In an interview last winter, Gus White said, " I'm glad I didn't listen to my band director. I didn't play organized football until I was in the 10th grade. I was a trombone player in the band. My buddies were challenging me to go out for the football team at Dothan High School. The band director told me that all the football players didn't get to make the road trips, but all the band members did. If I wanted to make the road trips, I'd better stick to trombone, he said."
There is no one who was associated with Alabama football in the 1970s who wouldn't count Gus White among his favorite players. Gus didn't look like much of a player when he arrived. He was "less than 5-10. More than 5-9, but less than 5-10," he said, when he arrived on campus in 1973.
Gus tells funny stories, including getting weighed "on meat scales" because the football lockerroom scales went to only 262; of going head-to-head with Sylvester Croom each day in practice; of his "touchdown" run against Vanderbilt; and of avoiding Coach Paul Bryant's office.
But Gus White was a serious football player, and a good player on teams that won the 1973 national championship and three Southeastern Conference titles.
Here is some of what he has to say in "What It Means To Be Crimson Tide."
"Coach Donahue was something. After I got there I thought I must have gotten a track scholarship. We'd practice and then everyone would be gone except the defensive linemen. He kept us out there running. Looking back, I would thank him every day if he was here. It was that conditioning that made the difference in a lot of games. He said that fatigue would make a coward of you, and he wasn't going to let that happen to us. He prepared us mentally and physically.
"Everyone was doing everything possible to help you be a winner. Willie Meadows in the equipment room. And of course, Coach Goostree and Sang Lyda in the training room. I hated to go in there because I hated putting my ankle in those tubs of ice. But they got you up and running.
"And of course Coach Bryant reminded us every day that how we performed that day would have an effect on how we performed for the rest of our lives."
Gus White is among those featured in "What It Means To Be Crimson Tide," a book that will be out in mid-August, $27.95 plus tax (if applicable) and shipping and handling, but no additional charge for autograph by author, 1-205-345-5074.