Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Alabama's Frank Thomas Educates the Media

Frank Thomas
Alabama's legendary coach Frank Thomas was famously reserved. Never saying much more than necessary and rarely ever raising his voice, he was still able to convey a sense of complete command.

"Hell yes I was was scared of him," admitted his one time player and assistant coach Paul W. Bryant many years later. 

But Thomas understood the need to build bridges with the press due to the high profile of the Crimson Tide program and he was downright accommodating to newspapermen who covered his team.

Stuart X. Stephenson, the sports editor with The Montgomery Advertiser for almost 40 years until his retirement in 1968, once noted, "If any sports scribe alive ever disliked Frank Thomas, I didn't hear it."

In his 1970 book, Quote... Unquote, Stephenson shared this anecdote of how Thomas labored to ensure the men who wrote about the Alabama team understood what they saw on the field during the season.
Tommy knew the value of good press relations and he always made the writing fraternity glad they visited the Capstone.
Several times during a knockdown, drag-out scrimmage he would saunter over to the side line and ask: "What did you think of that play?" With only a speck of knowledge of the technical phases of what had taken place, I'd make the admission.
Then he'd invite me to come on the field and stand behind the offensive team. "I want to show you this in slow motion." I learned then why so many prefer to sit in the end zones to watch the line play.
To be sure, big league football coaches didn't have time to run important plays in slow motion for sports writers. But Frank Thomas did on numerous occasions.