Talkin’ football, Al Richard, Corey Fountain, talkin’ football, Charles Waddell was a mountain, Spangler, Smith and Plowden, we knew ’em all from Ekom Beach to Lanford, whether Raider, Devil or Crusader, the Blue Hose represent our equator.*
*A silly, imprecise attempt to mimic “Talkin’ Baseball,” the 1981 Terry Cashman hit.
Football season is over for now. Presbyterian College is likely to play a few games in the early spring. Laurens Academy played a full season and advanced two rounds into the SCISA playoffs. Laurens and Clinton played six games. The pandemic still grips the country but the games go on, if sporadically. The Laurens County Touchdown Club goes on, too, and Thursday’s noon meeting at The Ridge gave representatives of Presbyterian College, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina a chance to regale the audience with the glorious tales of yore.
Keith Richardson came to see one of his Clinton High products, Al Richard, represent the Tigers. It is remarkable how reverent ex-Red Devils are in regard to “The Intangibles,” which were, strictly speaking, the collection of slogans stenciled and painted on the locker-room walls. Judging from the reverence of the onetime players, they ought to be chiseled in stone.
Now a Chick-Fil-A franchisee in Atlanta, Richard’s favorite was “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” He also quoted Scripture and a Bahamian evangelist, Dr. Myles Munroe. He was prepared. He attached importance to coming back home to talk about what playing for Richardson, Danny Ford and Ken Hatfield meant to him.
Richard said the richest place on earth is the cemetery, where people have left their unfulfilled dreams and potential.
“Do not look back on life with regret,” he said.
Charles Waddell, who is deputy athletics director at USC, played college football at North Carolina and for three teams in the NFL.
“Football is under attack for safety reasons,” he conceded, “but the game is a lot safer now than when I played. Still, it is a physical and violent game. Players have grown bigger and stronger.”
But, he said, football is “the best team sport.
“Eleven players are out there on that field, and they all have to be in synch. Other sports require coordination but not like that.”
Waddell knows of which he speaks. He lettered in three sports while at Chapel Hill.
Richard and Waddell were giants. Spangler, the PC head coach who lives life with his nose to a private grindstone, spent a fair amount of his time rendering a modest, self-deprecating view of his career at Georgia, where he worked his way to a scholarship and played on a national championship team.
He spoke movingly about his last scholarship class of PC recruits and the seven who have stayed even though the football program has suffered through gradual depletion on the way to membership in a far-flung conference of NCAA Division I schools that do not award football scholarships. He described how that class enrolled amid widespread rumors that gradually became reality.
“Can you imagine what they were thinking?” he asked. “These guys stayed.”
Waddell also addressed the current talk of the state’s sports fans. South Carolina fired head coach Will Muschamp in season, replacing him on an interim basis with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
Muschamp, Waddell said, “did everything we were supposed to do, but we didn’t win enough. … If you don’t produce, you’re not going to stay.”
Such is the case in sports and other competitive endeavors.