This story originally ran in the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Program.
- A 1972 consensus First-Team All-American who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting.
- Finished career as LSU’s all-time leader in passing yards, completions, attempts and touchdowns at the end of his three seasons.
- Led Tigers to three straight bowl games.
- Played for College Football Hall of Fame coach Charlie McClendon.
- Becomes the ninth Tiger player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bert Jones came from college football royalty as his father and grandfather were both All-Americans at Tulane. He grew up around professional football when his father, Dub, was an assistant coach for the Cleveland Browns after playing for them. As a kid, he dreamed of being a big-time college and pro quarterback.
But Bert’s LSU coach, College Football Hall of Famer Charlie McClendon, was old school in his approach: he did not want just one quarterback to become the center of a passing offense. Jones could rain passes all game, but he never complained coming off the bench at different times and also running the ball.
“Our styles of play were different,” said Jones who holds the late McClendon in the highest esteem. “I was a gifted passer and developed into a pretty good scrambler and runner. He had had a long history of quite frankly having quarterbacks hurt and just destroying his offense. I am sure he had an unwritten rule in his own coaching book: I am never going to be dependent on just one player at quarterback.”
Jones still managed all sorts of passing records despite less playing time than he would have liked. LSU’s Sports Information Director at the time, Paul Manasseh, told him, “Bert, I just want you to know my greatest accomplishment as a Sports Information Director is making a second-string quarterback a consensus All-America (in 1972).’”
“That was his humor,” said Jones, LSU’s first consensus All-America quarterback. “I wouldn’t regard myself as a second-string quarterback by any shape or fashion. But we did share the time with also a dear friend of mine to this day, Paul Lyons.”
When Jones was a sophomore in 1970, LSU won the SEC title. In the 1971 Sun Bowl, he was the Offensive MVP after throwing the longest LSU pass in its bowl history (77 yards). His senior season of 1972 he directed one of the great LSU comeback victories over Ole Miss, 17-16. As time expired, Jones connected with Brad Davis in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
“You don’t get this opportunity in sports,” said Jones who later played in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams. “Everybody imagines being at bat in the World Series with the bases loaded and you are down by three runs and a 3-2 count and hit a grand slam. How many times do you play that scenario out as a child? It was similar. Ole Miss was the marquee game of the year.”
An avid outdoorsman, hunter and private landowner, Jones currently is the owner and operator of Mid-States Wood Preservers. Inc., in Louisiana. And he still goes quail hunting on horseback with his father, Dub, now in his 90s.
Once, back as a college player, he and some teammates were caught by McClendon cleaning ducks in the LSU Stadium shower after a hunt nearby. McClendon dressed him down and turned to walk back out. “I think he laughed, but I am not sure,” Jones said.