Ramblin’ 10/11/16

Welcome back to Ramblin’!

It really feels like fall now. 71 degrees with a high of 75 on the way, and a low tonight of 47. Leaves are beginning to cover the side, fenced-in, yard. And Auburn is ranked. All is well!

I began reading Steve Spurrier’s autobiography, Head Ball Coach-My Life in Football, yesterday. A few chapters in and it is vintage Spurrier. Good stuff.

The book I completed last week, prior to starting on Spurrier’s, was one by crime-mystery novelist James Lee Burke. The Tin Roof Blowdown. It’s from his Dave Robicheaux series. Excellent writing. Brilliant prose. Intricate, compelling plot lines. Superb characters.

The Tin Roof Blowdown takes place in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, New Iberia, Lafayette, and environs.

Highly recommended.

On the old Apple Music turntable, Lester Young and Billie Holiday. The album is entitled ‘A Musical Romance.’ Also brilliant.

Backing up to bring Auburn into the conversation again. They have an open date this Saturday. That will leave our focus on the SEC at Knoxville and Oxford. Alabama-Tennessee and Ole Miss-Arkansas.

Me and Paul will be having near and dear Bama friends over for for the occasion. I look forward to a great day and night of football, food, and music. An adult beverage or two might be consumed as well.

Birthdays today include Eleanor Roosevelt, Daryl Hall, Luke Perry, Elmore Leonard (speaking of great crime-mystery writers), and rapper U-God of Wu Tang Clan.

Yes, I have been to a Wu Tang Clan concert. They opened for Rage Against The Machine. How did I find myself at this event you might ask. It was 1997 and I took my son, Luke, to what was then Lakewood Amphitheater. It was an experience to be sure. People running around bumping into one another, et cetera. Old Dirty Bastard and all.

RIP ODB.

I was just scanning my Apple Music recommendations for today and under ‘Albums’ spotted one by UB 40.

UB 40 covered my favorite Neil Diamond song which is Red, Red Wine. UB 40’s cut was, of course, done in reggae style.

Another aside involving Luke. I was driving him to school at Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn back in 1989. I was then the retail store manager for Tiger Rags (shout out to Don, Charlie, and Jerry!). We were listening to a Columbus pop/rock station and they played the UB 40 cover of Red, Red Wine. The DJ followed the song with non-sensical lyrics of his own. “Red, red wine I can see your fanny. Red, red wine you got a hole in you panty.”

It’s all about those moments. Ain’t it?

Speaking of moments, I had one that knocked me for a loop back on September 15th. I had a bout of Transient Global Amnesia or, duh, TGA. Click the link and check it out.

It was scary. And I can’t imagine how awful it was for Melodye. I didn’t know what day it was or who the president was. I didn’t remember Auburn was playing Texas A&M in two days.

Mel had me on the phone and I asked her, “Paul, what is all this A&M stuff doing on the table? Are we playing football?” (I keep programs, cups, and paraphernalia from the coming Saturday’s opponent on the kitchen table the week of that game.)

She knew, then, we were in big trouble. It seemed so but all’s well that ends well. TGA is, essentially, harmless. ‘Twas NO fun though.

And thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. Your calls, texts, and well wishes.

Back in the saddle with ‘Ramblins’ again! It’s been far too long.

Ok! Apple Music now twangin’ out a ‘My Favorites Mix’ that they rustled up for me. All country. The last two songs were Hag’s ‘Somewhere Between’ and Conway’s ‘To See My Angel Cry’.

Now? Kristofferson’s ‘Why Me Lord’. That’s a great “hymn.”

Wow! How poignant!

“Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I’ve known
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth loving you
Or the kindness you’ve shown.
Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.
Tell me Lord, if you think there’s a way
I can try to repay
All I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself
On my way back to you.
Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.”
Amen.
(Photo me & Paul with our Bama friends, Terry and Lyndie Sims)
Advertisements

Ramblin’ 8/9/16

Coming straight to you from a brand new iMac with the 4K retina and all. First blog typed on this one. Wow! Should have upgraded before now! Oh, the speed!

Speed. That’s what Kam Martin, true freshman running back who transferred from Baylor to Auburn, has…in spades. He was the #1 running back coming out of the great state of Texas. He WILL see time on the field of play this fall. Hey! First scrimmage today! Probably still in progress.

Carolina Chocolate Drops playing on Apple Music. Amazing music! Check ’em out!

Love this new keyboard and wireless mouse, as well.

Anyone remember Mighty Mouse? “Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse is on his way!” I loved Andy Kaufman’s use of that song in one of his bits. He just played the vinyl of and pantomimed the lyrics. Mercy, he was funny. Brilliant! I mis him. RIP, Andy.

