The Gulf Coast Athletic Club opened its August 29, 2022 meeting in some familiar surroundings, the newly renovated Clubhouse at Craft Farms in Gulf Shores. Damage from Hurricane Sally in 2020 caused the GCAC to seek temporary quarters at Woodside Restaurant in Gulf Shores and Woodside Restaurant is to be commended for its excellent performance for the Club.
President George Autrey welcomed the crowd of 55 members and guests at 7:00pm. Guests and new members were introduced around the room after opening comments.
Our scheduled Speaker, Gulf Shores High School Coach Mark Hudspeth, had some JV games cancelled last week due to the intense rain, 63 straight days of rain, according to Mayor Craft, and the games were rescheduled for tonight. The Club was fortunate to get former USA Head Coach Joey Jones. Coach Jones graduated from Murphy HS in Mobile and played at Alabama from 1979-83 for Coach Bryant.
After a pro career with the Birmingham Stallions and the Atlanta Falcons and a highly successful high school coaching career, Joey became the first Head Coach at Birmingham Southern College in 2007, then accepted the first ever Head Coach position at the University of South Alabama in 2008, retiring in 2017.
Our own UA Great, Dr. Gaylon McCollough, introduced Joey and commented that both he and Joey had written books about Coach Bryant. Joey’s “In Good Hands” commented that Coach Bryant always said that “Bigness is in the heart”. Gaylon said Joey was one incredible receiver, one of the last “laid out” receivers, no overthrows with Joey on the receiving end. He is on the UA 1980s All Decade Team.
Rather than talk about experiences in his life that he’s talked about in prior GCAC appearances, Coach Jones made some comments and then opened up the floor for an excellent discussion on the current state of College Football. Discussions on the Name, Image, & Likeness, that he says has changed college sports forever, the Transfer Portal, and other subjects made for an entertaining and thought-provoking evening. Coach noted there are 460,000 college student-athletes and the NCAA is a $18.9 Billion business.
NIL has less restrictions than the NFL and college athletes can be paid much more as there is no salary cap or other hindrances. Pros included: 1) Reduces family financial obligations for the student-athlete, although players already get a COA “Cost of Attendance” of up to $15,000 per year; 2) smaller sports, like women’s softball, can get more money and can flourish through social media, and; 3) players can “brand’ themselves coming out of college.
Cons include: 1) It’s all about MONEY, no limits, and colleges/boosters have various ways to sweeten the pot; 2) Certainly can cause division on the team between the ‘Haves’ and Have nots’, and; 3) It is pay to play and the Rich will get richer. He did note that in 2009, players were concerned who was the Head Coach, where, less than 10 years later, the emphasis had shifted to who has the better facilities.
He said the fabric for football has changed. High School Coaches can still mold players and that may be a reason College and Pro coaches are coming back to the High School level so they can influence young men. Joey said Coach Bryant taught “oneness” and toughness, qualities that stuck with him. He said today’s coaches now have to coddle more than coach. One hurt feeling or cross word can send a player to the Transfer Portal. The Portal has helped smaller schools, but not so good for the larger schools.
Dr. McCollough commented that amateur sports, as we knew them, are now gone. High school kids are getting agents and deals, the NCAA is losing power, and the College Football Playoffs will control all.
President George Autrey announced 40 members have paid and more signed up tonight. The golf tournament will be held on November 18th and it’s our major fundraiser for scholarship money and GSHS athletic donations. He said that, even in our past three ‘Covid’ years, we have contributed more than $40,000 in donations and male and female student-athlete scholarships.
The Prolific Pigskin Prognosticator contest, commonly known as the Office Football Poll, is back and open to members and non-members at only $25.00 for the year. 12 games against the odds seems easy – you need to try it!
The Dolphin Report has Football starting the year coming off a great 6-4 year in 2021. GSHS now stands at 2-0 with a season-opening win over St. Michael’s and a blitz of Citronelle. Next is a very good Faith Academy team.
Team reports were adroitly handled by the always amusing Dec McClelland. In a surprising move, a rare first meeting Crying Towel was handed out to Jim Walker, our Nebraska diehard, who was “dubly” honored for the Huskers’ opening 31-28 loss in some foreign country more noted for beer than their football.
The first 50/50 pot was awarded to the Birthday Boy, Taylor Means, age not disclosed.
The meeting adjourned at 8:15pm.
Submitted by Bill Tunnell, GCAC Secretary