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Story Archives: Fugler
Max Fugler said he is very happy for former LSU standout Jerry Stovall.
Stovall was one of 12 players and two coaches who were named to the National Football Foundation's 2010 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision Class on June 24.
But there also seemed to be a hint of disappointment from Fugler, although you would never hear that from one of the best players and classiest guys to come out of Ferriday.
There certainly is every reason for him to be disappointed. I'm just downright shocked Fugler is not among the former Tigers in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Stovall became the seventh former Tiger enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Gaynell Tinsley (1956), Ken Kavanaugh, Sr. (1963), Abe Mickal (1967), Doc Fenton (1971), Tommy Casanova (1995), and Billy Cannon (2008).
"It's something I never really worried about," Stovall said by phone last week. "I never thought, 'One of these days I'm going to get in there.' But it's certainly very flattering and very humbling."
A unanimous All-America selection in 1962, Stovall was a literal "Mr. Everything" for LSU, playing halfback, defensive back, kick returner while and also handling punting duties during his three years in Baton Rouge.
LSU also has five former head coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame - Dana Bible (1951), Mike Donahue (1951), Biff Jones (1954), Bernie Moore (1954), and Charlie McClendon (1986).
I am certainly very happy for Stovall.
When I was a youngster I spent a lot of time writing to athletes and asking for autographs.
In 1971, Stovall, then playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, sent me a black and white photo with the following inscription: "Joey, Best of luck always. May you have all the success you dream of. Play to win. Jerry Stovall." "Play to win" was also handwritten on the black and white photo on front of the postcard.
When Stovall was named as an assistant to Charles McClendon in 1975, I made the trip to LSU and stopped by the football office. I asked for Stovall, who came out and got a big chuckle from the picture and walked around showing everyone. "Check out the hair," he told his secretary, referring to his military-style crewcut. He signed it again, this time, "Hi Joey, Best Wishes, Coach Stovall, LSU."
A class guy who belongs in such an esteemed class.
And so does Fugler. But don't just take that from me.
"Oh my goodness,!" Stovall exclaimed, when asked if Fugler should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. "Max certainly deserves to be in there. One of the things that we're hoping comes out of this is that we can get a local chapter in Baton Rouge. Then we can find out what we need to do to recommend and nominate someone. It's hard to believe Billy is the only one from that championship team in the College Hall of Fame."
If you asked Fugler, there's another guy from that team just as deserving.
"The best athlete on the football team was Johnny Robinson," Fugler said. "He was a super athlete. A lot of people don't realize he was an all-state basketball player and was drafted as a catcher by the Cincinnati Reds. He spent nine years with the Kansas City Chiefs, but tennis was his strongest suit. His dad was the tennis coach and Johnny would leave practice and go beat the No. 1 player from the other team."
Also unbelievably, Fugler is not in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. His head school coach, Johnny "Red" Robertson, was fittingly although a little late) inducted in 2002. But not being in the state Hall of Fame is for another column.
Stovall currently serves as the President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation and has served on the board of directors for the Louisiana Senior Games.
One problem with Fulger not being in the College Hall of Fame is that he played mostly on the line. But, boy, how he played on that line.
Fugler earned the Iron Man Award in LSU's 1958 championship season, leading the team in minutes played, averaging more than 35 minutes of playing time a game.
Fugler did play fullback a bit as a freshman and even scored a touchdown on a short run.
"I can say I scored a touchdown before Billy Cannon," he said with a laugh.
Fugler also showed his athleticism on the line. Against Tulane, in the 62-0 romp of the Green Wave to close out the 1958 regular season, Fugler cut in front of the Tulane left end to intercept a Richie Petibon pass at the Wave 40 and returned it down to the 30. He had great speed and range," Dietzel said. "When he got to a running back he knew what to do. He was a fierce tackler and competitor."
Fugler is best-known at LSU for making all four tackles on a goalline stand against Ole Miss on Nov. 1, 1958 in a 14-0 Tiger win. It was five tackles if you count the fact Fugler tackled quarterback Bobby Franklin on one play when he pitched the ball to Charlie Flowers.
"Everybody asked about those plays," Fugler said. "Coach McClendon (then defensive coach Charles McClendon) had me calling defensive signals and we were in a seven-man front. He told me to stay where I was and keep doing what I was doing. When I came back to the sidelines, Coach Dietzel patted me on the butt and said, 'There were four plays and you made five tackles.'"
Fugler added he and Billy Hendrix had a scheme called "music and lightning" when if he said music it meant Hendrix was going hard from the outside and Fugler would take the middle. If he called out lightning it meant Fugler was blitzing.
"If we didn't say anything, then neither one of us would crash in.," he said.
On third-and-a-foot, Flowers tried the middle and was stopped just short of the line of scrimmage by Fugler, who was named National Lineman of the Week for his efforts against the Rebels that night.
On fourth down, Ole Miss opted not to try the field goal, but sent Lovelace off tackle where Cannon hit him first and Fugler dropped him for a one-yard loss.
There are several steps to becoming a nominee for the College Hall of Fame. First, a player must have received First Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and used to comprise its consensus All-America teams.
Second, the player must be out of college football for 10 years before they become eligible for consideration.
Third, post-college work is included. So what you do after college is taken into account, and not just what you did on the field.
Fugler was named Football Writers Association of America- Look Magazine All-American and All-SEC.
Between his junior and senior years, Fugler took a summer job with Houston oil company named Hycalog. He then formed his own oil-service company, Gammaloy, Inc., which he operated for 31 years before selling it to Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars. He still works for Gammaloy.
"One of the many great things about Max was that he was a good leader and made sure everyone else played on the same level he was playing at, which was pretty high," Dietzel said.
What isn't hard for Fugler to believe is that the Tigers should have won two straight.
Fugler was the 10th pick in the eighth round, being selected by the San Francisco 49ers as the 94th overall player taken in the 1960 Draft. He was also drafted by the Boston Patriots of the AFL.
Fugler's NFL career ended in his rookie year when he tore cartilage in his knee while making a block against Cleveland.
"My foot was planted in the grass and I knew it was bad, but I didn't think it was career ending," Fugler said. "When you are 22 years old you don't think like that, but two days after that I knew it. Dr. Francis Cox came in and said he was sorry. I asked him what did he do, operate on the wrong leg? He told me I was going home for good. I had torn two cartilages and the two ligaments separating them."
The New Orleans Saints began their franchise in 1968 and Saint head coach Tom Fears offered Fugler a contract four different times.
"I told him, 'Coach, I am crippled and don't want to be crippled for life," Fugler said. "At that level, and even in college, if you are a half-step slower than you were, it's over."
Fugler said he doesn't spend time thinking of what might have been.
"I've never looked back my whole life," he said. "I never worry about things I may have said. I don't worry about such things as burning bridges, because I don't ever plan to retreat."
I don't know what's ahead for Fugler, but I certainly hope he can be saying the same types of things Jerry Stovall is saying now.
Two class guys. Both belong in the College Football Hall of Fame.