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UA response cites 'renegade boosters'

by Cecil Hurt


originally published 12.7.2001

June 14, 2006

TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama released its response to NCAA allegations of wrongdoing by its football program on Thursday, bemoaning the action of "renegade boosters" and self-imposing sanctions that will affect football recruiting for the next three years.

In its response, Alabama agreed, either in whole or in part, with nine charges of major violations against the football program. However, it flatly disputed one charge and disagreed with some aspects of six others, including the most serious charges involving the illegal recruitment of prospects Albert Means of Memphis and Kenny Smith of Stevenson.

Included in the 755-page response released voluntarily by UA officials on Thursday are exhibits ranging from an angry letter written by Florida coach Steve Spurrier to a transcript of a conversation in which disassociated booster Wendell Smith tries to convince Kenny Smith not to sign with the University of Tennessee.

UA also released a six-page summary of the response, including its self-imposed penalties. Those penalties, as The News reported in its Thursday editions, consisted of a reduction of 15 initial scholarships in increments that would limit Alabama to 17 signees in 2002, 21 in 2003 and 22 in 2004. There would also be a three-year reduction in the number of paid official visits by recruits, and a one-year reduction in the number of coaches allowed to recruit from seven to six. Additionally, UA acknowledged that there would be other changes "in certain policies and practices" as a result of its investigation.

The University's response also clearly focused on what UA president Dr. Andrew Sorensen referred to as "renegade boosters and their involvement in recruiting." Sorensen took the unusual step of reiterating the University's position on the rogue boosters in his letter to the Committee on Infractions, and singled out "(the) booster who has been the center of controversy in Memphis," a clear reference to UA booster Logan Young.

"In the volatile and public arena where the recruitment of high profile athletes has been played out, Mr. (Young) has a public persona which attaches to him . an inappropriate involvement in the recruitment process. . Although the University questions whether the underlying reality of all of Mr. (Young's) behavior will ever be established one way or the other to satisfy the requisite degree of proof, by his words alone, Mr. (Young) has caused a substantial injury to the University and to the principles of (the NCAA) and the SEC."

Attempts to reach Young on Thursday night were unsuccessful.

Young is mentioned prominently in four of the major allegations. The letter informing Young of his five-year disassociation from the Alabama program is included as one of the exhibits in the UA response.

Each of the charges was fully investigated, although a large portion of the response is to devoted to Allegation No. 1 (the 1995-96 recruitment of Kenny Smith), Allegation No. 3 (related to Albert Means) and Allegation No. 7 (related to a vehicle obtained by Travis Carroll.)

There is also reliance on the argument that NCAA officials impeded UA compliance efforts and damaged the student-athletes involved by withholding pertinent information in cases involving Means, Smith and Harold James.

UA officials acknowledge that Kenny Smith was paid $20,000 by boosters, and that such payment constitutes a blatant violation of NCAA rules. However, they argue that the violation lies outside the NCAA statute of limitation because the Enforcement Staff failed to act on information regarding the charge in a one-year time frame dictated by Bylaw 32.5.2. Ironically, the UA position in this case may have received an assist from Auburn University. Former AU coach Terry Bowden reported information to the NCAA concerning Smith's recruitment in February of 1996, and the Enforcement Staff apparently failed to pursue that information in the one-year time frame allowed under NCAA bylaws. The NCAA database subsequently lists the case as "closed" in June of 1996.

Despite the statute of limitations argument, however, the investigation into the Smith charge included two sessions in which current UA director of athletics Mal Moore was questioned about his presence at a 1995 meeting where Kenny Smith, his father and Wendell Smith encountered Young at a Nashville hotel. In his testimony, Moore said that he ordered the Smiths to leave Young's hotel suite, a request with which they complied.

One of the evidentiary requests made by the NCAA asked for "a reason" why Moore did not report a violation at that time. UA responded that Moore "believed he had appropriately handled the situation by immediately instructing Smith to leave.

UA acknowledges that Kenny Smith's family received $20,000 from Wendell Smith, but the response noted that UA was unable to determine whether the source of the funds was Young, as the NCAA alleges, or North Jackson High School booster R.D. Hicks of Scottsboro, who is not a UA booster.

Included in the exhibits is a lengthy transcript of a tape - apparently made surreptitiously by the Smiths - in which Wendell Smith urges the prospect to remain committed to Alabama rather than signing with Tennessee.

"You gonna be cared for," Wendell Smith said in the transcript. "Mike DuBose (the former UA head coach) won't be mad because I said so."

Allegation No. 2, stating that disassociated booster Ray Keller purchased meals for Smith and his family in Huntsville and Chattanooga was not challenged by UA.

Allegation No. 3, involving Means, also prompted a lengthy response in which UA acknowledged that Means was subject to "marketing and manipulation" by his high school coach, Lynn Lang. However, UA says that the evidence of cash payments by UA boosters, or awareness by UA coaches of the scheme, is "inconclusive."

UA notes emphatically that its "response to Allegation No. 3 is not an attempt to protect (Young) or Williams," but that "all evidence" is "fragmented and inconclusive." It also notes that "no other NCAA allegation in recent history has received as much publicity and notoriety." However, UA says that the Enforcement Staff is relying on telephone records between Williams and Young, statements from Trezevant high school coach Milton Kirk and a pattern of cash withdrawals by Young., and that such evidence did not clearly prove that the payments occurred.

