|The Toughest Coach There Ever Was by Frank Deford|
Page 6 of 20
In the locker room, Bull Cyclone told them not to utter a sound until right before the kickoff, whereupon they were to "go crazy." Pearl River, already discombobulated by the late arrival, was put off even more by these antics, and the home team left the field at halftime down 3-0. Unfortunately, Bull Cyclone didn't have any more psychological tricks up his sleeve, and Pearl River won something like 42-3. Edwards, who was a sophomore, remembers saying to Bull Cyclone afterward, "Well, that kinda backfired."
"Oh, we got a half out of 'em," said Bull Cyclone, with equanimity. He never had any difficulty accepting defeat-or even losing seasons-as long as he thought he was outmanned and everybody had done his best.
Most of Bull Cyclone's players still maintain that the public never really saw him at his best-at halftime. Even with one-on-ones awaiting them, Scooba players were wont to say, "It's safer on the field than in the locker room." As Poole remembers, chuckling, the players would "draw up" during halftime. Among other things, Bull Cyclone threw a lot of objects, from salt tablets up to and including a huge axle-grease drum. To give the devil his due, Sullivan thought the drum was empty. It wasn't. It had been used as a trash container, and when he flung it at a post, the top flew off and the garbage poured over the poor lad who had chosen to sit against the post. Petrified, the player never budged, just letting the trash spill on him and his star jersey, while the coach raved on. Other times, Bull Cyclone destroyed a chair by smashing it against a table, kicked any number of things, drove his fist clear through a blackboard and, to use the singular Mississippi expression, "forearmed" a variety of stationary objects.
But halftimes weren't just pyrotechnic displays. Indeed, to add to the air of uncertainty, Sullivan would always leave his boys alone at first, letting them unwind with Cokes and Hershey bars. Because he favored wing-tip brogues that always seemed to squeak, everyone could hear him approaching. The first game Bradberry played for Scooba, Bull Cyclone came in and squatted on the floor in front of the quarterback. Bull didn't say a word until it was time to go back onto the field. Then, staring straight through poor Bradberry, he snarled, "Come on, young lady," and got up and departed. The performance so unnerved some of the veteran sophomores that a couple of them threw Bradberry against a wall and advised him he damn well better not screw up and get the coach down on the whole team. Terrified, Bradberry brought Scooba home 29-3.
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 March 2008 )|
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