Story ruins magazine, not Bryant, Butts

By Charles Goldberg
Birmingham News staff writer

The Saturday Evening Post promised careers would be ruined when it published a story on March 23, 1963, that accused University of Alabama head coach Paul Bryant and Georgia Athletics Director Wally Butts of fixing an Alabama-Georgia football game.

“A great sport will be permanently damaged. For many people the bloom must pass forever from college football,” the magazine wrote.

The Saturday Evening Post could not have been more wrong. “The Story of a College Football Fix” did not change college football. Indeed, the story that could have rocked SEC football instead hastened the demise of the Saturday Evening Post. The magazine would lose a legal battle with Butts, reach an out-of-court settlement with Bryant, get reprimanded by a judge in Atlanta and lose every battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The already financially-troubled publication was doomed.

The story came about quite by accident.