In praise of the other Loran Smith

Georgia Bulldogs fans have a complicated relationship with Loran Smith, a longtime fixture on the UGA athletics scene. Sort of like that uncle with the bad jokes that you love dearly but would rather not sit next to at Thanksgiving.

 

Georgia Sports Communications

Georgia Sports Communications

I mean, no one questions that Smith is probably the most loyal citizen of the Bulldog Nation. He seems to know just about everyone and is topped probably only by the legendary Dan Magill in his knowledge of UGA athletes over the decades. 

 

A longtime leukemia patient, Smith has worked tirelessly on behalf of a cancer support center at Athens Regional Medical Center that bears his name.

And his Bulldog bona fides are unquestionable. Uga VI’s kennel name was “Uga V’s Whatchagot Loran,” after Larry Munson’s longtime way of introducing one of Smith’s sideline reports during Georgia football games. And Uga VII is officially named “Loran’s Best.” How can you not feel fondly toward a guy who’s had two of the university’s celebrated mascots named after him? 

That’s where those sideline reports come in. 

When Larry would utter that familiar phrase you never knew what to expect from Smith except that only occasionally would it have any relevance to what was happening on the field. A favorite story among fans concerns the mid-game sideline report from Smith that then-Georgia defensive end Charles Grant likes boiled peanuts — a revelation that was met with silence from Munson, followed by, “Third and six.”

Then there’s Loran’s somewhat unorthodox interviewing style, which isn’t entirely out of place in the lengthy pregame “Tailgate Show” (soon to grow by another hour), but leaves listeners frustrated and interviewees bemused during the postgame locker show. He’s as likely to ask one of the game’s star players about something the kid’s hometown is known for as he is the game itself. And nobody lobs a softball to the coaches like Loran, as in “How pleased are you that your team won the game today?”

The one time Smith actually asked something pertinent — questioning Jim Donnan about a host of players leaving the game with cramps against South Carolina in 1997 — he got his head bitten off by the head coach. 

(While Bulldogs fans may complain about Loran, they didn’t take kindly to Donnan, still considered something of an outsider at the time, acting snippy toward a UGA legend on the air. Donnan didn’t make many friends in the Bulldog Nation that day.)

So now comes word that new rights holder ISP Sports is going to do some revamping of the football radio broadcasts. They say Smith will still play a role, but don’t say what that role is. Quite a few UGA fans have gone on record hoping we’ll at least get a new sideline reporter. And maybe a new locker room interviewer, too. Limit Loran’s rambling stories and interviews to the “Tailgate Show,” they say. 

I can’t argue with that. But I’m here today to say something in defense of Loran Smith.

Loran Smith, the writer, that is.

Because as awkward and embarrassing as Loran might be on the air, he’s the exact opposite on the printed page. His encyclopedic knowledge of Bulldogs lore makes him the ideal editor of the UGA game programs (for which he writes virtually all the articles). He’s written numerous books about the Bulldogs, including the 1980 celebration “Glory, Glory” with Lewis Grizzard, “Dooley’s Dawgs,” “Between the Hedges” (a wonderful chronicle of the first hundred years of UGA football), “Finish the Drill” and “The Georgia Football Vault,” plus volumes on the Masters, Athens and tailgating recipes (the latter done with his wife, Myrna). 

And his frequent newspaper columns, published in the Athens Banner-Herald and a few other Georgia papers, are a warm, engaging mix of updates on old Bulldog athletes, tributes to departed Dawgs, stories from the old days (when Loran and Dan Magill are gone, who will tell these tales?) plus reminiscences and musings on just about any subject, from traveling in Europe to a wounded veteran, a favorite brand of sausage, the decline of newspapers, his love of golf and persimmon trees.

His column after the 2007 win over Florida, describing the victorious locker room scene and how Vince Dooley had told the players about the days when UGA owned that series and Bulldog players looked forward with pride to Jacksonville, got me a bit misty-eyed, I have to say.

And as clunky as he might be on radio, Smith shines in print. “Regrettably, we lost a tree last year,” he wrote not too long ago, “but that means we will have plenty of firewood for a couple or more winters. Losing a tree causes heartache, but when it becomes firewood, you curiously feel there is something of an extension of its life through its usefulness.”

