Sullivan the Intellectual

Sullivan’s antics during games gave the casual observer ample justification for placing him into any number of unfavorable stereotypical categories. But look past the layers of Sullivan strategically constructed veneer, and you will begin to uncover the unexpected. The man was tremendously complex, a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Solomon’s interest ranged from anthropology and natural history to journalism and human rights. His passion for dissecting and opposing defense was equaled by his curiosity of the world around him. And despite the draconian measures he implemented with those closest to him, it was his compassion for people that may have been his most endearing quality.

 

Doug Sprout 

I was called to his office one day, I walked in and he didn’t look up he was reading. At that time, I had no idea what a novel was okay. He was reading a novel. And I said to myself, golly, this dude’s he’s not only a football coach. He, he, he’s a he reads.

 

Lance Eiland 

Coach Sullivan is a smart guy, you know, he was really kind of an intellectual guy. Most people don’t understand that. He was not always what people portrayed him to be. He was not always Bull Sullivan. He was not always CYclone Sullivan.

 

Langston Rogers 

At journalism at my first journalism place. My freshman year I had two journalism classes sundry.

 

 

Well, when I first got there. I didn’t even know what anthropology was, couldn’t spell it. But it was a required course, by Bull himself,

 

Carles McComb 

the first impression, maybe two and a half that Coach Sullivan was, but that was just something that, he, had to do to fulfill his obligations to the college, but he took it serious.

 

Langston Rogers 

He prepared for the classroom, just like he prepared for practice.

 

Doug Sprout 

His size, told you he was a football coach. But if you didn’t know that, and you’re outside the door of his classroom, you’d swear that he was a PhD instructor,

 

Charlie Box 

Coach Sullivan was, was a great teacher. And he had a very vast knowledge about a lot of things, very interesting in professor.

 

Nick Clark 

His lectures, were absolutely spellbinding.

 

Bobbie Sullivan 

He could simplify complicated things in one sentence,

 

Bill Pearson 

his classes were so informative, and you get so involved and it was so interesting,

 

Louie Spinks 

really a great class and a lot different than being on the football field with him. And

 

Bobbie Sullivan 

he had an innate curiosity.

 

Lance Eiland 

He was interested in a lot of things. He really was, he was more than just a kind of a wild acting football coach, that was totally another side of the man.

 

Bobbie Sullivan 

He kept noticing the little butterflies, always flying in a southerly direction about the same time of year. And he wondered why, he went to the library somewhere, looked it up and found out about the migration of this species of butterfly. So then he could tell all of us about it. And every year during September, when those little yellow butterflies would start south, it really meant something to us, because that he had told us about it.

 

Royce Sullivan 

One of the anthropological interest he had was finding Yana bee Creek he was passionate about finding a place called Yana B Creek.

 

Bobbie Sullivan 

And then he began investigating the whole history of Kemper County, the geologic history, the topographical history, the biological history,

 

Louie Spinks 

Jerry Gibson and his father has from (3:48) land, he talked about Kosovo and coming over to his land and just going out and, and digging things up, you know, looking for things in the land.

 

Bobbie Sullivan 

And he always believed if there had been a large Indian population there, and that if he could find the right place, he would maybe even find something like the burial grounds

 

Royce Sullivan 

and I remember the digs that we went on with spoons and toothbrushes and four gallons of Kool Aid and then Mississippi humanity. And we did discover, you know, we found a grave site once and Bobby still has that skull.

 

Terry Brown 

First day we were there, he had a human skull and came set it on his desk, he said, If you ballplayers don’t pass this course, this is what you will look like next year.

 

Doug Sprout 

You know, Coach Sullivan was really a pretty compassionate man. He had extreme compassion for the elderly people.

 

Bobbie Sullivan 

He would talk to older people, sometimes people that you’d never imagine that he sit down and talking to but he had a way with older people

 

Doug Sprout 

during the spring, after spring practice. Well, those of us who had nowhere to go on weekends, he would take us to help clean, we would rake leaves, clean up elderly people’s yards. Had a we had a gentleman who, whose yard we cleaned up. It came up missing one Sunday afternoon. And they had a search party out looking for him. Well, Coach woke the football team up at 10 o’clock at night. took us out in the area where he disappeared and put us 20 yards apart. We walk through, found the gentlemen, he had fell in upon and drowned. It was out in the park. And he said, he said, y’all go out and get him.

 

Gael Sullivan 

I was coming in from cheerleader practice one day and there was a black male sitting on the dormitory steps. And he said, Are you Gail Sullivan? And I said, Yes, I am. And he said, I used to think your daddy was Santa Claus. And I said You what? And he said, Yeah, he said when I was a little boy said your daddy would bring all the jerseys, towels, pads, footballs, anything he could bring to the black, I guess middle school, junior high high school, and he said I couldn’t wait to see that truck driver. And he said he wore a red jacket. And he was so big. And he was bringing so many goodies. I thought he was Santa Claus. I said, Wow, I can’t believe he thought my daddy was Santa Claus. And he said I still do. And I went in the dorm room that night and just cried and cried and cried because I never knew that.

 

Doug Sprout 

There was one example that stuck with me. This was in 1958. He coached the baseball team at East Mississippi that year. Okay. And I played for him. And we had played at Northeast Mississippi Junior College, and we were coming back through Columbus. And we had two players on the bus as we drove through the black section of Columbus. They hollered racial slurs out the window. He said Mack, stop the bus. And these are two of our better baseball players. He says get off the bus right there in that part of town. And they said, coach, he said, I said get off the bus. He said, How do we get back to school but he said that’s your problem. They got off and he left them there in that part of town and we drove all the way back to school. But it wasn’t another word said at all.

 

Gael Sullivan 

We used to have a teen center downtown, daddy started it because the teenagers had nothing to do. And it was so boring in the summertime and he got a storefront and it was old and torn up and he got all the kids in town to come clean it up. And we swept and painted and we worked so hard to make it presentable. And we had a ping pong table and I think shuffleboard and card tables and games. And the very first weekend that opened, Daddy looked up and saw these little black faces picking in the windows. And he knew that if he invited him in which he wanted to do that everybody would leave in there probably a riot. This was in the 60s. And it absolutely killed him. So he shut it down. The team center was open for one weekend. He just couldn’t bear it.

 

Doug Sprout 

What did that tell me? This was doing segregation. And the man had compassion. He had compassion for the less fortunate. I don’t care whether you were white, or you’re African American.