DEMAREE: Bob Gain creates nostalgic moment

The Governor's Cup Luncheon at the Cardinal Club in Simpsonville, Kentucky was abuzz with the future but the past was in full bloom on more than one front. For this writer it spoke of early childhood memories and teen through present day nostalgia.

Ex-UK offensive lineman and 1950 Outland Trophy winner Bob Gain, and ex-U of L running back Ernie Green highlighted this luncheon. This writer experienced pleasant football memories because both Gain and Green were ex-Cleveland Browns – and yours truly is a life-long Browns fan (don't hold that against me.) Gain filled the moment with many comical quips and jokes. It was a light- hearted atmosphere that took the edge off of all the proud Cardinal red present. Green also played in the same backfield with the all-time greatest running in the game, Jim Brown.

"When I came to the University of Kentucky, coach (Paul "Bear") Bryant was there," Gain said. "Bryant had a lot of ex- G.I.'s on the team. He really wanted to weed them out and rebuild his team with youngsters. It was dog-eat-dog back then at UK. I remember practicing against guys that were twenty-five to twenty-seven years old." Gain quipped that he remembered playing against an offensive guard that was older than Bear.

He said that back in his day, a lot of high schools only played six-man football and that was a far cry from Class AAA of today.

It was thought that Bear got the majority of his player from the Naval docks in Maryland, but he really recruited all over the map. With virtually no limits, how many players were brought in at the first of the year?

"I know when I came in Bear recruited nine all-state players from West Virginia which really ticked off the state of West Virginia to no end," Gain responded. "I think he brought in twenty-five or thirty new kids each year. That was one of the problems, Adolph Rupp got all the scholarships he wanted and the rest trickled down to the football team. I don't think we ever had much over sixty players on the team at one time. We had a 44-man traveling squad."

Gain said he still tries to keep up with UK football as best he can, living in Cleveland. He said he reads the paper and he has a daughter living in the Lexington area. "Sometimes when she calls and we talk, I ask her about UK football and when she doesn't want to talk about it, I know what happened," Gain lamented.

"I met coach (Rich) Brooks two ago at the Bear Bryant function there in Lexington. A computerized study on the 1950 UK football team was done and they felt that Kentucky should be named National Champs of 1950. I asked if the school going to honor us with rings or could we buy our own. Coach Brooks sort of shook his head and spoke up and said we will look into it. I think the school was sort of embarrassed over the matter and they brought us back mid-season of the following year and honored us. Of the 44, 27 were still living and 17 showed up."

They lost the one and only game in Tennessee in a game in which the temperature was eight degrees above zero. "That's the coldest I've ever been in my life and I get the wind off the lake in Cleveland. Bear said we had a chance to go to the Orange Bowl and the team voted it down. But I asked him to leave the room and I convinced the team that we needed to make restitution to the fans and we decided to go and break Oklahoma's 31 game winning streak." The rest is history.


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