Bill Curry tries to keep Wednesday about focus, not about him

Bill Curry wasn’t going to let the news of his retirement on Wednesday alter his belief that discipline can lead to great things.

After the news broke Tuesday night that Curry will retire from coaching football after Georgia State completes its season in November, he told his team Wednesday morning and led everyone onto the practice field less than an hour later.

Bullhorn in hand and wearing his customary tan pants, long-sleeve shirt and canvas hat, Curry led the team in special-teams drills. If he told the players once, he told them a dozen times: “This isn’t a day off.”

So after practice, Curry re-affirmed that this year’s team will have his full attention as their 69-year-old leader completes his 20th year as a head coach and 58th in organized football.

“I do want to finish this contract and I want to finish it well,” he said.

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 two children and five grandchildren and that he didn’t want to the program to lose its focus while people speculated on his future.

“You know how stuff like this can be negative for a program,” he said after Wednesday’s practice.

Curry said he is in good health, but 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 told his assistant coaches at 7 a.m. Wednesday. They then gathered their players and told them, before Curry spoke to the team Wednesday morning. One player said he almost cried during one of the meetings, held in the practice facility whose interior is adorned with some of Curry’s favorite phrases about discipline. 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.”

The press conference Wednesday afternoon continued the theme of focus. Athletic director Cheryl Levick said that a national search for Curry’s replacement will be conducted, but interviews won’t be scheduled until after the season because she wants it to be the focus.

Players Jordan Giles and Mark Hogan said they weren’t shocked that Curry is retiring. Instead of it being a distraction, they said it could make them more focused because of what Curry means to them.

“I think we are all honored to be a part of someone whose whole life has been affiliated with football,” said Hogan, whose father Mark played for Curry at Georgia Tech. “There’s already moments in my life where I can look back and say coach Curry influenced me.

“We want to send him out with wins.”

That Curry is retiring isn’t unexpected.

His contract, with a base salary of $350,000, ends next year, which is a factor many said led them to believe that he was likely going to retire. But he won’t be done at Georgia State, which he said held a special place in his heart even before he accepted the head coaching job in 2008. The university is where his wife Carolyn earned her Master’s and PhD. while the family bounced back and forth between his stops in the NFL. It was the only time Curry became emotional during Wednesday’s press conference. There were several boxes of tissues hidden behind the podium and speaker’s table, just in case.

Levick said Curry will continue at Georgia State as a special assistant to the athletic director, working with her on fund-raising and other activities. He will also assist University President Dr. Mark Becker with the school’s centennial celebration.

But Curry wasn’t too interested in talking about the future on Wednesday. He has one goal: helping his team stay disciplined and realize its potential so that it can improve upon last year’s 3-8 record.

“There will be a time for thanks and reminiscing and happiness and sadness at the end of the season, but my reason for doing this now is so Georgia State football and be focused on this season,” Curry said.

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

20 comments Add your comment

Panama

August 15th, 2012
4:19 pm

*sigh*

Not the way it was supposed to end. But here we are. Pressure is now on the Mark Becker Administration to make sure we do not become UAB 2.0. It’s only the most important decision in GSU sports history. No pressure.

CAA Fan

August 15th, 2012
5:17 pm

Who cares. Maybe you will win 1 or 2 games this year. Hands down you will be the worst team in the CAA. ODU started a program the right way (winning), GSU has been a train wreck.

fan

August 15th, 2012
5:30 pm

I have a lot respect for Bill Curry as a coach, more so for a man.

Hurt Park

August 15th, 2012
5:31 pm

CAA wishes they were in the big time, like the Sun Belt Conference.

RidgeRunner

August 15th, 2012
5:34 pm

CAA Fan, you piles bull stuff are just about to be a view from our rear view mirrors and the more we hear from you the more we are pleased to be moving on. Have a absolutely crappy day.

Hurt Park

August 15th, 2012
5:39 pm

Bill Curry did a great job in a short period of time,

from no football to FBS (Division 1-A).

………. Go Panthers …………

CAA Fan

August 15th, 2012
5:51 pm

You won’t win a game in the CAA – do you think the Sun Belt will be easier? This will be an up year for the CAA too. Villanova has everyone back, as does ODU, JMU & Towson.

How many D1 games will you win this year? I’ll put the over/under at 1.5

Whiskey Breath

August 15th, 2012
5:52 pm

The sad part is for Ga State. Couldn’t he told the team before he leaked it to the media?
Ga State took a huge step back because of the thoughtless actions of Curry. He should have announced it after the season.

Whiskey Dick

August 15th, 2012
6:12 pm

The comment above me is so limp.

Ringleader

August 15th, 2012
7:50 pm

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

NOBODY YOUKNOW

August 15th, 2012
9:08 pm

Bill Curry is a class act. Wins & losses I don’t know. I can tell you this he came to the spinal center in Atlanta to visit kids who had broken necks and backs, and paralyzed. Most from playing sports, and some not playing sports. He is a very approachable guy. As down to earth as your closest friend. Most don’t remember but in his short stay at U. of Alabama after he was shown the door because he defeated every team on his schedule except Auburn. He NEVER said anything bad about Bama. After he left Bama every time he was asked by some sports writer about Bama all he ever did was talk about what a great program they have there and said “it was just time for him to move on”.Some sports fans are just big D.A.’S

BariBlue

August 15th, 2012
10:18 pm

This team needs to send CBC out with the winning season that he deserves… CAA, you are in for a #STATEofSHOCK. Go Panthers!

Panther

August 15th, 2012
11:51 pm

Bill, thanks for all you have done for the football program and this university. We are grateful for what you have done. Hope our final season is a good one.

CobbOldSchool

August 15th, 2012
11:54 pm

I have great respect for Coach Curry and all he has stood for as a college coach. Ga. State has been very lucky to have him as the cornerstone of their program. I wish the best for GSU in the future. Glad our local QB went in a different direction or this would have been a tough day!

GSU_MEX_ALUM

August 16th, 2012
12:32 am

@cobb: Trent Thompson still wishes he would of stayed committed to GSU. He would be a D1 QB… Instead he is sitting at home this semester.

[...] With Bill Curry’s decision to retire at the end of the season, athletic director Cheryl Levick has a lot of time to decide what she wants in the next coach and then to find the person to continue leading the team to the highest level of college football. [...]

[...] As most of you know, Coach Bill Curry announced that he will retire from football after the end of this football season. You should watch the press conference available at GeorgiaStateSports.com. The silver lining to this story is that it looks like Bill Curry will continue to be a part of Georgia State University. [...]

Delicious

August 17th, 2012
5:45 pm

Wiilie Johnson from GSUPD will make a great head coach for your school. He played football and track in Florida so he will be able to recruit some speedsters from the state of Florida to come to GA. St. Univ.

The Factor

August 18th, 2012
11:36 pm

Bill Curry, pure class act, period.

Well-Endowed Panther Fan

August 19th, 2012
8:11 pm

Looking forward to sending Coach Curry out with a winning season. They’ve all earned it, and the fans are hungrier than ever this year.