College football legends. Woody Hayes. Darrell Royal. Vince Dooley. Bo Schembechler. Paul Bryant. Bobby Bowden. Joe Paterno. These men all led their teams and their players to conference and national titles. They instilled hard work, dedication, and respect for others in their players.
Yesterday, two of these men met at center field at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Joe Paterno was there as the coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Bobby Bowden was there as a guest of the Alabama Athletic Director, Mal Moore.
Following Coach Paul Bryant's retirement, Coach Bowden wanted to come to Alabama. He grew up in Birmingham and had been recruited by Bama. He spent one semester at Bama, but he returned to Birmingham to attend what was then Howard College (now Samford University.) He wanted to be closer to his girl, who later became his lovely wife.
Meeting both of these legends at center field was the current Alabama coach, Nick Saban, who will be one day be one of college football's legends. He is well on his way.
The game experience last night was magical. Electric. Exhilarating. Yes, last week there was a game at BDS, and there were over 101,000 fans in attendance, but the game last night had so much more to it. See, there is a history between Alabama and Penn State that isn't there between Alabama and San Jose State. Alabama and Penn State have played numerous times over the years. Both teams have tradition.
One of those previous games stands out in my memory. The Jan. 1, 1979, Sugar Bowl was for the National Championship. The players were the Alabama Crimson Tide, led by Coach Paul Bryant, and the Penn State Nittany Lions, led by Coach Joe Paterno. The game came down to a final play known forever as the Goal-line Stand. Penn State had recovered a fumble on the Bama 19 with just under 8 minutes to play. Penn State moved the ball to the 1 yard line. The Lions tried to run it up the middle on the third down play, but they went nowhere. On the fourth down play, they lined up to do the same.
One of the famous quotes from this game (well, famous for Bama fans) was from Marty Lyons. The Penn State QB came out for the fourth down play. Marty was between him and the ball. When the Penn State QB asked how far, Lyons said, "'Bout this much." The QB said "Ten inches." Lyons said, "Yeah. You better pass." The QB didn't pass, and the Tide held the mighty Lions and preserved a 14-7 win and became the 1979 National Champions.
I was 12 years old. I remember watching Coach Paterno as he left the field and feeling bad for him. (Not bad enough to not be excited about Bama's win, though.) Yesterday, that same feeling returned as I watched one of the greatest coaches college football has even known lose to my beloved Crimson Tide. (Again, not enough to not be excited by Bama's win.) This is a man who is at the end of his career. I hope he continues to coach for many more years, but face it...he is 83 years old. (Just an interesting side note...He is EXACTLY 40 years older than I am.) How much longer can he prowl on the sidelines? It will be a sad day when he steps down. However, he will step down as football's winningest coach, and it will be many, many, many years before anyone takes his place.
We got home about 1 this morning. I don't think I moved at all once I went to sleep. And had a squirrel not jumped down on the air conditioner, I doubt we would have wakened at 9. I'm too old for those late nights, but don't tell John. He'll use that as a reason to NOT go to late games. LOL
I hope everyone has a GREAT week.