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By LARRY VAUGHT
Sometimes a comment from a reader tells a huge story at vaughtsviews.com.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what happened when Danville native Ã¢â‚¬â€ and former University of Kentucky football player Ã¢â‚¬â€ Claude Hoffmeyer left this response to the story about UK basketball coach John Calipari cursing at freshman Terrence Jones during UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loss at Alabama:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Larry, I have watched the comments regarding Coach CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cursing of Terrence Jones. I think it affected me more than most as I was number 31 of the Thin Thirty (a nickname given to the 1962 football team at UK coached by Charlie Bradshaw). ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a slippery slope for coaches to be emotional, emphatic or whatever you want to say it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“After the coaches let it go too far and started to physically hit our players, 12 players quit after a particular practice. Coach Bradshaw did apologize and promise that no coach would hit a player again. But a couple of practices later a coach saw me miss a downfield block and ran toward me. When I saw that he appeared to be about to hit me, I hit him first. Not a proud moment for me but I think there is a point that players must protect themselves.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If Calipari hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read Thin Thirty, he should realize that he shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be in this situation. I made it through the South Carolina game all right but I had my Ã¢â‚¬ËœpregameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ jitters more than usual because I was affected by the whole affair.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Bradshaw,Ã‚Â a Bear Bryant disciple, used his brutal methods in his first season as head coach to take a team of 88 players down to 30. While the team’s record was just 3-5-2, it did include a dramatic victory in the season finale against Tennessee in Knoxville, 12-10 Ã¢â‚¬â€ a rarity by todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s UK standards.
Players on the Kentucky team included Tom Hutchinson, Dale Lindsey, and Herschel Turner, who all played in the NFL. Two assistant coaches on the 1962 Kentucky staff, Leeman Bennett and Chuck Knox, later had success as NFL head coaches.
The 1962 Kentucky football team is the subject of a book, The Thin Thirty, by Shannon Ragland. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never read the book, but just HoffmeyerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s description of the brutality makes me cringe and makes it even to understand why he is a little skittish over any behavior he perceives as abusive toward a player.
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard stories about that 1962 team, let me know. If you have read the book, let me know.