The response also cited coaches from six other Division I institutions (Michigan State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Nebraska) who were involved in Means' recruitment. All except Texas and Nebraska indicated that Lang requested illegal inducements in return for Means' signature.

There was significant disagreement concerning Allegation No. 7, regarding a vehicle obtained by Travis Carroll. The vehicle, described as "a 1994 Jeep Cherokee with 132,637 miles . sort of an army green . hit in the rear . with a damaged front door" was obtained under common "sub-prime" financing arrangements, according to UA.

"Some people cling to the notion that credit sales in the car business are made only to solid creditworthy borrowers," the response says. ". This Ozzie and Harriett view of auto sales and lending does not hold today."

UA apparently learned of the potential violation in an angry handwritten note from Florida coach Steve Spurrier to former UA head coach Mike DuBose, who threatened to turn Alabama in for the violation unless the Tide coaches told another prospect (presumably Justin Smiley) that UA was "full of O-Line scholarships. Spurrier also adds in a postscript that he had "been hearing this crap for a couple of years now."

Allegation No. 4 involved loans from Young to former UA coach Ronnie Cottrell, first reported by The Tuscaloosa News in June. UA acknowledged the loans of $55,000 and $1,600 were violations, but took no position on whether Cottrell had committed unethical conduct by failing to report the loans.

In Allegation No. 5, UA agreed that Cottrell allowed prospect Michael Gaines to make phone calls from the UA football complex, but contended that the violations were secondary in nature. UA also agreed with a portion of Allegation No. 6, which contends that Lang and Kirk received a free meal and an unauthorized mileage payment of $147 connected with Means' official visit.

UA acknowledges that Allegation No. 8, involving five $100 payments to former linebacker Travis Carroll "possibly occurred," although the facts are "contradictory." Allegation No. 9, involving on-campus contact between Young and Keller and unnamed UA prospects was also not disputed. The response noted that one of the prospects was a current player (unnamed) who was declared ineligible, then reinstated. Allegation No. 10, involving exotic dancers at a UA recruiting party hosted by Fernando Bryant, was also acknowledged


Lang: "I wasn't the only one who was wrong"

Bidding was big for Means, Lang says -- Claims scandal goes well beyond Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia

By Gary Parrish


June 9, 2005

Lynn Lang has seen the film clip a thousand times. He can see it in his mind today.

He's wearing a straw hat. He's yelling, acting like a fool.


It fits the image people still have of him, one of a high school coach who asked multiple universities for illegal inducements before selling his prized recruit for $150,000 and keeping the money for himself.

"It's the way I was painted," Lang said. "But that's not the whole story."

Today, on the day Alabama booster Logan Young is to be sentenced in federal court for his role in the Albert Means recruiting scandal, Lang wants to set the record straight.

Over the past week, the former Trezevant High coach spoke to The Commercial Appeal in a series of wide-ranging interviews. Among his charges:

Albert Means and his family knew about the cash payments and received a substantial amount of money from Lang.

"When the story came out and everybody was talking about how the Means family didn't get any of the money and I kept it all for myself, that was the worst part," Lang said. "I took care of that family, and I took care of Albert all through his senior year and up until he went to Alabama."

Lang said he gave the Means family "around $60,000."

Though Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia are the only schools that actually paid money to Lang in the recruiting process, Lang said Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Michigan State each said they would engage in activities contrary to NCAA regulations in an effort to land Means.

"And most the time, it was boosters or coaches offering me things, not me asking for things," Lang said. "When I had Means, people treated me like a king. Anything I wanted, and anything they thought I wanted they had ready for me."

Arkansas and Tennessee made specific offers.

"Arkansas was going to hire me as their defensive line coach and give me $80,000," he said. "Tennessee offered $50,000, and then $75,000."

Young wasn't the only person with Alabama ties to give Lang cash.

Former Crimson Tide recruiting coordinator Ronnie Cottrell gave Lang an envelope containing $1,200 to pay for Means's summer school that wasn't covered by his scholarship.

"Cottrell told me to write a check for $1,200 to the University of Alabama, and I did," Lang said. "Then he gave me the envelope with 12 $100 bills in it."

Getting someone to take Means's ACT was simple.

"We had a student get a slip stamped by a counselor at Trezevant, and he went to West Memphis and took the test," Lang said. "That's how we did that. That was easy."

Lang said the student - Trezevant Class of 1998 product and former Golden Bear running back Carl Cunningham - was paid, "about $30" to do it. He added it was necessary because it took Means 15 attempts to pass the TCAP.

"The whole thing just spiraled out of control," Lang said. "I didn't have a clue about what I was doing. But let me tell you, it wasn't just me running around asking everybody for money and then keeping it all. That's not how this happened.

"I was wrong, but I wasn't the only one who was wrong. I've kept quiet for four years. But I've been waiting to tell this story."

How it started

It was May 1999, and a big day in the world of college recruiting.

For the first time that year, coaches were allowed by the NCAA to visit high schools to see the players they'd build their future teams around. At least half a dozen converged on a practice field in North Memphis to watch Means work out.

"All the main players were there," Lang said. "Alabama. Kentucky. Georgia. Tennessee. Ole Miss. Arkansas. They all came to Trezevant, and that's when it started."

