Here’s a good head-scratcher for your next sports trivia party: Who are the
top two scorers in the history of men’s college basketball? Bonus question: Where
did they play in college? Hint: Don’t say Pete Maravich; freshmen weren’t eligible
for the varsity when Pete played at LSU. Take all the time you need.
Give up? Go ask Bob Ford, one of tonight’s inductees into the Huntsville-
Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. He knows both answers. “Yeah, I know
about those guys," Ford said. “The first one came in as a freshman my senior
year at Lipscomb, and the second came along when the first one graduated."
The first was Philip Hutcheson, now the athletic director at Lipscomb University,
a private church school in Nashville. Hutcheson smashed the national record by
scoring 4,106 points for the Bisons from 1987-90. Four years later, Lipscomb’s
John Pierce (1991-94) finished his career with 4,230 points. Both are still in the
record book as the 1-2 scorers of all time. What are the odds?
Bob Ford’s own basketball career at Lipscomb wasn’t shabby either. A native
of Huntsville, Ford was a 2-time All-City basketball player in 1982 and 1983 at
Johnson High School. He was named the city’s MVP in basketball as a senior after
averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds and leading the Jaguars to the semifinals of
the state tournament. After high school, he and teammate Anthony Jones signed
with Lipscomb to play for coach Don Meyer, who was in the midway point of what would become a legendary career. A 4-year
starter and the team captain as a senior, Ford was the sparkplug of Meyer’s NAIA national championship team in 1986.
“In both high school and college," noted Ford, “I was lucky to play for a couple of head coaches who turned into legends."
His coach at Johnson was current James Clemens coach Danny Petty, who has won state championships at three different
schools – Johnson in 1987, Madison Academy in 2006, and Bob Jones in 2010. After Ford’s senior season, Petty and Grissom
coach Ronnie Stapler helped steer Ford to Lipscomb.
“I was young and shy and a little nervous when I got to Lipscomb," said Ford. “It was a different environment because
there weren’t many African Americans on campus at that time. I wasn’t used to that. I wasn’t used to going to chapel every
day, either. But once I settled in and saw how Coach Meyer treated everybody like we were his own family, I was fine. Next
to my father, Coach Meyer probably influenced me in a positive way more than anybody else I ever met, not just in basketball
but also in the way a person should live his life. He was demanding and let you know that he expected your best every day.
The ones who took advantage of what he was saying have all been successful in life."
Meyer, who died in 2014 at the age of 69, compiled a 923-324 record in 38 years as a head coach, first at Hamline College
in Minnesota, then Lipscomb, then at Northern State in South Dakota. His won-loss mark currently stands as the fifth best in
the history of men’s collegiate basketball. He’s primarily remembered for his 25 seasons at Lipscomb, where his teams went
655-179 from 1975-1999. During Ford’s time at Lipscomb, the Bisons were 30-5, 25-9, 35-4, and 27-6. “What stands out to
me about Coach Meyer was how hard he worked and how hard he expected us to work," said Ford. “He believed anybody
could achieve nearly anything if they worked hard and stayed humble."
As for Bob Ford, he returned to Huntsville after his college days, got married, started a family, and went to work for
Walmart nearly 28 years ago. He’s now the manager of the Walmart Supercenter near the corner of South Memorial Parkway
and Hobbs Island Road. “I try my best to incorporate into my job all the things I learned from Coach Meyer and all the things
I learned at Lipscomb – things like serving others, looking to God for answers, being accountable, not making excuses, and
trying to make the world a better place," said Ford.
He lives by those same bedrock principles in his family life. A prime example: In addition to their own two children,
Ford and his wife, Sylvia, also mentored and helped raise their nephew, Wayne Madkin, from the age of 10. Madkin played
quarterback at Johnson High School and later at Mississippi State University, where he was a 4-year starter for coach Jackie
Sherrill from 1998-2001.
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