Bill Curry has lived a life in sports, starting from his days as a player in youth baseball in College Park, dreaming of one day taking the mound for the Yankees, to a prolific football career at Georgia Tech and then in the NFL with the Packers and Colts, among others.
He continued as a coach at Georgia Tech, followed by stints at Alabama and Kentucky. He accepted the coaching job at Georgia State in 2008 and was charged with building the program.
Curry, who turned 70 last month, will coach his last game on Saturday when the Panthers play at Maine. He announced in August that he was retiring after the season so that he could spend more time with his wife, Carolyn, their children and grandchildren.
He has thousands of memories, but he said there are six that stand out. I’m going to share one a day with you, today through Saturday.
Esteemed Colleague Steve Hummer is also working on a couple of stories about Curry that will run later this week. I’ll share the links when they appear. They promise to be special.
Anyway, here’s the last of the special memories Curry shared, in his words:
At Georgia Tech we were in precisely the same position as we are in at Georgia State.
We were obviously not playing as well as we should. We were losing, losing losing. Win a few and then losing some more.
In our sixth year, we had a really good football team.
At the end of the season we were 8-2-1 and were invited to play Michigan State in the All-American Bowl.
We had to drop something like 80 percent of our offense; we had to send them home because of curfew violations, our quarterback and some more of our best players.
The game itself wasn’t the highlight.
We went to practice after I sent those guys home and I had some very, very good players on defense: Ted Roof and Pat Swilling.
Ted Roof was the Major Domo of the “Black Watch” defense.
I saw Swilling and Roof talking during practice.
They had the kind of personalities that if they had disagreed with me, they could have started a mutiny if they wanted to.
I was paranoid anyhow because I was getting telegrams from alumni saying I had destroyed the program (by sending the players home). All of our progress was going down the tubes and we were going to be embarrassed on national television.
I called the team up after practice. We are standing on Legion Field. Michigan State has Lorenzo White, at that time the all-time leading rusher in the Big Ten.
Roof says ,”We are going to have a team meeting.”
“Ok, I’ll meet you in the locker room.”
“No, we want you to stay.”
I thought, “Uh oh.”
Roof said “Some of us have been talking coach. We love you. We know you did what you did. We are going to win the game.”
That was the highlight.
They found a way.
We had 22 seniors on that team. It was my privilege to accept the bowl trophy. I couldn’t help it, I bragged on them.
Not only did the team end the season 9-2-1, but every single one of these guys graduated. Skeptics scoffed and said that’s impossible.
I said we will know in a few months.
One of them transferred to another school and graduated.
There were a lot of things accomplished in those years…
That’s a few things.
– Doug Roberson, AJC and AJC.com. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu