Class of 2013
Charles “Chuck” Allen played football at Athens high school in the 50s but that was only half of the defensive tackle’s story that has him on his way into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame.
Allen was one of four Athens seniors to sign football scholarships at the University of Alabama in 1956.
In that time Alabama football had fallen on rough times under Coach Jennings Whitworth who led the Tide to a winless season in 1955.
“Things were terrible there,” said Baxter Booth, a teammate of Allen at Athens and Alabama. “It was no doubt about it, you couldn’t have gone to Alabama at a worse time.”
Allen’s first two years at Alabama were on losing teams so in 1958, a change was made when Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant came to the Tide.
“Coach Bryant came in, Alabama had won four games in three years, so he had a lot of attitude changing to do,” Booth said. “He started right off from the beginning and most people left, but Chuck stayed.”
Bryant coached his players hard with a style that broke the weaker play- ers and Allen even contemplated quitting the team. “It was very tough,” Allen said. “When Coach Bryant came to Alabama I think we had 106 players on scholarship at that time and at the end of spring training we had 43.”
Allen and Booth were two of those 43 players that didn’t quit and Allen credits his determination for a college degree as part of what drove him to stay at Alabama. “Baxter and I both talked about quitting and we both decided that we couldn’t because we cared,” Allen said. “I didn’t want to embarrass my family and this was a real opportunity to get a college education for me.” Allen would be the first person in his family to ever go to college so he made the most of it obtaining a business administration degree from UA.
Allen lettered three years at Alabama and was a part of a program that hit rock bottom but had risen from the ashes to win seven games in 1959.
That same team in Bryant’s second year played in the Liberty Bowl against Penn State.
“Chuck survived,” Booth said. “That’s what you did, you tried to survive and he did.” Now that Allen’s playing days are long past him, he can look back and remember how much he loved playing at Athens.
Being a hall of famer, well that’s just gravy. “I’ve always been proud to play football at Athens so it’s a great honor for me and my whole family,” Allen said. The 74-year-old now is enjoying retirement in what he calls paradise in Destin, Fla. For Allen the key thing to success in football carried him to Alabama, through Alabama and into the LCSHOF. “Toughness wins and that is still the case now as well as it was back then.”