Hell Hole

Bulldog Coggins 

There was a knock on my door, front door, When I opened the door, there was this huge man standing there. And he looked at me said, Are you Bulldog? I said yes. And he said, You wanna play football? I said yes. And he said, we’ll get your gear. I said, Well, who are you? He said, I’m coach Sullivan, from Scuba.

 

Randall Bradberry 

in a lot of places, Mississippi everybody wants to go to  (0:21) Mr. Mississippi State. I grew up thinking that, that if I could just get to Scuba.

 

Johnny Baker 

I didn’t know if I was tough enough to play and then down in Scuba. I mean, it was, when we were watching it, and you heard all the things about Coach Sullivan. You didn’t know whether you handled all the things that went into play. And down there,

 

Bubba Davis 

we’d look down the hall. And there was and God had a big, white cowboy hat on red windbreaker and khaki pants, stuffed down in some green hunting boots. Who in the world is that? and they say that’s Coach Sullivan, down in scuba. I remember slaying. I don’t get how everyone played for him.

 

Colbert Jones 

I was a lifeguard at the swimming pool and a car comes driving up, It’s my dad and Coach Sullivan. And I’m not understanding what’s happening. And Coach Sullivan comes over to me and introduces himself and

 

Robert Morgan 

he said I’ve come to see about getting you to come play football at Scuba.

 

Colbert Jones 

When do I want to start? He said this afternoon.

 

Robert Morgan 

Before I could say his name. But I said, “Yeah, when you want it coach”,

 

Bobby Morgan 

I noticed that my car was, my dad’s car was packed with all my clothes. And so I walked in the house. And I asked him what was going on? He said, “Well”, he said, “you’re going to scuba?” And I said, “Well, I don’t want to go to Scuba”.

 

Jimmy Kibe 

I was frightened of what was going to happen. You know if if I went down there, you know, you’d heard about the stories on the field and off the field and all of it.

 

Colbert Jones 

And he said well, he said Coach Sullivan been up here all day Saturday. And we decided that the best thing for you to do is go to scuba.

 

Rick Farr 

And I go home and tell my mother and dad and my dad was just Oh, he was as excited as I was. And my mother cried for about a month because she knew about coach’s reputation and

 

Lance Eiland 

Coach Sullivan, of course when you first see him, large person, very large, really an intimidating figure to look at him.

 

Bill Pearson 

He was a big guy he was he was absolutely one of the most awesome guys I’ve ever met with at that point in my life.

 

Charlie Temkovits 

He was he was so much bigger and towering over all the players. At that time. We the biggest players we had was 6’1 or two or three that way to 20 to 30 and Coach Sullivan was so much bigger than them

 

Ernest Moore 

he never he couldn’t look at him in the eye. You had to look up to him. He was that tall and I don’t care, everybody. He was that big a man. He really was much of a man.

 

Charles McComb 

I’ll be honest, we I’ve only been afraid of a couple of people in my life and had my daddy in them. I’m scared to death at it.

 

Rick Farr 

breath voices don’t real deep, you know, and I don’t take no crap from nobody and you didn’t. he didn’t. You know, he intimidated.

 

Colbert Jones 

My first moment I met him I was afraid of him.

 

Lance Eiland 

Boom. Of course, he just walked around, you know, he just walked away walk just didn’t walk light.

 

Louie Spinks 

He had a presence about him that that. Especially there on campus, at East Mississippi, he had a presence about him that he just kind of had control of everything. He took control of everything.

 

Robert Morgan 

I mean, he’s just bigger than life. And you just, you were scared. I’m scared of the ground he walked on. I was you know,

 

Bulldog Coggins 

I had always heard about Coach Sullivan but I didn’t even know where Scuba was, until he came and got me took me there.

 

Ken Waddell 

And we got we got a tour where you turn off, go to scuba. We went across the railroad track and he said “this is scuba”, and that is. Two or three little, (3:59) look like 50 what move down the street.

 

Rick Farr 

Remember when we pulled up, and I said “oh my goodness, where in the world? Am I”

 

Randall Bradberry 

um, you just can’t imagine more rural country town than scuba.

 

Lester Smith 

I was shocked. And the reason I was shocked is they still had to hitch and post up in town.

 

John Apple 

And people asked me what it was like now, telling them if you’ve seen Gunsmoke where the dirt straight, gravel straight, hitching rails.

