I was feeling maudlin today about 9/11. The seventh anniversary of the tragedy no doubt is striking everyone different.
I remember that day I was jogging, listening to Don Imus on my headphones. The I-Man got word that a "small plane" had crashed into the World Trade Center. From then on, everyone's life changed. My mind was swirling so much I immediately went into work mode, checking to see if conferences would cancel games.
Sadly, the SEC was the last conference to cancel its schedule. Then-commissioner Roy Kramer finally put out a verbose statement on honoring the dead, etc. That was on a Thursday less than 48 hours before games were supposed to kick. I clearly remember calling the Gainesville, Fla. hotel where Tennessee was going to play that week. A ballroom had been set up for a meal. Disgusting, I thought.
Nine days later we started playing football again. Nebraska and Mississippi State hosted games, kicking off almost simultaneously in the first games played since 9/11. I remember going into David Wade Stadium in Starksville having my bag searched for the first time. Guards were everywhere with loaded weapons. That was the mood of the day.
A couple of days later, I covered the Alabama-Birmingham-Army game for obvious reasons. The Black Knights were clearly distracted, knowing that a lot of them were about to head into battle. UAB won 55-3. But what I remember most was the class and heart Army had that day. Army's Dave McCracken was a Ranger about head off to war. Current defensive line coach Clarence Holmes was a player on that team.
Coach Todd Berry was fired a few years later but he will always be one of my favorites for his courage and leadership in those frightening days.