On this day in sports history

BY COLIN “BIG C” MACGUIRE

The Greenville Standard

 

This is the start of a series of the first of five coaches who won national championships at Alabama.

We begin with Wallace Wade. Coach Wade was born on June 15, 1892 in Trenton Tenn.. He played high school football at Peabody High School in Trenton. He also attended Morgan Park Academy in Chicago.

From there, he entered Brown University and played from 1914-16 at the guard position. Coach Wade and the Brown team played in the 1916 Rose Bowl. Brown lost to Washington State, 14-0.

Coach Wade served in the army during World War I. Coach Wade was hired as Head Coach at Fitzgerald-Clark Military School in Tullahoma Tenn. Wade’s teams were 15-2 the two seasons, he was there.

One season, they won the 1920 state-prep school championship. In 1921, Coach Wade moved to Vanderbilt as an assistant football coach. Wade was the head coach for the Vanderbilt basketball and baseball teams. There’s no way you could do that today.

The two years Wade coached, the Vanderbilt baseball were co-champions of the SIAA. The football teams had a tie and won the rest of the games each season. After the 1922 season, Coach Wade had two programs wanting him as the head coach, Alabama and Kentucky.

The Wildcats was the first team to interview. The interview never materialized. Coach Wade waited and waited. It was 10 p.m. at night. He told the Kentucky people he was out of there.  He then interviewed with Alabama and was hired.

In 1923, Alabama’s record was 7-2-1. In 1924, they were 8-1. In 1925, they went 10-0 and were National Champions, Rose Bowl Champions and Southern Conference Champions. Alabama beat Washington 20-19. The win opened the door for southern football.

In 1926, Alabama’s record was 9-0-1 and they were name National Champions and tied Stanford 7-7. Then a little dip happened to Alabama. They went 5-4-1 in 1927. In 1928 and 1929, the records were equal at 6-3.

The fans got very critical. It got to the point where Coach Wade submitted his resignation with the caveat, he would coach the 1930 team. That team finished the season at 10-0 and beat Washington State 24-0. They had won their third national championship in six seasons.

Coach Wade moved on to Duke and had a very good record. He did not win any national championships at Duke.

In 1972, Alabama’s season opener was against Duke in Birmingham. Coach Wade and his wife attended the game. In 1975, Alabama faced Washington in Tuscaloosa. There was a reunion of the two Rose Bowl teams and Coach Wade attended.

His players that attended the reunion, now in their 70s were still scared of him. Coach Wade passed away on October 7, 1986 in Durham North Carolina. He was 94 years old.

Next week second in the series of five. The second coach at Alabama to win a national championship.

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