There's a sad excuse today to enjoy some classic Dan Jenkins.
The game was marked by all of the brutality that you somehow knew it would be when such gladiators were to be present as Michigan State's 6-foot-7, 285-pound Bubba Smith, "the intercontinental ballistic Bubba," a creature whose defensive-end play had long ago encouraged Spartan coeds to wear buttons that said KILL, BUBBA, KILL. Bubba killed, all right. He killed Notre Dame Quarterback Terry Hanratty early in the first quarter. When Hanratty, a sensational sophomore for eight games, slid off right tackle on a keeper, Bubba Smith whomped him in the left shoulder and separated it. He caught him just right, as they were falling. It looked as if Hanratty had been smacked by a giant swinging green door.
Although I had no love for either team I loved this article for introducing "whomped" to my young vocabulary and for giving me an appreciation for Bubba Smith in his prime, since by the time I read this I had only known him from beer commercials. To be named for an ICBM at a time people were practicing hiding under desks from real ones - that was pretty strong.
This may be a bit of a stretch but Bubba's hit on Hanratty changed a significant bit of history. If Hanratty had stayed healthy throughout college, would he have let Terry Bradshaw beat him out as starting QB of the Steelers? Think of that before you automatically turn down the sound on Fox's pregame show. And when he was picked up by Tampa Bay in their expansion year he could not beat out the eventual starter - fellow named Steve Spurrier. Beating out a Bubba-damaged Hanratty no doubt helped his later college coaching career, so Spurrier's Florida SEC and National Championship teams most likely were a direct result of that hit in 1966.
And would there be an EDSBS without a Fearless Leader inspired by those Florida teams? I think Bubba Smith deserves some gratitude today.
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