2014 Hall of Fame class includes Ken Irvin, Tamika Whitmore, Jenna Kubesch-Raizes and Lee Taylor Walker
Billy J. Murphy was born in Lorenza, Texas, on January 13, 1921 and spent most of his youth growing up in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Following high school in 1939, he enrolled at Mississippi State University where he would letter in football and baseball for the Bulldogs for three seasons and earned All-SEC honors in football in 1941 and similar accolades in 1942 before World War II interrupted his collegiate career.
Murphy enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and was transferred to Duke University for V-12 training in 1943. He played one season of football and starred for the Duke Blue Devils, but only after being assured that he would retain his eligibility to play again at Mississippi State. Upon completion of training, Murphy was shipped to the South Pacific and as a 2nd LT. witnessed first hand the carnage of war in the Pacific Theatre. For his exploits with the 105mm Howitzer Battalion, he was decorated with the Bronze Star, the Presidential Citation and the Navy Citation.
He returned to Mississippi State in 1946 and served as team captain, completing his Bulldog career with a record of 24-5-1 and an SEC championship. Murphy entered the coaching profession in 1947 and after serving for 10 years as an assistant coach at such schools as Minnesota, Mississippi State and Memphis State, he received a call from Dr. C.C.Humphreys on his 37th birthday, offering him the head coaching position at Memphis.
In 1962, Coach Murphy took his team to Starkville (MS) and defeated the Bulldogs 28-7 marking the Tigers first win over an SEC team in school history. In 1963, his Tigers battled Coach John Vaught's 3rd ranked Ole Miss Rebels to a 0-0 tie at Crump Stadium before knocking off number 11 ranked Miss. State 17-10 later that season. During the four year span of 1960 - 1963, Murphy's squads compiled an overall record of 33 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie.
In September of 1967 Memphis State opened the season in Liberty Bowl Stadium facing Vaught's Rebels, a team Memphis State had not beaten in 21 attempts dating back to the 1921 season. The final score, Memphis State 27, Ole Miss 17. When he coached his final game for the Tigers, a victory in the 1971 Pasadena Bowl, his record stood at an amazing 91-44-1, ranking Coach Murphy 11th in the nation among active coaches in won-loss record and 15th in total victories.
During the fall of 1966, Murphy had taken on the dual role of football coach and athletic director and following his retirement from football, he assumed the full-time duties of AD. With the same determination he demonstrated on the gridiron, he oversaw the construction of multimillion dollar athletic facilities, raised the Tigers athletic budget from a mere $150,000 in 1958 to over $2.5 million and was instrumental in putting together the original Metro Athletic Conference, which featured such schools as Virginia Tech, Florida State, South Carolina and Georgia Tech. In 1981 he was promoted to special assistant to the President for athletics, a position he held until his retirement from the University in the late 1980s.