Among the coaches was Ole Miss assistant Kurt Roper.

"Kurt was new to Ole Miss, and I wasn't really paying him much attention, so I think he felt left out," Lang said. "So he tracked me down as I was walking down to the football field, and said, 'Coach, we're new at Ole Miss and we need to be able to recruit with the big boys. Tell me what we have to do to get Means.' So I started playing back with him."

After a few minutes, according to Lang, Roper got more specific.

"He said, 'Coach, I need to know exactly what it's going to take financially to get Means so that I can take it back to my people,' " Lang said. "I just told him a house and two cars, and he said that wouldn't be a problem."

Lang talked to each of the coaches when that day was done. All of them, he said, indicated they'd be willing to do "whatever it takes" to get Means.

"It was strange, because it was like they were a little surprised that I didn't know exactly what to ask for," Lang said. "On that day, it wasn't me asking for things. They were offering. And that's when I knew what was going on."

Still, Lang was hesitant. He knew he had a commodity. But could he really get six figures for a prospect?

"Lang didn't think it could be done at first," explained Lang's former assistant, Milton Kirk. "So that's when I took him to see Lacey."

Lacey is Lacey Smith, an old-timer among Memphis City Schools coaches. At the time, he was at Hillcrest, and Kirk called Smith and set up a meeting at a bar on Winchester.

"Lacey is the one who convinced me I could get at least $100,000 for Means," Lang said. "Lacey knew how to do it, and who to talk to.'"

Kirk corroborated Lang's story. But when contacted by The Commercial Appeal, Smith, now at Mitchell High, denied discussing Means's recruitment, though he did acknowledge meeting with the two Trezevant coaches.

"I didn't tell Lang how to sell Means," Smith said. "I wouldn't know how to sell a player."

Either way, now Lang believed he did.

"After I met with Lacey," Lang said, "I walked out of there thinking, 'OK, maybe this is something you can do.'"

The bidding

On Feb. 2, 2005 - five years to the day after Means signed with Alabama - a jury decided Young paid Lang $150,000 to persuade the defensive tackle to play for the Crimson Tide. That number excludes the $1,200 Lang said he got from Cottrell, an accusation Cottrell denied.

But Lang said Alabama wasn't the only school that bid on Means. The others were:

Arkansas: Danny Nutt and Fitz Hill were the two Arkansas assistants in charge of recruiting Means. They met with Lang at his apartment in January 2000.

Because Lang already had a deal in place with Alabama, he said he told Arkansas the price was $200,000.

"They offered me a job to be the defensive line coach at Arkansas, plus the money Logan had already given me, which was about $80,000," Lang said. "Fitz told me he'd leave the money in a bag under a bridge."

Documents obtained by The Commercial Appeal corroborate Lang's story.

According to an NCAA report summarizing a conversation between Hill and investigator Richard Johanningmeier, Hill admitted telling Lang that Arkansas "did not have a problem" with the request. The report said Hill told Lang that "like in the movies, the money would be placed in a location, for instance under a bridge."

Nutt, still at Arkansas, did not return a phone message from The Commercial Appeal. Hill, now a fund-raiser at Ouachita Baptist University, also did not return a phone message.

Tennessee: Assistant Pat Washington recruited Means for UT. According to Lang, Washington was desperate.

"He told me his job was on the line and that he needed Means because he had lost (Melrose High stars) David Paine and Kindal Moorehead to Alabama," Lang said. "The first amount he talked about was $50,000, and then $75,000. But this was about the same time they had all that academic stuff going on, so I think he got cold feet."

In late 1999 and early 2000, Tennessee was investigated for academic fraud. The school was cleared of wrongdoing.

Washington, still at UT, did not return a phone message from The Commercial Appeal.

Ole Miss: Lang said he and Roper had a falling out following the Ole Miss assistant's initial effort to determine a price for Means.

"He kept calling Ms. Means after I told him not to do that because I didn't want any calls going to that home," Lang said. "I sort of cut him off."

Reached by The Commercial Appeal at Kentucky, where he is now an assistant, Roper issued a written statement.

"During the spring recruiting period in my first year at Ole Miss, I visited coach Lang at his school," the statement read. "He told me several improper inducements that would be required to recruit one of his players. I reported that conversation to my head coach and at no time did I offer or provide any of those inducements."

Michigan State: Brad Lawing recruited Means for Michigan State. In January of 2000, he came to Memphis to make his pitch.

"Lawing wanted me to get into his car and ride around with him," Lang said. "That's when he started telling me - now this is when Nick Saban had left and Bobby Williams took over - that he had a new coach in town who was willing to pay money, and he was asking me how much it would take."

Lang said he told Lawing it would take $100,000 plus enough cash to pay back Young. Not long after that, Michigan State ceased its recruitment of Means.

Lawing, now at North Carolina, did not return a phone message left by The Commercial Appeal.

Georgia: Assistant Leon Perry handled most of the recruiting of Means, although head coach Jim Donnan was also involved.

"Georgia was trying to get the money together until the minute Means signed," Lang said. "I bet I talked to Donnan six times a day during the week of signing day."

Lang asked Georgia for $200,000 because he "wanted to get the $150,000 to pay Logan back." Lang said Donnan gave him $700 on one occasion, and that booster Bill Harper, a Memphian, sent him an envelope containing $100.

