'Against the Tide,' Showtime doc on 1970 USC-'Bama, premieres Fri.

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

"I want black players … but they won't let me get them," former Alabama State Senator Fred Horn remembers none other than Bear Bryant telling African-American high school coaches in the days before the Crimson Tide integrated. "But anytime you have those good ballplayers call up the old Bear. I want them and one day I'm going to get them," Bryant said.

That quote, part of the above trailer video, is one of several insightful recollections in the Showtime Sports full-length documentary "Against the Tide," which premieres on Showtime Friday night at 10 p.m. ET. The film's subject is the famous -- and famously controversial -- 1970 meeting between USC and Bryant's Alabama, and its purported role in the Tide's integration. "Against the Tide" also puts the game within the context of Bryant's larger-than-life persona, the Tide's towering 1960s success, and the turmoil within the team's home state during the Civil Rights Movement.

“Over time, stories like this tend to become over-simplified. You tend to lose the complexities and the subtleties," Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza said. "This game didn't integrate Alabama football, as [executive producer] Ross [Greenburg] clearly points out. There were already steps in place, but over time those maybe outside the state of Alabama looked at this game and said, ‘that's the game that made Alabama football become integrated.'

"Even though you're telling a story of decades, it's a very personal story. Hearing [former Tide quarterback] Scott Hunter and [Civil Rights acitivst] Percy Jones talk candidly and tell a very personal story, or hearing Jimmy Jones talk about players taking weapons to the game – it puts you in the moment in a very real way. That gets lost over time if the story is not retold.”

 
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