December 14, 2024 | The Historic Cramton Bowl

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December 14, 2024

9:00 pm ET/8:00 pm CT on ESPN

Montgomery, Alabama

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF

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SECS

Gailey Honored at Camellia Bowl Luncheon

Posted December 26, 2022
Chan gailey

By Tim Gayle

Chan Gailey has coached football for nearly five decades and the 70-year-old Georgia native got a chance on Monday to reflect on his first head coaching role at Troy State in the mid-1980s.

“I got to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen (in years),” Gailey said. “Just guys that coached with me before and support the Troy program and Johnny (Williams, the executive director for the Camellia Bowl). You get to appreciate the relationships you’ve had throughout the years.”

Gailey was the recipient of the Alabama Legends Award, presented by Regions Bank, this year and was honored at the annual luncheon held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center on Monday afternoon.

“We’ve been blessed way beyond what we deserve,” Gailey said. “This is truly a humbling event for me. You know, you don’t think about it. You guys that are out there right now, you don’t think about what your life’s going to be like. All you can go do is you go out and be the best you can be, whatever that is, day after day.”

Gailey is the eighth recipient of the award, joining Bobby Bowden, Pat Dye, Woodrow Lowe, Gene Stallings, Johnny Davis, Larry Blakeney and Woody McCorvey.

Gailey also will be recognized prior to the 11 a.m. kickoff at Cramton Bowl of the Camellia Bowl, featuring Georgia Southern and the University of Buffalo. At Monday’s luncheon, Gailey directed his remarks to the players, calling football “the ultimate team sport in the world today.”

“If you look at all the other sports that are out there — baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey, water polo, volleyball, I’m not going to name them all — but by the design and the plan of every one of those games, everybody touches the ball or the puck or whatever it is,” Gailey said. “But in the game of football, we’ve got a group of people called the offensive linemen that by the design and the plan of the game, they don’t touch the ball. Their whole job is to get down in the trenches and get nasty and dirty against other guys that weigh 300 pounds and they never get their name called out over the loudspeaker. They never get to dance in the end zone. They never get their name called out on ESPN. They’re in there doing their job, working their rear end off, so that somebody else can score the touchdown. They’re doing it for the team.”

The bowl, Gailey added, has the same type of involvement from a group of volunteers that do thankless work to ensure the teams get recognition.

Gailey, a former backup to All-American quarterback John Reaves at Florida, coached as an assistant at Florida, Troy and Air Force, as a head coach at Troy, Samford and Georgia Tech, as a coordinator with the Broncos, Steelers, Dolphins, Jets and Chiefs and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills in the National Football League and the Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football, giving him a perspective that few can match.

He has served as a defensive coordinator (Air Force) and as an offensive coordinator in four Super Bowls, but is best remembered in this area as the coach who helped Troy State win a Division II national championship in 1984.

“It’s amazing, the feeling,” Gailey said. “Somebody says who’s the best team you’ve ever coached? We’ve won a bunch of football games, been to four Super Bowls. But if you don’t say the national championship team, something’s wrong.”

He urged the players to make their stay in Montgomery a memorable one.

“I want to congratulate both teams, both coaches, both support staffs,” Gailey said. “You can’t do it without the coaches that you’ve had through the years. And I hope you enjoy this time. You never get this moment over again, this week over again, this game over again. Hope you enjoy it; hope you cherish it like I’ve cherished my years in this game.”

Later, as he reflected on his lifelong journey with the greatest team sport in the world, he said changes in the sport through name, image and likeness, the transfer portal and other recent moves by the National Football League is taking a toll on the sport.

“I started playing football in 1960 and started coaching (at Troy) in 1976,” Gailey said. “I started in the game of football and when I got to the pros, I ended up in the entertainment business. I really like that football business a lot better than I like that entertainment business. Now we’ve seen the entertainment part of it trickle down to the college game and maybe even to the high school game somewhat and we’re losing the game that I love so much. It’s still there in its basic form but we’re losing some parts of it that I have held dear through the years.”