Donnan and Perry, now both out of Division 1 coaching, could not be reached for comment, but each has previously denied any wrongdoing. Contacted by The Commercial Appeal, Harper declined comment.

Kentucky: Lang said Kentucky assistant Claude Bassett tried to gather up the money to recruit Means until he signed another defensive tackle from Memphis.

"Once he got (Melrose High star) Dwayne Robertson to commit, he backed off," Lang said. "Once they had him, they didn't need to pay that kind of money for Means."

By then, Bassett had already given Lang $7,000 for work at a camp and to persuade Means to visit Lexington. UK self-reported those violations and was placed on probation because of them.

The worst part

Lang said he understands why coaches might lie about their involvement in NCAA recruiting violations. He's not sure he'll ever be able to comprehend why Means and his family allowed him to be portrayed as someone who took advantage of them without giving them anything in return.

"It was sickening," Lang said. "The way it all came out, people thought I just used this boy and his family. But they knew what was going on every step of the way."

Lang said he gave Means "about $200 a week" every week his entire senior year and even bought the family an Oldsmobile.

"Albert said a lot of things to you, but did he ever tell you how I took care of him and his family, put food on his mama's table?" Lang asked. "On any given day, Albert would have $500 in his pocket."

Contacted by The Commercial Appeal, Means refused to respond to Lang's charge.

"I was through with that five years ago, and I don't want nothing to do with that," he said. "You can write whatever you feel like writing."

Asked whether he took large amounts of cash from his coach, Means said, "Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? I don't know."

Then he hung up.

"Isn't it funny how he's got nothing to say to you now?" Lang said. "I just don't know why he and his family acted this whole time like they never got anything."

"You can tell I'm angry."

Angry, but not vengeful. Lang said he just wants people to understand he didn't act alone.

"I made a mistake, and I understand that," he said. "But why can't anybody else admit to their mistakes. Me and Kirk and Young are supposed to be the only people who did wrong on this. But there were a lot of people who did wrong."

Lang lost his job as a Memphis teacher almost immediately after the Means story broke. He pleaded guilty to racketeering. He's still working to pay roughly $60,000 in back taxes.

Kirk is back teaching, but will never recoup the three years of salary he lost as punishment for his role in the scandal.

Means wasn't selected in the NFL draft. He was invited to the Houston Texans camp and then released.

Young is facing time in federal prison.

Nobody made it through OK.

"It's all just sad," Lang said. "I never could've imagined this would all happen. Who could've? So I'm just sorry to have been a part of it.

"I'm sorry for myself, for Kirk, for the Means family and for Mr. Young. There's nothing for anybody to be happy about. We should've all just walked away."

Huie Article

How to Keep Football Stars in College

by William Bradford Huie

Colliers Weekly Magazine - 1941

For fifteen years I've been a football fan-atic. Perhaps we've met somewhere. At the Rose Bowl? I've been there five times. Or at the polo Grounds? Or in New Orleans? Or Birmingham? I'm the little guy with the cane who always wears that big red-and-white Alabama button and seems to be having such a hell-raising time.

If you've ever seen 'Bama's Crimson Tide surge into action you've either seen me or heard that Comanche war whoop of mine. That whoop is some- thing to remember. It's a direct blood descendant of the Rebel Yell and never fails to leave me whispering hoarse for two days after a game. Except for a season when I was out of the country- and the Clippers weren't flying then - I haven't missed an Alabama game since New Year's Day, 1925, when Pooley Hubert and Johnny Mack Brown racked up our first Rose Bowl victory. I'm strictly a one-team fan. Alabama's my alma mater-class of '29- and the Tide's my team. I've never seen a college game in which Alabama wasn't a contestant. No other team matters to me. Take Notre Dame. Sure, the Irish are okay. So are Stanford and Fordham and Texas A. & M. But you take them. I'll take Alabama year in and year out. And I'll bet you my standard wager--one dollar, no odds.

I've felt all the great thrills of the Tide's modern history. I used the war whoop four times in '34 during the six minutes it took Dixie Howell and Don Hutson to score 24 points on the Stanford "vow" boys. And I wallowed in our deepest slough of despair when the California Golden Bears horse-collared us with our only Bowl defeat in '38.

As a hobby it's been exciting. We fellows in the alumni association have had a lot of fun. We've drunk a lot of good corn whisky and told a lot of swell stories. Our haven't-missed-a-game records have been as precious as our politics. And, yes, you've guessed it. We're guilty of all the sins in the book. We've recruited players from all points of the compass. We can quote you current on-the-hoof prices for tackles or tailbacks. We've helped build a feeder organization that's bigger than the New York Yankee farm system, and we've fought our big-time competitors on a nation-wide front.

But now I'm quitting. I'm not mad at anybody. I'm just walking out in good faith and good humor. During the season just ended I've seen the Tide play some great games. In the best Alabama tradition they were fought to the final whistle. But I've seen my last game. The fellows thought I was dead when I didn't show up at the last smoker. But I'm not. I've just quit.

The reasons? Well, maybe I'm going soft. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I'm developing a conscience. Or maybe I'm Hannibal looking back down the road to Rome and wondering if the victories were worth the price we've paid. But I guess I'm just fed up. I guess I'm tired of ducking out the back door when these All Americans I've recruited come around looking for jobs. I guess I'm fed up seeing a lot of fine kids waste their best years on something that's phony.

