Retiring Bill Curry: “I want to finish this contract and finish it well”

Georgia State’s Bill Curry will retire from coaching football at the end of the season. A news conference was held at 1 p.m. and then he led a normal practice session.

He doesn’t plan on going out quietly as the team prepares for its third season of play with many challenges upcoming.

“I do want to finish this contract and I want to finish it well,” he said after today’s practice.

Curry’s choice affects more than Georgia State as it continues its transition to the highest level of college football. It brings an end to a storied playing and coaching career for Curry, a College Park native who captained Georgia Tech in 1964 before playing 10 years in the NFL with three championships.

Curry, who will turn 70 in October, said there were several factors that helped him decide, including that he was missing the lives of his five grandchildren and that he didn’t want to hurt the program by delaying the announcement until November, which was when he repeatedly said he would decide.

“You know how stuff like this can be negative for a program,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “Stuff kind of trickles out: ‘What’s he going to do? Is he really telling the truth?’ Can I look him in the eye and say, ‘I don’t know yet.’ I think the moment that I knew I couldn’t do that was the moment I needed to do something as soon as practically possible. That was the late spring and early summer.”

Curry discussed how leading a football program is an 80-hour-a-week job and that at his age he thinks his workload should be slightly less.

“I’m not trying to be facetious or brave or brag or complain either,” he said. “But that’s just a fact of life to get this kind of job done.”

Curry will continue to devote the full amount of attention to the program. The team practiced special teams situations today in which Curry repeatedly told them they didn’t have a day off and quizzed players throughout on the different situations.

Curry told the team of his decision at a meeting before practice started earlier today. One player said afterward that he almost cried. Curry said it was an emotional scene, but he feels confident that the players won’t have trouble focusing. As he likes to do, Curry told a story about a past coach’s firing.

As that coach finished his teary speech, Curry said a player raised his hand and asked, “Do we still get to eat at the training table?”

After laughing, Curry continued: “I’m not saying my guys are that crass, but I don’t think when I was 19 it would have bothered me too much if something changed. I think they will move on past this quickly and will do great.”

That Curry is retiring isn’t unexpected.

His contract, with a base salary of $350,000, ends next year. He and wife Carolyn have two children. Curry has also spoke in the past of continuing his mentoring and philanthropic activities, which he said today he will continue, as well as the possibility of writing, though he said he doesn’t have a topic in mind. He is a published author.

A few players tweeted responses to the news:

Parris Lee: “This man has changed my life forever it will be hard to see him go. ill do wherever i can to help him leave with a bang!!”

Ramell Davis: “The general leaving the soldiers at the end of the season Bout to give him one of the best seasons of his career #StateofShock movement.”

Curry began his coaching career at his alma mater as an assistant in 1976. He moved to the Packers, the team that drafted him, before he returned as coach of the Yellow Jackets from 1980-86. He continued at Alabama, where he won a national coach of the year award, and Kentucky. He followed by working at ESPN as an analyst for several years before being hired in 2008 to lead Georgia State’s start-up program. Curry led the team to a 6-5 record in its inaugural year before stumbling to a 3-8 record last year.

Curry was hired by former Georgia State athletic director Mary McElroy in 2008 to lead the program, which Curry likes to say didn’t even have a football yet, from the ground up. He made his first hires a month later: assistant head coach George Pugh, offensive coordinator John Bond, defensive coordinator John Thompson (who resigned last season to take a similar job at Arkansas State), assistants Anthony Midget and Chris Ward, and football operations director Mike Riddle.

Georgia State surprised many by going 6-5 in its inaugural year, which included a game at Alabama. The next year was affected by the team’s myriad on-the-field and off-the-field issues. Numerous players were suspended or dismissed for violating team rules, a trend that continued through the recent offseason. Things got more challenging in April when the university accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt, which plays football on the FBS level. As a result, the team has begun yet another transition which will take two years before the team can play for bowl games in 2014.

Curry’s decision gives athletic director Cheryl Levick more time to look for a new coach to lead the team as it moves into its new conference. The team will be eligible to play in bowl games in 2014-15.

Curry won numerous awards during his coaching career, including ACC Coach of the Year (1985), SEC Coach of the Year (1989) and Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year (1989). He was inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Curry’s coaching career

Georgia Tech

1980/1-9-1

1981/1-10

1982/6-5

1983/3-8

1984/6-4-1

1985/9-2-1

1986/5-5-1

Alabama

1987/7-5

1988/9-3

1989/10-2

Kentucky

1990/4-7

1991/3-8

1992/4-7

1993/6-6

1994/1-10

1995/4-7

1996/4-7

Georgia State

2010/6-5

2011/3-8

Total/92-118-4

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

186 comments Add your comment

Tuscon

August 14th, 2012
11:22 pm

Athletic Director?

GSU is in Atlanta

August 14th, 2012
11:24 pm

I guess Becker was telling the truth when he said they were looking for a “Ron Hunter” style coach for the football team.

