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A Suggestion for the Permanent Captain Displays at Denny Chimes

No, this idea had nothing to do with this. I've actually been thinking about this for quite some time...

Last summer my dad came to visit me in Tuscaloosa. Summers in any college town are slow and uncrowded, but this week was particularly slow given that it was between summer and fall classes. He said he came down to visit then because he was normally only in Tuscaloosa on football weekends or for basketball games and there was always a sense of urgency during his visits. He wanted time to stroll around an uncrowded campus in an unhurried manner.

We walked over to Denny Chimes to check out the permanent captain displays. We both have seen them a million times but not in this way. He'd usually see them on football weekends when it was crowded or I'd scurry past them on the way to class barely taking notice of them since they'd become part of the backdrop of my daily life. This day, however, we walked around Denny Chimes enjoying time together as father and son (and football fans.) We reminisced about the players we both had watched in action and he regaled me with tales of players from days long before I walked the earth that might escape a younger generation of fans. Sure, I knew all about the big names of the past, but there are certainly lesser known names enshrined in concrete at Denny Chimes that I have no idea who they are. It was a really fantastic late summer afternoon and I had a blast talking football with my old man (one of our favorite topics.)

One thing that struck me though is how worn out some of the concrete is. Some names are becoming difficult to read and others are quite worn even though you can tell who they are. Even the displays of players as recent as George Teague are showing pretty significant wear and tear both to the name and to the prints. Not only are they getting pretty worn out, but they take up an enormous amount of space when they don't really need to. It looks like the current size is based upon what they did earlier when they were close to the sidewalk of University Boulevard. Each player's portion is pretty large and it doesn't really need to be given that it has their name, the year they were elected captain and their hand and foot print. I was thinking perhaps the concrete should come up and they be replaced with something similar to the Hollywood walk of fame where the each player's area is done in stone rather than concrete. It would last longer and look better and take up less space. At the current rate, in another decade the concrete is going to start taking over the quad.

Instead of stars, they could have football helmets with the players number on it, which would naturally match our actual helmets. It could then have the players name, and the year they were captain like it does now. These could probably be 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the current monuments. The handprints and footprints would probably be a casualty of my proposed renovation, but I think it would be a small price to pay. Perhaps a compromise could be that they'd have the handprint and (actually) cleatprint be done in bronze and inlaid into the stone. That part of the tradition could be preserved but it would last a lot longer. I don't look at this so much as changing a tradition as I do improving it. These things can't go on at their current size forever. Something has to be done eventually to both maintain the current ones (some of which are in bad repair) and to address space concerns. For the players that are still alive, perhaps they could re-cast them for the new monuments or perhaps it would just be left off of the replacements.