That look in their eyes when they realize it's phony isn't pleasant. And I guess I'm trying to kid myself into believing there is more good than bad in the collegiate football system.

It's not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It's a cumulative decision which had its beginning back in 1927-30 when I worked as a tutor for the Alabama athletic department and watched the building of a football machine.

In those days Hank Crisp, the real genius behind all the Alabama teams, was building the far-flung organization that today has become the standard for all the big-time schools. High-school coaches and alumni, concentrated in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas but scattered throughout the country, were the outposts, and between the outposts Crisp and his corps of scouts shuttled constantly.

Crisp occupied the same position in this system that Ed Barrow occupies in the Yankee baseball empire. He directed the task of producing two hundred prospective All Americans every year. Wallace Wade, who was head coach then, simply managed the varsity, as Joe McCarthy manages the Yankees. The same plan is in effect today except that Frank Thomas has replaced Wade in the line-up.

I was director of the brain-trust division for Crisp. The scholastic welfare of all the various squads was my responsibility. These squads included the Tuscaloosa High School squad, the freshman squad, the Red Shirt squad, the varsity squad and the postgrad squad.

Now don't tell me you've been under the naive impression that the modem football organization has only two squads-the freshman and the varsity?

The Tuscaloosa High School squad was a most important incubator in the Tide hatchery. During the years I was at the university it was coached by Paul Burnum, who is noted for his thoroughness in teaching those twin fundamentals, blocking and tackling. It was generally understood that at least a part of his salary was paid by the university. He has since been promoted to freshman coach, and his rivals will tell you he is one of the cleverest recruiting agents in the business.

As proof of the esteem in which Burnum is held, he was selected to head the delegation that submitted Alabama's bid for Bill DeCorrevont, the much-publicized high-school halfback who finally chose Northwestern. Burnum returned empty-handed.

"Hell, we could have gotten him," Burnum still explains. "But we didn't want him. He would never have fitted into the Alabama system."

But Burnum couldn't take full credit for his great high-school squads which usually won the state championship. For he was assisted by other Alabama scouts. Suppose a scout found a good prospect who could play another year or two in high school. And suppose the prospect had a poor coach who didn't teach the Alabama system and who might try to recruit the prospect for a competitor. The scout simply picked up the prospect and brought him to Tuscaloosa High School, where he could play on a championship team and where Burnum could start teaching him the Alabama system.

My task began with keeping these recruited players on Burnum's squad on speaking terms with their high-school teachers and getting them graduated so they could become college freshmen.

Hence this passing tip to Mr. Average Pan. Looking at your official program at the big game, you've probably wondered how the high school where your college is located happens to produce so many fine players. Don't be fooled any longer. Most of those players were transplanted from Podunk or Ishkooda during their high-school careers and are now calling the college town "home." If you are a Tennessee fan you may have noted that about a third of the 1940 varsity squad hails from Knoxville.

Cripple Courses are Safest (That term is associated with the UNiversity of Alabama in its first use.)

But back to the brain trust. The big push for us came in September when the freshmen brainless beef rolled in. Here were two hundred huskies who had been "eased through" high school an football and now we had to ease the best of them through college. In registering them we used our marked list of freshman professors. We placed the beef in classes where they would receive "sympathetic treatment" and steered them clear of those old sour apples who still insisted on flunking a guy just because he didn't know anything. But we had other limitations to consider, too. All science courses except the most elementary were out, for they would have long laboratory periods for which no beefer could find time. Courses leading to any form of higher mathematics were impossible. So commerce, law, medicine or any form of engineering were blacklisted from the start. This left us only the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education through which to route the beefers.

Our most successful plan was to enroll the beefer in the School of Education and point him toward a possible bachelor of science degree in physical education. One of the factors which may have caused us to prefer the education school was that Dr. James J. Doster, dean of this school, was a faculty adviser to the athletic department, and was usually selected to represent the faculty on the long football trips.

Accordingly, the typical course with which we loaded down the freshman beefer consisted of classes in Bible, Psychology 1, Astronomy, and Music Appreciation. All were "cripples" of the purest ray. Bible was taught by a lovable old gentleman who delivered lofty lectures and never bothered his sleeping class with details like questions or examinations. I once heard of a beefer about to Runk this course who was given a special examination by the professor. The professor asked him two questions: Who created the world? and How long did it take? The beefer answered only the first question correctly for a grade of fifty, but the kindly professor gave him an additional ten points for having tried the second to bring his grade to the sixty necessary for passing.

Astronomy, Psychology I and Music Appreciation were all taught by "fellowship" students and not by regular professors, so we had little difficulty here.

After registering the frosh we turned to the progressively harder task of making class schedules for the Red Shirts, the varsity and the postgrads. After all, you do eventually run out of "crip" courses and hit a bottleneck guarded by some unfriendly prof.

The Red Shirts composed the "suspension" squad. They were the fifty or more prospects who had already served their time on the freshman squad but had not yet been chosen for the varsity. You see, under the five-year eligibility rule in the Southeastern Conference a boy can play a year on the freshman squad, a year on some intermediate squad, and still play out his full three-year varsity career. Thus in the spring the coaches look over the varsity and see what is needed to fill the holes resulting from what the sports writers politely call "graduation." They look over the Red Shirts first since they are older and better developed. Then they pick up a few from the freshman squad. Next they consign the rest of the freshmen to the Red Shirt pool to grow and develop another year. The chaff portion of the Red Shirt squad is then fired off the pay roll, and the brain trust promptly allows them to flunk and fall out of school. This fate will already have caught up with more than a hundred freshmen before the end of the first semester.

