Georgia State’s loss doesn’t diminish season, Curry’s efforts

All of the coaching in the world by Bill Curry wasn't going to change the inevitable outcome against Alabama. (AP photo)

All of the coaching in the world by Bill Curry wasn't going to change the inevitable outcome against Alabama. (AP photo)

(UPDATED 11:42 p.m.)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A program born this year (and coming off a win over Lamar) was facing a program that has been kicking since 1892 (and coming off a national championship).

One online sports book posted a mutant point spread of 57½.

Then there was the Alabama fan who, walking down Paul W. Bryant Drive toward the stadium, turned to his friends and asked, “Is Georgia State in Atlanta?”

As college football games go, Georgia State vs. Alabama created little in the way of drama or suspense Thursday night — except maybe for those who feared the scoreboard might blow up.

In the end, the evening went pretty much as expected. Bill Curry returned to Tuscaloosa. Nobody threw a brick this time, it just felt like it on the scoreboard: Alabama won 63-7.

The Panthers, after games against the likes of Shorter, Lambuth and Morehead State, completed their first season in one of college football’s most historic stadiums and received an historic clubbing.

They’ll always have the memories. Some of the memories will just take several weeks to heal.

Curry said his players were “overwhelmed” by the moment, commenting, “We thought we were ready, but then we ran smack into reality.”

Of course, when the season was over, he told his players another story, as he has done so often since he first brought this group of players together. This one was about his first day as undersized center in Green Bay Packers training camp, when he went against Ray Nitschke, the future Hall of Famer.

“On the first play of the first day he broke my face mask and my nose and he knocked me out,” Curry said. “I had to make a decision. Do I want to hit this guy again or do I want to go home? And I decided to hit him again and again until I could play like him. I never became as good as Ray Nitschke but I became the best player Bill Curry could be. I told them: All we expect from you is to get off the ground and hit him again.”

The lopsided result notwithstanding, could a coach possibly have better words for a first-year team?

There’s no reason for to second-guess Curry’s decision to come here, nor any reason to second-guess the program’s future. First seasons are about pouring a foundation, establishing direction and trying to show people that you know what you’re doing. Curry accomplished all of that. The team went 6-5. It drew over 30,000 fans to the Georgia Dome for its inaugural game and is well into construction projects for new facilities.

Curry: “We have a team. We have a record. We have a winning record.”

Still, maybe next time when the Panthers want to test themselves against an SEC program, they can start slowly. Vanderbilt, maybe.

The players didn’t seem to mind taking the beating. “Everything we learned from this game — personally, I know now what I have to do to get to that next level,” defensive end Kalan Jenkins said.  “I know why they’re 1-A and we’re 1-AA but it’s going to make us better. It was definitely worth it. I don’t regret playing this game at all.”

Curry isn’t going anywhere. His contract is for two more seasons. This venture has rejuvenated him. The 68-year-old felt no less competitive Thursday at Bryant-Denny Stadium than he was 30 years earlier, when he brought his first Georgia Tech team to Alabama.

He said, “It felt very strange,” being back in Tuscaloosa. “It was strange looking across the field and seeing the other players in crimson.”

Everybody projected a cartoon on the scoreboard. But there was Curry, standing on the field, looking around and checking wind direction. He gazed up at the flags on the top levels of the stadium and the ribbons on top of the goal posts to see which direction they were flying.

You never knew. Maybe this game would come down to a field goal.

Laugh if you want, but the man lives for game day, and he lives for teaching.

In a sobering moment the other day, Curry said: “When you get to be my age, let’s just be blunt about it: A lot of my buddies are dead or they don’t recognize us or they’re institutionalized because of our head trauma. I was a multiple-concussion guy [in playing days], and every time I forget a phone number or something my wife has to say, ‘You’re OK.’”

Some parts of Thursday, he’d like to forget. His team was simply overmatched. Alabama’s offensive line outweighed Georgia’s State’s defensive front by an average of 37 pounds. Size, speed, talent — the two sides weren’t close. The Tide easily drove to touchdowns on their first two possessions. The Panthers threw interceptions on two of their first three.

