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A TALE OUT OF OUR PAST: Remembering The "Big Men On Campus"

Updated on June 19, 2013

The "Big Man on Campus"

always making the scene, looking good, and super- popular.
always making the scene, looking good, and super- popular. | Source

(This piece is sincerely-dedicated to all of the once-revered and envied, “Big Men on Campus,” who, by their individualism, original thoughts, reckless and fearless feats, changed the very face and tone of high schools and colleges almost everywhere in the United States. At least they tried.) Kenneth

You could spot them a hundred yards away. They were impossible to miss. Always standing-out in any crowd with cheap shave lotion drawing needed-attention to themselves. Yes, these were “men of great valor,” and even though they are only a forgotten memory today in 2013, they are still a big part of our country’s fabric.

The “Big Men on Campus.” Or in more-correct grammatical-terms, “Big Man on Campus,” for the mere reason that the title was used in a singular sense for “any” man (back then), who excelled at sports of any area, but mostly the jock’s who were the “homemade,” backyard super stars of the high school or college football team.

Yes, sir. Give these guys a “letter’d” school jacket and they became kings among slaves of the school system walking so pristinely without any flaw of hair, complexion or speech. What a man to be envied, a “Big Man on Campus.”

“I” was never a “Big Man on Campus,” but “I” was a big man on my grade school and high school campuses simply because of my weight. You see, “I” was a hefty, husky lad for my age and “I” grew to be pretty proud of my expansive girth that gave me the appearance of an early Volkswagen. Yes, the girls giggled when “I” entered any room and the guys all horse-laughed at the very sight of a kid my size being able to move like I did.

But in time, I grew to hate myself for the size I had become. I bet you thought I was going to say that in time, I grew to accept myself for being so portly.

At least, (a silver-lining reference), I was chosen quickly when we guys got up a game of tag football at recess. But that didn’t mean squat when what I really dreamed of being was a “Big Man on Campus.”

That honor went to the cool, athletic, good-looking guys like Alan Cantrell, who is my CPA now, Steven Palmer, Jim Fowler (not the Los Angeles Zoo Fowler), and Ricky Lee, who by the way is my cousin, but denied it vehemently when I brought this fact up one time on the playground.
“awww, go to hell,” smart alec, Ricky spewed in his uppity tone and made his way to where the other smart alec’s were hanging out.

To this day, I have never got past those hurtful words that came from his lips that stuck out from being given his way by parents, teachers, and fellow classmates. All except me. I didn’t care what he did or where he went.

It was easy (for me) to see why Alan, Jim, Steven and Ricky were “Big Men on Campus,” for they had “certain,” distinguishable traits that made them stand out from the crowd.

These guys always smelled good. You could say that they had “that” smell, because these four “Big Men on Campus,” always smelled like Lux soap. I don’t know why, except that maybe their mom’s made them bathe with this brand-name soap thinking that by doing that, they would be cleaner, cooler than “us,” guys of a lower-level in class.

And these four guys always wore clean, pressed sport clothes to school every day. Plus, they all wore name-brand sneakers. Keds, I believe, because I spent many hours just staring, coveting their fancy footwear because my mom, bless her soul, could only buy me an off-brand shoe and maybe a pair or two of Wrangler jeans from a Mr. Hershel King, who owned a department store in my hometown of Hamilton, Alabama. Oh, and bless his soul too, for he too, is gone to his life in the hereafter.

Teachers loved Alan, Jim, Steven and Ricky no matter what they did to “us” lower-class kids. Even when they were caught “red-handed” poking fun at us or throwing a sharp pencil at us, it didn’t matter. The teachers just grinned and pretended that they didn’t see the transgression.

I would tell you what happened with me and my buddies, Gilbert Abbott, J.G. Boyett, Harold Sanderson or the now-late J.D. Northam when “we” were caught “red-handed,” in some harmless act of mischief, but I won’t. I don’t want to offend the kids who might be online reading this story.

Just how did I get off-track here? I was going to elaborate more about the “Big Men on Campus,” and I do apologize for my thoughts straying back to when “I” was acquainted with the fabled, cool, and always-sharp-dressed, “Big Men on Campus,” in “my” day and time.

What a cool group these guys were, the “Big Men on Campus.” These guys, even college guys in “my” day, 1964 through 1967, were “it,” and that sums them up in a word.

