The summer of 1971 was one of tension and uncertainty. The country was rocked by the disclosure in Washington of the Pentagon Papers showing duplicity by former President Johnson regarding Vietnam. Closer to home, Alabamians were proud of the City of Birmingham’s designation as an “All-America City,” hopefully the beginning of the racial healing so sorely needed across the state.
But, in Tuscaloosa, some things never change. Speculation of the Crimson Tide’s prospects for the 1971 football season was underway, and no one was happy, least of all Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The 1970 season had begun poorly with a very sound whipping by USC in Birmingham and ended with a 6-5 record, including losses to archrival Auburn and a tie with Oklahoma in the Bluebonnet Bowl. After putting
together three National Championship teams in ‘61, ‘64 and ‘65, and an undefeated team in ‘66, the Alabama fanbase from across the state was clamoring for more of the same.
After back-to-back 6-5 seasons, they were asking, “What happened?” Championships had become a way of life, and the expectations were nothing less! The fans expected more, and Coach Bryant expected more!
Thus opens the era of the “WishBone Boys”— so named after the offensive football strategy that became legend and ushered in three more National Championships in ‘73, ‘78 and ‘79 and set the standard for all future teams to measure themselves against.
The wishbone era at the University of Alabama was the single most motivation influence to thousands of Alabamians of the 1970s, a time of hardship, monetary devaluation and more Washington scandals. But at least we had one thing — a coach that had “never been nothin’ but a winner” and his belief that he could teach and motivate young men to believe in themselves.
So begins the film “The WishBone Boys”— a film about believing with the right strategy, the right motivation and belief in themselves that a team with a less-than-stellar record could capture the imagination of all of NCAA football fans and give them a ride for their money. To this day, this magical era conjures up larger-than-life stories of the teams that won more than just football games, but the hearts of fans, touching off a romance between the two that is unequalled.
This film accurately traces the creation of the wishbone offense by Emory Bellard, assistant to Coach Darrell Royal, how it was secretly co-opted by Coach Bryant and reconstituted in a form that could be secretly taught to the Alabama team without playbooks or written information.
This film includes interviews of the coaches and players of the era that were the “boots on the ground.” It includes never-before-revealed information about the strategies, plays, players and coaches who were sworn to secrecy before the first game of the ‘71 season. It is all brought back to life through game footage and sideline commentary with all the intrigue and excitement of a bestseller.
The Documentary Trailer
For more information on the premiere of the Movie Preview in August 2021 in honor of Alabama's 50th anniversary of the Wishbone Offence, click here
This film documentary is dedicated to Mal Moore
When the project originated five years ago, Mal Moore was a strong supporter and helped get the process to where it is today. Mal even said himself that this film needed to be made because “the wishbone era was magic times at Alabama.”
Mal was very excited about this documentary. We are all truly indebted to Mal and the support that he provided on this project. He will be greatly missed. In beloved memory of Mal M. Moore 1939 – 2013.
Forty-nine percent of all profits from this film will be donated equally to the University of Alabama A-Club Foundation Scholarship Fund and the Big Oak Ranches. It is dedicated to Coach Mal Moore, without whose encouragement this film would have never come to fruition.