One of the best things about college football in our part of the world? All the common threads between so many schools.
Between Georgia and Georgia Southern, it’s that each program shares the same beloved figure: Erk Russell. This Saturday in Athens may be a record for the highest per capita shirts with GATA on them.
One thing all fans Saturday can agree on? That it’s a massive travesty that Erk Russell is not in the College Football Hall of Fame. Look, the guy is still, in the minds of some Georgia fans, a bigger reason for the 1980 National Title than coach Dooley. And without Erk Russell, GSU never enjoys much success in football and as a result, its university as a whole does not grow as much as it has.
Wouldn’t it be great to have petitions at Sanford Stadium for each fan to sign? Think about it. 90,000 plus signatures on a petition!
With that in mind, here’s some wit and wisdom from Erk!
I think most golfers would just about swap their front-row seat in hell for 30 more yards off the tee.
We had a group of about eight boys in the Navy, all from the South — South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi. In the barracks we took the corner, drew a line, said, ‘No Yankees’ across this. We didn’t really mean it, but they thought we did.
As a young coach, I ran with the players. As a 55-year-old coach, I jogged with the players. As an old coach of 60, 64, 65, I had to start woggin’. A wog is a little bit faster than a walk, but slower than a jog.
The South, to me, is fried chicken and catfish caviar — that’s grits — and good-looking women.
The best way to win a game is not to lose it.
“That’s overworked. Heck, once you get a few scabs on the forehead, they’re bound to bleed some when popped open. I’ve quit that, anyway, because I’ve got to uphold the image of a head coach.”
We had a president that came to Georgia Southern and during one of our booster luncheons to kick off the football season — he’s the new president, his name was Nick Henry…. He got up before the group and said, ‘It’s so nice to be at a college that’s not on probation.’ He said, ‘I taught at Georgia, they were on probation. I went to Arizona State, they were on probation.’… I followed him with my remarks and I said, ‘Dr. Henry, you don’t have to worry about Georgia Southern cheating. Because it takes money to cheat, and we don’t have any money.’
Communication is the most important technique in teaching and in coaching, eyeball to eyeball, one on one: ‘This is what we want to accomplish, and this is the way we’re going to accomplish it.’ Not memos, not bulletin boards or announcements, one on one.
I had an opportunity (to play) at Alabama. I told them that that was what I always wanted to do and that I was coming, and when I got back home an Auburn coach was sitting on my front porch, and he said, ‘Come on, we’re going to Auburn.’ And I said, ‘I just got back from Alabama, I told them I was gonna go to school there and that’s what I want to do.’ And he said, ‘Well you’ve got to take a look at Auburn.’ So I said, ‘OK.’ We drove to Auburn, he put on a change of clothes, picked up his bag and we went to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and fished for two days. When we got back, I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Auburn.’
Our recruiting budget at Georgia Southern was $200 our first year. I had just left Georgia, whose recruiting budget was a quarter of a million dollars. And as I drove down the Woodpecker Trail, trying to touch base with people in Claxton and Alma and Jesup and Ludowici, sometimes I wondered, “What have you done?’
In football, like in life, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get the job done. I’ve always believed that. Football is still football, it’s a game of tackling and blocking and competitive people. Every time I told a joke or told a story or pulled a stunt, there had to be a moral behind it.
You know, Matt, 25 years ago, we weren’t sure if Communism or soccer would conquer our country. Looks like soccer won.
I had a handmade card hanging in my locker at Georgia that said, ‘If I do, they will. If I don’t, they won’t.’
The 1980 season at Georgia, I came out of the dormitory where we ate our pregame meal. I looked down and there was a dime on the ground. I picked it up, put it in my left shoe. I was wearing saddle Oxfords, which I did all the time anyway, and we beat Clemson that day, maybe it was the second or third game of the season. I taped the dime in my shoe so I wouldn’t lose it, and made sure that I wore it throughout the season. We were 12-0 and won the national championship, and I’m sure the dime did it.