So Alabama won 11-10 last Saturday, but there was more relief than joy in the Mudville of the Crimson dressing room. "They play too much like we do to enjoy meeting them very much," said a worn-out Kelley.
"What would you have given for our chances at the half?" said Bear Bryant, leaning against a wall and sucking on a cigar and smiling ever so slightly. "This bunch just hangs in there. They are a good football team right now."
How good? Well, very good. Bryant had said that in two weeks he might consider them very good if everything worked out all right. Beating Tennessee, the toughest part of the schedule, is part of the working-out. Part of it also is the emergence of Snake Stabler as a first-rate quarterback. Part of it, finally, is getting a good, strong (66 yards in 26 carries) running effort from Les Kelley.
Typically, Alabama is small, very fast and proud. And there isn't a school left on the schedule with more than a holler-down-a-hole chance to beat the Tide.
Tennessee, of course, will still be heard from. They are a fine young team, these Volunteers, with a fine young coach who is on the verge, after only three years on the job, of walking with giants. Doug Dickey could even turn out to be Bryant's successor as the best coach in the South, when Bryant retires.