for Bryant a long time ago at Kentucky, and the two are golf-playing friends in
the off-season. "You get your greatest pleasure defeating a friend,"
McClendon says. "He'll respect you more if you win." McClendon has
beaten Bryant only twice in the nine times their teams have met. "Three
years ago in Baton Rouge," recalls Bryant, "we were getting beaten
badly and then came back and almost won. Sometimes Charlie gets so fired up
you've got to give him a saliva test. After that game he came over and said,
'If you'd won I'd have killed you.' "
That was the year
that McClendon's daughter met the Crimson Tide's plane on its arrival in Baton
Rouge and kissed Bryant when he disembarked. Bryant was pleased, but when LSU
won and McClendon told the press that his daughter had delivered "the kiss
of death," Mrs. Bryant wrote him to express her disapproval of the whole
was a big nationally televised affair, held in the midst of a state of
widespread uncertainty over which athletes and which universities were shaping
up as Heisman Trophy and national championship probables. It was just such an
occasion that doomed the Heisman chances of Purdue's Mike Phipps in 1969, when
he was intercepted five times on TV against Ohio State, and such a one that
tarnished the image of already selected Pat Sullivan last year when Davis and
Alabama ran Sullivan and Auburn off the field. This year it looked like an
ideal showcase for Bert Jones, who was coming off a heroic after-the-final-gun
game-winning pass against Mississippi. But up popped Davis again, running and
passing and hogging the spotlight.
As for the
national championship, Alabama will need help if Bryant is to win his fourth
title. The only other major undefeated teams are USC and Michigan, and there is
no way the Tide can get at either of them. Should a No. 1 USC meet a No. 3
Michigan in the Rose Bowl, the winner would undoubtedly be voted the title,
regardless of what No. 2 Alabama does wherever it goes. To the Cotton Bowl and
Texas, some people think, thereby avoiding Nebraska or Oklahoma and a tougher
game. Terry Davis gave credence to the thought when he said after the LSU game
that he personally would like to go somewhere other than the Orange Bowl to
"get a change of scenery."
As for Bryant, he
remained noncommittal. "The only time I think about the polls is when
someone asks me," he said. And as for whether or not he would like a chance
for revenge against Nebraska: "I would like to play Virginia Tech."
Alabama plays Virginia Tech this week. Can it be that Bryant is actually
worried about Tech? Somebody ought to write a ballad about that.