Alabama Football: Two words define a deserved Hall of Fame honor

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

The legacy of Alabama Football recently added another coveted honor. Former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman and assistant coach, Sylvester Croom was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Croom became the 22nd former Alabama football player to be so honored. The Crimson Tide’s complete list of Hall of Fame honorees also includes five coaches.

Words of praise are sometimes too casually thrown around in describing athletes. The words greatest and best are overused, almost to the point of losing meaning. There are two other words to describe Sylvester Croom and they are borrowed from the man who, in 2004 hired Croom to be the Mississippi State head coach.

The Mississippi State Athletic Director, Larry Templeton explained his decision to hire Croom,

"(Mississippi State) was looking for a coach with unimpeachable integrity and Croom met that criteria."

The words ‘unimpeachable integrity’ do not meet media standards for sizzle. What they provide is substance, in defining a standard to which everyone should aspire. Sylvester Croom is such a man.

Croom grew up in Tuscaloosa before integration. As a high school player, he once had to be protected from physical harm after a game. When white thugs went after Croom, white and black parents aligned to protect him.

Croom was a high school linebacker who was unenthusiastic when Paul Bryant decided to make him a center. He went on to become an All-American center and win the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 1974.

Before Croom left Tuscaloosa, the Bear pulled him aside and said if Croom did not make it in the NFL, there would be an assistant coach job for him in Tuscaloosa. From 1977 to 1986, Croom was a Bryant assistant. His father, Sylvester Croom Sr. became the Crimson Tide Team Chaplain.

Croom was an NFL assistant coach for more than 20 seasons. In 2004, long overdue for Croom and the SEC, he became the head coach at Mississippi State.

Before Alabama hired Mike Shula, Croom was the other finalist. With no intention of deriding Mike Shula, it can be said the Crimson Tide hired the wrong guy.

Croom’s head coaching career was only five seasons. His record in Starkville was 21-38, but in 2006 and 2007, his Bulldogs beat the Crimson Tide. In 2007 Croom was voted the SEC Coach of the Year. After Mississippi State was 4-8 in 2008, Croom was fired.

Sylvester Croom Hall of Fame Bio

Next. Some key Tide players could return for 2023. dark

Sylvester Croom is a dignified and gracious man, but that has not deterred him from being outspoken in lobbying for more African American head coaches in college football and the NFL.