SEC: Tony Nathan
September, 4, 2009
By Chris Low | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
|AP Photo/Ron Heflin|
|Major Ogilvie, who turned 50 in December, still lives in Birmingham.|
I’m always asking somebody or they’re asking me, “Whatever happened to this player or that player?”
Well, we’re going to find out every week this year during the season.
Our first “Where are they now?” installment centers on former Alabama running back Major Ogilvie, a fixture in the Crimson Tide’s wishbone offense back in the late 1970s. Ogilvie was a trademark Bear Bryant player. He was smart, tough and versatile enough that he also played on special teams.
Ogilvie, who turned 50 in December, still lives in Birmingham and works as a division manager for Block USA, a company that manufactures concrete products. He travels extensively, but still attends most of the Alabama games.
His wife, Jane, also went to Alabama, and they have three children. Their son, Morgan, is a sophomore quarterback at Alabama. Their oldest daughter, Mary Riley, is a senior in high school, and their youngest daughter, Collier, is in the eighth grade. The girls are also athletes and play everything from volleyball, to basketball, to running on the track team.
Ogilvie played from 1977-80 at Alabama, was a part of two national championship teams and only lost four times during his college career. That’s after winning two state championships during his last two years of high school and going unbeaten. He went to training camp with the San Francisco 49ers after completing his college career, but was released near the end of camp.
He shared time in the Alabama backfield with an assortment of runners, namely Tony Nathan. His most productive season was 1978 when he rushed for 583 yards, averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns. Ogilvie averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry all four seasons at Alabama, and though he only carried the ball 299 times during his career, finished with 25 rushing touchdowns.
Ogilvie still counts his blessings that he had a chance to play under Bryant.
“Coach Bryant was such a strong, positive influence for all of us. You have a hard time letting that go,” said Ogilvie, who will be in Atlanta on Saturday night for the opener against Virginia Tech. “He just had a way of making you think that you could do whatever you wanted to do. I think coach (Nick) Saban has a lot of those same tendencies and that same presence about him.
“You hear guys who played for Coach Bryant say there’s not a day that goes by that they don’t think about something he told us or taught us. That’s true.”
Ogilvie continues to be amazed at how much the college game has transformed. He came to Alabama weighing 169 pounds and got up to around 178 before he was finished.
He jokes that he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash when he was at Alabama, which was fast for those days.
“As you get older, you get faster. I think I could run a 3.9 now,” Ogilvie cracked.
His two most memorable plays were non-offensive plays. He tackled Auburn’s James Brooks in the open field on a kickoff return in 1978 to save a touchdown.
“He broke through there, and it was just me and him,” Ogilvie recalled.
The other play came in the 1979 Sugar Bowl Classic against Penn State, which ranks as one of the most memorable wins in Alabama history. The Crimson Tide’s goal-line stand preserved a 14-7 win and earned them their first of two straight national titles.
In the second quarter of that game, Penn State’s Rich Milot intercepted Jeff Rutledge and motored down the sideline for what looked like would be a touchdown. But Ogilvie came roaring across the field to knock Milot out of bounds before he reached the end zone.
“It was a great time to be at the University of Alabama when I was there,” Ogilvie said. “Coach Bryant had been there for more than 20 years, so there was a lot of carry-over. I’ll always be grateful to all the players and coaches who came before us and helped build that great tradition.”
Ogilvie said the two best players he played against at Alabama were Penn State linebackers Matt Millen and Bruce Clark.
“That’s an easy choice,” he said.
His toughest loss is just as easy: The 6-3 setback to Mississippi State during his senior season in 1980 that snapped a 28-game winning streak and cost the Crimson Tide a share of the SEC title.
The game was played at Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss., which is about 300 yards away from a plant Ogilvie calls on in Jackson for his company.
“We were on the 1-yard line the last play of the game. I’m still reminded of that every time I go to Jackson,” Ogilvie said.