Thus, because of the Red Shirt pool, it often develops that a Tide "sophomore sensation" is some lad who has already had four years of training under the Alabama coaching staff-two years at Tuscaloosa High School, a year with the frosh, and a year with the Red Shirts.

When you understand this, you can perhaps more easily understand how the great senior squad of '30 could score twenty-one points on Washington State in eight minutes, and how the next great senior squad of '33 could score twenty- four points on Stanford in six minutes. Flash Suther, the halfback star of the '30 game, had been playing under the Alabama coaching staff for eight years, and Hillman Holley, the sophomore sensation of the same game, had had five years, counting their years at Tuscaloosa High. Captain Foots Clements and others of the same team came from the Arkansas farms which have produced fellows like Don Hutson, Sandy Sanford and the Moseleys.

The squad of '37 lost to California when Thomas gambled with a sophomore tailback-Herky Moseley who had only had two years on one of the junior-college farms in Arkansas. But the team had reached the Bowl only because of two last-minute field goals from Sandy Sanford's $100,000 toe. And since Sanford was from the same farm as Moseley, the farm's record did not suffer.

Here's another tip. Watch the '41 edition go back to the Rose Bowl. Another great senior squad is in the making, and the sophomore sensations will be Don Hutson's twin brothers. Imagine, if you can, twin Hutsons on the same field, one throwing and the other receiving passes.

Great Heroes Deserve Degrees

But back to classes again. After we had found all the "crip" courses we could for the Red Shirts and the varsity men, we turned to our problem children. These were the postgrads.

This squad was composed exclusively of Great Heroes-the fellows who had played out all their years of eligibility and now had returned from the wars to rest on their laurels while we poor brain trusters sweated to get them some kind of degree. Hank Crisp, it seems, has a sense of honor. He doesn't mind firing off the inept by the hundreds, but when a guy has fought and bled for the alma mater for five or ten years, he not only deserves an all-something-or-other but he also deserves a college degree. And Crisp was one to see that he got it. Or rather Crisp was one to see that I saw that he got it.

We called these great heroes the postgrad squad for two reasons. First, because the sports writers had already mournfully announced the Tide was losing them through "graduation," and second, there was the morale to think of, as Dr. Goebbels might say. After all, when a worshipful freshman got inquisitive at the frat house, these great heroes had to have some explanation for their continued presence around the campus.

"Oh, I'm hanging around doing a little postgrad work," they would remark loftily.

They couldn't afford to tell the frosh they still hadn't passed freshman English. It would have been bad for the morale.

For the most part these postgrads were the fellows who abused the privilege of being dumb. The most affable, probably without degrees, would have already left the campus to sell bonds or insurance. Those who had been given degrees would be teaching and coaching in high schools and developing new prospects for the machine.

I could give you many amusing stories of my labors with these boys. From the day they had left elementary school they had been passed through their classes because of football. Consequently, they had the formal education of the average kid in the sixth grade. Algebra was a required subject for a degree at Alabama. Can you picture one of these big fellows trying to solve the simplest algebraic equation? Or scanning a line from Browning? There was usually nothing for me to do but find the right prof and make a deal.

I remember in particular one great hero who was an All-America guard. He had been on the campus for seven years, and we had labored and dragged him through everything but elementary English. I would sit and read to him and point out and define the various parts of speech. "Here, Spike," I would say, "is a noun. And here is a verb."

He would nod his head, and I would read on. After six lines I would point back to the two words and ask him what they were. He would give me a blank stare, and the session would be ended.

I got Spike his pass in English, however, and the night he marched up and received his degree his professor and I sat in Tuscaloosa's most respectable bar and drank a toast to the great American system of public education.

A Triumph for Education

The classic story of the Alabama campus is the one about the football player in the history class. Having failed all his exams, the professor consented to give him one last special exam.

"I'm going to give you one question," he said. "If you can answer it, I will pass you. The question is: What is the capital of Alabama?"

The beefer studied for a long moment and answered: "Wetumpka."

"All right," replied the professor. "Had you answered 'Montgomery, your grade would have been 100. Since Wetumpka is 18 miles from Montgomery, I'll subtract 18 from 100 and your grade will be 82 for the course. I congratulate you. :lmao:

Seriously, however, most of the passing was done through the system of fellowship students at the university. These students teach some of the elementary classes, and they grade virtually all the examination papers. They know that the football team is an asset to the school, and they know what must be done to keep many of the players eligible. They are the ones who furnish most of the elastic consciences.

But the colossal injustice only begins when the great hero gets his degree. He now becomes a favored applicant for a coaching position in some high school. But high schools in the South can't afford full-time coaches. The coach has to be a member of the faculty and spend part of his time teaching history or math or chemistry. And I had to sell those great heroes to school boards as teachers as well as coaches.

When I think of some of the scenes that must have transpired in Alabama schoolrooms during the past ten years, I wonder if I can ever atone for the sins I have committed against the rising generation.