That’s downright eloquent. Though as one of my brothers pointed out, “that’s because you didn’t have to listen to Loran saying it.”

Which sort of sums up the Loran Smith conundrum. 

So let someone else report to us from the sideline about what’s going on during a game. Maybe that will give Loran more time to tell his readers about Charles Grant and the joys of boiled peanuts.

49 comments Add your comment

Rusty Gunn

June 30th, 2009
10:49 am

It should be noted that Loran Smith is also one of the last of a generation of true “Southern Gentlemen” in the best sense of the term. And almost as much of an institution as Munson.

coachdawg 2000

June 30th, 2009
10:53 am

I love Loran becuase he is like the slightly out of touch relative that you go to games with. He has so many awesome stories but talking to him is like tlaking to my 3 year old(he says the darnedest things). His insightful contributions on the sideline such as “Larr-uh,This is one excited team to be winning against fla-dah.” circa 1997 in response to Munson’s “whatday got on the sidelines, loran?” If that isn’t classic I don’t know what is!

coachdawg 2000

June 30th, 2009
10:55 am

BTW,
I would like to see buck belue or Kevin butler down there if loran isn’t.

Class of '98

June 30th, 2009
11:10 am

Who doesn’t love it when Loran sings “Turn out the lights, the party’s over”?

It means the Dawgs have just won another big one. Music to my ears.

Huh?

June 30th, 2009
11:21 am

A favorite story among fans concerns the mid-game sideline report from Smith that then-Georgia defensive end Charles Grant likes boiled peanuts — a revelation that was met with silence from Munson, followed by, “Third and six.”

Holy crap that is hilarious.

Big Dan

June 30th, 2009
11:31 am

If you think Loran is hard to listen to, you must have never heard Buck Belue. He’s never met an audience he could no bore..

Maddog

June 30th, 2009
11:47 am

Big Dan, I hate to admit it, but you’re right.

Will

June 30th, 2009
11:50 am

My 5 year old son has battled Leukemia for 4 years, and last fall Loran got him on the sideline during the Tech game. My son didn’t care who won the game, just the fact he was able to be in attendance was enough for him. Thanks again Loran for the awesome day we will never forget! I don’t care what fans say about you, I have your back.

RxDawg

June 30th, 2009
11:51 am

Nice write up. I’ve always taken Loren for granted. Thanks for reminding me of all that he does Bill.

lawdawg

June 30th, 2009
11:53 am

I would echo the sentiment. It’s still funny to remember a post-game interview w/Thomas Brown in ‘07 when Brown called Smith out on-air for checking out some girl when Smith went to class with Brown one day…

Fladawg

June 30th, 2009
11:55 am

Loran Smith another UGA legend, I would like to see him in some part on the sidelines. Loran is a part of UGA and it’s history.

coachdawg 2000

June 30th, 2009
11:57 am

Bill,
Loran’s writing is the best by far of anybody covering sports in the entire state. He is so much head and shoulders above anybody at the AJC that it embarrasses me for yall. I find his writng much interesting than Furman Bisher (and unlike loran’s ramblings on the radio) much more relevant and coherent than Bisher. The rest of you at the urinal and constipation are hacks.

Drew-G-A

June 30th, 2009
11:58 am

I understand what you are saying, but I will miss hearing his distinctive voice on the radio if he’s not included.

Gen Neyland

June 30th, 2009
12:04 pm

From the blog > “So now comes word that new rights holder ISP Sports is going to do some revamping of the football radio broadcasts. They say Smith will still play a role, but don’t say what that role is.”…

Sometimes change just sucks.

Dang, Bill...

June 30th, 2009
12:06 pm

…this piece is almost Furman Bisheresque! Good effort parlaying what I thought would be another uninformative blog into a real journalistic piece of work – your professors should be most proud.

And, the quote from your brother “that’s because you didn’t have to listen to Loran saying it” was the icing on the cake!

The Ole Ball Coach

June 30th, 2009
12:09 pm

Loran is a DGD and we love him……. Saturday football wouldn’t be the same without Loran and we miss Dooley and Munson….

Go Dawgs!

