Forum Classics

Why Bo didn't sign with UA

Posted by TI (for Ken Donahue's son) on April 11, 2001

(Pat Donahue, the son of former Bama defensive coordinator Ken Donahue, wrote the following in an email message to Terry K and asked that it be posted on TI.)

You were correct in your post a few months back that Bama wanted and offered a scholarship to Bo Jackson. He was known as "Vincent Jackson" at the time. During that time period, it was my Dad's (Ken Donahue's) responsibility to recruit the Birmingham area. Through the years, I went to a lot of high school games with my Dad on his recruiting trips, and Bo was by far the best prospect I ever saw. The game I saw was McAdory versus, I believe, Mortimer Jordan. Bo was the biggest player on the field (bigger than any of the lineman, but with not an ounce of fat), and ran a kick off all the way back for a touchdown untouched, simply because he was so much faster than anyone else. Of course, everybody remembers how fast Bo was.

Interestingly enough, Bo was not considered (by the media) to be the best running back in the state that year. The media touted Alan Evans as the number one propect in the state. Evans also went to Auburn, but never played much as I recall.

I heard that someone said that Bo went to Auburn because my Dad would not guarantee that he would play his first year. I can tell you that my Dad never lied and guaranteed freshman playing time to anybody; not to Bo, not to Alan Evans, not even to Dwight Stephenson and Cornelius Bennett, not to anybody. My Dad's sell was based upon winning football games, in particular the real opportunity to win a national championship. As long as Coach Bryant was there, my Dad's promise was fulfilled to every player who came, as Bama was in the thick of things almost every year. My Dad told me specifically some time back that Bo went to Auburn because Bo's Mom worked for a big Auburn alumni. That is the long and the short of it.

I am sorry that Bo played for the wrong team, but his talent was a joy to watch. He was the most talented college running back I ever saw, and I think would have been considered one of the best ever in the pros if he hadn't gotten hurt so early.

Taking into account the whole package, running, blocking, catching, no fumbling, and doing what you are supposed to do off the field, I wouldn't trade Johnny Musso or Major Olgivie for anybody, not even Bo. Bama's record while Ogilvie played? 44-4 and two national championships. Bo and Auburn did not come close to that. Coming from a family that could take care of themselves financially, Major offered before his senior year to give up his scholarship, so Alabama could sign one more player. Coach Bryant of course refused. That was Alabama "class" on the part of both of these Bama legends.

Pat Donahue