November 30, 2000: Color My Red and Black Blue

Memo to the World:  Color My Red and Black Blue

I am in a big time crabby mood today.  Losing to Georgia Tech does that to me.  Let me say at the outset that when it comes to my alma mater, the University of Georgia, I am an academic hawk.  I strongly support the tremendous progress UGA has made in becoming one of the nation’s outstanding public universities.  And I put my money where my mouth is. Academics are first and foremost with me.  But, lordy, I hate losing to Tech at anything and we have just lost our third straight football game. I’d rather have bamboo splints under my fingernails.

Fortunately, I don’t think I am going to have much problem with my Tech friends in spite of our shameful loss to them last week.  If they say anything, I will ask them to explain how a convicted felon ended up in their basketball program at their academically-challenging institution.  That should keep them quiet.  Remember, UGA had a chance to sign Kenny Brunner, a basketball player who gathered trouble like a dog does fleas. He had never been convicted despite two arrests on multiply felony counts.  The University turned him down anyway, thank God.

But Michael Southall is going to be a Yellow Jacket.  Southall was convicted of delivering marijuana – a felony – and marijuana possession – a misdemeanor – in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  He had a basketball scholarship to Kentucky, but they told him to forget it.  Go somewhere else.  Like Georgia Tech.

Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt surely must have convinced his bosses that, despite Southall’s questionable past, he might well be the world’s next great architect or civil engineer.  Oh, did I mention he was 6-10 with a 22 point scoring average?  Wink! Wink!

I have been lectured for years about the differences in a Georgia Tech education and one from UGA and I think I finally understand.  We won’t take a Kenny Brunner but Tech will take a Michael Southall.

Meanwhile back in Athens, the University of Georgia football program hasn’t been the same since Vince Dooley retired as head football coach.  I, for one, don’t find that a coincidence.  Dooley was a winner.

While he was coach, he won 201 football games, six SEC titles and a national championship.   His biggest failing was that he spoiled us into thinking that anybody could take a group of kids in Red and Black and win automatically.  It isn’t that easy.  Sure, we can beat Cal State and New Mexico State but since Vince Dooley retired, the Bulldogs are 2 – 12 against Florida, 4-7-1 against Auburn and, while 8-4 against Georgia Tech, we have the three game losing streak to endure.  Dooley beat Florida 18 times in 23 years, Auburn, 11 times and Tech, 19 out of 23.

Vince Dooley brought more than wins to the University of Georgia.  He brought style and class.  Many years ago, my son was in the hospital, when a wide-eyed nurse came into the room to announce that Coach Dooley was on the phone.  Ken, who was talking to his girlfriend, blithely told the nurse to have him call back.  Believe it or not, he did!  It was a kindness I never forgot.

In Dooley’s tenure as athletic director, Georgia teams have won 15 national championships and 65 SEC championships.  It was when faced with providing equal opportunity for women’s athletics that Vince Dooley has done his finest work.  UGA women are perennial powers in gymnastics, basketball, swimming and tennis and are growing competitive in other sports as well.

But it is to the football gods that most of us bow and the gods are somewhere else right now.  Nobody is pulling harder for Jim Donnan to succeed as head football coach than I, but his time is growing short.  Instead of telling us what we want to hear, I would suggest he show us what we want to see.  In other words, walk the talk.

We need to get competitive with the big boys pretty soon or Donnan will be history.  If that is the case, I have the perfect candidate.  He must be cerebral, low key, an excellent recruiter, able to keep expectations low and pleasantly surprise us Saturday after Saturday.  He must be articulate, tough, approachable, classy and active in the community.  Most of all he needs to be a winner.

I remember a guy like that once.  His name was Vince Dooley and I miss him.  Maybe if he was still coaching, I wouldn’t be so crabby.