Fred Cone With Frank Howard Story
(Photo Uploaded By Alan Cutts)
Today’s picture is from 1948 and of Fred Cone joking around by dressing up as Santa Claus during a practice session in December of 1948 as the Tigers prepare for the Gator Bowl. Cone is standing inside of Memorial Stadium with the North Stands at his back.
Frank Howard spoke of Cone in his book, Howard The Legend. Below is an excerpt:
Our 1948 team was playing Missouri in the Gator Bowl game played January 1, 1949. They couldn't stop us and we couldn't stop them. I had a fellow working for me as an assistant coach named Russ Cohen. He told me after that game that we had a good team except for our pass defense. So I hired him to take over that phase of our defense. He called me 'Skipper' and I called him 'Pop'.
So we were playing in that Gator Bowl. We had Missouri 24-23 with two minutes to play. We had the ball on the 50-yard line. My tailback was calling the signals. In those days you couldn't send in plays. But you could signal a little bit if they didn't see you.
So he looked over at me, wondering if he should punt because it was fourth and four. But I gave him the 'go' sign. I figured Missouri could score from 80 yards as easy as from 50 the way they had been moving the ball. I thought our only chance was to make a first down and run out the clock.
Skipper asked me what I told him. I said, "Pop, I told him to run it." He said, "Oh, my God, I wish you'd have told him to punt." I said, "Pop, this next play is going to decide whether I'm a good coach or an SOB."
Old Fred Cone busted in there, got hit right at the line of scrimmage, but wiggled out of there and got six. The old man grabbed me around the neck and said, "Skipper, you're not an SOB today."
Then we kept the ball until the game was over. Cone really saved me my job.
Scott Rhymer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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