Jimv

June 30th, 2009
12:35 pm

From someone who’s worked closely with Loran, he is one of the kindest and most informative people I have met. One of the real jewels in UGA’s crown.

Cuz

June 30th, 2009
12:43 pm

I have read his articles, they are good to great. His sideline reporting is like taking a trip to the Twilight Zone. He is definitely living in an alternative Universe on the sidelines. But I have become used to it over the years, you never know what he will say when they cut to him. Both my daughters could hit his locker room softballs out of the park. With all this said, I hope there is room for him and Magill on the pre-game show.

Dink

June 30th, 2009
12:52 pm

Good analogy Bill. I love him to death but it’s tough listening to him sometimes.

GO DAWGS!

david

June 30th, 2009
1:04 pm

He’s a nice guy sure, but PLEASE, give us relevant information from the sidelines!

jimmy

June 30th, 2009
1:18 pm

leave the man alone we could get someone a lot worse

mobetta

June 30th, 2009
1:21 pm

I once heard him talking about Jasper Sank’s grandmother giving him a football for christmas and that’s what started his love for football.

Bilbo

June 30th, 2009
1:22 pm

Just remember y’all, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Loran Smith should be on the sideline until he says it’s time to go, just like Larry in the radio booth made his own call to quit.

coachdawg 2000

June 30th, 2009
1:25 pm

Whatayagotloran?
Larr-uh,
The players are saying that the powerade is wet.

Gdawg 82

June 30th, 2009
1:39 pm

Mobetta: Did sanks drop the football?

Dawgdays

June 30th, 2009
1:39 pm

Chicken soup recipe anyone?

Blog should be, “What is your favorite Loran sideline story?”

coachdawg 2000

June 30th, 2009
1:40 pm

Larr-uh,
Coach Willie Martinez doesn’t own a comb or a brush.

Gman

June 30th, 2009
1:41 pm

My favorite Loran comment was, “well Larry the players are all so big and tall nowadays, I didn’t actually see the play from down here.”

Dawgdays

June 30th, 2009
1:56 pm

Dawgdays

June 30th, 2009
2:07 pm

He kind of reminds me of a Gomer Pyle on downers…LOL!

Mobile Dawg

June 30th, 2009
2:19 pm

Seems like it’s out with the old, in with the new. Change is just a constant these days. If you like what’s happening, stick around a few minutes, days, or months and it will be gone. Gone are the “Junkyard Dawgs”, “Larry”, “Loran”, “3 yards and a cloud of dust”.

Now we got the warm fuzzies, razzle dazzle, glitz and glamor. Defense is forgotten, sacrificed by great wide receivers, marquee quarterbacks, and running backs that pull themselves out of games for a breather. Where are the blood and guts, leave it all on the field, pride?

Loran is a DGD, a class human being, and will be missed by this Dawg, along with many other things we were accustomed to….

snot bubble

June 30th, 2009
3:38 pm

A legend never gets old……God bless him……

[...] don’t forget to check out my look at the two sides of legendary sideline man Loran Smith. If your blood runs red and black, as Brook Whitmire says, I think you’ll enjoy [...]

Cuz

June 30th, 2009
4:02 pm

Larrrrryyyy, when I was a kid, when we found a yellow jacket hive, we used to pour gasoline down it and drop a match. I just checked with Coach Martinez and he said that is not in his gameplan. Pity. Back to you Larrrrrryyyy.

gary griffin

June 30th, 2009
4:05 pm

loran is the man! He does a great job and always has. I don’t understand what the criticism is about. All i know is that over the past four or five years it has become fashionable for so-called Georgia people to peck, peck, peck at him like friggin’ hens at a pecking party. i hope they leave things “as is” and that includes loran on the sideline and on the pre- and post-game. If Loran ain’t a DGD, there has never been one. He has earned waaaay more respect than any of these cyber-jerks who are putting him down just because they think it is the thing to do! And they call themselves Dawgs! Well, they’re not Dawgs. (”Fredo, you’re my brother and I love you … but don’t ever, ever take sides against the family again.”

shane#1

June 30th, 2009
4:22 pm

Loran is an old school southern gentleman, he would never ask anything that might show the University or it’s football team in a bad light. If Loran has to go can we have Erwin Andrews? Just asking.