 

Lester Smith 

It was kind of like out in the middle of nowhere and it’s almost as if civilization had passed it by

 

Terry Brown 

geographically., It’s halfway between meridian and Columbus, Mississippi, about 50 miles from each one of them. on highway 45. and about eight miles from Geiger Alabama. And that’s the best way you can describe it. It’s still in the middle of Nowhere.

 

Charlie Studdard 

and after I’d been down there for three or four weeks, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Scuba was a hellhole. Everybody wanted to leave as quick as they got there.

 

Dick Mcspadden 

gotta remember we had maybe 350 students. I graduated from high school class at 500. And here I am at East Mississippi Junior College, and we got, you know, maybe 330. But it was so isolated. There was nothing to do.

 

Charlie Studdard 

Unless you were a ballplayer and let me tell you, when you got down and you played ball, you didn’t have time to think about anything else, but football.

 

Ernest Moore 

My roommate would come in 1967. You know, of course, we’d all heard about how tough it was and all that. And we rolling it because, we’ve never been to scuba, and never seen a campus before. So we roll in. Like said, Man, the first guy we saw man, he was a man. He was wide as he was tall, humph, likehe had a five day beer. So we are, he said, “where is the Alamo” He said, he told us how to get down into it. And of course, I said, “Man, you know, what position you play?” He said “guard”. I say, “God, damn”, I said “man”. So we roll on down and whip around a couple rows and we run into another Scott. So we stopped and asked him. Oh, Jim, we said man, where’s Alamo? You know, and he told us where we had to get there. And, of course, I had to say, “Well, what position you play?” He said “center?” I said hmmmnnnn. “God damn” So we go down rolling. And I looked over Bo, that’s my roommate and I said, Bo, I said, Boy, we sucked in men. And man, here we got these grown men in front of us. I said, I kind knew we where are we gonna make it you know, we couldn’t quit. I was here, we were there. We knew we were stuck. We weren’t going to leave. It was die or bury us right there because we wasn’t going to quit. That just wasn’t going to happen.

 

Bubba Davis 

A lot of guys that played then, it was like me, you know, you didn’t, you couldn’t afford to go to school unless you were, getting paid for by being on scholarship. So it was it was more than going out there and play and just try to win. It was go out there and play. So you could have a dorm room, you could have your books, you could have all your meals, you know everything and taken care of so you could get an education. So you know, it was sort of like us out there fiighting everyday for your life.

 

Ernest Moore 

Now we thought, we honestly thought we had signed a scholarship. We really did. Then we saw 17 folks, and we realized that, you know, no, these are nothing.

 

Bobby Morgan 

When I reported in issued equipment, I tried that helmet on because we wore something very similar that meridian hosco and it didn’t have a face mask. And I asked the manager I said, Well, what are my options for a face mask? And he looked at me just that life and I’m thinking, I don’t think that’s possible. What’s the problem? He said, You don’t wear face masks. Nobody told me about that.

 

Jimmy Kibe 

When you first show up on an annual helmet and got a face guard on it. So they said what’s he gonna be wearing? You say I don’t believe this. What I’ve heard about it. Every bit of it’s true.

 

Lance Eiland 

He won’t let us have a face mask. Well, that was unheard of. When we were playing. I mean, everybody had a face mask but us. Why don’t we have a fask mask?

 

Lester Smith 

Because he said if you put if you put a put a single bars across there, that that cost you 33% of the vision. That was what he would tell us. If you put two balls that cost us you know 67% of the vision. I never did figure out what if you if you had the whole mask up there maybe hundred percent or 99.5%, but uh but he sold us on the idea that helmet

 

Bill Buckner 

and so going to the scuba to see that leather head gear. If there is one thing and almost turned me against going scuba, it was when I saw that he had gear and to know that I was gonna play without a face mask.

 

Bobby Morgan 

We would go across, we started practice at 530 in the morning and would walk across and so leaving the Alamo. We could hear the pumps going, the managers blowing up the footballs

 

Bobby Morgan 

time you got out on the field. The Football coming through there you could hardly see it was a steal at night because we want to beat the heat.

 

Ernest Moore 

those first two weeks, they were tough. They really were. It had 70 something players showed up, you know, because we thought we’d sign a scholarship when we got there. We just thought we had you know sign nothing said we were gonna come play ball and he just, boom! just get tougher to practice, get tougher and they just start falling off by the wayside. Sometimes you get up in morning and be you know empty locker going overnight, a guy just sneaked out a dorm you never saw him again. You know.

