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1979 Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs Penn State

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Do you remember where you were on January 1, 1979? I'll never forget.

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Effects of Tide's goal line stand still reverberating

Friday, August 18, 2006
Huntsville Times
Play vs. Penn State set a tone for later life, Krauss says

Barry Krauss can't actually confirm what Marty Lyons said to Chuck Fusina that night in the Superdome. It was too loud to hear. It was too loud to think.

"All I have to go on is, Marty says he said it,'' Krauss says with a sly smile. "That's good enough for me.''

It was one of the most memorable moments in the long football history of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and it produced what is surely the most famous photograph of the entire 25-year Bear Bryant era.

Alabama and Penn State were playing for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl at New Orleans on Jan. 1, 1979. Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions were unbeaten; Bryant's Alabama team had lost only once, a 24-14 setback in Birmingham against Southern California.

With six minutes remaining and Alabama leading 14-7, Penn State faced fourth down-and-inches on the Tide goal line.

As the story goes, Lyons raised up from his defensive tackle position, stared across the line of scrimmage and told Fusina, the Penn State quarterback: "You better pass.''

Instead, Fusina handed the ball to tailback Mike Guman ... and every living Alabama fan knows what happened next.

Barry Krauss, No. 77 in the crimson jersey, met Guman head-on, standing him straight up at the top of a pile. Defensive back Murray Legg streaked in from the left side and helped push Guman backward. Linebacker Rich Wingo did the same from the right side. Underneath the pile, linemen David Hannah and Byron Braggs and Lyons had done their part, submarining at the point of attack and neutralizing the Penn State blockers.

Guman needed only seven or eight inches to break the plane of the goal. He got nary an inch. Alabama took over, held on to win, and was proclaimed national champion by the Associated Press two days later.

"The Goal Line Stand,'' as it quickly came to be known, has been immortalized in Alabama lore ever since. Now it has been given a new treatment as the centerpiece and the climax of Barry Krauss' new book, titled "Ain't Nothin' But a Winner,'' soon to be available in book stores.

Krauss was the guest speaker Thursday night at Huntsville's Botanical Garden during the annual scholarship fundraiser for the University of Alabama Alumni Association Madison County chapter. In an interview before the party, he spoke of the genesis and storyline of the book, co-authored by a former Alabama walk-on, Joe Moore.

The title, of course, is a self-descriptive quote from Bryant himself.

"As long as an Alabama player who played for Coach Bryant is still around, he's still coaching as far as we're concerned,'' said Krauss, an All-SEC star who was later picked as a member of Alabama's All-Centennial team. The Pompano Beach, Fla., native went on to play 10 years for the Indianapolis Colts and ended his career in 1991 with the Miami Dolphins, coached by his boyhood idol, Don Shula.

"A big part of this book,'' Krauss said, "is my time at Alabama and what Coach Bryant did for each of us as players. He always said, 'It's not so much what you do while you're here. It's what you're going to do after you leave here.' "

The book ends with the '79 Sugar Bowl, Krauss' final college game, and the ramifications of the goal line stand in the lives of the participants.

"What we did was go back and interview all the people who were on the field in a red jersey when that was going on,'' Krauss said. "Murray Legg. Mike Clements. David Hannah. E.J. Junior. Marty Lyons. Don McNeal. Rich Wingo. All those guys. And we asked them, 'What did that stand do for you in your life?' People will be surprised at some of the answers.''

People may also be surprised to learn that David Hannah, a strapping junior from a famous Alabama football family in Albertville, had an injured knee drained by doctors the day of the game and wasn't supposed to play. But Hannah went in for four snaps - the four plays of the goal line stand.

"Before that last play,'' Krauss said, "we were all holding hands and somebody said, 'This is what we've been waiting for. This is that gut check Coach Bryant has been talking about. This is what we've been working for. Somebody has to make a play.'

"It was fourth-and-inches, and all of us - every one of us - was ready to make a play.''

When Guman came over the top, Krauss was the one who made a play.

"It just happened to be me,'' Krauss said. "But it wasn't me alone. Our defensive front had a great surge. Byron Braggs was thinking, 'I can't give an inch.' David Hannah wasn't worried about his knee. Murray Legg came in hard. So did Wingo.

"We all came together because that's what we had been conditioned to do, and because that's what Alabama football is all about.''
After everything is said and done, more is said than done. - Noah