I first met Logan Young in the early 1970s, when I was in Alabama’s sports information office. Logan was a good friend of Coach Paul Bryant, but was much closer to me in age and we were friends from the first day we met.
Logan did not attend The University of Alabama. He had attended Vanderbilt, where his father had been graduated. He had come to know Coach Bryant through his father, who had helped in Vanderbilt recruiting when Coach Bryant was on Red Sanders’ Commodores’ staff. Bryant had the Memphis area. When Coach Bryant introduced me to Logan, he told me that Logan’s father had bought Coach Bryant an overcoat, the first he had ever had.
Logan’s family made a lot of money in the margarine business in Osceola, Arkansas. When the high school asked Logan for money to build a field house, he made that donation and named it for his parents.
But he wasn’t just a trust fund baby. He was a brilliant businessman who did very well in operating businesses and in investments. And he had a knack for seeing through the schemes that came his way, avoiding the pitfalls of many investors.
I had my final conversation with Logan the day before he died. He called late Monday morning. I didn’t recognize his voice for a moment because he sounded so good. He had not had a good winter following his kidney transplant last fall. He had wanted to go to Florida, but he couldn’t fly because of the concern of picking up an infection in an airplane. But Monday he said he was feeling great.
Our conversations were usually about the same. We talked for about an hour and at least 50 minutes of that concerned (for not the first time this spring) how I thought the team had done in spring practice, whether we would get some defensive tackles in the next recruiting class (he believed a team could not have too many defensive linemen), and what the prospects were of getting a full load of academically qualified basketball signees.
He asked how the Crimson Tradition campaign was going and about the construction at Bryant-Denny Stadium. We talked about him coming to Tuscaloosa this summer for a tour of the facilities. Not an official tour. He knew that wasn’t possible. But I would take him around and show him things.
As always, he asked about my wife, Lynne, and about my children and grandchildren.
I knew his son -- we still call him Little Logan, even though he must be in his late 30s now -- but we didn't often talk about him. When Little Logan was in school at Alabama I occasionally got a call beginning, "Mr. McNair, Dad said I should call you." It usually meant a little problem. I haven't seen Little Logan in many, many years.
We didn’t talk about his case very often, but Monday I asked him if there were any developments. There weren’t. He said he thought it would be over a year before he could appeal his conviction and the six-month prison sentence. As he often did, he said he would be glad to get the case out of Memphis and into a non-jury courtroom in Cincinnati. And, also as he often did, he said he knew he would be vindicated.
Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News called me with the first sketchy reports this morning. I didn’t know what to think. When he said there were reports of Logan being dead I thought he must have been killed in a car wreck. I was shocked to hear it was a homicide. I went to our web site and saw where someone speculated on “self-inflicted.” I knew that wouldn’t be the case. Logan was a fighter.
And almost immediately I thought that now Logan would not have a chance to clear his name.
The Logan Young I knew was far different than portrayed by the media and by former Alabama President Andrew Sorensen and NCAA Infractions Committee chairman Tom Yeager and the legal community of Memphis. Suffice it to say that I and the circle of truly close friends of Logan (a circle smaller than might be guessed) did not believe for a minute that he had done anything close to what was alleged.
Logan had the means to enjoy to the fullest his love of football. Certainly, because of his connection to Coach Bryant, he became first and foremost an Alabama fan. But mainly he loved the game. He watched and read and was as expert as anyone I knew regarding both college and professional football. He had friends on the coaching staffs of many, many college and pro teams. He knew recruiting. He knew the draft.
He also enjoyed basketball.
And he had many other interests. He enjoyed entertainers. And he loved business. He was as interested in how Alabama was financing its capital improvements as he was in the structures.
I never failed to talk to him that he didn’t ask how Mal Moore was doing. He was not allowed to talk to Mal because of the NCAA restrictions, but I always passed his kind words along to Alabama’s director of athletics.
Like a lot of wealthy men, Logan sometimes seemed cheap. Almost all of his friends have had the experience I have of noticing that Logan was conveniently absent when a waiter presented a tab. It’s a funny feeling to pick up a check for a millionaire.
In Los Angeles one night after an Alabama upset of Southern Cal, I was in the majority who wanted to celebrate into the night. Logan was a minority of one. He was going to his room to watch the television replay of the game we had seen that afternoon.
He had a nice sense of humor, particularly appreciating hearing a joke or story, even more than telling.
Once at his home I went to fix a drink. Logan drank a moderately-priced Scotch, the same one I do. I picked up the bottle and it was empty. “You’re out of J&B,” I said. Logan replied, “I’ll run out of money before I run out of Scotch. Look in that cabinet.” I opened the door and there was a formation of a couple of dozen bottles.
I was in Memphis for a charity affair, also attended by Logan. The highlight of an auction was a Rolls Royce, a beautifully maintained car that was on the block with a minimum bid of something like $40,000. I told Logan I was thinking about making a quick $40,000 bid just to say I had bid on a Rolls Royce.
He said, “Don’t do it. I did that at one of these things in Nashville and no one else bid. Fortunately, Johnny Cash was looking for a Rolls Royce so I was able to sell it to him.”
We left the event before the Rolls Royce was auctioned off and went to Logan’s home, the home where his body was found today. Among those there was Ole Miss Coach Billy Brewer. Later some people who had stayed for the entire auction arrived. I asked how much the Rolls Royce had gone for. “Some lady bid $40,000 and no one else bid,” I was told. Logan had helped me dodge that bullet.
At my daughter’s wedding a few years ago, Logan and I were enjoying a toast. He looked around the room where there was an open bar, a feast table, an small orchestra playing. “You know what this makes me think of?” he said. “A guy with a convertible driving down the road throwing money out into the wind.”
I don’t do particularly well trying to explain my feelings today, and this essay seems to be somewhat disjointed and with nowhere to go. But I needed to write something.
I’ve lost of lot of friends through the years–way too many–and today I’ve lost another one. It always hurts.