Something To Be Said For Buckeyes

The main buckeye in the news these days is Jim Tressel, the disgraced Ohio State head football coach who had to resign in the wake of revelations that he had knowledge of improper benefits for his Buckeyes.

It is mildly interesting that those who disdain Alabama football have been unable to muster much enthusiasm for their fervent hope that Nick Saban might be interested in the opening. It reminds, though, that at least one famous Crimson Tide coach had an affinity for Buckeyes.

There's nothing majestic about the tree that grows a buckeye. Those common to Alabama, at least, look more like undergrowth. One particular buckeye tree at the famed Dollarhide hunting camp in Greene County, and each year before the start of football season it played a role for the Crimson Tide.

Jeff Coleman had a long and important history at The University. When he was a student in the 1920s, he served as secretary to Coach Wallace Wade. Following graduation, he would hold many positions in The University. He was a founder of the University Supply Store and the University Club. And for many, many years he was chief executive of the National Alumni Association.

He is the man for whom Coleman Coliseum is named.

Coleman was also a founding member of Dollarhide, and each year he picked out a handful of buckeyes. The nuts have a smooth cover, rich brown in color.

The best buckeye was delivered each pre-season to Paul Bryant, who kept it in his pocket for luck for every game.

When C.M. Newton arrived as Alabama basketball coach in 1968, Coleman added Newton to the list of recipients of a lucky buckeye.

Not many would suspect that Bryant's magnificent career or Newton's success in rebuilding Bama basketball had much to do with luck, from a buckeye or any other. But it didn't hurt.

The 1977 buckeye did well. Alabama went 10-1 in regular season play and earned a trip to the Sugar Bowl. There Bama was paired against Ohio State, and famed Coach Woody Hayes. At the time, Bryant was the winningest active coach and Hayes second.

It looked as though it had been very lucky. Alabama was third in the nation going into the bowl games (pre-BCS days when a handful of games on the final day of bowls could determine the national champion). The top two teams would lose that day and Alabama blasted Ohio State, 35-6.

After the game, Bryant would say, "Woody is a great coach. And I ain't bad."

It looked like another national championship for Alabama. But when the final rankings were revealed, Notre Dame had poll vaulted from fifth to first.

But Bryant got new buckeyes in 1978 and 1979 and brought home the titles.

What luck!

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