Dan Whitehurst was a big ol' linebacker from a little South Georgia town. During the 1970 - 72 seasons, Dan brought down many opposing ball carriers with teeth-rattling tackles. But the one that older Noles remember best goes back to Thanksgiving night in 1970. FSU was playing Houston, the final game on the turkey day TV menu. The Noles had a fairly stout defense that year, but Houston took advantage of a key second half injury and...But let's allow Whitehurst himself to tell the story.
"We were ahead 26 - 12 at the half. And then Tommy Warren (QB) dislocated his shoulder and didn't tell Coach Henning (offensive coordinator Dan Henning). So he was throwing wounded ducks out in the flats, and they kept intercepting for touchdowns. And on the third one that was going for a touchdown, the guy (Nick Holm) came down our sideline and (Bill) Parcells said 'somebody oughta get him.' And I go, 'I got him, coach.' So I held onto Parcell's arm and reached out just as far as I could -- I had to lean way out there to get him with my foot to trip him. So I didn't even think, I just did it on impulse."
Were the coaches upset?
"Well, we wound up losing the game 53 - 21, one of the worst defeats we had in ten years or so. But Coach Peterson said he felt like doing it himself. And Parcells's reaction was 'at least I know he's paying attention.' So they didn't give me a real hard time about it."
What was your most memorable game at FSU?
"I guess it would be the inaugural Fiesta Bowl. We couldn't stop Danny White and Arizona State. And Parcells was openly weeping after the game. He just couldn't get the defenses right and Danny White just picked us apart. It wasn't lack of effort, he knew it was coaching, so that's why he was so upset after the game (Note: FSU's Gary Huff threw for 347 yards and two TDs in a seesaw battle won by ASU 45 - 38)."
You played under both Bill Peterson and his successor Larry Jones. Was that a tough transition for the players?
"Jones kept the assistant coaches, so it didn't change too much except that Parcells kind of ran the show. He was a dominating kind of guy. Larry was a good coach, too, a good organizer. But he didn't have an aggressive personality like Parcells did."