sunday, may 26, 2013
The Desegregation of Alabama High School SportsIn 1968, federal Judge Frank Johnson ordered Alabama's segregated high school athletic associations to merge as part of his historic Lee vs Macon County rulings. That action swept away the last vestiges of segregation in the state's sports at all levels and was a key piece in the integration of the University of Alabama football team.
The story of integrating Alabama's high schools began as early as 1966 when Huntsville Butler's Danny Treadwell, became the first black to play in the state's all-white high school basketball tournament. But while black players could attend white schools only a handful did so, it took Johnson's order to bring the majority of black players into the white system of advancement.
A paper I co-wrote with Andrew Doyle of Winthrop university on this topic, The Turning Point: The Desegregation of Alabama High School Sports is being presented this weekend at the North American Society of Sports History annual convention.
friday, april 26, 2013
Nick SabanNick Saban is the current head coach of the University of Alabama football team. Since his hire in 2007, the Crimson Tide have won three BCS national championships, two SEC conference championships and amassed an .829 win percentage. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most successful coaches in all of college football.
Saban won another national championship in 2003 during his tenure at LSU, making him the only coach in college football to win titles at two different schools. He has also been the coach of Toledo and Michigan State. He was the defensive co-ordinator of the NFL's Cleveland Browns and head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
A native of West Virginia, Saban attended Kent State University in Ohio where he played football then began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1971. My entry on Coach Saban is now posted at the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
friday, april 05, 2013
Gene StallingsGene Stallings is the former head coach of the University of Alabama football team which he lead to an undefeated season and national championship in 1992. In his seven seasons as the Crimson Tide head coach he earned a .713 record.
Stallings was a player under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant at Texas A&M and is part of the famed Junction Boys associated with that team. When his mentor took over the Alabama program in 1958, Stallings followed him as an assistant coach. He left in 1963 to return to Texas A&M as the Aggies' head coach.
In his career, Stalling was the head coach of the NFL's Cardinals franchise as well as a longtime assistant for the Dallas Cowboys. My entry on Coach Stallings is now posted at the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
monday, march 11, 2013
Dredging the Panama Canal's Culebra CutWhen the $5.25 billion Third Lane Expansion of the Panama canal is complete in 2015, enormous post-Panamax cargo vessels will begin transiting the historic waterway. As a result, a large portion of the project has involved widening and deepening the navigation channel.
Recently the dredging operations to accomplish this on the famed Culebra Cut were concluded. This 14-kilometer passage is narrowest section of the canal and was one of the most difficult aspects of the original work on the waterway over a century ago.
My story on this milestone, Panama Canal Finishes Difficult Dredging is in this week's issue of Engineering News-Record.
friday, march 08, 2013
Lee vs. Macon County Board of EducationFifty years ago, a lawsuit was filed in Alabama that would spark a bitter power struggle between Gov. George Wallace and the Federal courts but eventually lead to the desegregation of every school in the state.
In Jan. 1963, Lee v. Macon County Board of Education was filed after a group of black teenagers were denied enrollment at all-white Tuskegee High School. When a US District judge ordered the students admitted, Wallace shut down the school.
For the next four years, Wallace and the State Board of Education and continued to block efforts to integrate Alabama's schools. In 1967 the federal court expanded the case to include every school in the state and ordered them to desegregate under the supervision of the US Department of Justice.
My article on this groundbreaking civil rights case is now posted at the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
monday, february 25, 2013
Riley Smith & the Washington RedskinsRiley Smith was a star on the Alabama football team in the mid-1930s, playing in the 1935 Rose Bowl against Stanford and the national championship that followed the victory in Pasadena. He earned a footnote in NFL history as the second player taken in the league's inaugural draft but, when the number one player chose to forego football, the first to play in the league.
In three seasons, Smith played for the Redskins. A period that saw the team move from Boston to Washington D.C. and, subsequently, claim the NFL Championship their first season in the new home. Smith was a key factor to the team's early success in our nation's capital.
My story on Smith's professional football career is posted over at Remember the Rose Bowl.
sunday, february 24, 2013
The Great Sigma Nu Caper of 1961In 1961, Clemson and South Carolina were both wrapping up uninspiring season as they headed into their intrastate rivalry game. Little hung on the outcome other than Palmetto State bragging rights but the brothers of USC's Sigma Nu fraternity took that to heart. What ensued was one of the great pranks in the history of college football.
The band of pranksters succeeded in taking the field as a the Clemson team prior to the game and then promptly began acting as if they were incompetent buffoons. The ruse was followed by fisticuffs between fans before the game which proved to be literally heart stopping.
My story on this hysterical tale is posted over at Football Study Hall.
sunday, february 17, 2013
Army, Navy and Defensive Pass InterferenceThe Army vs. Navy game on Nov. 28, 1936 was seen by the largest crowd to ever attend a football game up to that point in history -- 102,000. It was one of the most anticipated contests of the season and ended with a controversy that changed the way the game was played.
A controversial pass interference call in the final few minutes of the contest gave Navy the ball near the Army goal line. The Midshipmen scored and won 7-0. The debate over the outcome re-ignited debate over the limitations placed on pass defenders by the rules. Three months later, the rules were changed giving us the modern defensive pass interference guidelines we use today.
My story on the rule change and the game that prompted it is posted over at Football Study Hall.
friday, february 15, 2013
The University of Alabama's Response to Collier's MagazineA University of Alabama faculty committee issued a report in February 1941 debunking an expose of the Crimson Tide football program that had appeared a month prior in Collier's magazine.
The article, penned by UA alumnus William Bradford Huie, alleged a litany of abuses by the football program -- all of which were found to be fabricated when examined in detail by the committee. The magazine subsequently retracted the article and apologized to the university.
My story on the infamous incident and the full report released by the school is posted over at Remember the Rose Bowl.
thursday, february 07, 2013
Dorsett Vandeventer GravesD.V Graves was the 12th head coach of the University of Alabama football team. In four season (1911-1914) the Alabama native and Missouri alum rolled up a 21-12-3 record (.625). He was replaced in 1915 by Thomas Kelly.
Graves went on to coach at Texas A&M and Montana State before landing at the University of Washington. Between 1923 and 1946 Graves served as an assistant coach on the football team and baseball head coach. He later became the assistant director of athletics.
My story about this oft overlooked Alabama coach is posted over at Remember the Rose Bowl.
monday, january 14, 2013
Alabama's Painful Legacy of 1963Fifty years ago, Alabama George Wallace declared "segregation forever" and vowed to oppose any efforts by the federal government to integrate the state. His defiance fueled a succession of violent clashes in 1963 as the civil rights moment engulfed the state.
At the time Alabama football under head coach Paul W. Bryant was at the forefront of the sport. The stigma of the confrontations in the state would impact the all-white Crimson Tide program as well. Integration of the team would be set back years.
My story on this pivotal year in the history of the state and the football program is posted over at Roll Bama Roll.
friday, december 28, 2012
Alabama's Frank Thomas at Notre DameFrank Thomas was one of Alabama's most successful football coaches and the mentor of the legendary Paul W. Bryant who played under him. Thomas was also a graduate of Notre Dame and played football there under Knute Rockne.
Early on, Rockne recognized Thomas' grasp of the game which was born out when he was hired by the University of Georgia to bring the Irish's dynamic offensive system to the South. Eventually, he was hired by Alabama to replace the very successful Wallace Wade.
My story on Thomas' time in South Bend is now posted over at Remember the Rose Bowl.