Having been connected with the machine, I naturally dropped into the ranks of "active alumni" when I left the university. I choked back my cynicism with all the usual arguments about the value of team play and high ideals and die-for-dear-old-Siwash. And think of those fellows who would never get an "education" if it weren't for football. Besides, I enjoyed the spectacle, the business rivalry, and, as one ambitious for my school, I couldn't deny that football was our most negotiable asset.

Alabama is now the largest state university in the South, and its growth parallels exactly the growth of its football team in national prestige. Its huge stadium was paid for out of the half-million derived from Rose Bowl games.

But as the Great Dane would say, here's the rub for me now. I know that as my son grows up I'm going to do everything in my power to keep him from being sucked into the football mill. I was saved myself by being too little. Then how can I honestly go on recruiting other men's sons for a system in which I know the cards are stacked against them?

Boys are Only Human

Take the average American boy today in first or second year high school. The day he goes out and makes the football squad he takes a dangerous step. For he soon begins to neglect his classwork. He learns that he belongs to a favored group-that he doesn't have to study- that if he's good at football he's going to be passed anyway. Human nature being what it is, most of them take the easy way. From the day a boy starts playing football until he falls out somewhere up the ladder, his chief interest is going to be football. It has to be. The system demands it. And the day he falls out-whether it's on the freshman squad or whether he goes on to join the great heroes-he is going to discover that he knows how to do just one thing-play football. He is going to find out that during the years in which he might have been fitting himself to earn a living, he has been occupied with mousetraps and cross-blocks.

Some weeks ago, with Collier's cameraman Hans Groenhoff, I examined the records of a hundred or more products of the Alabama machine. We traveled many miles and interviewed boys all the way from the Tennessee Valley to the Black Belt fans in southern Alabama. Many of them were coaching and "teaching" in small-town high schools-manufacturing new prospects for the Tide-at salaries of $900 to $1,350 a year. The rest ranged from complete unemployment with "no prospect of work" up to Big John Miller, All-Southern guard in 1931, who, as premier snuff salesman in four TVA counties, seemed to be faring best of all.

We found Roy "The Ripper" White living in the teacherage at a D.A.R. high school on Sand Mountain. His wife teaches home economics at the school, and The Ripper, unemployed, hunts squirrels and helps around the house. A smashed knee has given him a deep limp. His younger brother died a few weeks ago after lying paralyzed for a month as a result of injuries received in a high-school football scrimmage.

"I played two years of freshman and Red Shirt ball," The Ripper said, "and in '33 1 was third man behind Dixie Howell at left half. I got in the Stan- ford game for two minutes. But in '34 I got hurt and crossed up with Thomas, and they threw me to the 'automatics.' I transferred to a smaller school and tried to carry on with my education, but it was no use." (By being "thrown to the automatics," The Ripper was referring to the university rule which automatically expels any student who fails to pass eight semester hours of work. When a football-scholarship player is dropped from any of the various squads, "the automatics" usually catch him, since he no longer receives tutoring or influential aid.)

Tony Holm, All-America fullback in '29, played pro football for six seasons, but when "five freight trains" hit him on a kickoff in Pittsburgh, a knee buckled the wrong way and his playing days were over. He has worked as a bouncer in a gambling house outside Birmingham, a clerk in a state whisky store and now has a commission job in a Birmingham furniture store.

Jimmie Moss was playing with his two children the night we called at his four-room farmhouse in Morgan County. Jimmie and I were kids together. In elementary school he was smart enough. But in high school he learned he was a star tackle. He went to Alabama the year I did, on a football scholarship. I remember the day he left the university. It was three months after he had entered. His knee had been wrenched the first week out and he had had no chance to make himself seen among those scores of striving freshmen. His scholarship had soon played out. He was a picture of dejection. He was heading back to the small town we came from, and there'd be no band to meet him.

"How can I go on?" he asked me. "If I had studied in high school and planned my education, I wouldn't mind working my way through. There's nothing for me to do now but go back home and try to get a job." Jimmie is now working as a helper in a Decatur steel-fabricating plant, trying at thirty-three to learn a trade he might have learned in high school. I've been told that when the rest of his crew are cocking their ears toward the football broadcasts on Saturday afternoon, Jimmie hammers doggedly on and on and doesn't bother to listen.

In 1928 Dwight "Pug" Deal, a sophomore at the university, was hailed as the toughest blocking back in the school's history, but he was fired off the squad by Coach Wade after Alabama lost to Tennessee.

We found Deal working on a farm in Tuscaloosa County.

"It's been tough since those days," he said. "But I've gotten over my bitterness. Wade knew I wasn't any more guilty of taking a drink than the other fellows, but he had to make an example of somebody."

N. A. "Nap" Powell now drives a soft-drink truck in Selma, Alabama, after spending several years "taking in washing" for a laundry. Alumni from Thomasville, Alabama, recruited him from Selma for their high-school team, and then sent him to Alabama. He fell out of the Red Shirts.

Neil Rogers is a WPA interviewer in Florence. Don Campbell has fought back to become the announcer for a tiny radio station in Selma after buckling a knee with the Red Shirts.

Three thousand hopeful young men have entered the University of Alabama to play football during the fifteen years I have been close to that machine. Fifteen hundred fell out by the end of the first semester. All of these initial casualties had played football in high school and had learned little else. When the athletic department dropped them, what could they do? Even if their parents could afford to send them to classes, they were not prepared. They had come to college prepared only to play football. Had football not robbed them of their opportunities in high school some of them might have worked out successful college careers.