It was 42-0 before State’s Albert Wilson created a memory for himself and the program — a 97-yard kickoff return to get them on the board. It healed the pain of his previous kickoff return: a fumble that was forced by the Alabama kicker (leading to a touchdown).

By halftime, the Tide had run for two touchdowns, thrown for two and scored two others on returns following an interception and a blocked punt. There would be film for everybody to watch.

The Panthers finished with 165 yards in offense and five turnovers. But enough about the numbers. Curry knew the potential for disaster existed. This wasn’t about that.

“One of my favorite sayings is: ‘A ship is safe in port, but that is not the purpose of a ship,’” he said the other day. “Until you get into the high seas and the wind and the hurricanes, you don’t know what your ship is made of.”

And then this: “There will be some moments when I review this video when I’ll be able to say to a young lineman, ‘You knocked an Alabama player down. Look what you can do. I’m excited about that. It’s an adventure.”

It has been just that.

Recent Georgia State-blogs

LIVE: Georgia State ready to shock Alabama! (Go with it)

Weekend Predictions: Falcons, SEC and Eva, oh my

Bill Curry goes back to Tuscaloosa as a changed man

So I can get Georgia State and 42 1/2 vs. Alabama? Hmmm

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

101 comments Add your comment

Gene

November 18th, 2010
10:52 pm

Curry has done a great job putting this team together. For GSU, Curry, and the team, best of luck in the future.

StevenW

November 18th, 2010
10:56 pm

I agree wholeheartedly Gene – great job. And wasn’t the line 56.5? Somebody lost a lot of money tonight on that .5pt.

I wouldn’t want to play GSU in a couple of years….

StevenW

November 18th, 2010
10:59 pm

‘Bama looks ready to kick some Eagle feathers…..What a game. If Cam doesn’t play, ‘Bama wins. If Cam plays – AU probably. He’s the best college player since Herschel. No lie.

R. Klesko

November 18th, 2010
10:59 pm

Star Jackson is clearly the best QB they have. How many interceptions do we have to watch Little throw? Curry has a history of favoring “traditional” QB’s over athletic, more talented options. Star could start at almost any other FCS school. Curry needs to get past his 1950’s biases and move Jackson to the top!

Glory Glory

November 18th, 2010
11:07 pm

It’s OK Georgia State.

It’s normal for teams in the city of Atlanta to have mediocre seasons, then get blown out in their final game, and spin it to make yourselves believe that the season was still a “success”…..

Ask your neighbor…. Georgia Tech.

(((((30-24))))

Glory Glory

November 18th, 2010
11:08 pm

Now back to my Shareholders conference…….

Saint Simons

November 18th, 2010
11:09 pm

(((((63-7))))) hahahahahahaha!!!

Trivia!!!!!

November 18th, 2010
11:12 pm

What do Georgia State and Georgia Tech have in common (other than being located in the city of Atlanta) ??

They both will have gone on the road in their final game, to a superior SEC team’s house, and been beaten 63-7!!!!!

We have a winner!!!!!!!

Matt the Brave

November 18th, 2010
11:17 pm

Pretty big words, Saint Simons, considering that your top team couldn’t beat a basketball team that’s been playing only for less than 30 years, that has only been in 1-AA for two years, and has never beaten a 1-A opponent. Not only that, Georgia took you to task last year and without your precious Josh “non-Heisman” Nesbitt, Georgia’s going to hammer you once again. Lay off of a team that went 6-5 in their first year of football. It won’t be too long before Tech is just an afterthought because kids who just want to play football but can’t get into Georgia will go to Georgia State and enjoy living in Atlanta proper. And they won’t have to take engineering classes that they won’t pass.

