Sunday, October 02, 2005

On watching college football thirty-some years ago

Watching Saturday's Alabama win over Florida, I noticed that the home team had a running back wearing No. 10, which caused me to recollect that as a child, not knowing any better, I used to root for Bear Bryant and Alabama football - because they were on television all the time. The first bowl game I can remember was the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Eve, 1973, when they lost to Notre Dame, 24-23.

They had a good running back named Wilbur Jackson, who went on to play a few years in the NFL. In college he wore No. 80, as shown in the picture on this page, with an article in which a former assistant SID discusses the fact that in 1970 Jackson was the first black football player signed to a scholarship at Alabama.

The local team I pulled for was Virginia Tech. When I saw them play sometime around 1974 or 1975, they were running Alabama's wishbone offense with three black running backs, including Phil Rogers from Gate City and Paul Adams from Castlewood. (It says here that in the fall of 1970 a fellow from Radford named John Dobbins became the first black football player for Tech.)

In the world as I knew it in the early 1970s, I had no idea that anyone had ever objected to black men playing college football, but I knew for sure that it was weird for a running back to wear No. 80.

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