Thanks for everything Bill, you have done so much for GSU and you will be missed…don’t be a stranger

[...] story was first broken by CoachingSearch.com and confirmed by Doug Roberson of the AJC. PantherTalk will continue to update this story as we learn [...]

Nick Bray

August 14th, 2012
11:34 pm

He was the one who hired Levick. He was the temp AD and did not want the position or would have campaigned for it. Grow up Tuscon

Tuscon

August 14th, 2012
11:40 pm

Grow up? Not sure what the personal attack is about. I’d love to see him stick around the program. He’s a positive force for us and I think he’d be a GREAT AD. I didn’t even know anything about temp AD or whatever.

Nick Bray

August 14th, 2012
11:45 pm

We have an AD. The constant attack every day has gotten old. True fanhood at it’s finest right there. Do not take away from the extraordinary job Coach has done by throwing another member of the administration under the bus

Jon

August 14th, 2012
11:46 pm

He always brought an hard nose disciplined old school approach that I really respect now that may not be as appreciated by younger generation football today. And Im a Uga man

Tuscon

August 14th, 2012
11:48 pm

Get off it, Bray. I didn’t throw her under the bus. I didn’t critique her at all in my response. I said I want Curry to continue to be part of this program. The only way I can see that happening is if he becomes AD.

AzCat

August 14th, 2012
11:48 pm

@Tuscon (sic): If you’re trying to reference yourself to the Old Pueblo, try spelling it correctly.

Tuscon

August 14th, 2012
11:51 pm

It’s an old nickname from back in the day(Elementary school). I misspelled it then on accident, now it’s on purpose.

jj

August 14th, 2012
11:58 pm

A legend in his own mind.

Jason

August 15th, 2012
12:05 am

Ladies and Gentleman, slithering back into the Georgia Dome, slightly banged, your new GSU coach… Bobbbbbby Petrinooooooo.

Just kidding. Pretty sure it’s now legal to shoot Petrino on site in Atlanta.

Georgia State will be a good opportunity for a coach looking to make a name for themself. Hope they get someone who is on the way up and not someone on the way down (Mike Price, Ron Zook, etc)

Jason

August 15th, 2012
12:06 am

On sight… on site… both work ;)

GSU is in Atlanta

August 15th, 2012
12:09 am

No Petrino please…he is the worst

The Real GSU

August 15th, 2012
12:16 am

Clicked on this then realized that it is not the real GSU football program. The real GSU is about 4 hours and 6 National Championships away.

spider

August 15th, 2012
12:17 am

thanks for all the great work starting up the program bill, you will be missed.

spellchecker

August 15th, 2012
12:29 am

He was “induced”? Is that like seduced?

Matt

August 15th, 2012
12:37 am

@ The Real GSU: You must be really bored down under the gnat line. Now the REAL GSU will be playing for bowls, and your beloved Southern will continue to wilt in obscurity. At least try to beat NDST this year.

Jason

August 15th, 2012
12:57 am

@The Real GSU, no one cares who wins the junior high championship. Either you’re in the top division or you’re nothing. Georgia Southern could win the tiddly winks championship every year for a century and the only people who would notice would be students and maybe 10% of their alumni.

@Nick Bray

August 15th, 2012
1:04 am

Sir, go play in traffic! With you uppity attitude.

@Nick Bray

August 15th, 2012
1:05 am

Glsjunior

August 15th, 2012
1:07 am

AL

August 15th, 2012
1:12 am

The man is fantastic on and off the field. One short fall…he just could not, could not, and could not beat Auburn.

Okay, let's not get carried away

August 15th, 2012
1:13 am

7 winning seasons in 19 as a head coach…let’s not call him ‘legendary’. Let’s call him what he is: A long time head coach who is known as a gentleman and a man who played by the rules. That is plenty to look back on with pride, and leave it at that.
Still can’t believe the backward trash in Tusk a Loser fired him after three seasons with improvement every season. 10-2 his last year and the toothless idiots ran him out of town. Maybe had that not happened, he would have gone on to legendary status winning percentage-wise.
Good luck to him.

BariBlue

August 15th, 2012
1:16 am

Will definitely miss Coach Curry! He was such a great addition to a school that had very little athletic tradition. I only hope the football team sends him onto retirement in style… here’s to a winning season!!!

Petrino...the human feces

August 15th, 2012
1:21 am

Think about it, AR Kansas got screwed by Patrino worse than the Falcons. At least the Birds never won in the short time he was here. He built ArKansas to national prominence and THEN lost his mind.
We ended up with Mike Smith, the best fundamental coach we’ve had in Atlanta not named Dan Reeves, ARkansaw got John Smith? Look for Malzahn to return there as HC next season. ..
I’ll always wonder what he could do with the talent in Athens. Malzahn, not Putrid-trino.

El Mongol

August 15th, 2012
2:13 am

Retirement? Based on his win/loss record he retired a long time ago. The guy is just one big ego maybe he’ll go away for good this time.

El Mongol

August 15th, 2012
2:16 am

Pat Hill?

Yes, Pat Hill rocks “anybody, anytime, anyplace” !

What?

