Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The 1930 Alabama Football Banquet

A telegram from Atlanta Georgian sports editor Jimmy Burns
to Alabama Coach Wallace Wade. 
Alabama's annual football banquet for the 1930 season was held  Dec. 2, at the McLester Hotel in Tuscaloosa with more than 250 people in attendance. The Tide team was on hand as well as members of numerous local high school football teams. Alabama varsity squad had gone undefeated through the regular season and, just days prior, had received an invitation to play Washington State in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day 1931.

"This team will go down as the greatest ever seen in the South," declared University of Alabama President George Denny at the banquet. "Greatest in exemplifying and illustrating the correct ideals of character, fine spirit, scholarship and devotion to duty in the daily walks under these old oak trees we love so well."

The event was bittersweet for Alabama fans as head coach Wallace Wade had announced his resignation prior to the season and his intention to accept the job as the head coach of Duke. Wade was presented a wristwatch from the the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Merchant's Bureau who sponsored the banquet.

William Little, the captain of Alabama's first football team spoke as did V.H. Friedman, a longtime supporter of the team. Incoming Alabama coach Frank Thomas sent a telegram with his praise for Wade and the 1930 team as did Jimmy Burns, the sports editor at the Atlanta Georgian. Burns covered southern sports for 17 years at the paper, decamping in the late 1930s for Florida where he became  the Miami Herald's sports editor for almost a quarter century. The text of his telegram is below.

Despite my inability at making speeches and my horror at having to try, I would like to be present at your banquet tonight and tell you how happy I am over the wonderful climax to your even more wonderful career as football coach at Alabama. 
I grieve with that school over your loss but rejoice with Duke in securing such a fine man and such an obviously talented coach to take care of its football. Duke is almost as close to Atlanta as Tuscaloosa and I want you to know that the Atlanta sports writers will always be glad to help you whenever and however it is possible. 
We have the deepest admiration for you, not only as a successful coach but as a fine upstanding man with whom it is a privileged for young men to associate. Your record this year and in previous seasons speaks for itself. The feat of sending a team undefeated through a long and arduous schedule reveals a job of coaching that is exceptionally well done. 
I am indebted to you and your splendid boys for giving me the biggest thrill of the football season; it was Alabama's smooth and decisively scored victory over Tennessee. I want you to know that football fans in this section are unanimous in hoping for an Alabama victory in the Rose Bowl and it is a tribute to you and your team that the boys over here are picking Alabama to win. 
If I were a poet, I'd put my admiration into real poetry but as I am not, I can only say; Roses are red, violets are blue, Knute Rockne's a great coach, and so are you. 
With best wishes to you in your game at Pasadena and with equally good wishes for success in your new venture at Duke, I remain sincerely and admiringly yours. 
Jimmy Burns, Georgian Sports Editor