went on to play in the NFL.

Mississippi College Football Schedule 2023

  • Aug. 31: at Keiser, 6 p.m. ET
  • Sept. 9: at Midwestern State, 8 p.m. ET
  • Sept. 16: West Georgia, 8 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Sept. 23: at West Alabama, 7 p.m. Et, FloSports
  • Sept. 30: at Shorter, noon ET, FloSports
  • Oct. 14: Valdosta State, 3 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Oct. 21: Chowan, 7 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Oct. 28: at North Greenville, 2 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Nov. 4: West Florida, 3 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Nov. 11: at Delta State, 4 p.m. ET, FloSports