Yet the 1,500 who fell out first were more fortunate than most of those who stuck. They got their jolts sooner and have had more time to recover.

Why Football's Lost a Fan

Of all the 3,000 1 don't know a single one today, outside coaching or professional football, who could be pointed out as an eminent success. I have known only one who was unusually intelligent. He was Freddie Sington, All-America tackle in 1930. Sington, a Phi Beta Kappa student, wanted to study law but found it impossible with his football activities. He played professional baseball for a while and is now selling automobiles in Decatur, Georgia.

We fellows who have helped make football what it is today may as well face the facts. We've come a cropper. In the name of sportsmanship we've built a rah-rah empire that's phony to its roots. We've taken a fine game and converted it into a monster which takes from a boy his formative years and leaves him nothing but a letter to wear on his chest, a spavined knee and a false sense of values.

What's happening at my alma mater is only typical of what is happening in all sections of the country. And I said all sections. We who have recruited Alabama's players know who our competitors have been. And we've offered no higher prices than were necessary to compete in the open market.

Millions of my fellow fanatics will have seen some great grid shows when this season with its bowl games is over. But I won't be there any more. I'm going to be down on my farm using the war whoop to call my hogs.

On those days when I'm riding around over the state, instead of recruiting a couple of blocking backs, I'm going to stop at the playgrounds and chat with the boys. They'll ask me about the Tide. And I'm going to say:

"Sure, the Tide's all right. But say, did you fellows ever play badminton. Now there's a real man's game."

I know. Next time I go around most of them will still be playing football. But ten years from now when they come to see me wearing those All-America pins, I won't have to duck out the back door or squirm guiltily in my chair. I can look them in the eye and say:

"Old friend, you remember I told you badminton was a swell game."

From the NCAA

Institution: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Date: 01-FEB-02

Facts Summary: Findings of violations of NCAA legislation included: recruiting inducements; impermissible recruiting contacts; recruiting inducements through high-school coaches; violation of honesty standards; violation of employment and salary controls; impermissible extra benefits, excessive entertainment during recruiting visit and impermissible recruiting contacts by athletics representatives. REPEAT VIOLATOR

Violation Summary: Athletics representatives actively engaged in violations of recruiting and extra-benefit legislation with prospective student-athletes and provided impermissible recruiting inducements through high-school coaches. Numerous secondary violations.

Penalty Summary: Public reprimand and censure; five years of probation; postseason ban for 2002 and 2003; reduction in grants in the sport of football to 17 in 2002-03; 18 in 2003-04 and 19 in 2004-05; prohibiting of athletics representatives from traveling with football team charters, attending football team practices, participating in any fashion with the university's football camps and accessing sidelines and locker rooms before, during and after football games; the permanent dissociation of three athletics representatives; disassociation of another athletics representative for a period of three years and annual reporting. [PENALTIES UPHELD ON APPEAL]

Institution: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Date: 09-FEB-99

Facts Summary: Recruiting and ethical conduct.

Violation Summary: IMPERMISSIBLE RECRUITING: Assistant men's basketball coach attempted to obtain money from representatives of the university's athletics interests in order to provide the cash to a prospective student-athlete's high school coach -- the prospect previously had orally committed to attend the institution; the same member of the men's basketball coaching staff violated telephone contact legislation.

Penalty Summary: No penalties against the institution, only a four-year show cause against the former assistant men's basketball coach.

Institution: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Date: 02-AUG-95

Facts Summary: Improper bank loans; lack of institutional control. (REFLECTS CHANGES MADE BY INFRACTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE.)

Violation Summary: AMATEURISM, EXTRA BENEFITS: $24,000 in impermissible banks loans made to a student-athlete; institution did not obtain the appropriate records. LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL in the investigation into and report of information regarding the amateur status of student-athletes. (REFLECTS CHANGES MADE BY INFRACTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE.)

Penalty Summary: Public reprimand; dissasociation of athletics representatives; reduction from 85 to 81 total grants for 1995-96 and 1996-97; reduction from 25 to 12 initial grants for 1996-97; forfeiture of contests in 1993-94; annual reports; attendance at NCAA compliance seminar; recertification. (REFLECTS CHANGES MADE BY INFRACTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE.)

Institution: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Date: 05-JAN-64

Facts Summary: Improper recruiting contact.

Violation Summary: Improper recruiting contact.

Penalty Summary: Public reprimand.

Bear Bryany autobiography:



We could hardly get anybody to come to A&M, and I know some of our alumni went out and paid a few boys." And later: "I'm not sure how many of our boys got something; I guess about four or five did. I didn't know what they got, and I didn't want to know, but they got something because they had other offers and I told my alumni to meet the competition."




It turns out, according to Dent's book, that when Bryant first met with five heavy-hitters (named in the book, pages 11-12) among the alumni, he organized the cheating. After he won the commitment of money to buy players, Bryant told them: "A couple of years ago, the N.C.A.A. got cute and started an enforcement division.... So I'm asking you boys to keep your mouths shut."


That quote is from Bear Bryants autobiography written in 1974. Bear Bryant admitted he cheated at Texas A&m in his own autobiography but Im sure he was lying.

Not even all the real sources.

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