|The Toughest Coach There Ever Was by Frank Deford|
Page 8 of 20
Staying alone back in Aliceville paid off for Bull Cyclone. He captained the football team in '37 and was its biggest and best player, a barreling fullback in the old short punt formation. On defense he was a linebacker. His play gained him passage to Union University up in Jackson, Tenn. By then Bull Cyclone had married a hometown girl named Thelma. The marriage didn't work, except for the three children it produced. One of the two sons was named Vic. Later on, when Bull Cyclone married Virginia, they named their only son Vic, too. The two half-brothers are known as Big Vic and Little Vic. Few people knew that the father's middle name was Victor, and if you ask anyone why Bull Cyclone gave two sons the same name, he'll say, "Corch always wanted to have a victory around." That isn't as farfetched as it seems; he and Virginia named their third daughter Gael because he wanted to have a Little Cyclone.
In 1942 Union was a football powerhouse, going undefeated and outscoring the opposition 211-75 behind a fabled back known as Casey Jones. Sullivan, big No. 41, was settled at center by then and was good enough to get an offer from the Detroit Lions. But he joined the Marines instead.
Bull Cyclone probably decided to be a coach while in the service. Certainly, his experience at Parris Island, where he became a DI, relates to Scooba. "The recruits hated you so much it was hard to take," he once told Virginia. "But by the end of the training cycle they had come to love you. They'd even buy you a little something, and then they'd leave, and the awful part of it was, there was a whole new group in there the next day, hating you all over again."
The members of that great '42 Union team had vowed to come back and finish school together. But when Bull Cyclone returned late in '45, shrapnel in his right leg, blinking nervously from all the gunfire, jumping at unexpected noises, he discovered that the Union administration had eliminated football. For one of the few times in his life he was bitter. In the college paper he wrote this in his sports-page column, which was entitled by Sullivan on Sports: "Then the matter of a war came along and the boys left the football field for the battle field only [to] return and find what they fought for [had been] taken from them by people who slept between clean sheets while the boys made themselves cozy in a muddy foxhole."
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 March 2008 )|
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