Eighty-one-year-old former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings stopped by the Birmingham, Alabama-based, nationally syndicated Rick and Bubba Show this week, opening up an opportunity for the hosts to ask him whether certain “legendary stories” about his time in Tuscaloosa are actually true. Stallings did not disappoint.
After winning the 1992 National Championship, Coach Stallings and the Crimson Tide went to Washington, D.C., to meet the President of the United States, as is the annual tradition. Bill Clinton was occupying the White House, but when the time came for the team to meet the president, he was nowhere to be found.
“He was late for everything,” Stallings quipped. “So a Secret Service man came over to me and said, ‘Now, the president is awfully busy. He’s meeting some ambassador or something. I said, ‘Well, you tell the president he’s got ten minutes to come out here and if he’s not out here in ten minutes, I’m taking this football team back to Alabama.’ He said, ‘Are your serious?’ I said, ‘Well, I am, but now you’ve just got nine minutes.’ We had a plane to catch and couldn’t wait on him all day; we’d waited for him out there about thirty minutes. And in about five minutes, here he came. He was very gracious.”
On another occasion, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell visited Tuscaloosa and wanted to meet the Alabama football team with the press in tow.
“They told me, ‘The General wants the news media to cover it.,'” Stallings recalled. “I said, ‘No, there’s not going to be any news media. I want him to talk to the players. Now, he’s in charge when he’s in that helicopter and gets out. But he gets in this building and I’m in charge. I’ll tell him where to sit and what to do.’ And so anyway, we had a good relationship and he visited with the players and signed every autograph for these players, so he was very gracious.”
Check out the video above for more legendary Gene Stallings stories.