How long before the new Bronze Age gets going at UGA?

Even Nick Saban doesn't look too sure about his creepy-looking bronze self. (Associated Press)

Even Nick Saban doesn't look too sure about his creepy-looking bronze self. (Associated Press)

It used to be that getting your own statue was almost as difficult as having your face on a U.S. postage stamp.

You might not have had to be dead 10 years like with the stamps, but unless you were a dictator putting up your own monuments, the idea generally was that some time for historic appreciation had to elapse between whatever it was you did that was noteworthy and having your visage erected in bronze.

That was pretty much the case even in the sports world, where the words “all-time” and “greatest” get thrown around with abandon. Bobby Bowden had been head coach at Florida State for 28 years before the school erected a statue of him, and Joe Paterno didn’t become a target for pigeons at Penn State until 19 years after winning his first national championship.

In this Twitterized age of instant gratification, however, the bar for bronze immortality has been lowered considerably.

The University of Florida didn't wait long to honor Tim Tebow with a statue. (Associated Press)

The University of Florida didn't wait long to honor Tim Tebow with a statue. (Associated Press)

Consider Auburn University, which recently announced that in addition to previously planned statues of Heisman Trophy winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson, who won their honors in 1971 and 1985, the school also will be putting up a statue of Cam Newton, who spent all of about a year as a Tiger but who delivered a third Heisman and a BCS championship this past season.

No matter that there’s still the possibility an NCAA investigation could lead to one or possibly even both of those honors going away (and that USC is, no doubt, glad it didn’t rush to put up a statue of Reggie Bush in 2005). Auburn is, as they say, “all in” on Newton.

The news of the Newton statue came right on the heels of the unveiling of a couple of other hastily erected statues at SEC football powers, with Florida’s Tim Tebow having gotten a bronze likeness (along with the Gators’ other two Heisman winners, Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier), just a little over a season after leaving the school. And Alabama recently put up a rather creepy looking 9-foot-tall bronze Nick Saban, despite the fact he’s only in his fifth year coaching there. A trifle premature, maybe? After all, five years into his coaching career at UGA some folks thought Mark Richt should be declared the school’s greatest coach ever; you don’t hear that as much now. But say this for Saban, he did win that national title.

All this bronzing in the SEC prompted quite a bit of media commentary about our region’s football obsession, most notably from HBO “Real Sports” host Bryant Gumbel, who noted, “it seems Southerners in particular have gone bronze bonkers of late. … It used to be you had to serve a lifetime and die for your country or some noble cause to be immortalized. Now, it seems, all you have to do is generate some cheers and win a few football games for those who live and breathe for such things. If nothing else, you’d think they’d wait at least awhile to see how events play out. Recent sports history has taught us that yesterday’s hero might quickly become tomorrow’s outcast.”

Should Vince Dooley's statue in Athens be joined by other football monuments? (University of Georgia)

Should Vince Dooley's statue in Athens be joined by other football monuments? (University of Georgia)

Knee-jerk assumptions about the South aside, it’s not just in our part of the country that football heroes get statues. Oklahoma put one up of Jason White four years after he won his Heisman, and the school has erected statues of three other Sooners, with another still to come. Oklahoma also plans statues of four of its coaches, including the current one, Bob Stoops. Notre Dame has statues of Knute Rockne and Lou Holtz (I wonder if they managed to capture the spittle in bronze). Syracuse has one of Ernie Davis, the first black Heisman winner, and Nebraska put up a statue of Tom Osborne (along with a player who died in a plane crash) in 2006.

There’s a lot to be said for statues. They honor achievement, celebrate a school’s past accomplishments and tradition, and make great backdrops for fan photos. And it’s hard to complain as long as public funding that could otherwise go for faculty or classrooms isn’t used to pay for them (most are either funded by private donations or athletic association money).

There’s the prestige factor, too. As Bama athletic director Mal Moore told the Wall Street Journal, “I’d just say that, right or wrong, the thing that brings a lot of immediate attention to a university is its athletic programs. It’s a way of recognizing that success.”

UGA has been rather slow about entering this new Bronze Age, with only the Vince Dooley statue on the South Campus athletic complex so far. But if putting up statues is going to become the latest weapon in the recruiting arms race along with fancy weight rooms and practice facilities, it probably won’t be long before someone’s talking about adding to the statuary in Athens.

