EMCC Athletic Traditions


Coach Robert Victor “Bull/Cyclone” Sullivan served as the head football coach at East Misissippi Junior College from 1950-52 and again from 1956-69.  The chief architect of the school’s rich gridiron tradition, Sullivan produced 31 junior college All-American players in his 16 seasons.  More than 200 of his players went on to become coaches.

Acknowledged as an offensive genius, Sullivan’s passing attack was considered years ahead of its time.  A World War II veteran who fought with his fellow Marines in Okinawa, he was popularized by Sports Illustrated as `The Toughest Coach There Ever Was’ in an April 1984 cover story - an 18-page article which remains the longest ever published in SI.

Sullivan was later featured in a 2010 book entitled “Bull Cyclone Sullivan and the Lions of Scooba, Mississippi,” which recounted some of his legendary antics and tales.



When legendary football coach “Bull” Sullivan arrived in Scooba, Miss., he wanted to create a one-of-a-kind jersey for his team.

It featured short sleeves (uncommon for football jerseys at the time) and five bold stars across the chest and above the numbers.  As the story goes, Sullivan once told his players of the origin of the five stars during halftime of a crucial game:

Back in Okinawa during World War II, Sullivan told his men that he was entrenched in a foxhole with five fellow Marines.  After a fierce battle, Sullivan was the only Marine who made it out of the foxhole alive - and the five stars on the EMJC jersey represent the five Marines who fought alongside Sullivan that day.

A sixth star was added following Sullivan’s death in 1970 to commemorate the man behind the famous jersey, which has now been worn by by EMCC football teams in seven decades.



Football players at East Mississippi Junior College were some of the last in the country to stop using leather helmets, as Coach “Bull” Sullivan believed that hard, modern helmets caused as many injuries as they prevented.

He firmly contended that using soft, leather helmets with a skull and crossbones painted on the front would rattle the opposing team - and often, it did just that.

Sullivan’s wife, Virginia, originally hand-painted many helmets with the skull and crossbones, and EMCC football players wore the look for years to come.

In 2011, in anticipation of the new, $4.7 million Sullivan-Windham Field opening, head coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC squad unveiled a modern version of the skull and crossbones helmet.  The Lions wore the special headgear a few times on their way to the school’s first-ever NJCAA National Championship.