Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Joe B. Hall, January 1, 2015

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:08 - Playing sports as a kid

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Partial Transcript: Coach, I've heard you talk when you were a boy and went fishing a lot but I really haven't talked about playing sports as a youngster.

Segment Synopsis: Hall recollects growing up playing a few sports as a kid, mainly football. Although Hall says it wasn't his favorite he enjoyed practicing and being on a team. When Hall went to middle school, he tried his hand at basketball as well. In high school, he continued to play football as the quarterback for his team.

Keywords: Basketball teams; Football teams; Joe B. Hall; Students athletes; UK basketball; University of Kentucky basketball

Subjects: Basketball; Football; Football players

00:02:02 - Memories of joining University of Kentucky basketball

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Partial Transcript: What were your early memories of Kentucky basketball?

Segment Synopsis: Hall says he first became aware of UK basketball when he came down to the Alumni Gym for a high school basketball tournament. The UK basketball players all helped volunteer and Hall was amazed at how tall and athletic they were. After that, he began to collect news clippings of UK basketball to stay up to date. Hall explains how Coach Rupp would have open tryouts to get on the basketball team and prospective Wildcats would come from all over the country. Hall went to one such tryout and was selected by Rupp to join the team. Hall says that when he was a freshman, the basketball team had the Fabulous Five, meanwhile Hall referred to himself and the rest of the players as the "Sorry Seven." Finally, Hall talks about how he transferred to Sewanee.

Keywords: High school athletes; High school basketball; Sewanee: The University of the South; UK Wildcats; UK basketball; University of Kentucky (UK); University of Kentucky basketball

Subjects: Basketball; College athletes; College environment; College sports--Kentucky; College sports--Scouting; University of Kentucky--Basketball

00:11:57 - Sewanee / Harlem Globe Trotters

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Partial Transcript: You know, I'm a little, uh, surprised though because I found out that you didn't graduate from Sewanee.

Segment Synopsis: Hall explains how when he went to Sewanee that many of his credits didn't transfer so he went back to the University of Kentucky to finish his degree. After that, Hall began traveling with the Harlem Globe Trotters and played in a younger, smaller team that would play first against local opponents wherever they traveled. Hall got to travel the world because of this, playing basketball in many cities.

Keywords: College athletes; Harlem Globe Trotters; Sewanee: The University of the South

Subjects: Basketball; College environment; College sports; Professional sports

00:14:17 - Work after the Harlem Globe Trotters

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Partial Transcript: So after that then you come back to Shepherdsville and become a high school coach?

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about how he decided to work in the aluminum industry after playing with the Harlem Globe Trotters. However, he quickly realized that he could not grow or advance in the position so he decided to leave the company.

Keywords: Aluminum industry; Industrial jobs

Subjects: Employment; Industries

00:15:45 - Coaching at high schools

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Partial Transcript: I went up to UK to the placement office and I said, "Are there any high school jobs open?"

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about his first attempt at coaching for a high school. He was sent last minute to a high school in Shepherdsville, Kentucky to coach the basketball, baseball, and football teams. Hall arrived to coach the football team with a week before their first game and they had not even practiced in pads yet. Their first game was against Elizabethtown, which had a notoriously good football team. As Hall began talking to the team and asking who played what positions, he realized they had also never played 11-man football, they had only ever played 6 players. Hall had to use that week before the game just to teach them where to line up. Hall had to go back and see his old high school coach to see if he could get some advice on plays. Despite losing the first game, Hall considered it a moral victory for simply standing up against Elizabethtown. Next, Hall explains how he began to coach basketball at Regis High School in Colorado. Hall joined as a freshman basketball coach but after a year moved up to varsity head coach, which he continued to do for around 5 years. Hall switched up the schedule for Regis High School so they could play universities. They began playing and occasionally beating colleges across the country.

Keywords: Football; Football coaches; High school coaches; High school sports

Subjects: Basketball coaches--Kentucky; Basketball--Coaching; Football

00:22:20 - Relationship with Adolph Rupp and University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: What kind of relationship did you have at that point then with Coach Rupp?

