A four-year starter on some of Coach Bryant's best teams, Woodrow Lowe (senior) earned All-America honors in '73, '74 and '75. But the son's memories only reach back to Lowe's career with the San Diego Chargers. "Up until the age of 13 I was a California kid," Lowe explained. "The only thing I knew was my Dad played with the San Diego Chargers. I didn't even realize how big the Chargers were."
The average pro career lasts less than three seasons, but Woodrow Lowe (senior) starred for the Chargers for 11 years, finally retiring to go into coaching. The son knew his father played football, but didn't realize till later how special that was. "I didn't know at all how good my Dad was," Lowe said. "And as far as his Alabama experience goes, I knew nothing about it. To me, his picture on the wall in the weight room doesn't look much like him now. It looks like he did then of course, but to me he's different. He looks so young then."
Woodrow Lowe Sr. didn't want his children to lose their ties to home and family. So every year when the pro season ended, the Lowe family would pack up and move back to Alabama. "All the way through the age of 13, I was in one city for half a year and another the other half. It was two extremes. I'm not Catholic, but in California I was at a Catholic school. I was the only black kid in grades K-8 besides my sister. Then when I came back to Alabama I'm going to public school. It was a variety.
"Those experiences helped me to meet and accept people for who they are."
A good athlete himself, it was no surprise when the son followed the father into football. Young Lowe played high school football in the Phenix City area, but a neck injury hampered his progress. He tried one season of college ball at Jacksonville State, but the doctors advised him to give up football. "I had the injury in high school," Lowe explained. "It started with stingers and just progressed. When I got to college I knew it wouldn't work. My father had a history of them, and my uncle did, too. But for some reason mine were just worse."
But with his playing career ended, Lowe got into coaching immediately--even before finishing college. "When I left Jacksonville State in 1995, my father had just been hired at Selma High," Lowe related. "I went there with him and helped him out. That was the first time I was a part of a football team from the coaching aspect."
When his father was hired to coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, Lowe entered The University to earn his degree using the Bryant Scholarship. He met his wife at Alabama, but soon coaching lured him away. In his spare time he worked as a volunteer coach at Central High in Phenix City. From there he moved to Troy, where he helped coach current Tide lineman Von Ewing.
Despite being very young and still without a college degree, Lowe was getting noticed in the coaching profession. "After Troy I got an offer to coach for an Arena League football team," Lowe said. "I worked with the Arkansas Twisters with the O-Line and D-Line and on special teams. From there Coach DiNardo offered me a job with the Birmingham Thunderbolts where I got a chance to work with Don Lindsey and Curley Hallman. When the league folded, it left us in the cold, since it folded in mid-summer."
Suddenly without a job, Lowe took the chance to finish his degree. He explained, "I had talked to Coach Fran the previous January, because I still had intentions of returning to Alabama. I had some hours to finish up my degree. When I first called him he called me right back. I think he thought I was my father at first.
"The name never hurts."
"I called him right after the team folded," Lowe continued. "And he told me to come in and talk to Coach North. It worked out perfectly. In the meantime I interviewed for the head coaching job with another Arena team in Columbus, Georgia. But that was two weeks before camp started here, and they really wanted me to go ahead and start. I'm Alabama anyway. I bleed Crimson, so I came."
Lowe will work with the offensive staff as an on-the-field graduate assistant. Specifically he'll help coach the offensive line, while directing the scout team offense during practice. "While I'm here I plan on using these coaches as a resource," Lowe said. "For example Coach Torbush is such a great mind regarding defense. I want to take advantage of every opportunity. Networking is important, and because of my father I have friends in college and the pros. That's one of the benefits of it."
After playing and coaching all over the country, Woodrow Lowe Sr. is now working less than a hour's drive from Tuscaloosa. "Dad is at UAB now, the linebackers coach," Lowe said. "It's his first time coaching in college, and it's nice to have him close."
Injury kept him from following in his father's footsteps on the playing field, but Lowe is determined to make coaching his career. "My father didn't say much when I went into coaching," Lowe recalled. "He doesn't interfere. He lets you do what you want to. I always wanted his approval--everybody wants his father's approval.
"My Dad may be at UAB, but he bleeds Crimson. He is very proud of the fact that I'm actually here."