Bull Cyclone had
some kind of temper. Because he was a man of his word, remarks he made while in
a rage were not disregarded. He often drove the team bus, a rattly, broken-down
vehicle that was known as Night Train because it seemed to function better
after the sun went down. After one defeat, Bull Cyclone climbed behind the
wheel and announced that he was so mad he was going to run the bus off the road
and kill the whole team. Box, who was aboard, says, "I don't know how many
of us believed him—most of us believed everything he ever said—but the manager
sure did, because he started crying, 'Well, let me off first, Corch, because
I'm just the manager, and I didn't have a thing to do with us losing this
tempestuous hijinks didn't go unnoticed. People would come out just to watch
him carry on, throw his coat down, stomp on his hat. One time at Holmes the
crowd got so abusive that Bull Cyclone called time and had his players pick up
their benches and march to the other side of the field. Robert McGraw, now an
assistant at Ole Miss, recalls seeing Bull Cyclone storm onto the field because
a wide receiver had run the wrong route. He picked up the player by his jersey
and sort of flung him aside. The boy scurried to the bench and hid under it,
quaking, while the coach stormed back, the fans all the while chanting,
"Give 'em hell, Bull!"
At his maddest,
he could really kick a ball. Langston Rogers, who served as Bull Cyclone's
aide-de-camp and is now the sports information director at Ole Miss, swears
that on one occasion when the coach got mad at the officials, he blustered onto
the field between plays, right up to the line of scrimmage, and booted the ball
30 yards, soccer style, dead through the uprights. Another time he went out and
kicked the game ball into the stands. As a result the Mississippi Junior
College Association required him to spend the whole next game in a chair on the
sideline. Stumpy Harbour was infuriated. He acted as if Bull Cyclone had
embarrassed him in front of the other presidents. None of them had a football
coach kicking game balls into the stands, did they?
A lot of people
thought Bull Cyclone would never be able to sit still in the chair the entire
game, so there was no telling what Stumpy would do. But, wouldn't you know it,
Bull Cyclone stayed put, barely even rising from his seat. That might have made
Stumpy even madder. Bull Cyclone could control himself when he had to. Why, to
this day, you'd have a hard time finding a lady in Kemper County who ever heard
coach Bob (Bull) (Cyclone) Sullivan utter a curse word.
For that matter,
although he constantly fought with officials, he never argued just to dispute a
call. Bull Cyclone only let the officials have it when he thought they had
misinterpreted a rule. "You stink, Billbo!" he screamed when Billbo
Mitchell made a call that Sullivan didn't agree with. Mitchell stepped off 15
before saying, "Can you still smell me, Bull?" Bull Cyclone was a
stickler about the rules. He knew the book so well and cared so passionately
for it that General Neyland, the revered Tennessee coach, eventually got Bull
Cyclone from Scooba appointed to the NCAA rules committee, even though his
unknown little school wasn't even a member of that august national body.
This isn't to say
that Bull Cyclone was above taking the rules as far as they could go. At least
one time, in the rain, he taped thumbtacks to his quarterbacks' fingers so they
could get a better grip on the ball. That worked just fine until the tacks
started scratching up the pigskin better than a Don Sutton belt buckle. Another
time, Bull Cyclone got to thinking about how his linemen pulled out to block.
He was using the split T then, and most of the plays came off the quarterback
rolling right. So Coach thought, "Well now, if my guard and tackle are
going to pull on just about every play and everybody figures this, I might as
well get them headed in the right direction to start with." So he had them
come up to the line of scrimmage and take their three-point stances facing the
other way, with their rear ends staring the opposing linemen in the face.
And on a most
memorable occasion, just as Scooba was about to score against Southwest, the
officials called a holding penalty, citing the number of a player who wasn't in
the game. Enraged by this breach, Bull Cyclone ran onto the field to get his
point across better. That's an automatic 15 on top of the 15 for holding.
First-and-40. Potter, the referee, said, "You gotta go back, Corch,"
but Bull Cyclone kept on coming. Another 15. First-and-55. "C'mon,
Bull," Potter pleaded. He liked him. "Go on back, or I gotta give you
"I don't give
a damn!" Bull Cyclone thundered. "You're wrong!" Potter stepped off
15 more. First-and-70. Then, as soon as Potter placed the ball down once again,
Bull Cyclone went into his patented kicking phase. He booted the bejesus out of
the ball. By the time they retrieved it, it was first-and-85.
Because they had
nearly run out of acreage and he had made his point, Bull Cyclone returned to
the sideline, pausing only to tell his quarterback to call a Z-out, Z-in. This
was one play, mind you. Southwest was still laughing and, needless to say,
wasn't looking for Bull Cyclone to try to get the whole 85 back on one play.
But he was. Z-out, Z-in, TD.
did it," Poole says.