Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rick Cleveland: Who will win the Conerly Trophy?

You can make a strong case that the two hottest teams in the National Football League are the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. Both keep winning. Both boast excellent play at the all-important quarterback position.

And, for our purposes today, both are quarterbacked by the only two-time winners of the C Spire Conerly Trophy which goes annually to the most outstanding college football player in Mississippi.

Eli Manning of the New York Giants and Ole Miss won it as a sophomore in 2001 and again as a senior in 2003. Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys and Mississippi State last year became the first ever winner of consecutive Conerly Trophies.

The C Spire Conerly Trophy, co-sponsored by C Spire and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, has become a Mississippi tradition. They'll give away the 21st Conerly on Nov. 29 at the Clarksdale Country Club.

Why Clarksdale? Traditionally, the C Spire awards in all sports are awarded at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame but the banquets are moved around from time to time. This year, the Conerly is being held in the hometown of its namesake, the late Chunkin' Charlie Conerly, who played at Ole Miss, went off to become a hero in World War II, then returned to be an All American for John Vaught's first Ole Miss team. Legend has it, Vaught said he would only take the job if Conerly, already drafted by the Washington Redskins, returned to play his senior season. Conerly, who had already been drafted by the NFL, did return, and Ole Miss won the first of Vaught's six SEC Championships.

Conerly then went on to a sparkling NFL career that included Rookie of the Year honors and leading the New York Giants to three championship games and one NFL Championship. He made All-Pro three times and was MVP once. He is a College Football Hall of Fame but somehow has never been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's a bone to pick another day. Today's topic is the trophy that bears his name and it has established quite the history in over two decades.

In fact, let's see how well you know your C Spire Conerly Trophy history. You'll find the answers at the end of the column.

1. Eli Manning won the Conerly in 2001 and 2003, so who won the award in 2002, which would have been Manning's junior season?

a) Delta State QB Scott Eyster, b) Mississippi State DB Fred Smoot, c) Southern Miss LB Rod Davis.

2. Only one interior lineman has ever won the Conerly. He was...

a) Peria Jerry of Ole Miss, b) Gabe Jackson of MSU, c) Michael Oher, Ole Miss.

3. The 2000 Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated Florida, Auburn and Alabama and produced two Conerly finalists in Dicenzo Miller and Fred Smoot, but who won the Conerly that year.

a) Josh Bright, Delta State; b) Deuce McAllister, Ole Miss; c) Adalius Thomas, USM.

4. Who won the first Conerly Trophy in 1996, which also was the year the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum opened?

a) Ole Miss TE Kris Mangum, b) USM LB Marchant Kenney, c) Delta State RB Tregnel Thomas.

5. Quarterbacks have won the Conerly nine times. What position has won the trophy the second most times with six.

a) running back, b) linebacker, c) wide receiver.

6. Eli Manning was a three-time finalist for the award. Who was the only four-time finalist for the Conerly Trophy.

a) Scott Eyster, DSU quarterback; b) Josh Bright, DSU quarterback; c) Tregnel Thomas, DSU running back.

7. Awards banquets have been held in Jackson, Biloxi, Clarksdale and one other Mississippi city...

a) Hattiesburg, b) Vicksburg, c) Tunica.

8. Which school has produced the most Conerly winners?

a) Mississippi State with 7, b) Ole Miss with 6, c) Southern Miss with 4.

Answers: 1. c) Rod Davis; 2. b) Gabe Jackson; 3. a) Josh Bright; 4. c) Tregnel Thomas; 5. a) running back, 6. a) Scott Eyster; 7. c) Tunica. 8. a) Mississippi State.

The 21st annual C Spire Conerly Trophy presentation will be held Nov. 29 at the Clarksdale Country Club. A 5:30 p.m. reception will be followed by the banquet and trophy presentation at 6:30 p.m. For ticket information, contact the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum at 1-800-280-FAME (3263), 601-982-8264 or
Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is

Kingfish note: This old clip of Mr. Conerly might anger Mike Moore and Jim Hood.

And here is Mrs. Conerly.


Anonymous said...

Scott Eyster was a great quarterback. Poor guy had to compete against Eli and Patrick Willis for the trophy. It was just bad luck/timing for him. I hope Scott is doing well.

Anonymous said...

This is certainly the year for one of the off-brand schools to win it. Give it to one of the forgottens at DSU, or a HBCU or one of the presbomethobaps. Or Southern.

Anonymous said...

@ 932

You do know DSU is the only MS college to have a 100% real deal, legit, uncontested National Championship in football.

Al Bundy said...

8. What other "celebrity" business did Mr. Conerly own, the local one being in Triangle Mart once upon a time?

Anonymous said...

i'm voting for sleepy robinson.

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken 3:20 Mr. Conerly owned a chain of shoe stores throughout the state.

Anonymous said...

At 10.18. oh really what about USM's not one but two small college national championships?

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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