Chapter 103

What's Up With "Uncle Charlie?"

It was well known that representatives from the University of Alabama had been at Rickwood Field.

"Why were they there?"

It was said that Alabama wanted to get Centre on its schedule in 1923.

"Is there some additional reason?"

It was unusual that Uncle Charlie just stayed behind, alone.

"What in the world is going on?"

Alabama actually did want to play Centre during the next season, if possible, and if not, sometime in the future. But the real reason its people were in Birmingham was to try to hire Uncle Charlie to coach their football team.

Xen C. Scott had been the Crimson Tide's coach since 1919, compiling  a 27-9-3 record at the time that Uncle Charlie decided to stay behind and hear what the Alabamians had to say. It wasn't that Coach Scott was being let go. Far from it. He was tremendously popular and respected and had brought stability to a program which had had 9 coaches since 1900.

Alabama's Coach Xen Scott

Scott was unfortunately losing a bout with throat cancer and would die at age 41 in 1924. It was obvious that he wasn't going to be able to return, that Alabama was going to need a new mentor, and it was felt that Uncle Charlie, one of the most successful coaches in the history of football, at the absolute peak of his career and popularity, was just the man needed in Tuscaloosa.

The Alabamians couldn't help but be impressed with what Charles B. Moran had accomplished. His 38-8-4 record at Texas A&M, combined with being 44-5 with Centre at the time, meant that, excluding ties, he won at an 86.3% clip. Uncle Charlie was right at the top when listing the "best of the best" in the college football coaching hierarchy.

The Danville papers were apoplectic. The "Messenger" printed an editorial on November 21 while Uncle Charlie was still in Birmingham.


Is Centre College going to let Charlie Moran leave Danville and sign up with another school as football coach? The Horse Cave wizard, who is recognized as a football authority from coast to coast, has received several offers to go elsewhere next season.

Many of these offers call for twice and one for three times the amount he is drawing at the local institution. The University of Alabama is making every effort to land him down there. Representatives of the Southern university have held several conferences with Mr. Moran and are determined to land him.

What are local supporters and alumni doing while all of this is going on? Standing idly by, marking time. Charlie Moran came here in 1917 when victories were as rare as Republican majorities in Boyle County elections.

While Coach Moran has been in charge here, the team has gone up from what one may term "bush" to major league ball. We want to keep in the "big time," and we want and must have Charlie Moran here to keep us in the spotlight. Unless there is someone like Charlie Moran here, we will never again have a "Wonder Team," and can look in the near future when Centre will again be playing Transylvania, Georgetown, and teams of that caliber.

Keep Coach Moran here, and Centre is assured of taking on the leading elevens of the country, and trouncing them.

Will Danville and Centre let Charlie Moran get away? Has Centre seen the golden sunset of athletic achievement? Are dark clouds about to descend over the camp, or will steps be taken to keep Charlie Moran here?

With Moran back on the job, we will enjoy another golden dawn as magnificent as the one that visited Danville on the morning of November 4, 1917, when supporters rubbed their eyes after our Colonels defeated Kentucky, and Centre found that it was again the "Kentucky Champion" in gridiron circles.

Again we cry, "Keep Moran here!"

It was real tense when we didn't know what Uncle Charlie was planning on doing. Uncle Charlie WAS Centre football. Since Howard and I had first followed Centre's team, it was Uncle Charlie who made it happen. We just couldn't imagine him leaving, and nobody else could either. It was all anyone talked about, all over the campus and town.

Then we heard that he was back. And even better, he was talking about the schedule in 1923, and he was talking about a new stadium.

Everybody thought, "This is good. Somebody doesn't start planning for the next year, and somebody doesn't start talking about building something like a stadium, if they're leaving."

It was never inferred that Coach Moran was using a little leverage to get both an increase in salary, and to finally have the administration approve his plans for a new facility. But who would have blamed him?

He'd coached the most successful program in the country for basically nothing. He'd labored under the handicap of not being able to attract the big, established programs to Danville due to the antiquated stadium.

Centre and the great coach came to an understanding. Alabama ended up hiring Wallace Wade away from his assistant coaching job at Vanderbilt. Wade stayed from 1923 through the 1930 season, compiling a 61-13-3 record. He took the Crimson Tide to 3 Rose Bowls, winning over Washington and Washington State and tying Stanford.

Alabama did indeed get Centre on its schedule, not in 1923, but the following year.

Everything settled down, and the townspeople and the Colonels were now able to concentrate on the upcoming game with South Carolina.