August 15th, 2012
6:01 am

Legendary? Are you freaking kidding me. I didn’t throw the brick, but I applauded the person that did. As a coach, he reeked. As an ESPN anchor, very articulate.

Curry had:
An overall losing record

A losing record at Tech

A horrible losing record at Kentucky. 6 of 7 years losing record, 1 (6-6) season, never a winning season.

A losing record at GSU.

HE NEVER BEAT AUBURN. Something like 0-13 or worse.

Perkins left him with a boatload of talent at Bama otherwise he would have screwed that up to.

Doug how much did Curry pay you to write this?

What?

August 15th, 2012
6:13 am

According to wiki. 0-12 vs Auburn.

And I never knew this. In early 1990, Curry received a contract which contained provisions he disliked, including no raise and removal of his power to hire and fire assistants, .[3] Curry was particularly upset by this since he’d led the Tide to its first SEC title since the Bryant era. He responded by accepting a job offer to become the head coach at the University of Kentucky.

And his grabbing Prince Wimbley’s face mask was just plain Woody Hayes stupid. Yes, call Wimbley down, but don’t embarrass the kid on national TV.

What?

August 15th, 2012
6:18 am

Regarding the 1990 game against Miami ABC showed a stat in that game.

Bama record in the 70’s 108-13-1
Miami record in the 80’s 108-13-1

or something close. Anyway they had same record different in different decades.

Panawho?

August 15th, 2012
6:20 am

Yeah… I’m sorry… nothing “Legendary” about Bill Curry. Once he retires, he will be forgotten like a fart in a windstorm.

What?

August 15th, 2012
6:32 am

Will never forget the Bham news picture of Curry at the end of the last Auburn game. What a poor sport. Would not even look at Dye and the look of disgust was priceless.

Vince Doodley

August 15th, 2012
6:41 am

Coach curry is a class guy and great mentor. Hope he stays around the GSU program as a friend for years to come.

On the Flats

August 15th, 2012
6:45 am

Great player, lousy coach……record speaks for itself….like hot grease he would flare up every 5 years or so but mostly wallowed below mediocrity. GSU deserves better.

'zilla

August 15th, 2012
6:54 am

State will be MUCH better off without this clown. Now maybe y’all can get an actual coach. Curry has proven year after year he couldn’t coach. Now State can hire someone who is completely incompetent…It will be an improvement.

Jim Mora Jr.

August 15th, 2012
6:57 am

How about me? Pretty sure I’ll have said something stupid to get myself fired at UCLA by November.

Tom in Marietta

August 15th, 2012
7:00 am

Bill has always been a righteous man but a terrible football coach. He won most of those awards in spite of himself. Just ask Lewis…oh wait…nevermind. Lewis Grizzard will truly be missed during this transition.

Get it straight

August 15th, 2012
7:04 am

@What? – WRONG

Bama abruptly FIRED him after that 10-2 season because he hadn’t beaten Auburn.

Bama showing all it’s “class.”

GSWHO?

August 15th, 2012
7:06 am

Bill Curry Legendary…… Nope…Nope…and Nope

GSWHO?

August 15th, 2012
7:07 am

92–118–4

GSWHO?

August 15th, 2012
7:07 am

.429 = LEGENDARY

Got it wrong

August 15th, 2012
7:10 am

@Get it straight You got it wrong. Kentucky deal is what got him kicked out. Auburn was just the icing on the cake. He got exactly what he deserved. Unlike Georgia State. They deserve better than that Clown.

GT Alum

August 15th, 2012
7:11 am

Promote Joe Hamilton- he knows how to win.

GT Alum

August 15th, 2012
7:12 am

Nick Bray must be off his meds.

Paddy

August 15th, 2012
7:16 am

BC the perfect fit for GSU. Hope he keeps his hand in college football.

Eyes Rolling

August 15th, 2012
7:27 am

“Legendary?” Bill Curry is legendary for being an overrated, self-promoting, hypocritical bore. Certainly not for coaching, where he was legendarily terrible with a lifetime losing record…

Fan of the Game

August 15th, 2012
7:30 am

Let him tell the team first!

jameslandrum2

August 15th, 2012
7:30 am

Coach Curry might not have had a lot of winning seasons, but he’s always been a straight-up guy that cared about his athletes and had a positive impact on their lives both as football players and as human beings. He wasn’t just a coach, he was a friend and mentor to everyone around him. A positive influence on thousands of young people around the country. He’ll be missed. Good luck Bill, and thanks.

Really?

August 15th, 2012
7:30 am

What a sad bunch of losers. This guy has given his life to football and more importantly maintaining an impeccable ethical record while raising hundreds if not closer to a thousand young men as their mentor and in some cases surrogate father. Has he EVER been in some sort of nefarious incident or accused of such. He had a more than respectable NFL career and coached as some institutions, including GSU at times their programs were not strong. He did nothing to make them weaker. It’s embarrassing to read many of the above comments. You should be ashamed. And to the persisting attacks by Georgia Southern… why not do something about your status with your administration rather than attack GSU? Pathetic. Get a life…