 

Charlie Studdard 

they would leave in the middle of the night and a lot of them would would push the car off, not turn the lights on to like get  two three hundred yards down the road Ned crank up and You can hear loud mufflers and tire squealing

 

Bobby Morgan 

and Coach Sullivan had a way of making it easy for you to quit if you weren’t good enough to play. Or you just run, Yeah.

 

Ernest Moore 

And then he just he just kept getting tougher and tougher till he got it down that Saturday morning before we played our first ball game. We had 23 folks left. And that’s when we signed our scholarship. Saturday morning before we play Saturday afternoon,

 

Bobby Mitchner 

he weeded out those people that couldn’t take it, the intensity, there, in what he did. I mean, he was in people’s faces, he was jumping on their back, shaking them, grabbing them. It was a it was his part of a mind game,

 

Johnny Baker 

that he never knew what we were going to practice or what we would have peace, he would stop sometimes and just start doing one on one.

 

Lance Eiland 

And we we had a you know,  (10:49) America couldn’t know where to get it.

 

Lester Smith 

But if you weren’t mentally tough, you couldn’t play for him.

 

Colbert Jones 

And I didn’t know what private practice meant. But I soon found out that we practice behind a locked gate and on the gate was a manager with a shotgun.

 

Lester Smith 

Turned to Nobody. Nobody come up to practice. Nobody watched us practice. nobody.

 

TL Cloar 

And I remember Coach Sullivan was teaching a young man how to pass block. This is the first time I think that I realized what I’d gotten into where I was. the first thing he was teaching, personally, teaching this kid pass block and they were down faced each other and then they went on the snap. And the first thing that hit the ground was the back of this boy’s head. And I was like, My goodness, let’s go.

 

Doug Sprout 

If we didn’t give 100% or we were not getting the point across. He got down himself. We had pads on. And he said You hit me or you take my place. He wouldn’t put on a helmet or nothing.

 

Charlie Temkovits 

He would just get out and tell somebody to snap the ball and he would literally just try to tear the guy’s blocking him head off. I mean, he would just bowl him over, you know.

 

Doug Sprout 

The times where he was cut and he was bleeding. And he said, next! get up there, He said if you don’t hit me, he said, I’ll take your head off. And you did, you had to hit him.

 

Dick Mcspadden 

A guy had ran a play. Somebody ended up 30 or 40 yards down the field. And he had passed out. And the trainers were standing over him, a couple guys are standing over him and everything and he was laying down there. And I hear from about 40 yards away this big bellowing voice. And here’s what he said, “if that son of a bitch is dead, kick dirt on him. If he’s not, get him up and show him how to get out of here.” Highway 45 runs north and south. And he had a whole litany of things that he would run through.

 

Bubba Davis 

But there was one receiver he kept dropping the football and he sent Chester he said go get my shot.

 

Ernest Moore 

Because we all stopped you know, man oh man, he jumps cross the barbed wire fence. He runs cross pasture prob about 300 yards. Here he comes, we see him you know we all stand looking. He comes back with a shotgun. He runs up he gives boom the gun.

 

Bobby Morgan 

I remember he pulls the shell, a lot of it. He’ll have have a shotgun shell in his pocket. He puts his single barrel twelve gauge. He puts them there, you know, cocks it back up, He walks up.

 

Ernest Moore 

He pulled a gun up to a show. He said Busby, you drop that ball. I’ma kill you.

 

Doug Sprout 

And I’m like don’t put me over on the fence. Go to the missus. You know, I don’t want to get shot.

 

Charlie Temkovits 

None of us laughing. not one’s funny because we we really thought he probably would have killed him. You know, if he did drop the ball,

 

Bobby Morgan 

I believe if he dropped another one, that I was getting ready to witness Coach Sullivan kill somebody practice.

 

Ernest Moore 

I heard him tell him tell another coach, that practice was lagging. We were dragging, cause we didn’t know what you know,

 

Bobby Morgan 

he said Hart, “spoke to the coo”. So man we knew was fixed now we’d always heard these stories about it, you know.

 

Colbert Jones 

And several players on the team couldn’t swim. And they were real concerned when he said go down to the slew or the pond. And you couldn’t leave because he put a manager at the gate with a shotgun.

 

Ernest Moore 

The pond was just a just a red low pond out in the pasture. He went on to just moved around the banks grass.

 

Doug Sprout 

He said ohh my magenta pod. And we had some kids that said, well wait a minute. No, I’m not getting in there. And it’s either they went in there or he threw them in there.

