The South rises again - and keeps on rising - as our Mover and Shaker of the Year takes his troops to the top.
What more possibly can be said about Hugh McColl? In the eat-or-be-eaten world of banking, he has become the apex predators' poster boy. C&S/Sovran. Boatmen's Bancshares. Barnett. BankAmerica. His company, which 11 years ago didn't even rate a mention in William Greider's book The Secrets of tile Temple - the definitive study of the country's financial establishment is today the largest U.S. bank. McColl made that happen. Everyone knows it. Here endeth the lesson.
But if there is one more thing that can be said about McColl, if there is one largely overlooked aspect of NationsBank Corp.'s rise, it's this: He has created, singlehandedly and with forethought, a new metaphor for re-fighting the Civil War. We're licking the Yankees these days in a new and wholly satisfying manner. What better reason to make him Mover and Shaker of the Year?
For too many years, Southerners relied on college football to carry the load. Several generations ago, when the Late Unpleasantness of 1861-65 was a more recent memory, there was a deadly earnest flavor to any game involving Southern and Northern schools. It may have been just four quarters of football to those boys from Yale or Michigan or Penn State, but it was First Manassas or The Wilderness all over again for the Southerners. It was the opportunity to remind the nation every Saturday that the war's outcome was a fluke, a contest decided more by economic circumstance than by who had the tougher bunch of men.
Sure, almost everything that happens within our country's borders is a regional struggle - from recruiting industry to laying claim to the next Olympics to jockeying for position on somebody's list of the best places to live or do business. But college football historically has been the purest version of us-vs.-them. It was a second crack at the North, our chance to show that we didn't actually lose the first game; it's just that the clock ran out on us.
McColl has not only turned back the hands of time but moved the battle to a whole new arena.
Banking, the dull and serious business of borrowing money from someone at a relatively low rate and then loaning it back to him at a considerably higher rate, has become the new stand-in for the South's effort to rewrite the Civil War's final score. While a victory over a collection of 11 Yankees on a football field is warm and satisfying, that happy...