I like to think I’ve heard EVERY apocryphal sports anecdote ever uttered. My insider contacts from sea to shining sea plus my incredible retentive powers funnel an inexhaustible supply of anecdotal fluff my way. Yesterday I “went to Lourdes” for a true classic. …… Meanwhile the after-shocks of THE BIGGEST WIN in Butch’s UNC career continue to reverberate…. And I chat with Carolina‘s Heisman Trophy winner (no, not Willie Parker!).
It’s the Spring of 1964 …. The phone rings in at the Tri Delt house at Texas Tech in Lubbock. Sweet Susie Q from Abilene answers.
“Delta Delta Delta Delta Delta Delta …. Hip hip hooray …. Hello.”
A male voice on the other end …. “Hi there, how do you feel?”
“I’m fine, thank you. Who is this?”
“This is Donny Anderson. Now, how do you feel?”
Yes, of course we could substitute a bevy of BMOC jocks’ names in that story. UNC’s own Larry Miller would be a perfect fit among others. Certainly my Duke pal Leo Hart would fit. Heck, even George Gipp calling St Mary’s in South Bend. But the first version I ever heard involved The Golden Palomino DONNY ANDERSON. On Tuesday Last (aka “Yesterday”) I got to sit down with Donny and hear it straight from “the horse’s mouth”.
For my young Lutheran friend Todd and others of you yet unborn in the mid 60s ….. The Last Hurrah of The Caucasian Running Back produced some legendary stallions on the college gridiron. Cornell’s Ed Marinaro …. Johnny Musso (The Eye-talian Stallion from Tuscaloosa) …. Princeton’s Cosmo Iacavazzi …. Oklahoma’s Steve Owens and Joe Don Looney …. Florida’s Larry Smith …. and locally Wake’s Brian Piccollo …. Duke’s Steve Jones and UNC’s own “#23 From Garden City Long Island” Donnie Mc. But everything is exaggerated in Texas so none galloped more gloriously than Red Raider Donny Anderson.
Donny juked and swivel-hipped and galloped his way thru the Southwest Conference and was the seventh overall pick (by the Packers) in the 1965 NFL Draft. There is no record of whether Mel Kiper SR had him pegged higher. That first round included names like Butkus and Sayers.
So I’m at Firethorne Golf Club in The Great State of Mecklenburg with Donny and assorted other “Didn’t you used to be’s” from the NFL …. Most of the fellas I’ve seen many times before but this was a first meeting with The Golden Palomino.
I HAD to know so I went straight to the question …. “Donny, Did you really call the sorority house?” He broke into a big West Texas grin and slapped the table. “Well maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. It was a long time ago. But I will tell you, BobLee, 1965 was a REAL good year to be Donny Anderson around Lubbock, Texas.”
Incidentally, Donny has kept himself trim and fit now into his mid 60s and still looks like he could break tackles …. and coed hearts aplenty. I did not ask how many alimony checks he writes each month.
Betcha didn’t know …. Donny was an outstanding punter and created the term “hang time”. Vince Lombardi actually coined the term when he had Donny work on shortening his distance but keeping the ball in the air longer for better coverage. Bet you thought Ray Guy invented “hang time”. Nope, it was Lombardi and Donny. You want to argue w/ Vince Lombardi?
In addition to Donny Anderson I also met NFL HoF Jack “Played w/ A Broken Leg” Youngblood. Jack looks like Chuck Connors’ big brother and has that “rugged look” that comes from eating barbed wire biscuits. Nice guy.
My old Mizzou buddy Mel Gray was on hand. Mel is the only friend I’ve ever had who could run a legitimate 9.3 100. (not to say that Prince Albert wasn’t fast, but ….) Forty years ago Mel walked like Grandpa with a corncob up his butt …. But LORDY MERCY that boy could flat out fly down a sideline whether it was MU’s Terry McMillan or later Jim Hart with the Cardinals doing the throwing. Mel still walks like Grandpa with the corncob. Mizzou’s big win over Nebraska last Saturday brought back fond memories of his 80-yard bomb versus Devaney’s Huskers on that same field in ’69.
