20 years ago, a bull became a steer
Posted on: September 14,2012
I’m just guessing that Hugh Freeze hasn’t used any props or gizmos to get his Ole Miss Rebels fired up to play the Texas Longhorns Saturday. If the Rebels aren’t amped for this one, something’s wrong.
But, lest we forget, 20 years ago this week, Jackie Sherrill, then the head coach at Mississippi State, was getting his team ready to play Texas. And Jackie, who never missed a trick, used a prop.
His name was Willy.
How could you forget?
Jackie decided to show his football players how a bull becomes a steer. Let’s put it this way: Jackie took two — from poor Willy — for the team.
There was quite the uproar when the news got out.
Asked about the castration, Jackie actually told reporters he did it for educational purposes.
That Sunday, Mike Knobler, then of The Clarion-Ledgerinterviewed Donald Zacharias, then the president of Mississippi State. I listened in to Knobler’s side of the conversation in the Louisiana Superdome press box.
“Dr. Zacharias, I’m sorry to bother you at home on a Sunday afternoon, but I needed to get your reaction to this. During his press conference earlier today, Coach Sherrill said the castration of the bull was done primarily for educational purposes. He said that a lot of his players didn’t know the difference between a bull and a steer. I was wondering, Dr. Zacharias, if you had an opinion on that?”
It was at that point that people on the other side of the Superdome could hear my laughter.
Dr. Zacharias, a fine man and a great president at State, was not amused, Knobler said.
As I wrote the next day, it’s a good thing Sherrill didn’t teach sex education. Imagine: “Boys, this here is a brothel. And once we go inside…”
There really wasn’t a lot Dr. Zack could do about it. Sherrill’s Bulldogs ripped Texas a new one, 28-10, a couple days after the castration. Sherrill’s popularity was in the stratosphere.
As I also wrote, Jackie’s equation was simple: “Education, plus motivation, equals castration. Beware Colonel Reb.”
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