Just last week, before three Alabama football players got arrested and things were otherwise quiet, was a perfect example. I was invited to guest-host Vince Ferrara's "Sports Breakdown" on Sports Radio 1420 The Tusk, and one of the of the task's during one of the two shows I hosted was the college football team previews: Florida Atlantic and Oregon State.
On Tuesday I interviewed the head coach at Florida Atlantic, Howard Schnellenberger. Even though we were discussing Florida Atlantic I couldn't resist asking him about his time in Tuscaloosa, and the three national championships he won as Paul Bryant's offensive coordinator. I also asked him about 1990, when he was many fans' leading choice to follow Bill Curry as head coach at Alabama. He told me it came close to happening, but noted the obvious, that Alabama got Gene Stallings and that worked out quite well.
Mike Parker, the play-by-play man for Oregon State, was almost as interested in Alabama football as he was in Oregon State football. In our interview he told me that OSU head coach Mike Riley, former Tide player and former candidate for the Tide head coaching job, always speaks in "hallowed tones" when talking about the University of Alabama.
On Wednesday of last week I had good cause to remember a man I once interviewed for a football game program story, and for a story at BamaMag.com (linked here). His name was Alexander Ingram, then 89 years old. Ingram was a Tuscaloosa native and he had seen everyone one of Alabama's 12 national championship teams play. He claimed Dixie Howell was the best player in Crimson Tide history, and that girls would call his name from the first to the third floor at Woods Hall as Dixie was walking to class in his letterman's sweater.
Ingram also became acquainted with a young woman in Tuscaloosa for summer school who loved to sit off by herself and enjoy nature. That woman's name was Claudia Taylor, better know as Lady Bird Johnson, who died last week. Seeing her name on the news caused me to remember my conversations with Mr. Ingram about Alabama football.
(There was another great story Ingram told about him cutting in on Paul Bryant for a dance with a girl named Mary. He said Bryant moved along to dance with another girl, who was also named Mary. The second Mary was Mary Harmon, Bryant's future wife, the story goes.)
On Thursday in working on a feature about Alabama running back Terry Grant upcoming in the next issue of ‘BAMA Magazine, I found an interesting family connection that looped relatives of Terry Grant and Nick Saban. Grant's older brother played for Miami under two head coaches – Lou Saban (nick's cousin) and Schnellenberger.
It just goes to show it's a small world, and Alabama football is a large part of that small world.