LEWISBURG, Tenn. — Soon after Bo Wallace moved back home, the Canadian Football League called.
Toronto wanted Wallace, a former “Last Chance U” and Ole Miss quarterback, to attend a tryout and keep his playing career alive this past spring.
“Just told ‘em no,” Wallace said. “Timing sucked for me. Playing would be fun, but I think my future is in coaching, so why not just go ahead and get in?”
We tracked down the former Rebel to help us with a new feature: “6 ways to beat Alabama and Nick Saban.” Wallace is one of just 12 quarterbacks who have defeated Alabama since the fall of 2008, when Saban dragged the Crimson Tide back to elite status.
He’s also the new quarterbacks coach at Marshall County (Tenn.) High School, where his younger brother Bryce is the starter.
“It’s a lot more stressful than playing,” he said. “You’ve just gotta hope you taught them well enough to get through the situation. So you stay awake at night, did I do this? Did I do this?”
As a player, Wallace was in control of his team’s fate on the field. Now, he’s learning how helpless his coaches probably felt.
“Every day, I think about the things maybe I’ve done wrong,” he said, adding that he’s constantly providing guidance to the teenagers. “If I don’t tell them my experiences, I feel like I’m doing them a disservice out here, so I just try to team ‘em as much as I can from my experience, and hopefully they listen.”
Perhaps the greatest experience he ever had on a football field was Ole Miss’ upset of Alabama in 2014. He spoke at length about that week, recalling the excitement on campus as the Rebels geared up to stop the Crimson Tide’s 10-year rivalry winning streak.
“It was just magical,” Wallace said. “The atmosphere, with (ESPN show College) ‘Gameday’ there and everything. To be able to have a really good week of practice and feel good about it going into the game … We felt confident. And the great thing was, Saturday, it all carried over.”
After he’d thrown the game-winning touchdown pass and the final whistle blew, Wallace began leaving the field.
But before he ran off, the crowd of fans rushing the turf changed his mind.
“I knew my time was coming to an end there,” he said. “It was my senior year, and it was like, let’s go celebrate with these people.”
Here’s what Wallace had to say about several other topics:
On the campus atmosphere before that Alabama win: “I think SEC fanbases are so crazy. They always believe they have a shot. People who knew football knew we had a shot. I don’t know if they thought we were gonna win, but they knew we had a shot. It was just electric. It was a buzz. We were undefeated. ‘Gameday’ was coming for the first time in forever. So that buzz around campus — you see those trucks come in, setting up for ‘Gameday’ — it automatically raises the excitement level.”
On the Rebels’ preparation for that game: “There was no doubt in any of our players’ minds that we were gonna beat them that day. We came out really relaxed. We loved the gameplan we had. And I think guys really bought into that plan because we felt it was so good. And then we showed it.”
On what the win meant for Hugh Freeze’s program: “I think that’s when everybody saw the vision that the people in the building saw. The players, the coaching staff. You started bringing in those guys like Laquon (Treadwell), it was to make Ole Miss nationally relevant, right? So we finally had that moment. We beat LSU the year before, but (the Alabama win made us) really nationally relevant, and that put us into that Top 10 category for that season. We were gonna be relevant. We were gonna be making noise. We were gonna be the reason somebody made the playoff or didn’t make the playoff.”
On “Last Chance U,” the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary showcasing East Mississippi Community College, Wallace and Chad Kelly’s former school: “They did a great job depicting exactly how it is. They did a great job showing the Scooba lifestyle. How hard it is to play junior-college football. You’ve really gotta love it. Last Chance U … you gotta think about it. Any of those guys tear their ACL, they’re probably done. It’s very stressful, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun, because I played with some really good players.”
On his relationship with Kelly, who stayed with Wallace on his visit to Ole Miss: “We’re not texting, but when I go down there and see him, we’re cool. We’re cordial.”
On his little brother, a sophomore: “To be 7 or 8 games into his career, he’s way above where I think a lot of people are. But at the same time, I think his ceiling’s a little bit higher, so I’m trying to develop him as well as I can. Just trying to teach him the things I learned.”
Wallace’s Marshall County High team plays Friday night at Spring Hill in Columbia, Tenn. (7 p.m. local time). Coming off a state semifinal appearance, the 4A Tigers are 6-1 and ranked No. 19 in the state — across all six classes — by prep expert Sonny Moore.