Btw, Schultz., I think that your new nickname is Long Beach Schultz. :D

Tom

November 18th, 2010
11:17 pm

Bill Curry is one of the few coaches who’s been to the top and has the fortitude to remain in the game after being knocked down.
Georgia State is going to be a stonger for going with a man who’s love of the game still shows at any level. I wish he had made it a go at Kentucky.
Best wishers toth players, coaches and the University for accepting the challienge and making Bill Curry and his young men’s memories something they will never forget.

JSS

November 18th, 2010
11:17 pm

Just build your team, and don’t alienate those who don’t have allegiance to UGA or Tech. Your Spring practices should very interesting…

5150 P.O.A.D

November 18th, 2010
11:20 pm

JSS
I hope you were not offend to be linked with me in the last BLOG. AHHAHA
GSU did all they could. The Speed and Size of BAMA was more than most teams can overcome.
JSS Wear Some Washington Huskie Purple and Gold to work tomorrow. HAHAHA

Goose

November 18th, 2010
11:23 pm

Star Jackson is not the best QB we have at G. State. Little simply did not perform well tonight. As I recall D. Williams did not have a catch as well. That’s a first all season as well. He simply struggled and chocked tonight. A real disappointment for me as a season ticket holder. Travis Evans is the best RB we have. I’ve been saying it all season and hopefully he’ll be starting next season. Hits the holes right and can run in any direction.

Drew = you are awesome in the pocket but learn to roll out and create us time and quit checking down.

It’s impossible to create separation when you just stand still against superior competition.

Overall, we played poorly. This team is capable of more and it hasn’t surfaced all season on the field. I believe the OL an DL will bulk up more and we will be even better for the 2011 season. So go ahead and knock us for our performance but we are by leaps and bounds better than this showing.

Go Panthers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have season ticket holder for life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

mdbatl

November 18th, 2010
11:25 pm

R. Klesko, no offense, but you seriously must not have watched any other GA State game this year. Little has proven by far to be the best QB for Curry’s system; at one point during the year he went several games without a pick. And Jackson, if you watched him play in any other game this season, isn’t even second best– Kelton Hill had a great year as a backup and change of pace guy. Your suggestion that Curry isn’t playing Jackson because of “1950s biases” is at best completely uninformed and at worst borderline slanderous. Also remember that Jackson was up against Bama’s 5th and 6th string. That’s not to slam Star, but he’s had a far shorter time in the system than Little or Hill.

On a more positive note, congrats to the Panthers on a great season! Starting from scratch and going 6-5 is an impressive accomplishment– there’s nothing but great things ahead for this program. Curry is building the right kind of foundation.

JSS

November 18th, 2010
11:28 pm

@ POAD…
If I wanted to rub it in, I’d wear my Oregon Rose Bowl t-shirt on the web teleconference on Monday…

That was weird having some knucklehead thinking we’re the same person… No problems man!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GamblingIQ, ETSU Fans and Nubyjas Wilborn, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Georgia State’s loss doesn’t diminish season, Curry’s efforts http://bit.ly/bM5SvW [...]

5150 P.O.A.D

November 18th, 2010
11:31 pm

JSS
cool
be safe and have a great hoildy season not matter your religous or political beliefs, Kiss the wife and hug the kids and grandkids. TT you later.

Goose

November 18th, 2010
11:32 pm

I don’t want to go out like this on the blogs but CBC you are building up for a great 2012 campaign. I just feel bad for our overall defense. They played with tremendous heart and showed that they can play at somewhat of a high level. Our offense, for the first time all season just stunk it up. It would of been nice to throw it to the RB at the corners to pick up first downs but instead we always decided to throw the home run ball. Watson is not a starter. I know he picks up coverages well, but he just flat out stinks running the ball. The option would have been a better option tonight and it showed when Hill was in the ballgame.

Once again = Drew you are the face of GSU fball for the next 4 seasons but you need to work on you agility. Star Jackson = we simply do not need you anymore. They AJC coverage will drop off next year and there won’t be a need to talk about how you were a transfer from BAMA. Honestly, you need to switch positions for next year.

