"The parents we have and the values they taught us, that probably did more than anything. They taught us to love people regardless and not to use excuses. They expected the best from us and that was instilled in us. That is what you will see today. Sylvester is a first-class person and will expect the best from the academic side, the playing field, he will expect his athletes to be gentlemen. In other words, when they are out representing the university, they will be first-class."
Did Sylvester get in trouble as a kid?
"He was the good one. I was the one who got in trouble. (laugh). I will say this about Sylvester. He was going to be an accomplished musician. He didn't get in trouble for it, but he was playing the piano. Dad would look at him but wouldn't say anything. Sylvester kind of got the message. He was a little chubby fellow growing up. When he said he was going out for football, that was kind of funny to me. But, he went out and he did very well. Dad later regretted that he didn't go ahead and encourage him to play the piano, but he wasn't disappointed that he stuck with football."
Did you dad, who played at Alabama A&M, regret that he never got the chance to play for the University of Alabama?
"No, my father knew at that time there was no way for him to go to the University of Alabama. He often talked about how he would sneak out and peep through the fence and watch some of the university athletes. But because of his faith, he prepared himself to be in the position. When we were little kids, we often told our neighbors that we were going to play for Coach Bryant one day. We had met Joe Namath when he was in school there. We were very impressed with him, so we became a supporter of Joe Namath. In doing so, we fell in love with Alabama. So, when we would choose up sides to play sandlot ball, we would be Alabama. We would tell folks we were going to play there and, behold, we both got scholarships there. Then, my father eventually became very close to Coach Bryant and worked with him."
As we all know, Sly Croom was turned down by Alabama as their head football coach. Now, he has been hired by another SEC school, Mississippi State. Talk a little about that.
"At that time, I just figured there was something bigger that God had in store for him. He felt the same. And lo and behold, here we are today. I believe that what God has planned for us only we can keep from ourselves."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.