There’ve been some odd juxtapositions in Bulldogs-related news this week worthy of comment: longtime College Football Hall of Fame member Vince Dooley receiving the Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, former UGA coach Jim Donnan getting inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame’s “divisional” class for his 1-AA success at Marshall before coming to Georgia, and quarterback-turned-trainwreck Quincy Carter, formerly of the Dogs, being arrested yet again in Texas on a probation violation.
OK, first Dooley. The only surprising thing about his honor, previously given to the likes of Barry Switzer, Tom Osborne and Bo Schembechler, is that they’re just getting around to it. Dooley, only the ninth coach in NCAA Division 1 history to win more than 200 games, has always been one of the classiest guys in his field and won six SEC titles and a national championship. I know there’s a faction of fandom that associates Dooley with a less exciting three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust brand of football, but to them I say: flea-flicker, shoestring, Appleby-to-Washington and … you get the point. There was plenty of exciting football during Dooley’s time as coach, and while the Dogs might not have been the most successful program of his era, they were consistently good and occasionally great over 25 years, no mean achievement. And as athletic director, he built one of the nation’s most successful sports programs overall.
I’ll just take this opportunity again to say that I look forward to the day, after Michael Adams is gone, when Dooley can be properly honored by UGA adding his name to the stadium or field.
Donnan? Well, if a six-year career at Marshall that resulted in a 64-21 record with four trips to the 1-AA title game and one national championship is considered Hall of Fame material, so be it. But I’m with T Kyle King (no relation) of the Dawg Sports blog, who took umbrage at Donnan’s post-award announcement comments in which he seemed to reach for a bit of credit for doing “some good things” during his time at UGA that “got it started” for Mark Richt. As King put it: “Jim Donnan made few, if any, contributions to Georgia football which were both enduring and valuable” aside from redshirting David Greene. “It seems to me that everything Coach Donnan started was something Mark Richt had to fix, whether it was running off [Quincy] Carter, booting Jasper Sanks off the team, implementing meaningful player discipline, instituting mat drills, halting the losing streak to the Yellow Jackets, or winning games consistently against meaningful opposition.” No argument here.
Which brings us to one of the sadder chapters in recent college or pro sports history. Carter, who originally had signed with Georgia Tech before deciding to try pro baseball and then changing his mind and deciding to play college football at UGA, was an unquestionably talented but raw athlete who needed developing and nurturing. But he didn’t get it from Donnan, who having fallen head over heels in love with Carter at QB, installed him as a freshman starter, ran off all the other talented quarterbacks on the roster, and then proceeded to teach Carter nothing (not even which foot to throw off) while ignoring all the rumors floating around Athens about habits that would later lead to the self-destruction of Carter’s pro career.
While his work at Marshall might be worthy of the College Football Hall of Fame, Donnan’s mishandling of Carter alone makes him deserving of the Hall of Infamy at the Division 1 level.