Anyways, I’m probably out until next year. Still proud of my team and keep the offseason going hard. I’m thinking 9-2 for next year. Yes SIRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5150 P.O.A.D

November 18th, 2010
11:32 pm

HOLIDAY sorry and No amtter

5150 P.O.A.D

November 18th, 2010
11:32 pm

Tide Rising

November 18th, 2010
11:33 pm

GSU played hard and I don’t think the score was indicative of just how much progress they’ve made in 1 season. We had 2-3 pick sixes for tds, a blocked punt for a td, a fumble deep in GSU territory leading to a td, it really wasn’t that bad. A lot of cheap tds made the outcome look a lot worse than it was and at times GSU showed flashes of good play with a lot of good stops for 1-3 yard gains. They showed in spots that they could play some decent football. GSU you have nothing to be ashamed of.

5150 P.O.A.D

November 18th, 2010
11:36 pm

Rising Tide
I hope the GSU faithful appreciate what you had to say.

JSS

November 18th, 2010
11:42 pm

Only have a Step son and he’s in Michigan doing his 3rd of undergrad work. He’ll be spending his holidays with his Grandmom and their extended family… It’s been 5 years since his Mom passed. They’re getting better and next year he’ll be in China doing his year aboard…
The same well wishes to everyone on the farm…

5150 P.O.A.D

November 18th, 2010
11:44 pm

Jeff Schultz

November 18th, 2010
11:46 pm

Dawg-Hatin' Jacket

November 19th, 2010
12:14 am

Congratulations Georgia State on a successful first season. It took a lot of guts to play a team like Bama in the first year knowing what the outcome would be. I know the money is nice, but there was a much to learn about yourselves even considering that impossible task. Bill Curry is a great coach and the perfect fit for a school looking to build a program. Many best wishes in the years to come.

Mark in Tuscaloosa

November 19th, 2010
12:22 am

Hats off to Georgia State. As RisingTide said in an earlier comment, several Bama scores came off of GSU mistakes. To be sure, Bama rested most of their starters the second half, and emptied the bench. But that was to be expected, and it came after GSU made many of those mistakes. I’m a Bama grad, and I think the Tide got what it needed out of this game. But Ga State got a big payday, and a lot of big game experience. For a first year program, GSU seems ahead of schedule to me.

I worked in Atlanta for 12 years earlier in my career. Lots of respect for GSU as a school. If I were still living there, I’d support this team like crazy. Bill Curry has a lot of class, and he’s done a great job in starting this program.

Roll Tide, and best of luck to GSU.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 19th, 2010
12:34 am

Curry knew what he was doing. His players will never play a better team in a bigger stadium. This is smart coaching. Hope GT and UGA will play Ga. State and KSU every year.

Bishop

November 19th, 2010
12:49 am

To be insulted by SEC fans…what an honor!

Mikey

November 19th, 2010
12:50 am

Good effort by State tonight. There is no shame in losing to the defending national champions. The inexperience and talent level compared to Alabama was simply overwhelming, but Curry has the program going in the right direction. I like his approach to scheduling tough opponents in order to get better, similar to what Bowden did for Florida State.

Dan Lynn

November 19th, 2010
1:03 am

As an alum, former WRAS Sports Director and season ticket holder, I am very proud of Coach Curry and these Panthers. Tonight was a win-win – free advertising and we made over $600,000. This was an amazing season. It will only get better. Thanks to everyone who made this dream happen. I waited 34 years for this and it was perfect.Now let’s have 30,000 at every game next year !!

itpdude

November 19th, 2010
1:49 am

How did Georgia do against Bama?

This is a great story

November 19th, 2010
2:34 am

Georgia State Football is one of the better sports stories around. Especially this game – think about it a first year program having the opportunity to play Alabama and there is not a better person or Coach to lead and help establish GSU Football.

Army Panther

November 19th, 2010
2:39 am

Stay in the STATE! You build it they will come

Hairy Dawg

November 19th, 2010
2:52 am

It’s pretty amazing to go from nothing to a game with Bama in one season, ain’t it?