If you were a guy, and a “Big Man on Campus,” you were never lonely. You always had plenty of available female companionship just by winking. You didn’t have to rely on the message-carrying abilities of a best buddy named “Hal,” to get your message of romance to a girl named, “Saucy Lucy,” who was “Hal’s” sister’s best girlfriend and also shared Home Economics class with her. It was so easy for a “Big Man on Campus,” to date as many “Saucy Lucy’s” as he desired. The only problem a “Big Man on Campus,” would encounter would be that of getting bored from all of the gorgeous girls clamoring after him and his always-taut athletically-built body.

I wished then, and wish now, that “I” had been burdened with that problem. Guys like me, Gilbert Abbott, J.G. Boyett, Harold Sanderson or the now-late J.D. Northam, had to do everything we could and sometimes begging to just get a pretty girl’s attention, that always disintegrated because a “Big Man on Campus,” would, like the fine-tunings of a well-made wall clock, stroll by and raise an eyebrow and that was it for “us,” guys on struggled to survive on the lower tier of those school days.

To make matters worse, I always had this reoccurring nightmare about me “actually” getting one of “those” school days beauty queens to not only give me the time of day, but go out on a real date with me. (The nightmare part is coming next.)

I would take this special gal to a great place to eat, say, Jackson’s Airport Drive-In, a real place located on the corner adjacent to the asphalt road leading to our airport in Hamilton.

Then maybe take her to a sizzling romantic movie, one of those Sean Connery jobs where as “Agent 007,” he would simply clear his throat and some beautiful blonde from Sweden would fall all over him, and by now, “I” am in the back seat “making out” with this “angel” as if I had no tomorrow to live.

Suddenly, and miraculously, she gets “the urge,” to go all the way and I am beside myself with excitement, so much so that all of my car windows are fogged-up and it in July.

We experience a good bit of heavy petting and then she says, “I am yours. Take me!” And man, do I ever take her to levels of pure sexual pleasures that she will never know at anytime after this date with me. I am so happy at this point of my dream.

I can hear the dialogue between this pretty brunette who is sweating and panting in hopes that I will satisfy her animal cravings like the young man that I am.

“yes, Ken, that’s it! Yes, baby! Yeah, ohhh, ahhhh!”
“so you like that, huh? Oh, yeah, you are a beautiful girl!”
“shhh, Ken, please! Ahhh, yesss, that’s it . . .that’s . . .
ohhhh, A-l-l-l-l-a-a-a-n! S-t-e-v-e-e-en! J-i-m! R-i-c-c-c-c-k!”
“ooops, sorry! I mean . . .Ke-n-n-n-n-!”

But by now, my male ego is shot down like a cheaply-built German fighter plane in World War I, and I am more than ready to take my hot girl to her house. And leave her standing on the front porch.

Then I wake up. Then thank God that it was only a dream. The last part, the ugly and disappointing dialogue between the beauty queen and myself.

Now I am older, and not the much wiser than those painful pre-teen days and I still resent the fact that the “Big Men on Campus,” made my life, and the lives of my circle an existence of pure Hades, filled with mental torture, dread, and open-shame at not measuring-up to these school days “gods.”

Fact is, I am glad that the men who were “Big Men on Campus,” are now nothing more than an evening of dusty memories shared at someone’s high school reunion somewhere in our fair land.

Today as we inspect 2013, I cannot see one man locally or afar who can be considered a “Big Man on Campus.” I have to admit that I am a bit sad for those guys who are so driven as to be “the measuring stick,” by which all guys are measured in grade school, high school and then college.

Oh, there are guys in high school and college now days who are fair candidates for the coveted-title of a “Big Man on Campus,” but only if they are God-gifted in the area of sports and able to score at their chosen sport and score often.

If they do this, hello, scholarship.

Then it’s to do all over again and this time, our “Big Men on Campus,” candidates had better win The Heisman Trophy or be on the team who wins the National Championship, such as Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback, A.J. McCarron. Did you see his girlfriend, Kathrine Webb, in the stands watching him and his Tide beat the Fighting Irish 42-14 on January 6?

Katherine gave A.J. a huge, passionate kiss after the game and on national television. Her beauty was so rich that Brent Musberger, of CBS Sports, had to follow his heterosexual tendencies and exclaim, “Wow, is she pretty!” And is she ever pretty, folks.

Of course ESPN, the always-caring, always-sensitive sports network offered the nation a warm apology for Brent’s words that he used on the air. ESPN apologized although Musburger did “not” profane, demean, or sexually-suggest anything about Ms.  Webb.

This I do not understand.

