I was going to write this morning about What We Learned on the final weekend before the start of the 2010 season. A lot of it wasn’t going to be good.
I was going to rag on Washaun Ealey, wondering which part he did not understand when the UGA coaches said: “Don’t drive on a suspended license.”
I was going to update you yet again on the money grab that is conference expansion as the WAC tries to save itself from being eliminated as a Division I-A conference.
I was going to raise a skeptical eye to South Carolina’s Weslye Saunders, who contacted a Columbia radio station to profess his love and loyalty to the school, his teammates and his coaches. While expressing such devotion, Mr. Saunders has also managed to be under NCAA investigation on multiple fronts. Hard to show love and loyalty when you’re not on the field, youngster.
All of this comes on the heels of a tough, short summer that included athletics directors behaving badly, players behaving badly, bad agents behaving badly and one of the class coaches of the sport (Bobby Johnson of Vanderbilt) deciding that he’s had enough.
If you love college football like we do, you could be a little down about the state of the game.
But then a fraternity brother sent me a copy of “The Letter” from former Georgia defensive coordinator Erk Russell. Russell, for those of you out there too young to know, was the single greatest motivator of people that I have met. In July of 1980, just prior to the Georgia team returning to campus, Russell penned this letter to the Bulldog players.
A little background. The 1980 season would be the last for fans to sit on the railroad tracks that run along the outside of the East end of Sanford Stadium. Those folks would camp out on Friday night to be in place when the two teams arrived to enter the stadium on Saturday. It could get a little rowdy.
But after the 1980 season expansion would enclose that end of the stadium and thus the tradition would end. Coach Russell thought it would be a good idea to send “The Railroad Track Crowd” out with a season they would always remember.
So instead of reading about players misbehaving and all the stuff that is wrong with college football, take a minute to read Erk Russell’s letter:
July 7, 1980
Gentlemen (and Linemen),
The football season of ‘80 will be my seventeenth as a Georgia Bulldog. During this time there have been many thrilling Saturdays of competition, each with its individual memories, because each game has its own personality.
There are two Saturday traditions and experiences which have remained basically the same throughout the years for me and I would like to share them with you.
The first one concerns the THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD. These are my people because they love the ‘Dogs almost as much as I do. Oh, I know they do some crazy things- like turn over our opponents’s buses sometimes and now and then they throw one another down the bank and into the street below. But they stamp out Kudzu and they pull for us to win and that ain’t bad.
If you can get off the bus to cheers of THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD and walk down those steps to the dressing room and not be inspired to play football as best you possibly can, something important is missing beneath the Georgia jersey you wear. It is impossible not to be inspired. They choke me up!
The season of 1980 will be the last for THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD. A great Georgia tradition will have passed with the new addition to our stadium. The view from the tracks will be no more.
Your team will be the last Georgia Team to be greeted and cheered by THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD. Wouldn’t it be fitting if their last team was also the best Georgia Team ever? Think about it!
Another Saturday tradition which has meant so much to me over the years can be stated very simply. “THERE AIN’T NOTHING LIKE BEING A BULLDOG ON SATURDAY NIGHT—–AFTER WINNING A FOOTBALL GAME.” I mean like whipping Tennessee’s ass to start with, then ten more and then another one.
This is the game plan. We have no alternate plan.
Assistant Head Football Coach
In 1980 Georgia went 12-0 and won the national championship.
Even if you’re not a Georgia fan, that should get you in the mood for football season. Let’s have a great one.
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