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Gene Stallings was great at Little Rock Touchdown Club jh13b

Gene Stallings was one of the best speakers ever at the Little Rock Touchdown Club when he spoke on September 6, 2011. Here is an article on it from Harry King:

Stallings worth hearing

Posted on 07 September 2011

By Harry King

LITTLE ROCK — The preconceived notion that Gene Stallings had to provide the lowdown on Texas A&M athletics to be newsworthy was erroneous.

The 76-year-old former coach of A&M and Alabama offered a personal view on the Aggies’ departure from the Big 12, but that was only a tiny bit of his talk to the Little Rock Touchdown Club. He was poignant, funny and philosophical.

Those in the audience swallowed hard, laughed out loud and nodded in agreement.

He talked about the monitor in his room alerting him to problems with his Down syndrome son on the night of Aug. 2, 2008, and how he checked with John Mark who told him, “I fine.” The 46-year-old died the next day.

His son couldn’t count to 10, but the equipment room at the Alabama athletic facility is one of many things named after him, Stallings said.

During the years that Stallings was an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys, the coaches brought their children to practice on Saturday. He wanted John Mark to meet head coach Tom Landry and they rehearsed the introduction time and again. John Mark had the “Glad to meet you Coach Landry,” down perfect, his dad said.

Face to face, Stallings introduced Landry to his son and John Mark to the head coach. “Hi Tom,” John Mark said.

Coach Gene Stallings
and his son Johnny
(Photos courtesy of Paul W. Bryant

One of the “Junction Boys,” the moniker hung on the less than three dozen survivors of Paul “Bear’ Bryant’s first training camp after he was hired as A&M coach in 1954, Stallings conveyed the intimidation and presence of Bryant with a variety of true-sounding tales. Like the Monday the Aggies practiced on Kyle Field in game uniforms after a 41-9 loss.

More than anything, Stallings said, Bryant knew how to handle people. He recalled how he was going to take a job as defensive coordinator at Kentucky, but caved after Bryant took him for a ride.

Stallings also talked about how he believes work ethic and respect have declined. He has four daughters, he said, and he made sure that any suitor knew how to work.

“You can always build a fence when you don’t need one,” he said, adding that the chore helped him cull the young men.

His daughters are married to a Ph.D., an MD, an attorney and a house builder, he said.

“One thing they have in common, they can all build a fence,” he said.

Stallings also said he always asked those who came courting if they played sports. He didn’t care what game; he just wanted to know they had competed.

“I don’t subscribe to the theory, ‘We just weren’t ready to play,’” he said.

A competitor is always ready to compete, Stallings said.

A traditionalist, he still believes in running the football and stopping the run; that a 13-0 team will win the national championship and there is no need to run up the score; and that many teams schedule “preseason” games just to be bowl eligible.

“A bowl trip should be a reward for a good year,” he said. “Six-six ain’t no good year.”

No longer on the A&M Board of Regents, Stallings said he didn’t think the Aggies had anything in common with the Pac-10 when the subject came up a year ago. If he was still on the board, Stallings said, he would push for membership in the Southeastern Conference. So far, A&M has not received an invite, he said.