Miss Andy Griffith also.

And Don Knotts. Speaking of brilliant. No time or space to touch on of all the great Barney Fife moments here.  A quick one. Barney had Gomer with him on a stakeout. Remember their signal?  “Hooty Hoo. Hooty hoo.” I still use that one a lot. And, “Here at The Rock.”

Steve Spurrier’s autobiography comes out at the end of this month, the 30th, I believe. A must read. As is Bruce Springsteen’s, for me. It releases on September 27th. Just discovered the beauty of The Boss a few months back. All in.

Ray Wylie Hubbard now up on Apple Music. His album, A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint There Is No C). Just great, as is all his work. One of my favorites on this record is Drunken Poet’s Dream.  It’s coming on! “I got a woman who’s wild as Rome. She likes being naked and gazed upon. She crosses a bridge and sets it on fire. She lands like a bird on a telephone wire. I’m gonna holler. I’m gonna scream. I’m gonna get us some mescaline, then I’m gonna rhyme that with gasoline. A drunken poet’s dream…”

I get it. Been there.

Here comes a SEGWAAAAAYYYY… Since hallucinogens are on the table, the 47th anniversary of Woodstock begins Monday. It’s observed at 116 Sundown Way. High Holy days. From the opening with Canned Heat’s ‘Going Up The Country’, to the nuns flashing peace signs, to  Richie Havens’ improvised opening set, to Hendrix on Monday morning. A thing of beauty. They pulled it off under the most adverse of circumstances. Three Days of Peace and Music. It can be done. A snapshot into a true moment of grace. Like the Dead sings, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”Amen.

Here’s a blog I did on the epiphany I had when I saw the Woodstock movie for the first time as a freshman at Auburn in September of 1970. War Eagle to that!

The Braves are playing well. Took two out of three in St. Louis, of all places. Beat the Brewers, 4-3, in 12 innings last night. They’ve been hitting, including taters, over the last couple of weeks. They’ll get there in a couple of years. A plethora, remember that word from last week?, of young talent in their system.

Guess what just popped up on my phone? ‘Inside The AU Tigers – Scrimmage News & Notes.’ How about a teaser? “Sean White threw a touchdown pass to Marcus Davis. Jeremy Johnson hit Ryan Davis on a long pass play to near the goal line and then scored on a keeper. Franklin threw a short pass to Jason Smith who took it the distance for a touchdown…”

Football! Received a note pad from the University of Iowa with a picture of one of their all star candidates on the front, Desmond King. He’s s defensive back  and a candidate for the Bronco Nagurski, Jim Thorpe and Walter Camp awards, among others. As a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) I get to vote on those things as well as their All-America team, College Football Hall of Fame. It’s fun and something I dreamed of as a kid. I always wanted to be a sportswriter or a sportscaster. DJ too. That’s two out of three. Now, let’s find me an event to call the play-by-play on.

Grace and peace (and music).

 

Before He Was “The Head Ball Coach”

It was Saturday, October 30, 1965. And it was a beautiful day for football! My father, mother and I were on our way from Lower Alabama to the Plains of Auburn for a homecoming game that matched our Tigers with the Florida Gators.IMG_2355

The visitors were a heavy favorite. They were bringing an impressive 4-1 record into the tilt, while the home team, with losses to Baylor, Georgia Tech, and Southern Mississippi, was really struggling that year at 2-3-1.

The contingent from Gainesville, Florida was lead by a brash young kid from Johnson City, Tennessee. His name was Steven Orr Spurrier.

This was the first game ever televised from, what was then, Cliff Hare Stadium. It would later be re-named Jordan-Hare Stadium for, then, legendary head coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan.

Coach Jordan was given to referring to the Gator quarterback as “Steve Superior”.

“Superior” had led his team to wins over non-conference foes Northwestern and North Carolina State. They sported SEC victories over LSU and Ole Miss. Their lone setback came at the hands of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

When the LeCroy clan finally made it to Auburn, it seemed like it took an eternity to get there, they headed over to the home of Nelle and Bill Mims, my aunt and uncle. Aunt Nelle was my mother’s sister. Uncle Bill was retired from the Georgia-Pacific railroad. They had moved to “the loveliest village” where he now had a job with Buildings and Grounds at Auburn University.

Uncle Bill quipped to my father that he might have to drive the jeep that would carry the ABC television camera up and down the home sideline as this was an altogether new venture for the school.

I thought that would be the greatest thing in the world! Would I be allowed to ride in the jeep? As it turns out, this did not come to pass, but that was okay. There were some big fish to fry later that day.

