SEC coaches remind us of many stars

Published 4:03 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2007

By By Lowell McGill
I have been reading on the Internet and talking with some friends about current Southeastern Conference coaches and even ordinary people who reminded them of long ago famous movie stars, singers and entertainers.
When you think of it you can relate most everyone you know to some famous person.
I'll begin with Tommy Tuberville, the well-regarded Auburn coach. He has a great voice for speaking and is often asked to speak on special events and occasions. But have any of you ever thought that he sounds a lot like Fess Parker, the actor who was famous for his role in Walt Disney's early TV show "David Crockett"? I mean this as a compliment to Tuberville because I was such a fan of this program when it aired back in the 1960s.
Tennessee's Phil Fulmer reminds me of the talented actor Ernest Borgnine. I remember seeing Borgine in two very early movies. He played the "heavy" as a sergeant in "From Here To Eternity," which actually starred Burt Lancaster. I believe his first movie was "Marty," where he played a great role in a very interesting movie.
Houston Nutt, the new coach for University of Mississippi, has some interesting features about him that reminds me of James Garner. I think I first saw Garner in "Cash McCall" but he is remembered mostly for his TV series "The Rockford Files. Nutt, who appears to be tall, has some admirable mannerisms like Garner. Nutt only recently took the Ole Miss job after serving several years as Arkansas's head coach
Bobby Johnson of Vanderbilt University has a close resemblance to the talented and gray haired Steve Martin. Martin, who has played in many movies and TV series, played a memorable role in the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." Johnson was only recently considering another head college coaching job but decided to remain at Vanderbilt. John Candy, the loveable "Big Guy" who died a few years ago, also had a leading role in PTA.
Now Les Miles, the current coach at LSU is fairly new to us in the Southeastern Conference and I have not yet discovered who he reminds me of. For some reason I see similarities in looks between he and Rich Rodriquez, the new head coach at Michigan. Both feature nice facial profiles and are certainly highly respected. Rumors were flying just one day before Rodriquez accepted the head coaching position at the University of Michigan. You remember, he "took a peak" at the University of Alabama and the Tide thought he was their man. But, he quickly ran back "home" to West Virginia University. He was quoted by a report on the Internet that he would not coach WVU in their bowl game.
I am still trying to tie in Alabama's Nick Saban. He certainly has the profile for a movie actor and his wardrobe, particular his Palm Beach coats and suits, sets him apart from many other coaches. He reminds me of one or two of those lead detective actors who play in weekly TV series. On camera he comes across as good as any Hollywood actor. I believe this is one of his traits that has caused him to soar in popularity.
Mark Richt of the University of Georgia has that Burt Reynolds appearance. Each always seems "cool and groovy." It may be something about those "raised eyelids."
Now for Urban Meyer of Florida I am going back to the 1940s in comparing his looks to a well-known sidekick of "Hopalong Cassidy." I'm speaking about Russell Hayden who played "Lucky Jenkins" with Hoppy in many movies. Meyers and Hayden, not known for being too talkative, display warm, firm personalities.
I haven't listed other SEC coaches because I have not uncovered a match for them as yet. Perhaps you could help me with your emails. I need your thoughts on South Carolina's Steve Spurrier; Kentucky's Rich Brooks; Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom and Arkansas's new coach Bobby Petrino. I almost said Petrino was the Atlanta Falcon's coach, but he left that team only a few days ago. You remember as Louisville University head coach, he was the main target of Auburn officials in the famous "Jetgate"saga a few years ago. He was an Auburn assistant coach prior to taking the Louisville position.
Speaking of Sylvester Croom I remember a few years before coach Bear Bryant died Red Emmons and I saw him escorting Bryant to a golfing tournament in Pensacola. Croom had that "bodyguard" look about him. I have read that the two were very, very close after Croom completed his playing days for Bryant. Croom has often been quoted he truly admired coach Bryant. Red, as many know played at Alabama before Bryant became coach.
Bryant's voice reminded me of many of those old time radio voices of the 1940s. His deep, resonant vocal tone could pass for old radio show voices like those on "Adventures of Phillip Marlowe," "Dr Kildare," "Inner Sanctum," " Lux Radio Theatre" and many more. Interestingly, you didn't see TV show listings in the newspapers back in those days. You saw radio show listings.
In listening to those old time radio voices when I was a boy I was surprised to learn their voices did not always match up with what I though they looked like. Many, when I saw pictures of them in later years, did not carry the "Hero" looks, as their voices would imply.
One voice was an exception. Back in the 1960s and '70s Ted Cassidy worked as a radio announcer for WCOA in Pensacola and was the track announcer at the Pensacola Dog Track. His voice was so appealing that it led him to Hollywood. You'll remember him as "Lurch," the big, tall butler on the TV series "The Adams Family." His voice certainly matched his physique. Cassidy died in 1979. Bratt's Leroy Morris, who was on the staff of WEAR, introduced me to Cassidy many years ago.
Well, let me hear from you on those remaining SEC coaches without a match. I'm sure some of you can come up with ideas I can use in future columns.
(I fully intended to have a story for you this week on those telephone operators back in the 19330s through the early l950s. I have misplaced this story somewhere in my computer, but I'll find it and have it for you very soon. This column also has a related story, which I'm sure you will find extremely interesting.)
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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