Honors: Congratulations to a couple of high school football coaches. L.A. O’Neal and Matt Johnson were named Coach of the Year in their respective classes by the Alabama Football Coaches Association.
The two were teammates at Reeltown during their playing days for Jackie O’Neal, L.A.’s father. As you all know, Johnson was the successor to Jackie at Reeltown and this past season reached the state finals for the second time during his nine years as head coach. The Rebels were 13-1 in 2023.
L.A. O’Neal took Booker T. Washington to the semifinals last season. Prior to his arrival in 2021, BTW had put up three consecutive one-win seasons and had never won a playoff game. O’Neal takes over now at Tallassee. The Tigers were 1-9 last year.
Kudos to THS wrestling coach John Mask. Mask was honored last week for reaching the 600-win mark earlier this season. The wrestling team has a duals record of 95-3 over the past three seasons.
During the Senior Night/Homecoming festivities, the 2014 state championship team was also recognized on the ten-year anniversary of the school’s last team title in any sport. In addition, Tallassee’s first two individual champs, Brian Freeman and Brandon Redden from the 1997 team, were given state championship rings.
Congrats also go out to Allen Baynes who will be working his first Super Bowl on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas. Baynes was recently inducted into the Alabama Sports Officials Hall of Fame in August, like his brother Rusty and father Ronnie before him.
Rusty and Ronnie have also officiated Super Bowls. Rusty just worked the NFC Championship Game last weekend in San Francisco and already has two Super Bowls under his belt.
New Era: It's unprecedented. We not only have the retirement of Nick Saban, but now Jim Harbaugh on his way back to the NFL. With Kalen DeBoer's move from Washington to Alabama, that makes three of last year's four CFP teams that will have new head coaches.
Oddities: There was a time when college teams played not just other college teams but professional teams and even high school squads. Some of these games, mainly exhibitions, have been played in recent years.
The Atlanta Braves used to play the Georgia Bulldogs during spring training. They faced off ten times over a 20-year span from 1988 to 2008. The Braves went 10-0.
The closest game was 2-1 in 1996. The most lopsided was 10-1 in 2006. As a sidenote, the Miami Hurricanes actually beat the Miami Marlins in a game in 2011.
Alabama and Auburn used to play high school and/or athletic clubs in football, albeit over a century ago. Alabama outscored Birmingham High School 113-0 in two wins in 1892 and 1902.
Can you imagine what would happen if those games were played today? If Georgia can beat another college team 65-7 in the national title game, we might expect one of those Georgia Tech 222-0 over Cumberland type games versus a high school team.
It's been joked about that the best college football teams could be the worst teams in the NFL, but that just can't be - can it? The defending NFL champion used to play a team of college all-stars annually prior to the start of the season.
That particular game was called the Chicago College All-Star Game. Although there were others, this one was the most notable. It was devised by Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune.
Played from 1934-1976, it was dominated by pro teams but was not as one-sided as you might think. Most games were relatively close.
The college all-stars largest margin of victory came in a 28-16 triumph over the Washington Redskins in 1942. The NFL's biggest rout was 38-0 on two occasions (1949 - Washington and 1966 - Green Bay). The pros were 31-9-2 overall.
From the earliest origins of the game in the 1800s to today, the game is completely different. It has changed quite a bit over the past 50 years. We'll probably never see these contests again, especially in football. Some whippersnappers have never even heard of it.
Thanks to the internet, I found the very last game of this series. The Steelers won 24-0 in 1976. Click on the YouTube link and enjoy.