Looks like we’ve entered a new Bronze Age in the SEC.
You probably saw the recent news that the University of Alabama is quickly putting up a statue of Nick Saban to mark the Tide’s most recent national championship. It’ll join statues of the other UA coaches who’ve won national titles in the “Walk of Champions” area outside Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Then came word that the University of Florida is looking at erecting bronze, life-size statues of the Gators’ Heisman Trophy winners, Tim Tebow, Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel.
That got me to thinking which Bulldog heroes ought to be enshrined if UGA were to go beyond the statue honoring former coach Vince Dooley and his 1980 national championship team that was unveiled in 2008 on the South Campus athletic complex named after Dooley.
Now let me say up front that I recognize there are those who question whether a university campus perhaps ought to erect monuments to great scholars or distinguished alumni rather than athletes, and I’d be all for honoring those folks as well if someone’s willing to put up the money like the athletic association did with the Dooley statue. I certainly don’t think tax dollars ought to be shelled out for statues when there aren’t enough faculty members.
And, indeed, private funds will pay for a statue of UGA’s founder and first president, Abraham Baldwin, that will be erected on North Campus, just as the Sonny Seiler family donated a small bronze statue of Uga VI to the veterinary medicine school. (The other bronze statue of a Georgia Bulldog that sits outside Memorial Hall is actually of Mike, one of the pre-Seiler UGA mascots.)
Anyway, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s stick to athletic heroes and assume that the funding comes either from private donations or that nice fat athletic association surplus. UGA currently doesn’t have an equivalent of Bama’s “Walk of Champions,” but perhaps something along those lines could be worked into the new Reed Alley plaza being built at Sanford Stadium. And if not full statues, maybe bronze busts would be more suitable and take up less space.
Or maybe statues/busts of football heroes could anchor the four corners of the stadium. Heisman winners Herschel Walker and Frank Sinkwich would be natural subjects, along with “Flatfoot” Frankie’s teammate, Maxwell Award winner Charley Trippi. Who for the fourth corner? Longtime coach Wally Butts, who won Georgia’s other consensus national title? Or fan favorite Erk Russell, perhaps?
And over at Stegeman Coliseum, which also is undergoing a facelift and expansion of its concourse, some of the Dawg heroes associated with that venue might be honored, like human highlight film Dominique Wilkins or five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards or Courtney Kupets, the NCAA’s all-time most decorated gymnast.
Which UGA athletic heroes do you think should be honored with a statue or bust? And is a “Walk of Champions” type of area something that needs to be added to the campus in Athens?