Southern Fried Football

By Bamaslammer Birmingham Bolts Co-Reporter

23 September 2000 – While waiting for news on the staff and minicamps. (Mike Shula former offensive coordinator for the Bucs was in town last week but you DIDN’T HEAR IT FROM ME). I was pondering what made football successful in Alabama.

Of course the first thing that comes to mind is “winning”. Most Alabama and Auburn folks have little tolerance for a losing football team. Looking at the strides UAB has taken I’m not sure if they will be many years behind. But there have been losing teams. There have been teams that didn’t quite reach their potential.

I thought back to When I was a bright eyed student at Alabama in the 80’s. Back then, we made a habit of making bets on how long the starting QB for the other team would stay in the game before Cornelius Bennett would knock him silly. We even took bets on how long the 2nd team QB would last. But on no occasion did any of those teams make it to the Sugar Bowl.

I thought back to the glory days of Auburn Football. What a nightmare for opposing teams to see Bo Jackson coming out of the backfield behind that huge offensive line. Bo was so strong he could knock over your best linebacker, and so fast he could outrun your fastest cornerback. Although Auburn did make it to the Sugar Bowl they never won the national title.

I thought back to another professional team that once played here. I don’t remember when it was or who we were playing. It was early in the season and the Stallions were not playing well. The crowd sat silently wishing something exciting would happen. There was no Roll Tide or War Eagle and UAB didn’t even play football at the time. The opposing team had just scored “again” and their kicker kicked the extra point. He wagged his finger
taunting the poor Stallions as he trotted off the field.

I don’t know who it was, I never got his number. On the kickoff there was a Stallion who did something I will never forget. He charged down field, ignored his blocking assignment and absolutely de-cleated that kicker. I mean he planted his helmet in that guys chest and drove him half way to the coal mines!!! It made this huge cracking sound that everyone in Legion Field heard. The crowd let out the thunderous “UUUUGGG!” and then went WILD!! A chill ran up my spine as the crowd roared. The team must have felt it too because they went out there and turned the game around and finally won. The kicker never return to the game. I remember it being a great season from that point on. Everybody loved the Stallions.

I think what makes football a success in Alabama isn’t winning records or championships but down home brutal football. Like the games you played in your back yard that went for hour after hour. No surrender – no defeat!! Will anyone ever forget the hit Bennett put on that Notre Dame Quarterback or the night Bo ran “through” Bryan Bosworth for a touchdown.

The Bolts are still an unknown quantity. Perhaps if Dinardo can find some real quality players and mix in a few players who are just a little crazy to add some spice. I think they will be a hit in Alabama.