On Sunday, a Kentuckian will be thrust into the national and international spotlight perhaps more than any other son of the Commonwealth has ever been.
Yes, Phil “Whitey” Simms, the pride of Okolona, Southern High School and Morehead State University, will be explaining for us what is going on in the Super Bowl, the biggest sports event in our country.
Paul Hornung, the greatest football player in the history of Kentucky, won’t be surprised at Simms’ high achievement.
When Simms was drafted by the National Football League’s New York Giants, Hornung told me how lucky Simms was to be playing in the NFL because New York City is the media center of our nation.
“Simms will make more money than he has ever dreamed about,” predicted Hornung, Kentucky’s only Heisman Trophy winner.
On Sunday, Simms, now the lead color announcer for CBS, will team with play-by-play man Jim Nantz as the No. 1 network team. Until now Nantz has been best known for his smooth play-by-play announcing for the NCAA National Basketball Championship Tournament.
Simms’ work will be seen in Louisville on WLKY-32.
How did little Morehead get a great player like Simms?
Roy Kidd Helped!
If you promise that you won’t let Roy Kidd know that I am telling you this, I will tell you.
First of all, Kidd is among the top 10 winningest college football coaches. He won multiple national championships when he coached Eastern Kentucky University.
Then, as now, Eastern didn’t have the resources to do a lot of recruiting. For instance, Kidd and his assistant coaches would fan out over the state to watch prep players. One Friday night an assistant found Simms while scouting a Southern game in Louisville.
Kidd and his coaches would get together by phone to report on what they learned about players.
An excited Kidd assistant told him about Simms, but Kidd said that he had found a top quarterback prospect in Northeastern Kentucky and had offered him a scholarship.
Kidd told me, “Simms never beat us while at Morehead, but we had to chase him all over the field every year. And all my guy ever did was hold for our extra-point kicker.
Simms, of course, went on to lead the Giants to a Super Bowl championship.
He gave me a great feeling when he and I were inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in the same class.
Aren’t We Lucky?
Aren’t you glad that we live in a state that has unexcelled schools and plenty of money to send all of our children to our state colleges?
And better yet that we have so much money left over that we can pay two of our college basketball coaches and at least one – and maybe two – college football coaches more money than they ever dreamed of making?
And do you know what’s coming next? We have so much money that in the near future we can build new stadiums or add on until they reach 100,000!