The Battle at Bristol between Virginia Tech and Tennessee on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC) has us thinking about cars. In this case, we're thinking about first cars.
Long before the seven-figure contracts and school-issued Escalades, coaches were just like us, driving around in cars that may not have been the prettiest but still hold special memories. Dan Mullen drove his ballet-teacher-mother's ride, which had the license plate "UDANCE." Bill Snyder had a 1946 (!) yellow convertible that his mother forced him to give back because he was staying out too late. Kliff Kingsbury got stuck in a lake while trying to, in his words, "be really smooth with a female friend."
Here are our favorite first-car stories from coaches:
Bill Snyder, Kansas State, 1946 yellow Mercury convertible
I was raised by a single-parent mother. My first automobile, my father -- they were separated -- bought a 1946 yellow Mercury convertible. I was 16 years old and I didn't deserve to have an automobile and my mother knew that. She was in chagrin that I did. It kind of affected things. I started staying out a little bit later than I should and driving around and maybe got a little distracted from the way my mother wanted me to be. I didn't have it maybe at best two weeks. My mother called my father and said either you come and get this automobile tomorrow or you will find it in the Missouri River, which was about six blocks away from our house. Sure enough, my father came and got the automobile.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech, white Ford F-150 truck
Kind of a ranch truck my grandfather gave me off of his ranch, not his in-town driving truck, so it was a little rough, but it got around. I got it stuck in a lake, in his lake, one night trying to be really smooth with a female friend and he had to come pull me out at about 2 a.m., so, bad look. Bad night.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State, 1984 Ford Mustang
My first car, I turned 16, my mom had an old '84 Ford Mustang with the T-bar roof, the glass roofs you can take off and put in the container in the back. It was kind of one of those down years for Mustangs. It wasn't one of the really awesome, cool ones. I ended up getting it to have to drive my younger brother and sister around, so you took on an awful lot of responsibilities. But I tell you what: When you're 16, you pop the roof off a car, you did feel pretty cool blaring some music out of a bad stereo in this somewhat not-so-cool car. The only issue was my mom teaches classical ballet and the license plate at the time said UDANCE. So all of my friends would laugh because we'd go out in the UDANCE-mobile.
Jim McElwain, Florida, 1972 pea-green Ford Pinto
My first car, it really comes to ownership, was a 1972 Ford Pinto. Sweet-pea green. And I had a killer eight-track tape deck. Listenin' to tunes (Earth, Wind & Fire), rollin' down the road, that stick shift hummin' ... There ain't nothing like a Ford Pinto.
Dabo Swinney, Clemson, black Nissan Sentra
Looked like a little BMW. It was awesome.
Best moment: Getting it back after I had it about a month. It went over a cliff and smashed into a tree. Kicked out of gear and I had to pay on it for like a year, making payments before I got it out of the Bondo shop. Getting it back was like getting a new car all over again.
Whose fault was the accident? I guess it was mine. I put it in second gear and got out of the car and it kicked out of gear. I was getting ready to go in my buddy's truck and clean gutters and work, and turn around and it was rolling. I got in front of it trying to stop it and it kept rolling and momentum went off the driveway into the woods and T-boned into a tree. It was a devastating moment. I only had it like a month and I didn't have a car prior to that. So I was without a car for another year. I ended up not having insurance on it, so that's why it was in the shop for so long.