I think we probably had more fun in those days than the boys do now. None of us had any money or anything. I didn't have a stamp to write home with, and there was no such thing as a player having an automobile. I think there were about three on the entire campus. We didn't have to study a great deal, because the academic standards were not as high as they are now, so we practiced a lot. Spring practice would begin in February, and it wouldn't end until we got enough, which would be about the middle of April. I was majoring in physical education, but I wasn't studying anything. Heck, I didn't know how to study. Today these boys have to fight for their lives in that classroom.
We didn't get into any big trouble or anything, but we used to like to "go riding around," as we called it, which was no more than walking around to the sorority houses before 8 o'clock, when the girls went out on dates. We didn't have any money to take them out, so we'd drop by and let them take food out of their sorority houses so we could sit around having picnics and holding hands. Finally Coach Hank got tired of it. He was Coach Thomas' disciplinarian.
We were over at a sorority house after hours saucering around, about 10 of us, and the girls had got the music going, and we were dancing and having a time. Well, the housemother started down the stairs, and Charlie Marr grabbed the door handle to pull it open, and that son of a gun was so strong he pulled the knob off, and Coach Hank had us trapped.
His favorite punishment was to make us run laps at 4 a.m. But this time he took us over to the track, where they were having a meet, and all the students were there, and he made us run 100 laps. Run them, he said, or pack up and get going. We finished up about 10 that night.
But I'll tell you. The clincher with those girls (they were about the only things we had to take our minds off football) was one night when Coach Hank called a meeting of all the athletes up at the A Clubroom, where we had a pool table, and he came in and everyone got scared because we knew somebody's tail had had it. He came in with a sackful of something, and all he did was start pulling things out of that sack—silk underwear and scarves and things—and throwing them around the necks of about five of us. He straightened up finally and said, "Well, dammit, that's all you think about anyway," and turned around and walked out.
Now, when Coach Thomas called you it was something really special, and you didn't ever want that. He stopped Don Hutson and me on the street one day and had us get in the car with him, and we knew something was up. We rode along for a while, and he said, "I understand you boys are pretty big with the ladies. Well, that doesn't mix too good with football. You better make your minds up whether you want to play on this football team or not," and he put us out. Well, he didn't start us that week, but it was a week before the Tennessee game, and he knew what he was doing. We were sure ready for Tennessee.
He knew what to say and when to say it, and that is the secret. I'll never forget, we were going out for the 1935 Rose Bowl game. I went into the men's lounge on the train. Coach Thomas was sitting there with some of the coaches and Red Heard, the athletic director of LSU, and two or three newspapermen. He said, "Red, this is my best football player. This is the best player on my team." Well, shoot, I could have gone right out the top. I mean, he didn't have to say anything else. I know now what he was doing, because I try to do it myself. He was getting me ready. And I was, too. I would have gone out there and killed myself for Alabama that day.