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about his relationship with Coach Rupp and how they stayed in touch while Hall was coaching for Regis High School. When Regis High School beat a personal rival of Rupp's he took notice and asked if Hall would be interested in working with him as a scout. Hall declined but said if Rupp had any coaching positions he would be interested. A few years later, Rupp told Hall he needed an assistant coach and asked if he could do it and Hall agreed. However, Hall left that position to pursue being a head coach in St. Louis. Eventually, Rupp asked if Hall could null his contract and come back to UK to be his personal replacement. However, Rupp never recommended Hall as his replacement officially and nobody knew Hall was recommended until a tape surfaced of Rupp saying it a while later.

Keywords: Coach Adolph Rupp; Regis High School; St. Louis (Mo.); University of Kentucky

Subjects: Basketball; Coaching; College sports; College sports--Coaching

00:34:02 - Exercise program at UK / Initial struggles and successes

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Partial Transcript: Coach, you added a couple other beliefs to your program: the conditioning and the weight lifting program.

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about the conditioning and weight lifting programs he added to the players' schedules. At first the players were caught off guard and were unhappy about it, even going and telling coach Rupp. However, Hall's idea ended up being justified by the fact that the players got more fit and they went all the way in the NCAA Championship. Next, Hall talks about his second year coaching at UK, which presented itself as more a challenge as the team lost about half of their games. Hall attributes this to a loss of key players and a shuffle of positions for the remaining players. Hall lost another key player during the season due to an accident where he landed on his elbows and chipped them, making him on able to shoot or even dribble the ball effectively. However, Hall believes that season's struggles helped bring the team closer together and shaped the team to make it to the championship game for the region.

Keywords: Athletes; Basketball players; Conditioning programs; Exercise programs; Training; UK Basketball; University of Kentucky (Ky.); University of Kentucky basketball

Subjects: Basketball; Basketball--Coaching; College athletes; College sports; College sports--Coaching

00:42:39 - Memories from the 1978 championship

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Partial Transcript: 1978 National Champions. What's, what's your favorite memory of that whole year?

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about memories from his team in 1978. The first memory Hall talks about is how their practices drastically improved. Hall and the assistant coaches would grade the practices and in 1977 there were only 4 practices they felt were insufficient. Meanwhile, in 1978, Hall says there wasn't a single practice that wasn't energetic and directed. Hall explains how as the team became tighter and functioned more like a unit, it didn't just inspire the coaches but the individual players as well. The team had great leaders while also all getting along together well. Next, Hall talks about a game they played in the NCAA championship where he made a very polarizing decision. It was the first round of the NCAA championship and the starters were playing too cocky and were not hustling or playing defense well so Hall decided to substitute out some of his starters to teach them a lesson. He said that if he had lost the game because of that choice he would not be welcome back at UK; luckily they won and moved on in the championship. Hall continues to explain the different strategies the team implemented as they progressed further in the championship. Finally, Hall talks about how after winning the championship they couldn't find their plane at the airport and Hall had to walk all the way down the tarmac to find it at the other end.

Keywords: 1977; 1978; SEC Championships; UK Basketball; UK Basketball team; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Coaching; College sports; College sports--Kentucky; University of Kentucky--Basketball

00:57:50 - Holding rolled up programs / Life after retirement

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Partial Transcript: Coach, one thing you were known for was having a rolled up program in your hand while you were coaching, but where did that start and what did you do with those programs after the game was over?

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about the tradition of always holding the game program rolled up in his hand. Hall says back when he was an assistant coach for Coach Rupp, Rupp would write down the players on the program and then he would give it to Hall so he could deliver it to the scorers' table. Hall would keep the programs afterwards and so began his habit of keeping one in his hand during the game. Next, Hall talks about his retirement and what happened next. Hall retired at age 56, which was pretty young in that position, but he agreed with his family that he would rather retire early than fizzle out from old age. After Hall's retirement he worked and did many different things from banking to coaching in Japan. Hall's main focus was to get to spend more time with his family so everything he tried had to give him enough time to see his family. Hall was on the road so much with the UK basketball that getting a normal job was ideal. Hall talks about a radio show he's been doing recently with Coach Crum.

Keywords: Coach Adolph Rupp; Coach Hall; Coach Rupp; Joe B. Hall; Programs; Traditions

Subjects: Basketball; Basketball coaches--Kentucky; Basketball--Coaching; College sports; College sports--Kentucky

01:03:48 - Stories from Coach Hall

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Partial Transcript: Coach, l, let's, uh--I wanted you to tell a few stories.

