The CR Interview

Richard Todd

The MVP of the 1975 Sugar Bowl talks about how he nearly missed his last college game, the heartbreaking losses to Notre Dame, and following Joe Namath as quarterback of the New York Jets.
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Photo courtesy of Bryant Museum.
During his two years as the Alabama starter, Todd was 22-2, with two SEC championships.

Richard Todd was one of the most effective quarterbacks of Alabama’s wishbone era. A Mobile native who became a Parade All-American at Davidson High School, Todd arrived in Tuscaloosa at a time of plentiful depth, when Paul “Bear“ Bryant was able to substitute freely without a drop-off. After seeing significant playing time off the bench during the undefeated regular season of 1973, he became the Bama starter in 1974-75, leading the Crimson Tide to a 22-2 mark and earning All-SEC honors as a senior. Though good enough to have played in a drop-back passing offense, he quickly mastered the triple option while giving Alabama a bonafide passing threat when the situation was just right. Case in point: In the 1975 Sugar Bowl, when Penn State essentially dared him to pass, Todd completed 10 of 12 for 210 yards. Todd went on to have the most successful NFL career of any Bama wishbone quarterback, including eight years as the starter for the New York Jets.

 

CR: Why did you choose Alabama?

Todd: I actually committed to Auburn. That’s when they ran the wide-open system, with Pat Sullivan as the quarterback. That was way back in the days before they had all the recruiting rules. I visited Auburn five or six times. Pat Sullivan was like the nicest guy I’d ever met, and he treated me like an equal. Just a great guy. But the bottom line was: I wanted to play for Coach Bryant. That’s really the main reason I went to Alabama—to have a chance to play for Coach Bryant.

CR: Do you remember your first meeting with Coach Bryant?

Todd: Oh, man. The assistant coach who was recruiting me was a guy named Bob Tyler, who later became the head coach at Mississippi State. I was in Tuscaloosa and he told me, ’Richard, go in there and ask Coach Bryant if you come here, will they throw the ball more?’ So I go in his office and sit down and brought that up and he pulls on one of those cigarettes and said, ’Richard, we had one of the greatest throwing quarterbacks we ever had and we went 6-5.’ He was talking about Scott Hunter. Then he said, ’So the answer is, ’Nope.’’ He kind of put me in my place. A lot of these coaches, you go to different schools and they’re telling you things. You wonder if [the coaches] don’t understand that a lot of us [players being recruited] talk among ourselves. ’Well, what did he tell you?’ ’He told me I would start.’ ’Really? He told me I would start.’ Coach Bryant wasn’t like that. He didn’t make me any promises.

 

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