TWER reviews ESPN’s ‘You Don’t Know Bo’

“I saw him, myself, jump over a Volkswagen. I saw it.” — Hal Baird.

You Don’t Know Bo. But you do, because he’s Auburn. There are allusions here to the mythos of Bo. We’re all a part of the mythos of Bo by now. After all of these years Bo is Auburn is us. And so is this documentary, in a way. You’re going to watch it, all of it, frame by frame.

The first story is from retired baseball coach Hal Baird, “I saw Bo jump over a Volkswagon.”

The second story, the one about Jackson standing in thigh-high water and doing a standing back flip, is from one of his coaches at McAdory High School. I’ve heard that one from a few different people that fit in that period of Jackson’s young life.

There’s the story about Jackson throwing a football up to the scoreboard before the Sugar Bowl. Randy Campbell told me that one himself.

Dickie Atcheson, his high school football coach, talks about Jackson using a pole vault pole designed for 180-pounders. Bo cleared 13 feet at 215 pounds.

There’s another story where he literally destroyed a batting cage in front of the top scout for the New York Yankees. In high school. With one hit.

Jackson talks about Paul Bryant calling him, about the neighbors coming over. “That’s the phone Bear Bryant called you on?”

The Alabama coaches, Jackson says, told him he probably wouldn’t play until the end of his sophomore year.

Another day, Jackson comes home to find some coaches from Auburn talking with his mother.

“Vincent. My name is Pat Dye … You come to Auburn I promise you I’ll give you every opportunity to play and start as a freshman.”

This is all in the first few minutes.

Pat Dye shows up in person. He’s standing on the field that carries his name. He looked across that 120 yard expanse of green and through the far stands and into the 1980s.

“He was a difference maker. Bo set the standards.”

(To hear Bo tell it here, Bo talked Dye into going over the top.)

The program is essentially chronological. He gets the Heisman with 54 minutes remaining in the program.

Dye, Baird and David Housel are here. National media testify. Jackson’s professional … let’s call them peers … are appropriately awed. There is plenty of contemporary Bo and wonderful archival footage. You’re going to watch it all.

You Don’t Know Bo was directed by Michael Bonfiglio (you can read TWER’s interview with him here). It premieres on ESPN on Dec. 8th at 9 p.m.

Kenny graduated from Auburn at the turn of the century. He worked in newsrooms across the region and then earned a master’s degree at UAB. He met and married a Yankee, who declared her Auburn allegiance at her first home game. She’s now on the faculty at Auburn. He’s finishing his PhD at Alabama and teaches at Samford University. And he’s an assistant editor at The War Eagle Reader. See him online at www.kennysmith.org and @kennysmith.

Keep Reading:

*  Bo Jackson and Michael Jackson
Anchors away, my Bo
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The Auburn plaque in 1984′s Tank

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