Segment Synopsis: Hall tells a funny story that takes place after a game where the team had won but was not playing to Hall's standards. After the game in the locker room, Hall was getting upset and kicked a Gatorade cooler and the liquid came out in a perfect arc only hitting Walter McCombs, Hall's athletic trainer. Hall felt so bad he picked up the bucket and dumped the rest on his own head as a form of apology to McCombs. Next, Hall talks about how he recruited Kyle Macy and the process to get him back from Purdue. Next, Hall talks about his saying "get a wall" which meant the player had to run. Hall says he would use this both as a punishment for unfocused players but also as a exercise tool for endurance. Next, Hall tells a story about a time where the team was playing in Tennessee and had to choose between staying the night and flying home the next day or driving through the night. The team decided to drive back and returned to UK around 1AM and Hall told all the players to go to sleep and then left. He returned because he remembered one of the players complaining about a cough and wanted to check in on him. When Hall went back to the dorms however, he couldn't find the player anywhere so Hall decided to lay in his bed and stay there until the player came back. Every 10 minutes another player would peek in the room to check if Hall was still in there and report back, and because of that the player didn't go back the whole night.

Keywords: Basketball games; Coach Hall; Joe B. Hall; UK Wildcats; University of Kentucky (UK); University of Kentucky basketball

Subjects: Basketball; Basketball--Coaching; College athletes; College sports; University of Kentucky--Basketball

01:16:01 - Coach Hall's legacy

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Partial Transcript: Coach, what's it mean to you to have your name on a banner that hangs from the rafters at Rupp.

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about how honored he was to have his name hanging alongside many other greats at Rupp Arena. Next, Hall talks about how he would like to be remembered. He explains how he always cared the most about his family and his players and if people remember him, he would want them to remember his love for others.

[Audio and video are out of sync during this segment.]

Keywords: Basketball coaches; Coach Hall; Joe B. Hall; Retired coaches; Rupp Arena

Subjects: Basketball; Basketball coaches--Kentucky; College sports--Coaching; College sports--Kentucky; University of Kentucky--Basketball

01:17:34 - Rupp's Runts / Dan Issel

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Partial Transcript: Coach, you were an assistant coach for that 1966 Rupp's Runts team that played in the, uh, championship game that later was made into a movie.

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about an important championship game where UK played against Texas Western. Hall was assistant coach to Coach Rupp and the team was referred to as "Rupp's Runts." It was an important game because the UK team was an all white team, whereas Texas Western started five African American players. When Texas Western won, it was an important moment for integration within college basketball. Next, Hall talks about Dan Issel, who originally came into the basketball program with limited skill but through tons of hard work developed into an amazing player.

Keywords: Coach Adolph Rupp; Coach Hall; College basketball; Joe B. Hall; Racial tensions; Rupp's Runts

Subjects: College athletes; College sports; Discrimination in sports; Rupp, Adolph, 1901-1977; University of Kentucky--Basketball

01:21:12 - Cliff Hagan / Frank Ramsey / Sam Bowie / Kenny Walker / Rick Robey / Pat Riley

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Partial Transcript: What made Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey such good players?

Segment Synopsis: Hall talks about one of his players, Cliff Hagan, who he says was one of the most exceptional athletes he had coached. Hall explains how Hagan's body was made for athletics and was very graceful and agile. Next, Hall talks about Frank Ramsey, who Hall says was a great player because of his aggressiveness and over all drive. Next, Hall addresses Sam Bowie, who Hall believes would have been one of the greatest players in college basketball if it wasn't for his injuries he sustained against Auburn. Next, Hall talks about Kenny Walker, saying that he was the best "undersized" post player in the whole game of basketball. Walker always gave 150% and was a joy to coach, explains Hall. Finally, Coach Hall talks more about other players like Rick Robey and Pat Riley.

Keywords: Basketball players; Cliff Hagan; Frank Ramsey; Kenny Walker; Pat Riley; Rick Robey; Sam Bowie

Subjects: Basketball; Basketball players--Kentucky; College athletes; College sports; University of Kentucky--Basketball