Former Alabama DB Mike Washington Reflects on 1973 Sugar Bowl


By Ashley Thompson

Alabama and Notre Dame have met only 6 times in history with Alabama winning just 1 of those 6 games.

Mike Washington still remembers even the smallest details about two classic games in college football history. The 1973 Sugar Bowl and the 1975 Orange Bowl.

In both 1973 and 1974, Alabama went undefeated in the regular season and were seen as a powerhouse to the college football world. Washington says Bear Bryant's tough-love approach to coaching helped shape the winning team.

"He was...the statue of the man," he says. "He was 6-6, 200 something pounds. He would tell you in a minute if you don't want to go to school here, if you don't want to work, I'll send you back to your mama."

Before the Sugar Bowl of '73, Washington says he wasn't even sure if he'd be healthy enough to play.

"I had an accident in the shower and hurt my ankle and I wasn't sure I was going to play in that game."

But he says he had to grin and bear it and take the field. And that's exactly what he did. Although a bit anxious at the start of the game, he says nerves soon wore off.

After the first play, the nerves gone," he says. "You're back, you're back at work and you're ready to go. The first play. After that, take a deep breath and play ball."

He says errors were made by him and his teammates and says it's often the little mistakes made that decide a game. He remembers a fumble in the Sugar Bowl that was costly



"We were all on the ground trying to get the punt. My nose was next to Tyrones'. And while we were down there I said 'Do you have it Tyrone?' And he said 'I dont have it Mike.' So we asked Shelby did he have it. [He said] 'I don't have it either.' So we knew then we were in trouble," he explains. 

Not only did Alabama lose to Notre Dame that year in the Sugar Bowl, they lost to them the following year in the Orange Bowl. But Washington says he still has respect for Notre Dame and how they found a way to win.

"Those two years, Notre Dame was the best," he says. "The best that day. Maybe if we would have caught them on another day, we would have been the best. But they were the best...can't take that from them."

Mike Washington told me he hopes that Alabama wins next week but of course, it's anybody's ball game.