If my 75% boy plays 15% over his ability and your 100% boy slogs around and plays 15% under his, then we'll beat you every time. I've always taken pride when people said how tough mentally and physically our teams were, how many teams didn't win the next Saturday after playing us. I took pride in that. But you don't win getting penalties, and you only get penalties when you break the rules.
We recruited Darwin Holt when I was still at A&M. He was just a skinny little old linebacker then. When he dropped out of A&M after we'd gone to Alabama he wrote and asked if he could come, too. He had to make up some grades at a junior college and he got sick, and when he came in he was down to about 145 pounds and looked like a hant. We took him anyway, and his first year he played very little, but in his senior year, when we won the national championship, he was terrific and helped win a lot of ball games.
Well, I know I've said it a jillion times, that you have to outmean people, and Darwin was certainly aggressive, but he knew what I thought about penalties. There's no doubt he fouled Chick Graning and the officials should have penalized us, which they didn't, and I probably would have disciplined him my own way if those Atlanta sportswriters hadn't set out to crucify him. After that I wouldn't have done anything if they had burned the university down.
Bobby Dodd might have made an effort to stop it if he had known how it was going to be blown out of proportion. He told me two or three times before that if we didn't stop beating him he was going to quit playing us, and I can understand that. The Holt-Graning incident gave him the out, and I think he would tell you so. Maybe he would have had a problem dropping us from the schedule if this had not happened, because Georgia Tech-Alabama was a big game.
Let me set it up a little better. Bobby Dodd and I were very close for years, one of the few men in the business I've felt close to, and I'll always be grateful for the way he helped me. I know when I was at Kentucky Bobby and his wife Alice came up to visit us, and he helped me put in the T formation, gave me his playbook. And one year there, when we beat him pretty bad, he thanked me for taking my first team out in the fourth quarter. When I was at A&M I'd go over there for his spring training. Why, he sent a couple of his assistants over to our place last year.
But over the years we always felt we could beat Georgia Tech by just going out and putting that shoulder pad and the bonnet on 'em, because they weren't going to do it for 60 minutes like we were. Regardless of their ability, if a team wallows around all week playing drop the handkerchief and the boys don't think tough or live tough, how can they be tough on Saturday? You can get away with it a few times, but you sure can't get away with it every Saturday. Over the long haul we'll beat you. We like to work during the week and have our fun on Saturday.
I'm not saying which way is the best, but I'd welcome any daddy to spend seven days at any school where they lollygag around, and then have him stick with our squad for seven days and see which one he'd like his son to play for. See the way they act and talk and dress. What would you see at our place? I think you'd see a lot more supervision, more direction and probably more work, football or academics or whatever, and you wouldn't see them running off in all directions all the time.
The thing about the Holt-Graning incident that really disappointed me, though, was that some sportswriters would take out after a young boy and try to crucify him.
We were playing Tech in Birmingham. There were no hard feelings beforehand. I remember Alice Dodd came up to me before the game, and we visited. Anyway, in the fourth quarter Holt was dropping back on a punt. His assignment was to take the end out. Graning was the end, and when they came together Holt reared up and hit Graning with his elbow. The official had his back on the play and didn't see it. I didn't see it until I looked at the films. Actually we complained on the play, because Billy Richardson was interfered with catching the punt.
Well, it wouldn't happen once in 15,000 times, because he didn't hit him hard enough, but the elbow got through Graning's face guard and fractured his jaw. After the game Tonto Coleman of Tech, Dodd's assistant, came over to our dressing room to congratulate our boys, and he said something about Graning being hurt, and I called Holt over, and he said, "Yessir, coach, I'm sorry. I made a mistake," or something. Well, the next night, after our TV program, I went to New Orleans on Sugar Bowl business, and I still didn't know Graning was hurt seriously.