For many, many years the college football path has included many players, a handful of which became assistant football coaches, a few of those head coaches, and a few of those directors of athletics at the college level.
Bill Battle followed that path, although he had an interruption of a few decades in which he founded and ran the ultra-successful Collegiate Licensing Corporation. In his roles as an Alabama football player, head football coach at Tennessee, and now athletics director for the Crimson Tide, Battle has had the opportunity to participate in the Sugar Bowl.
Battle was an outstanding end on Coach Paul Bryant’s first Alabama national championship team in 1961. That Crimson Tide finished its season with a 10-3 win over Arkansas in New Orleans.
In 1970, Battle was named head football coach at Tennessee. He was 28 years old. That Volunteers squad won 11 games, including a 34-13 win over Air Force in the Sugar Bowl.
In his first year as athletics director at his alma mater, Battle made it to the Sugar Bowl in his third capacity. The Crimson Tide, though, did not win, falling to Oklahoma, 45-31.
Battle is not unique in being at the Sugar Bowl as player, head coach, and athletics director, but it’s probably a short list.
Bryant made it as a coach both at Kentucky and Alabama and was athletics director at Bama throughout his head coaching career. In his playing career, though, his only bowl game was the Rose Bowl.
Frank Broyles, who was head coach at Arkansas when Battle played against the Razorbacks in the 1962 Sugar Bowl, also made it as a player and as an athletics director. He was a star quarterback at Georgia Tech when the Yellow Jackets defeated Tulsa, 20-18, in the 1944 Sugar Bowl. He was director of athletics at Arkansas when Alabama’s 1979 national championship team clinched the title with a 24-9 win over the Razorbacks in the Sugar Bowl.
Vince Dooley made it both as head coach and athletics director at Georgia, but in his Auburn player career the Tigers did not make it to the Sugar Bowl. Pat Dye was coach and AD at Auburn when the Tigers did make it to a Sugar Bowl, but Dye never played in the game during his career at Georgia.
Charley McClendon was a star player for Bryant at Kentucky on the 1950 Southeastern Conference championship team that went to the Sugar Bowl and upset Oklahoma, 13-7. McClendon was later an outstanding coach at LSU and took two teams to the Sugar Bowl. McClendon, though, was never athletics director.
A number of prominent names in college football made it to the Sugar Bowl in more than one capacity. Mal Moore did it as a player and athletics director at Alabama and also as an assistant coach, but not as a head coach. Steve Sloan also did it as a player and AD at Bama, but in four head coaching stops (Vanderbilt, Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Duke) he never had a team in the Sugar Bowl.
Doug Dickey made it both as coach and athletics director at Tennessee, but not as a player at Florida. Johnny Majors was a player and a head coach for the Vols in the Sugar Bowl, but was never an athletics director.