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The AHSAA was saddened to learn of the passing of Hall-of-Fame football coach George “Shorty” White. He passed away Monday at age 90.
White, who was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, coached Banks High School in the 1960s and 1970s – winning two back-to-back state titles in 1972 and 1973 and had a 35-game streak without a loss going 34-0-1 from 1972-1974. His 1965 team also went 10-0 and was chosen state champion by The Birmingham News in the final year before the AHSAA state playoffs began.
“Coach Shorty White was a legend,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “Our prayers and condolences go out to his family. His program at Banks High School was considered one of the best in the nation in the early 1970s. His impact will be long lasting.”
He had a long list of outstanding players at Banks that went on to college and/or pro fame including Jimmy Sidle, his brother, and Larry Willingham (Auburn); Johnny Musso, Gary Rutledge and Jeff Rutledge (Alabama); who were among 88 former players who played collegiately at the Division I level. Current Duke University head coach David Cutcliffe is also one of his many players that went into coaching.
White moved to the college ranks joining Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s staff from 1975-1980 – assisting on two National Championship teams.
White compiled 116-68-5 overall high school coaching record over 19 seasons, including 100-37-5 from 1961-74 at Banks. He returned to the high school ranks after his stint at UA and closed his career at Pleasant Grove and American Christian.
“He was one of the three or four people that made the biggest impact on my life,” All-America running back Johnny Musso told Ben Thomas of Al.com. “He was one of those giants in my life. He took an interest in me when I was a freshman in high school, and that interest made a huge difference for me. I was really lucky. I played for some great coaches, and he was a great high school coach. I don’t think there has been a better one before or since.”
White’s high school coaching at Banks made it to the movie screen with the film Woodlawn, which focused a big part of its story on the Banks-Woodlawn game in 1994 that Banks won at Legion Field before a crowd of estimate at more than 42,000.
Jeff Rutledge quarterbacked White’s Jets during the historic 1972, 1973 and 1974 seasons, directed Alabama’s 1978 National Championship team and spent 14 years in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants and Washington Redskins, playing in a Super Bowl with each team.
“He had as much if not more of an impact on my life than any coach I ever played for, and obviously I played for some good ones with Coach Bryant and Coach (Bill) Parcells and coach (Joe) Gibbs,” Rutledge told Al.com. “He obviously believed in me because he played me early. I was fortunate to play for him for four years and then he came down to Alabama as running backs coach and I got to play for him there for four more years.”
White was also an outstanding multi-sport athlete in Birmingham’s Phillips High School and at Auburn before earning his degree from Jacksonville State. He played (1950) and coached in the AHSAA North-South All-Star Football Game.
David White wrote an outstanding book entitled Shorty, A life in Sports chronicling the impact of Coach White which was published in 2007.
Funeral arrangements were not available.