Wednesday, October 14, 2015 – And Then There Was Coach Stallings – Part Two of The Alabama-Aggie Connection
Paul “Bear” Bryant was not the only Texas A&M football coach who won the war of player attrition and changed the way people think and work. The Aggie Football team had 132 players when 30 year old, first year head coach Gene Stallings arrived in College Station in December 1964. When the Aggies opened the season against the University of Houston in October there were 57 players listed in the program.
The members of Stallings’ first team celebrated their 50th year reunion the weekend of October 11 2015.
Like Bear Bryant, Stallings was called in to change the football attitude at Texas A&M. Like Bear Bryant he believed in hard work and physical demands. Stallings was a Junction Boy and was an assistant to The Bear in Alabama and now he was coming home to his alma mater to be the head coach.
Stallings had the players take a physical education class for those wanting to be coaches. He taught it. As player Jim Singleton said “Junction was two weeks. But we had to put up with him for a whole semester.”
Stallings converted four rooms on the second floor of G. Rolle White into workout rooms for the spring training and drills. In the fencing room (there was a fencing room?) players ran in place for 15 minutes. In the wrestling room there would be 15 minutes of drills. In the third station, the players head butted each other. In the fourth room they “rested” while they lifted weights.
In 1965 the Aggies went 3-7. In 1967 Stallings and The Fighting Texas Aggies won the Southwest Conference. The Aggies won The Cotton Bowl in 1968 beating Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide of Alabama.
The Cotton Bowl would be Stallings’ only bowl victory as head coach at Texas A&M. After a stint in the NFL, he would take over the head coaching position at Alabama from Bear Bryant in 1990 and win the National Championship in 1992.
While there are those who know Coach Stallings for his football greatness, it is his greatness off the field that also makes a difference. His only son, John Mark Stallings was born with Down syndrome. John Mark, also known as “Johnny” died on August 2, 2008 due to a congenital heart condition. Two facilities at the University of Alabama are named for the younger Stallings. The Stallings Center that serves as home to the RISE Center for young children with disabilities was built in 1994. The equipment room in the University of Alabama football building was built and dedicated to Johnny Stallings in 2005.
Gene Stallings – A great man on all fields of play. http://coachgenestallings.com/
Oh – one more thing – BTHO ALABAMA!
Material taken from The Bryan Eagle, Sunday, October 11, 2015