Another Home Run for HBO; Latest Chronicle Covers Integration in College Football

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 14, 2008 | Go to article overview

Another Home Run for HBO; Latest Chronicle Covers Integration in College Football


Byline: Dick Heller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

HBO has won enough awards to fill several trophy cases for its sports documentaries, and the latest is one of its best - high praise indeed. Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football, which premieres on the cable network Tuesday night, covers far more than gridiron matters. It also reflects the intense struggle for civil rights that dominated much of the 1960s and changed the nation's culture.

Paul Bear Bryant, the legendary Alabama coach, is prominently featured. So, too, is Darryl Hill, a Maryland receiver who broke the ACC's color barrier in 1963.

As narrator Liev Schreiber notes, there were no black players at the beginning of the decade in the South's three major conferences: ACC, SEC and Southwest. By 1972, every significant program in the region had integrated its classrooms and football team.

It wasn't easy. Hill, a product of the District's Gonzaga High School and now a fundraiser for Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, was reluctant to accept when Terrapins assistant coach Lee Corso offered him a scholarship, saying, You know, I wanna play some football. I don't know about being Jackie Robinson.

Hill was strongly supported at Maryland by linebacker Jerry Fishman, his roommate. Recalls Fishman: He being the only black and me being the only Jew, we used to call ourselves 'The Onlys.'"

At one point, Hill says, he was approached by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leaders Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown to lead demonstrations on the College Park campus. When Hill refused, Brown called me a punk. I slammed him into the wall, and Carmichael had to get between us.

Hill speaks about playing a game at Clemson with 50,000 drunk Southern gentlemen waiting to see this brother come out on the field. ... The black people had to sit outside the stadium on a red dirt hill ... Every time I looked up there and saw these people, I said, 'There's something wrong with this picture This has got to be fixed.'"

Hill caught an ACC-record 10 passes that day.

According to legend, Bryant supposedly was convinced Alabama needed to recruit black players after Southern Cal's Sam Cunningham ran wild as the Trojans routed the Tide 42-21 in 1970. …

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Another Home Run for HBO; Latest Chronicle Covers Integration in College Football
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