 

Lester Smith 

Well, you have a shallow end to the pond.

 

Ernest Moore 

And then waterline cost the line of scrimmage. So he lined up the fence right up on the water’s edge. And we call, I think about two or three plays just straight dives

 

Chris Hulbrook 

and you didn’t move your man you would either be stepped on pushed down into the mud. But you better take a breath before you go on to the water. Green,

 

Doug Sprout 

grimy, It was like just jumping into a cesspool. And that’s that’s what he wanted it to be. We like to drown the halfback or woody web (15:07) I mean literally, man, he hit the bottom real bodies in on top of him. And you know, Powering on the top, because everybody was all fired up just going crazy, you know, because I mean, we were in the pool hitting each other.

 

Carles McComb 

I remember the coaches were assistant coaches were standing on the side up on the bike, and they would just laugh and carrying on. And I remember Kosova said, to chew Blakely Blake overfed, get in a UK coat from the dry grounds. They made the coaches get in the pond, dude, a goat. So

 

Doug Sprout 

the sophomores kept saying, we’ve had we’ve had players that went in there and never came out and said, What are you talking about? Gator meat. I said what

 

“Big” Vic Sullivan 

It was good, and I will tell you.

 

Charlie Box 

The stories are that there is a pet alligator that he put in there brought it back from Florida,

 

Gael Sullivan 

a lot of stories about alligators. But the only one that I know for a fact is true, is when we went on a family vacation in Florida and daddy let Vic get a little alligator as a souvenir. And we put him in a spare apartment on the first floor where we lived at the Alamo and the bathtub,

 

Bobbie Sullivan 

Daddy read up on how to do that, to make sure he knew what the alligator needed. It couldn’t have just water, it had to have rocks, it had to have some soil and that type of stuff. So the tub was fixed up just for this ‘Gator. And it grew. We fed it hamburger, dog food, that type of thing.

 

“Little” Vic Sullivan 

He got big, or you know big enough that I couldn’t handle him no more. He bit my finger one day pretty, pretty good. He slashed it from here all the way down, you know, and

 

Gael Sullivan 

he loved this alligator. But finally, Danny had to tell him, you know, oh, choppers got to go to a place where he’ll be happy with other alligators.

 

“Little” Vic Sullivan 

And so we decided to release him in the pond down there

 

Charlie Temkovits 

where he would have a happy life from then on

 

Robert Morgan 

practices were very long, they were physical. Occasionally you’d have fights break out between players, but they weren’t that high level of anxiety. They are tea. You can hear him all over campus. I mean, it was something he didn’t. It wasn’t it wasn’t for children.

 

Robert Morgan 

That’s when it bring out the bobbleheaded cow or he had a bucket of molasses. If a receiver dropped passes, you stick your hand in molasses. So you would catch the ball pedicabs about 9% alcohol, but it was a cough syrup isn’t what you need Misaki drink a coke. He put he just started to live he said just can’t do it Coach.

 

Bubba Davis 

Without a running back coach kept getting um you’re not running hard. You’re not running hard. Finally he hollered. Manager! goes into the cafeteria and get me a bottle of hot sauce. Hot sauce. What’s he gonna do now? Oh, was that? They said take your sauna and that bag. He sort of put it to his tongue. He said “I said, take a sauna”. Next play, I got trucked cause, without a running back, he was making sure he ran hard, and I’m talking about he ran slap overall love so did I. (17:49)

 

Bill Buckner 

being a marine drill sergeant, he was training people to so that they can live. And so he prepared him to fight in in these wars. I don’t know if he ever distinguish between those two: training football players to win and training you to survive.

 

“Little” Vic Sullivan 

They were so, three touchdown underdog against Holmes junior college one particular year, and he put them through an obstacle course. All that weight.

 

Bulldog Coggins 

Thomas Allison down like 50 yards you jump up from that

 

Big Vic Sulliavan 

when you got to go line you’ve probably drunk is queued Brian,

 

Bulldog Coggins 

and you you climb up these ropes on to the old building where they kept the dumbass.

 

Big Vic Sulliavan 

you had to crawl up under his truck.

 

Bulldog Coggins 

You run up this hill and the managers would be there with a rope mid jerky back down the hill. And

 

“Little” Vic Sullivan 

at the end of the course he was sitting in a chair and he would throw bricks at them when they were coming by.

 

Bulldog Coggins 

In a way, it was tough, but it was also fun too.