Cuz

June 30th, 2009
4:46 pm

And we all know what happened to Fredo. Watchout for Michael Corrleone Adams.

SuperB

June 30th, 2009
5:55 pm

Rusty Gunn is on the mark– like Larry, Loran is a Georgia institution and should be on the sidelines for as long as he can say “Wuf, wuf, wuf.”

Jackson

June 30th, 2009
7:26 pm

I still think one of the funniest Loranisms is when Larry asked him a out a player and Loran says, “well, Larry it looks like he got hit in his man parts”

'93Dawg

June 30th, 2009
8:10 pm

Coachdawg2000, your tired, tired jab at the AJC could possibly be humorous, until you realized there are no writers left there. Literally.

Sid

June 30th, 2009
8:17 pm

No one nor any thing will ever replace Loran Smith.He will forever live in UGA history as one of it’s brightest stars. Thanks for the info.on his work related to cancer at Athens Regional.This article is a real gem !!

Hill Dawg

June 30th, 2009
11:24 pm

If the so called Georgia fans knew just 10% of what Loran Smith has done to help down and out coaches, players, Georgia students, alumni and fans they would bow in reverence when they saw him. There is not one person still employed at UGA that even comes close to having the outstanding record he has compiled at UGA in the last 45 or 50 years. Bill, I can’t believe you would bring up a subject like this if you really know Loran. He would never write an article about what a goose you are. What cheap way to get comments for your bland blog. You don’t like his radio interviews, I don’t like your goofy picture on your blog. The AJC has gone from being a newspaper to being a small newsletter. With your help, it will get even smaller.

david

July 2nd, 2009
8:08 am

I just have to write about how special Loran Smith is to the program. I am in favor of keeping him on the sidelines for as long as he wants to be there. I wanted him and Larry to go out together. Loran is the last remaining active link to our storied past and along with Dan Magill and Claude Felton are truly Georgia’s greatest historians. They don’t make them like Loran anymore and if there will ever be another one it’ll be a seventy year process. Loran represents everything that we love about the Bulldog Nation, the charm, history, and feelings associated with it. He also is as selfless as they come as serves as the ultimate ambassador for our programs. Nobody in the conference or country could ever say a negative word about Loran or Larry as they have been the utmost Georgia gentlemen for over half a century. Long live Loran Smith and the Bulldog Nation!

Georgiadawg1970

July 2nd, 2009
11:55 am

Back in the 1930s when Gene Talmadge was being introduced at one of his famous Bar BQs, the person introducing him was interupped by a person in the crowd under the influence of a byproduct of the local corn crop. He told the master of ceromonies that he as just said ole Gene was an SOB. The MC never missed a beat and said, he is, but he’s our SOB and you have to vote for him. Just like Ole Gene, Loran is ours, he’s family, and if you are not in the family, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Gary

July 2nd, 2009
6:51 pm

OK call me a jerk, but I’ve hated listening to Loran Smith for more than 30 years. I always wondered who he was related to so that he could get that job. But you’ve convinced me that despite his utter lack of broadcast talent, he’s a good writer and a great bulldog fan. But would it really be so bad to hire someone with talent to do the sideline reports and interviews?

Hill Dawg

July 3rd, 2009
9:58 pm

OK, I’ll comply with your request…. Gary, you are a jerk. Not only that,you are a stupid jerk! During the 30 year period that you were hating listening to Loran, you should have had enough sense to find the knob on the radio and turn it off. If you weren’t such a jerk, you would have had a friend to help you turn off the radio. Jerk!… You wondered who he was related to? Have you also wondered who your father was? Jerk!

Will

August 26th, 2010
6:08 pm

Loran wouldn’t be leaving the sidelines if he weren’t ready to leave the sidelines. He wouldn’t be taking the pregame show gig, either. He’d be letting everyone know he’s being forced out, so that’s apparently not the case.

[...] no mistake, Loran deserves to be part of the broadcast. As I wrote last year, no one questions that he is probably the most loyal citizen of the Bulldog Nation. He seems to know [...]

dawginflorida

September 4th, 2010
9:38 am

listening to loran is like the last munson team left , i really enjoy loran , good luck on new beginning.