Harmony between Blue Devils and Raiders is the point of the Pre--Muck Bowl Banquet, at which players from both teams are required to break bread together. That tradition was the brainchild of Effie Grear, who recalls that, by 1984, hostility between the teams "had gotten to the point where you were almost ashamed to see what would happen after the game." While there were pockets of fraternization in the Glades Central gym on this night, a chilly détente held sway at most tables.
It was Hester who galvanized the room by acknowledging the elephant in it. Although a half-dozen speakers had preceded him, Hester was the one to broach the subject of Nu'Keese Richardson, the Tennessee freshman who'd been arrested in Knoxville on suspicion of armed robbery early that morning. (He was dismissed from the team by Kiffin but has not yet been charged in the case.) Rivalry or not, the news had gutted people in both towns.
Departing from his prepared remarks, Hester practically begged the young men before him to use their heads. "Do not blow it," he pleaded. "Take pride in who you are and where you're from."
What he said next did more to knit these teams together than all the stilted small talk over dinner. In a statement both arrogant and inclusive, he confided that every time the rival Blue Devils take the field—with the exception of one game—"I want to see them win. Because nobody deserves to beat Pahokee, or Glades Central, but us."