Bowl season brings back fond memories

Published 3:48 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By By Lowell McGill
With the National College Championship football game pitting Alabama against Texas set for Thursday, I am reminded of another matchup between these two great universities.
This one was the 1965 Orange Bowl played in Miami on Jan. 1, 1965.
I remember the day of the game when temperatures plummeted very much like these cold days and nights we are experiencing now.
Carlton Martin, who owned Martin Auto Parts Company, invited me and a few other friends over to his home to watch the game that night. I remember when walking into his cozy den I saw assorted Alabama memorabilia. Coffee cups were Crimson red with “Roll Tide” wording. A hound’s-tooth hat hung over the mantle and “Bear Bryant” photos adorned the walls.
Audrey, Carlton’s wife, had prepared a huge pot of black eyed peas, fried pork chops, great hunks of cornbread and large bowls of turnip greens. Thick slices of onion were placed over neat wooden stems penetrating upward from each end of the dining table. A lucky dime was also added to the pot of peas. This, as most of you know brings good luck for the New Year.
After we enjoyed that nice meal the game got under way and it was nail to nail from the very opening kickoff. The game rocked along with one team scoring and then the other. It was one of those typical “nail biters.”
Sometime during the final quarter I received a phone call from my wife to run down to the movie theatre and pick up my niece, Debbie Lockwood, and give her a ride home. So I jumped into my car, rushed down to the theatre and found her waiting under the colorful marquee. As I looked up at the name of that movie posted on the marquee I could hardly believe my eyes. I scrambled back to Carlton’s home as quickly as I could after I took my niece home. Just as soon as I got there Alabama quarterback Joe Namath, on a quarterback keeper, was thwarted from the end zone by Texas linebacker Tommy Nobis, the All-American. The effort by Nobis gave Texas the win. Thus the ball game ended after that play and the Tide had suffered another disappointing loss to Texas.
Well the Martin party became very silent after that. But then I spoke up and said “fellas” I already knew the score before I got back to the game. They said how did you know that? I said, ‘you see, when I went down to the picture show I looked up at the marquee and there it was right before my eyes.” Yes, that movie playing was “4 For Texas” with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
You guessed it. The final score of the game was Texas 21-Alabama 17.
So this week no more picture shows, no more lucky dimes. Just a feeling that the law of averages says the Tide finally racks up a win over the Longhorns.
While on football, I must quote some Internet articles and make a comment on the Mike Leach situation.
This entire episode reminds me of those years I coached in our Little League programs. You see, there were always mamas and daddys right out there at practices and games yelling, “Why don’t you play my son?” Little did some of them realize their sons would be playing if they were talented enough to play. Believe it or not I saw the same thing as I followed my three sons through four years of college baseball. Those mamas and daddys were still there at that level giving the coach a hard time for not playing their kids. And, those who really just “don’t have it” should find other fields that would better parallel their abilities. In competition at this level many fail to realize only those who “can cut it” get playing time. And, distractions from mammas and daddys only make it more difficult for the kids.
This brings me back to Craig James, the ESPN announcer, who raised such a stink because his maverick son Adam, as described by one internet writer, was not good enough to receive adequate playing time at Texas Tech University,all of which partly contributed to Coach Mike Leach losing his job as head coach.
My statement is based on an internet story by Brett Stephen. That author stated right now it is a sad day for Texas Tech, but another writer said Leach would have his day in court. Stephen said “I hope Craig James is happy that he has now brought his son into the spotlight as a crybaby.”
You may have noticed that Adam did not play in the bowl game last week. You may have noticed that Craig did not announce on the bowl telecast. You surely noticed how ESPN offered cover for Craig throughout the entire game. And, ESPN could not let Craig be cast as the “victim.”
The stadium was filled with signs and posters supporting Coach Leach. It was revealed over the air that the James family had even received death threats because of the incident. I heard one radio pundit claim Craig James “played a role in SMU’s loss of its football program a few years ago. Craig played at SMU but I could not find an internet story that tied him to the Mustang downfall. So, I will not offer any further comments on this episode.
I am sure this controversy has not ended. I feel there will be a settlement in Leach’s favor. You will hear more about this as days go by.
Leach, appears to be a ‘maverick”, himself. He even described himself in this regard. But, I believe better days await him. Already, the Oakland Raiders have shown an interest in his services as a coach according to one radio pundit. Indeed, he does seem to fit the role owner Al Davis likes.
But my question right now how does ESPN bring back Craig James to the announcing booth?
Congratulations to Auburn coach Gene Chizik for his big bowl win over Northwestern. It was especially gratifying to see a team from the Chicago area bite the dust. That Chicago connection, if you recall, right now hinders Mobile from getting the big tanker contract. Boeing, the competitor for the contract, has ties to that Chicago connection.
Again, I want to say that Chezik is a gentleman in every respect. He is an excellent diplomat for the Auburn program.
I wish Nick Saban displayed more diplomacy, especially with the press. And, I have the right to make this statement because I attended the University of Alabama and I have donated to the school on numerous occasions. But let me also say I believe Coach Saban will become one of the most successful coaches the Tide has ever had. He is certainly the best thing that has happened to our program since Paul Bryant. And, at 58 years of age, I am sure he will take Steve Spurrier’s advice and not ever make another coaching move. His lack of press diplomacy will, in no way, deter the football dynasty he is building at the Capstone.
Incidentally, in my oil story last week I gave out some incorrect information on the location of Venture’s new oil well. I stated it was being drilled east of the Fountain No. 1 well. Actually, the new site is less than a half mile north of that site. The No. 1 well was a dry hole if you remember.
Next week I’ll have more news about people, places and events from the year 1975.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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