And what a day it turned out to be!

The visiting Gators led the home underdog Tigers 10-0 at the half. Junior quarterback, Spurrier, had thrown a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jack Harper and their kicker, Wayne Barfield, booted a 26-yard field goal. The sellout crowd, of 45,000, was dismayed but not daunted.

The Tigers regrouped at the break. And it turned out to be a tough second half for the young quarterback from the mountains of East Tennessee. Auburn middle linebacker, Bill Cody, intercepted a Spurrier pass and returned it for 29 yards and a touchdown. Spurrier also fumbled at the Florida 10, in the fourth quarter, and it rolled into the end zone. Cody was also the recipient of this snafu that gave Auburn an insurmountable lead.IMG_2358

The Tigers scored 28 unanswered points in that second half. Spurrier threw a late TD pass to Charlie Casey, which mattered little, and Auburn upset the Gators, 28-17.

It was a big win for the home team and a hard learning experience for the tough, talented and talkative young Gator QB.

October 29, 1966 was a horse of a different color.

Florida was celebrating homecoming this time around.

60,000 fans had jammed Florida Field, which was later dubbed “The Swamp” by an alumnus who had returned to coach the Gators in 1990 ;).

Florida was undefeated and Steve “Superior” was their senior quarterback. They also had designs on an SEC Championship, a National Championship, and a Heisman Trophy for their team leader.

The game turned out to be a see-saw battle which went down to the wire.

Auburn took the opening kickoff and Larry Ellis returned it 89 yards for a touchdown.

It’s on!!!

Florida retaliated with a 10-yard TD pass from Spurrier to Richard Trapp. They also scored on a 2-yard TD run.

Auburn stunned the old Gator grads with a 90-yard fumble return and added a 30-yard field goal by Jimmy “Rattlesnake” Jones before halftime. They took a 17-13 lead into the dressing room. The Tigers opened the second half scoring with a 27-yard field goal.

Florida immediately tied it when Larry Smith scored a TD from two-yards out. It was 20-20.

Spurrier put the home team on top with 2-yard sneak, early in the fourth quarter, but Auburn quarterback, Larry Blakeney ran one in from the three after Yearout recovered yet another fumble at the Gator 16.

The game was tied, 27-27.

Spurrier then began to engineer a march toward the Tiger goal line, but the drive was stopped when the Gator field general was called for an intentional grounding penalty.

It was now fourth down with just over two minutes remaining in the game and Florida at the Auburn 26 yard-line.

A field goal attempt would be 40 yards and that was outside the comfort zone of the Gator’s regular placekicker.

Spurrier had kicked 40-yard field goals in practice and begged Florida head coach, Ray Graves, to give him a shot at it.IMG_2359

He did.

You can imagine what happened. It was like something out a sports novel for young kids, or maybe the popular AMC TV show, Friday Night Lights.

Yes, Steve Spurrier nailed the field goal, with 2:12 remaining, Florida captured very hard-fought 30-27 win and, as most of you know, Spurrier went on to take home the Heisman Trophy.

Those are my first memories of Steve Spurrier, or “Superior”, and his heroics on the gridiron.

You know the rest of the story. I don’t need to recount it for you here, yet again.

Many, many tales of championships he won at Duke and Florida have “swamped” television, newspapers, and social media over the past week. And you know of his unprecedented success at the University of South Carolina, from which he recently resigned. You also know of his failure to generate a winner on the NFL level with the Washington Redskins.

I’ll never forget the great upset wins Auburn had over number one ranked Gator squads in 1993, ’94, and 2001. But those were the ONLY three wins my Tigers were able to generate vs. the “evil genius” during his tenure at Florida. Auburn’s final record stood at 3-10 against Spurrier and the Gators.

OUCH!

IMG_2357

There are many fan bases that “Darth Visor” has rubbed the wrong way over the years. Cough cough… Georgia and Tennessee.

But I have always really liked him and have truly enjoyed following the journey of Steven Orr Spurrier. My son and I have had numerous conversations in “Spurrier Speak”. They would begin something like, “Well, we found out nobody had ever scored fifty points on Georgia in Athens before, so we thought we’d try that!”

Priceless!

I laugh when I think about it and about him.

I know you’ve probably also read many of Spurrier’s famous quotes from over the years. I’ll leave you with, possibly,one my favorites. It’s from the lips of the only Heisman winner he coached, Danny Wuerffel. This was after Wuerffel had thrown a costly interception. He then apologized for the turnover.

Spurrier replied, “Danny, it’s not your fault, it’s my fault for putting you in the game.”

So here’s to the “Head Ball Coach”!

May he not, “Go gentle into that good night.”