Sad news coming out today, as Bubba Smith was found dead in his Los Angeles home at the age of 66. I do feel a bit sad, but some of you who are old enough to remember Bubba's Michigan State days will undoubtedly have stronger feelings, recalling his dominance for the great MSU football teams in the mid-60s. He was an All-American in 1965 and 1966, played 10 years in the NFL, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. His number, 95, was raised into the Ring of Honor in 2006.
I don't have any personal memories to share, so I offer this piece from a Sports Illustrated article written after the Game of the Century:
The game was marked by all of the brutality that you somehow knew it would be when such gladiators were to be present as Michigan State's 6-foot-7, 285-pound Bubba Smith, "the intercontinental ballistic Bubba," a creature whose defensive-end play had long ago encouraged Spartan coeds to wear buttons that said KILL, BUBBA, KILL.
Bubba killed, all right. He killed Notre Dame Quarterback Terry Hanratty early in the first quarter. When Hanratty, a sensational sophomore for eight games, slid off right tackle on a keeper, Bubba Smith whomped him in the left shoulder and separated it. He caught him just right, as they were falling. It looked as if Hanratty had been smacked by a giant swinging green door.