51 years ago today, there was a revolution in SEC football. But the man who changed the league forever never played a down for an SEC team; instead, his dominating performance against a perennial southern football powerhouse emphasized that times had changed, and the league..
had to change or face football irrelevance. The man who triggered that revolution was Sam “Bam” Cunningham, fullback for the USC Trojans. On that muggy evening in Birmingham, Cunningham—one of three black players in the Southern Cal backfield—ran over, around and through…
Bear Bryant’s all-white Alabama squad. Cunningham rushed for 135 yards and two TDs on only 12 carries. The lesson, for Bryant and the Bama fan base, was clear: the Crimson Tide had to recruit more African-American players to compete in the changing landscape of college…
football. One year later, Alabama had two black players, star running back Wilbur Jackson and DE John Mitchell, on a team that went 11-1. Ironically, Wilbur was already part of the Alabama program in 1970,
but freshmen were not allowed to play in varsity games. Bryant often..
confided to his good friend Eddie Robinson (Grambling’s legendary head coach) that Sam Cunningham did more to integrate the Bama football program than anyone else, himself included. The following year, Bama upset USC in LA, utilizing a wishbone offense that had been secretly..
installed over the summer. Sam Cunningham went on to a long and successful career in the NFL and was a landscape contractor after retiring from the league: google.com/amp/s/www.lati…

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