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Wilcox a crowd pleaser at UA Alumni meeting

austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com

Tommy Wilcox was on hand as the guest speaker Tuesday night for the Butler County Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association and the former All-American didn't disappoint.

Wilcox, who was named SEC Freshman of the Year in 1979, played under the legendary Paul &#8220Bear” Bryant,” was a two-time All-American and a three-time All-SEC member.

&#8220I love going around speaking about the University of Alabama because the university has made a huge impact on my life,” Wilcox said. &#8220That's why I go around and speak because I feel like the University of Alabama has given me something you can't buy.”

During the meeting, Wilcox shared some of his favorite memories from playing at Alabama like the 1979 Tennessee game at Knoxville when the Tide was ranked No. 1 Down 17-0 at the half, Wilcox said the team headed to the locker room in fear of what Bryant was going to say, only to be surprised at the coach's reaction.

&#8220Not only were we scared, but the (assistant) coaches were scared,” Wilcox said to an eruption of laughter. &#8220It seems like it took him forever to come inŠ but when Bryant came in, he was whistling.”

&#8220I really thought the old man had lost it,” Wilcox said to laughter.

Bryant told the team he was &#8220tickled to death” they were behind and added, &#8220We all get a chance to see how good you are now.”

Wilcox said Bryant calmly assured the team they would play good defense, get the ball back, score, and repeat that two more times.

&#8220There was no yelling, no screaming, but he just challenged us in a round-a-bout way,” Wilcox said.

Another story Wilcox shared that he cherishes is when Bryant angrily scheduled practice on Sunday following the Tide's victory over Southern Miss in 1978. Bryant scheduled the unusual Sunday practice and early Saturday curfew following what he felt was a sloppy loss.

Wilcox said the following day, at 6 a.m., the team showed up and Bryant told everyone who was a Christian and/or went to church that they could leave as long as they went to church.

&#8220That day, Billy Graham couldn't have done any better,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox also spoke about the upcoming 2006 Alabama football season in an optimistic tone.

After speaking with head coach Mike Shula being around the team during the off season, Wilcox said he expects the Tide to compete offensively, barring limited injuries, because they will have plenty of talent. Wilcox added the lack of experience could be the Tide's weak point.

On the defensive side of the ball, Wilcox seemed more optimistic than on the offensive side of the ball.

&#8220I'm not worried about defense because coach Kines will find some players to play,” Wilcox said.

One of those players he feels should not be playing is Juwan Simpson, who was arrest and charged earlier in the summer with possession of marijuana, possession of stolen property and possession of an unregistered firearm.

&#8220(Simpson) ought to be gone,” Wilcox said. &#8220The bottom line is you break rules, you're gone.”

Wilcox also spoke about his outdoors show, Tommy Wilcox Outdoors, which will enter its fourth season this September on Fox Sports Net.

In other business covered during the meeting, the UA National Alumni Association President, Bill Barr, spoke to the local chapter about things happening at the university and about the importance of joining the national chapter.

&#8220We're doing good, but we can do better,” Barr said. &#8220And that starts with you.”

Barr cited many improvements being made on campus, including the stadium expansion and new dorms being built.

&#8220We have started an atmosphere with Dr. Witt that is going to last a lifetime,” Barr said.

Mark Roberts, the UA National Alumni Association Chapter Development Coordinator, said it was fun getting together and reminiscing about football, but the main reason of the alumni meetings is not about football.

&#8220Sure it's fun to get together, watch football and talk sports, but the real reason we are here is to send the best and brightest to the university,” Roberts said.

One of those students, Jacob Hartin, was presented a university scholarship during the meeting. Hartin was the 2006 Valedictorian at Georgiana High School.

As the university expands and focuses on getting the best students from all over the nation, Wilcox pointed out one of his favorite Bryant sayings that if the university follows, it will lead to guaranteed success.

&#8220It's not about me, it's about we,” Wilcox said quoting Bryant.