I repeat again because I am a normal heterosexual man with a deep, deep appreciation for women, Katherine Webb “is” that pretty. So what’s the problem? If anyone at HubPages, ESPN or even the C.I.A., has one problem with my honest observation of Katherine Webb, well, take me before a Senate Hearing Committee and let’s clear the air about what “we” can and cannot say in America. Okay?

And just how ironic was the news that broke a few days after the Alabama, Notre Dame BCS National Championship Game about the Fighting Irish linebacker, Manti Te’o having been duped with a hot girl online, telling him how great he was and how she loved and cared for him. According to reliable sources, these calls to the Notre Dame superstar had went on for over two years.

Well, it goes to show that sometimes a “Big Man on Campus,” may be talented, recognized and even reverenced, while the lesser-applauded athlete such as A.J. McCarron gets to ride away with the pretty girl.

It’s funny. Now I do not feel so bad about being a “regular Joe” in grade school and high school.

I’m sure that Gilbert Abbott, J.G. Boyett, Harold Sanderson or the now-late J.D. Northam would agree with me too.

The "Big Man On Campus" in 2013

Withdrawn, sensitive, mild-spoken, center of attention, always making high grades.
Withdrawn, sensitive, mild-spoken, center of attention, always making high grades. | Source


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hey, picklesandrufus,

      I am so sorry for taking so long to respond. I have been sicker than usual and well, just hadn't had the strength and drive to type.

      You are most welcome for the compliment for it is true. And I thank God for OUR special connection and friendship. God bless you, my dear and good friend.

      KENNETH :)

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, picklesandrufus,

      Thank you very much for the warm compliment! And yes I am glad those days are gone. And thanks for your special friendship. God bless you.

    • picklesandrufus profile image


      5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      I think I grew up in your time, , because I remember times being like what you described. I actually liked the boys in the band. The jocks seemed too self absorbed to me. Aren't you glad those days are in the past. Being a teenager was so awkward. Great hub Kenneth!!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Greetings, Gypsy Rose Lee,

      Thank you for your insightful comment. I loved it. And yepp, it was the "other" guys, the left-out, abused, obscure and neglected guys and girls who grew to shape the world we live in today.

      Great point.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, DDE,

      Thank you kindly for your sweet comment. I value you and all of my followers, for if you like a hub, that makes my job easier, and even if you dislike a hub, that makes me work harder.

      You are truly a good friend.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Catgypsy,

      I cannot see you as a hippie. But you are right. The BMOC's and BGOC's were as you said, today without means to support themselves. If only they had learned that "fame and good looks can only get you so far." Great comment, cat.

      Love ya.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Ohhh, yes, "The Movie." I had forgotten all about that. Great scheme. My high school had a paper called the "Aggie Bark," and it's gossip section was TRUTH, for the student body was afraid of being sued by some kids' family lawyer.

      These were the BMOC's and their peeps. "MY" crew were always the beaten-down, run-over, and laughed-at crowd.

      Have I forgiven and forgot?

      What do you think????

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, writinglover/WW,

      Thanks for being so kind as to read and comment on this hub. You and I have this in common: Laughed at, verbally and physically-abused in school. And it never goes away. The emotional pain.

      But today, "those" "BMOC's" are NOT that big anymore. Some of them are jobless, divorced and without means to support themselves.

      "What goes around, comes around."

      And Yes, Wonder Woman, I love your roar. Rock on, Wonder Woman!

      Love ya,


    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and funny. An amusing tale indeed. My university was full of guys who were big sports jocks and didn't know what to do with themselves when university was coming to an end. So it was the other guys who were laughed at because they didn't go in too much for sport that scored big in the world when they graduated.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A well informed Hub about the big guys, I read new stuff here

    • catgypsy profile image


      5 years ago from the South

      When I was in high school, I was a hippie, so I wouldn't have gone out with a football player if you had paid me to! So, they weren't always adored by everybody. Also, a lot of these guys ended up with pretty crummy lives once their sports days were over. They had nothing to fall back on. See, there are two sides to every coin! Be happy with who you have become, because you have your own unique talents Kenneth!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. :)) In college my biggest routine was running the fake gossip column for the school paper. But in high school... Oh boy! The longest running routine was when my partner and I were shooting "The Movie".

    • writinglover profile image


      5 years ago from Lost...In Video Games

      This sounds just like me when I was growing up and I always got verbally and, occasionally, physically abused by my peers. You did, as usual, have me snickering when I came to the dialogue of a guy and a girl going at it. However...I am WONDER WOMAN! HEAR ME ROAR! LOL! :) Voted up funny and awesome!


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