State 6, Bama 3: Even the sports writers played hurt
You couldn’t make this up…
The date was Oct. 31, 1980, and into the wee and then not-so-wee hours of Nov. 1, same year. We’re talking nearly 35 years, so I am thinking the statute of limitations is up.
Besides, I don’t work for The Clarion-Ledger any more. They can’t fire me.
No. 1-ranked Alabama was in Jackson to play Mississippi State. All our sports writing buddies from Alabama and several national writers were in town for the big game. Back then, Bear Bryant always drew a crowd.
We at The Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News were trying to play good hosts. When the taverns closed in Jackson we moved en masse on out to the old Edgewater Landing (may she rest in peace) at the reservoir. And we hosted and hosted and hosted some more.
We all got back to town about daybreak. Somehow.
Kickoff was at 1:30, and it might have been the only time in history that had you polled the sports writers, we would have voted overwhelmingly for a night game.
Most of us had heads that felt like we had been running into Johnie Cooks, Tyrone Keys and Glen Collins all night long. If you bet the over on aspirin for that press box, you won big. Those squeaking metal chairs in that old Veterans Memorial Stadium press box never sounded so harsh.
Neither did those cowbells.
Our one saving grace, or so we thought, was that this wasn’t going to involve heavy lifting. Alabama, a 20-point favorite, would handle State, pull away in second half and beat the Bulldogs for the 23rd consecutive time, win its 29th consecutive game and its 27th straight SEC game.
And you know what happened next: State 6, Alabama 3. That was the next day’s headline in the biggest doomsday print we had back then. We were all assigned two or three extra stories, and the newspaper put out a special section. Coffee, strong coffee, was the drink of the day. We got the paper out, went home and collapsed.
Most of us slept extremely late on Sunday and then met up at CS’s on West Street to sit on Pat Boland’s patio for a few beers, Inez burgers and discussion of the miracle we had observed.
True story: One State fan who looked as if he was still partying from the day before saw us, approached us and complained: “If Ole Miss had done it, you
would have had a bigger headline,” he said.
Said the late, great Orley Hood, “Fellow, we don’t have bigger headlines.”
That’s when I knew you could never please everybody any of the time.
We will celebrate State’s historic victory Sept. 23 at your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Benefits Management Group of Meridian is the presenting sponsor for an open-bar reception, dinner and a program that will include Johnie Cooks, John Bond, Tyrone Keys and Glen Collins, along with game and season highlights with Jack Cristil making the call. Tables and individual tickets are available. Call 601 982-8264 for more details.
The full story.