Before there was Joe Paterno, before there was Bobby Bowden, before there was Paul Bryant, but after there was Alonzo Stagg, there was Woodrow Gribs.
Woodrow Gribs, born in Mudslip Mississippi in 1907 and coached until his untimely death in 1968 at the age of 43.
Woodrow Gribs was a master of defense, special teams, rerouting math and making whiskey.
His first coaching job was the 1931 Mudslip Mud Puppies PeeWee Football Team, Gribs compiled a 35 and 0 record during his time of coaching them. His Mud Puppy defense never gave up a point and in nine games his defense never allowed the other team to cross their own 35 yard line. Team captain Orson “Rocco” McFeely would say playing for Coach Gribs was his dream come true.
As word began to spread about the PeeWee Mud Puppies, offers for other coaching jobs came his way.
In 1932, a young college dean Frank Moorbeer, of Creaky Mountain State Community College offered a head coaching position to Woodrow Gribs, Even though Creaky Mountain State did not have a football team.
When asked why he went to Woodrow Gribs, Mr Moorbeer would explain; “We’s on a limited budget and a coach what makes his own whiskey would sure save us a hell of a lot of money.”
Although Woodrow Gribs did not have a formal education, having retired from schooling at the age of ten, to pursue his dream of becoming the master brewer at Slim Watkins whiskey still, he accepted the position.
To meet the education requirements Coach Gribs would attend class in the mornings to earn his degree and would assemble a coaching staff and football team after school.
It was hard work but Coach Gribs accomplished it all in less than two weeks.
When trying to choose a mascot, Coach Gribs told the student body; “We going to have a team what is tougher than a hogs nuts.”
Thus the Oysters of Creaky Mountain were born.
During his first season as head coach, Coach Gribs suffered his first defeat from the University of Waffle Falls (also known as Waffle U), a 3-0 shocker. He would later say that they cheated by putting lard on the ball before every kickoff causing his return men to fumble. It would be one of 4 losses in his collegiate career and the only time they would lose to the hated Waffle U.
The 1932 squad would however end the season with a 6 and 1 record with 4 of his opponents being shut out.
His 1933 team fared much better with a perfect 8-0 record, shutting out three opponents and allowing only one team to score more than 3 points. One of the shut outs was a revenge match against the hated Waffle U, when Gribs and the Creaky Mountain Oysters stunned them with a 76 – 0 beatdown, causing the head coach of Waffle Falls to leap from a cliff midway through the third quarter.
When asked why he refused to end the game at half time when the score was 38 – 0, Coach Gribs said “The greased us last year, so we’re going to fry their asses this year.”
Coach Gribs would shock the world however when his 1966 team would compile a 14-0 record in only 9 games.
During the 1967 season, the NCAA came calling with a list of complaints;
Complaint number one was that one player, particularly previous team captain, Otis “Rocco” Muldoon, had played four previous years as Orvis “Rocco” Mahoney, and the four years before that as Orville “Rocco” Macdabney.
A complaint which was vehemently denied by Coach Gribs and current team captain, Opie “Rocco ” Muldowney.
It was also brought up by the NCAA that the 1966 team only played 9 games but yet had a 14-0 record.
Gribs shrugged that complaint off by simply stating “The ass whupping we gave some of them boys was so bad them record keepers thought they got whupped twice.”
The investigation began to fizzle when two of the NCAA investigators were caught in photographs taking money from a Waffle Falls booster.
Two other NCAA investigators would be caught in compromising positions, one with a Thai hooker and the other with a goat.
Although cleared of any wrong doings, the investigation took it’s toll on Creaky Mountain State and on Coach Gribs, whose 1967 team would have a mediocre season with 11 wins and 0 losses but they allowed all of their opponents to score at least 3 points.
Before the 1968 team could take the field, strong rains washed Creaky Mountain University, Coach Gribs and his moonshine still, off the side of the mountain, killing Coach Gribs and causing injury, harm and heartbreak to several other people and a small farming community at the foot of the mountain.
During the funeral services one mourner would say ” I don’t know much about football, but that there Gribs feller sure made some good whiskey.”
Creaky Mountain State would never be rebuilt and the Creaky Mountain Oysters would never play another game. Compiling one of the greatest records in all of college football with 354 wins and just 4 losses all of which are debatable. Defeating their hated rival Waffle Falls University 36 of 37 times. Along with those wins came 26 Division IIIa-1/2 National Championships.
When former Waffle Falls Chancellor, James Stickinbutt, became head of the NCAA, they would re-open the investigation of Creaky Mountain U and without anyone being able to defend themselves and all the records having been destroyed in the avalanche and whiskey still explosion, the entire history of the Creaky Mountain Oysters would be stricken from the record books.
A victory for Waffle Falls University and Stickenbutt, that would be short lived.
Waffle Falls University would itself fall victim to nature when the school would be shut down due to almost the whole student body being attacked and bitten by a migrating, ravaging, hoard of angry rabid weasels.
Shortly after televising the NCAA event in which he ceremoniously removed Creaky Mountain from the annals of football history, James Stickenbutt was ironically found dead in Mudslip Mississippi, the hometown of Coach Gribs.
He had apparently been shot 27 times, stabbed another 190 times, his throat was cut and when he was found his body had been chained to concrete blocks and tossed off a bridge.
Sheriff Orwell “Rocco” McCarney would go on record as saying “Worst damn case of suicide I ever saw.”
The statue of Coach Woodrow Gribs and his whiskey still can be found in the town square of Mudslip Mississippi, if you can just find Mudslip Mississippi.