Each season when football practice starts, coaches, former players and even fans are reminded of the game’s great traditions, legendary stories and colorful people of years past. If you really want to read something from days gone by, try the story of Bull Cyclone Sullivan. Sullivan, born in Aliceville, Alabama, was the head coach at East Mississippi Junior College in Scooba, Mississippi for 16 seasons beginning in 1950. He had many players from Alabama, including former coaches Lester Smith of Foley and Mack Wood of T.R. Miller and Elba.
On April 30th, 1984, the great Sports Illustrated writer Frank DeFord penned the longest feature article in the history of the magazine. It was entitled The Toughest Coach There Ever Was, and when it was published there left no doubt in the mind of football America that Bull Sullivan was the toughest coach ever.
DeFord’s story was one of his greatest works, and critics praised the story. It will bring you great nostalgia, constant laughter and even a tear or two. In Sullivan, DeFord captured the passion that true football coaches feel on a daily basis about their players, their teams, their families and the game itself. Sullivan was considered an offensive genius for the day, and once turned down a job as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Sadly, his tenure at his beloved East Mississippi Junior College ended with his firing and he died at age 50, some say of a broken heart.
A book was written about Sullivan in 2010, but the DeFord article can be read on line on the Sports Illustrated website. A copy of the SI magazine featuring Bull Sullivan will go for about fifty dollars on Ebay. If you are just a little tired of practice limitations and new tackling drills in shorts, take a few minutes and read about the great Bull Cyclone Sullivan.
Check out the two videos about Coach Sullivan. The SI link is below.