….. Mizzou’s first possession of the game …. Second and eight on the Tigers’ 24. Terry barking signals. Bob Wilson snaps. Terry drops back four steps and just flings it downfield to his left. 60,000 pair of eyes follow the arcing parabola but who’s he throwing it to …. There’s no receiver in sight …. YET. Like an F-15 on a fly-over #85 appears out of nowhere. Replays showed Mel was even with the Husker safety at midfield …. Had him by 5 yards at the 35 …. Had him by 15 when he cradled the pigskin at the 20 and THEN he hit the afterburners. When Mel Gray crossed the South Goal line at Memorial Stadium there wasn’t a Cornhusker within 20 yards. …. It was 38 years ago …. It was kinda special. Even Donny woulda thought so.
Considering it’s “this week” I sought out Carolina’s Heisman Trophy winner. No, not Choo Choo …. Not McCauley or Natrone or Derrick Fenner or Kennard Martin …. Not even Willie Parker (ouch!). I’m talking about George Rogers. THAT Carolina.
I see George several times a year at various functions. He is ALWAYS in good spirits. My best George Rogers story …. We’re at a celeb golf event at Kiawah about 3 years ago. Adrian Peterson was on TV as OU’s hotshot freshman. Someone asks if a freshman has ever won the Heisman. Someone says Herschel Walker won it as a freshman in 1980. A big ol’ voice across the room says “nah, Herschel didn’t win it in ’80.” “How do you know” someone countered. “Cause I did!” It was George. End of discussion.
Local Charlotte auto-mogul (and very fine fellow) Ron Kirby was playing with George at Firethorne. Ron is a Tar Heel fan but “the good kind” not the jackass type that embarrasses the rest of us especially before a big rivalry game. Ron, George and I shared some laughs wondering what hijinks OBC has in store for Saturday. We all agreed it’ll be a hoot for sure. ….. I wasted a few minutes recently checking the primary message boards of both “Carolinas”. The battling bottom-feeders are running redneck to redneck in embarrassing their respective institutions as much as possible. Meanwhile the remaining 95% of both fan bases are leading real lives.
No sooner than Butch wins one game versus a Division 1 opponent and now Prince Tassel Loafer announces the next stage of The Kenan Expansion. Sure nuff, PTL said earlier this week that construction might begin as soon as 18 months to two years …. or maybe not?. Yet another “Carolina committee” has been formed to “study the plans”. In Dickie-speak that means it’ll take a year to assemble yet another dysfunctionally diverse sideshow of yahoos, fat cats, jock-hating faculty squirrels, the tailgate nazi, three homeless guys and Zackie Murphy’s personal trainer Lars. Another three months to pick a meeting site and get everyone’s lunch preferences ….
….. and then hold a 30-minute meeting during which Butch tells them exactly what he wants OR ELSE.
Ideally by that time Butch will have a few more Ws versus Division 1 opponents and there will still be 20 square feet of unoccupied parking ground within two miles of Kenan.
In the meantime the subject of The Kenan Expansion will consume over 147,000,000 message board posts and will eventually trail only “uniform changes” and “the correct color blue” in loon obsession. The goggled-eyed crowd will gnaw on such critical issues as ….
- Exactly which pine tree to cut down
- Cup holders or no cup holders and left or right side?
- Should the final capacity be an odd or even number
- How much will adding 10,000 fans to Kenan increase the “wait to pee” time for the rest rooms.
When both Michigan and Notre Dame last “expanded” their stadium capacity, they did so with a magic marker. Simply removing the existing seat numbers and renumbering by narrowing the allotted width per seat by five inches. Voila. Total costs were $158.00 for the markers. Use undocumented workers for the labor and it’s even cheaper …. Except the new numbers will be in Spanish but what the heck.
As we have said here on several occasions, the only legitimate problem with Gameday in Chapel Hill is not enough Ws over the past ten years. Win more often and fewer fans will come dressed in aluminum regardless of the kick-off time.
There IS an on-going issue of open-spaced reduction on the UNC campus (open space = parking lots). That issue will persist and be aggravated in the years to come even without expanding the stadium capacity. There is no reasonable solution to “the parking problem” except dealing with it on an individual fan basis. My idea of nuking the City of Derm and bulldozing it into a Kenan Shuttle Lot is still the #1 best plan proffered. ….. #2 is from Little Cletus In Lillington to “get rid of that dumb hospital …. and that stoopid Li-berry too.”