I’ll always be a Dawg fan first, but my folks are both GSU alums who are mighty proud of what Bill Curry, his coaching staff, and these players have accomplished this season. Here’s wishing GSU continued success in the years to come. I look forward to UGA eventually scheduling GSU for a contest. I hope Tech will do the same.

Jensen

November 19th, 2010
4:34 am

Star Jackson fell from 2nd string to 3rd when AJ McCarron passed him. The more you saw of Jackson the less impressed folks at Bama. Word was Saban asked him to move to another position or lose his scholarship. Then he decided to transfer. He would have been 4th on depth chart this year with Philip Sims aboard. So you might want to reconsider his talent level. He hasn’t shot up the charts at GSU.

bamaguy

November 19th, 2010
6:23 am

Bill Curry is a class act, all the way. He’s the kind of guy you want your son to play for an emulate.

I am looking forward to the day they play and defeat Tech .

Boses

November 19th, 2010
7:09 am

In his article on the game, Sigura wrote this sentance: “Little through an uncharacteristic four interceptions and was eventually replaced by Kelton Hill.”
He probably stayed up too late.

Paddy

November 19th, 2010
7:10 am

Klesko, your opinions are your opinions. You are more than welcome to share. I don’t think you will ever get a football scouting job. You seem to be watching a game that none of us are familar with .When you get that far off base you get picked off!

Buckeye

November 19th, 2010
7:14 am

GSU – gutsy to even show up. Shame on you, Alabama.

Perhaps pounding GSU in the next to the last regular season game will take the sting out of not repeating. Gimme me a freakin’ break.

Go ‘Cocks.

GSU Class of '71

November 19th, 2010
7:17 am

Jeff, you are right on target. Georgia State’s opening season was remarkable by any standard and anyone even slightly knowledgeable about football on the collegiate level will have to agree. Well done young Panthers and Coach Curry! You done us proud!

Rich T

November 19th, 2010
7:20 am

Great article, Jeff.

Best of luck to Mr. Curry and the Panthers program as they continue to grow.

vince

November 19th, 2010
7:23 am

I want to thank The University of Alabama for extending this opportunity to Georgia State. The game provided a great cash payout to the young program and good name recognition for GSU. Most importantly, it provided an experience for the Panther players that they won’t forget. Maybe not today, but in the years ahead they will look back to the game fondly.

College football fans in Georgia were able to witness quite a difference in styles between the two major Alabama programs in a span of 6 days. One program offered a great opportunity to a new program and then played a hard-nosed game with great sportsmanship. The other, and its fan base, displayed poor sportsmanship by condoning, defending and even celebrating a player’s attempts to severly injure an opposing player.

Good luck in the Iron Bowl! Roll Tide!

Benjamin

November 19th, 2010
7:24 am

I think I have a new favorite football program. [Georgia State, not Alabama..]

Bill Curry did a great job laying the foundation for this program.

vince

November 19th, 2010
7:25 am

@ Saint Simons….

Are you nuts?

reebok

November 19th, 2010
7:50 am

Great effort and great season, Panthers! This Tech fan is proud of you and what you accomplished this year!

[...] Loss doesn’t diminish Georgia State’s season, says Jeff Schultz of the AJC. [...]

Rebel Ace

November 19th, 2010
7:53 am

Thanks, Coach, for an inspiring season. You did it the right way. My wife is a GSU graduate and she’s also very proud of you.

juice sourcer

November 19th, 2010
7:56 am

Great article and great person in Bill Curry. Class act unlike so much of college football. It was a pleasure reading this instead of Cam Newton, how mant Georgia players arrested or the BSC crap…which it is. Thanks Jeff,

Millard Filmore

November 19th, 2010
8:00 am

Ya know, Schultzie, you can be a pretty decent writer when you get serious. Good wrapup, and congrats to Coach Curry and his… Men.