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Most serious football fans know Fordyce, the small Dallas County town, as the home of Paul “Bear” Bryant, the legendary Alabama football coach.
Now comes Mary Magee, a Fordyce High graduate, to chronicle the second most famous coach to spring from Dallas County — Jimmy “Red” Parker.
Not surprisingly, Magee and Parker talk quite a bit about Bryant in “Red: Beyond Football: The Legacy of Coach Jimmy ‘Red’ Parker” ($22.95, paperback, published by Hawk Publishing Co.).
The career of Parker, who started coaching at Fordyce and built a dynasty before moving on to Arkansas A&M (now the University of Arkansas at Monticello), the Citadel and finally Clemson University, stopped short of Bryant’s trajectory. At Clemson, Parker tells of meddling university trustees and backstabbing that cost him his job on the brink of great success. His successor, Danny Ford, won a national championship in part with players Parker recruited.
Magee, with copious details from players, coaches and Parker himself, paints a picture of the pure football days of the 1960s and 1970s when Parker’s precision offense and tough defense often stunned faster, bigger teams.
The book also tells stories of players touched by Parker and Parker’s own soul-baring.
There are year-by-year accounts of Parker’s coaching stints. The style might confuse sports page readers at times. (Magee writes that an A&M team fell to Ouachita, 6-12.) And she calls the Sheridan Yellow Jackets Lumberjacks at one point. But the book remains a testament to an innovative, swaggering coach.
— Maylon T. Rice