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Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC

Hal LamarBy Hal Lamar
Photos b
y Patsy Collier-Lamar

Movie in works on Life of Alonzo S “Jake” Gaither

Alas, the almost unbelievable athletic coaching exploits of Alonzo S “Jake”Gaither are coming to the silver screen thanks to celebrated writer and author Vern Smith.

Taking his cue from a George Curry book “Jake Gaither-America’s most Famous Black Coach” (Curry is another celebrated journalist and former publisher of the cutting-edge magazine Emerge), Smith and award winning producer Monty Ross (Malcolm X, School Daze) have created “A-gile, Mo-bile and Hos-tile (a frequent expression of Jake’s).

”We plan to shoot the movie in Atlanta,” said Smith, a Mississippi native who has called Atlanta home for years.

“We hope to land some big time actors to play Jake and his wife Sadie”. He said he hopes to persuade Samuel L Jackson or Spike Lee to play the role of Jake since both have big ties to black colleges (both graduated from Morehouse College). I’m also thinking that Lawurence Fishburne should be considered. He has played significant African- American characters in the past, to include Thurgood Marshall and Benjamin O Davis Junior. He was born in Augusta Georgia.

Jake GaitherGaitherAnother possible candidate is Dorian Harewood (Jesse Owens Story, Roots-The Next Generation, Lemuel Geter Story, Sudden Death)    “This story will help a new generation of college football fans understand how the SEC became the most dominant football conference in America. (could that be because most of the SEC coaches routinely attended a clinic that Jake held on FAMU’s campus in the 1950s and 60s?)


Jake Gaither’s career as head football coach and later Athletic Director at FAMU is awesome. He came to the school in 1938 as an assistant coach and took the reins of the football program in 1945. For 25 years, he turned out one championship team after another. The Rattler elevens dominated the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. During Jake’s tenure, he won 42 SIAC titles and along the way picked up six national black college crowns. He is credited with creating the split-T formation and made history in 1969 when he pitted his Rattlers against the University of Tampa. It was the first game of its type between a predominately white college and an HBCU.  FAMU won  34-28. This was the start of several matchups between FAMU and majority white schools. In 1979, the Rattlers surprised the University of Miami 19-16 on the strength of a field goal.


Jake Gaither with teamGaither with teamIn 1978, the sports brotherhood known as the 100% Wrong Club of Atlanta created the Jake Gaither award for the most outstanding football player from an HBCU. For many years, the club brought Gaither to Atlanta to personally present the award. His wife Sadie would often accompany him. It gave this writer an opportunity for some coveted one-on-one conversations with the legend. He also freely shared stories about his coaching days and recalled when a heckler in the stands continually criticized Jake’s play calling. He did so right in front of Mrs Gaither. Gaither’s “go team” worked the oval to the opponent’s one yard line. The heckler suddently became silent. Then, Mrs Gaither turned to him and said flatly, ”now what?’”Well,” the heckler replied. “I got him this far down the field. I guess he can handle it from here.”

-0-John NesbittNesbitt

XTRA POINTS:  Morehouse’s quarterback Byron Ingram won’t return for his final year. His coaches tell me he has decided to make himself available to the pros…Meanwhile, Morehouse linebacker Charlie Wilson turned in a head-turning 40 time at last month’s Pro day on campus. He has generated keen interest from CFL teams…

…Congrats to Albany State baseballer John Kenneth Nesbitt  who was named a Peach of an Athlete role model by the Atlanta area council of the Boy Scouts of America. The young brother, an honor student and a starting pitcher, has reached out to the greater Albany-Dougherty County community by organizing food and clothing drives and helping with the make-a-wish foundation…

…If you happen to travel to Montgomery Alabama for a Tuskegee or Alabama State grid game, consider bunking at the Marriott-Express just a few miles from downtown. It’s no five-star but it is comfortable and clean and the staff is courteous and helpful. They also provide a full complimentary breakfast.……

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