As I wrote before on this subject, 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 it’s worth noting that the UGA Alumni Association is raising funds now for a North Campus statue of Abraham Baldwin, the school’s illustrious founder.

But it seems almost inevitable that at the very least Heisman Trophy winners Frank Sinkwich and Herschel Walker will one day get bronzed on campus. And if that’s going to happen, I’d argue Maxwell Award winner and Heisman runner-up Charley Trippi ought to join them. Probably Wally Butts, too.

And how cool would it be to tell friends to meet you after the game at the Erk Russell statue?

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

153 comments Add your comment

45ACP

April 23rd, 2011
11:24 am

7576DAWG

April 23rd, 2011
11:30 am

No more than one year

SSIgator

April 23rd, 2011
11:36 am

“How long before the new Bronze Age gets going at UGA?”

Bill -

It is already at UGA – It is called spray-on tan that Richt uses.

tide roll

April 23rd, 2011
11:41 am

SSlgator. That is classic! Just let Richt himself pose on a pedestal before and after games. Save a lot of money that way.

SSIgator

April 23rd, 2011
11:45 am

tide roll -

Let Richt pose? He already does that during the games.

D A DoubleU G

April 23rd, 2011
11:45 am

Reggie Ball deserves a statue.

Before too long, Paul Johnson should have one too.

Beast from the East

April 23rd, 2011
11:52 am

I’m ok wth schools putting up staues of Hesiman winners and NC coaches. If I were Auburn, I would wait a minute on putting up one of Newton. Maybe no more news ever comes out, but I would have a moment of pause nonetheless.

TrueGadog

April 23rd, 2011
11:57 am

tideroll and SSigator………..Bookend Fools !!!!

michael g.

April 23rd, 2011
12:03 pm

I’ll say it; Mark Richt IS the greatest coach in UGA history. Everyone wanting him gone simply wants change for change sake. Careful what you wish for. It could always be another Ray Goff, Jim Donnan, or a decade of 7-4 seasons brought to you at the end of Dooley’s tenure.

Earlycountydawg

April 23rd, 2011
12:08 pm

Tideroll At least Coach Richt doesnt look constipated like Saban always does.

dawgman

April 23rd, 2011
12:09 pm

Hey, what do ya know? SSIGayturd and Tide Roll, here on a UGA blog! You guys sure look pathetic EVERYDAY commenting on all things UGA. Losers! Both of you. Hey Tide Roll what do you think about UGA’s recruiting of offensive lineman? What a joke! You two should know more about UGA than your own teams considering how much time and energy you spend on keeping up with the Dawgs. Sounds like someone needs a girlfriend. Move on trolls.

bilbo

April 23rd, 2011
12:32 pm

Auburn and Alabama are embarrassments. Crummy schools, crummy state, great college football.

DawgBone

April 23rd, 2011
12:32 pm

Definitely ERK!

AltamahaDawg

April 23rd, 2011
12:38 pm

Talk about a couple of guys who need new material! geez

(go ahead. cut and paste that for your middle school jabs.)

tater tot

April 23rd, 2011
12:57 pm

Happy Easter and God Bless each of you. GO DAWGS !!!

Walter Sobchak

April 23rd, 2011
1:25 pm

So glad I broke the yoke of being a lemming to this non-sense. Wake up folks, you are all a bunch of suckers.

I'm a F-18 Baby

April 23rd, 2011
1:28 pm

Remember the conversation of retiring David Pollack and/or David Greene’s jersey? The debate that roared from that? I could not imagine trying to get UGA fans to figure out who deserves a statue and who does not!

RabidDawgFan

April 23rd, 2011
1:37 pm

They should put up a statue of David Pollack, David Green, Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford, just to name a few. But the guy I think should be put up there is Mark Richt. Even though he’s had his ups and downs, this guy is a well-respected individual all around college football. He’s a good christian man and he’s part of the reason recruits want to play for Georgia. They know that they will be in good hands. Mark Richt is one of the greatest coaches to coach at UGA and he should get a statue.

UGA Alumnus

April 23rd, 2011
1:45 pm

It’s all about recruiting. It makes the kids feel like they’re coming into a special place and makes them believe that they too can have a statue erected in their own likeness.

GT is a 4th rate high school team

April 23rd, 2011
2:10 pm

The only setback I see with all these bronzing is it makes the whole thing look and sound “cheaper” than before.

a statue of stafford? doing what? hoisting a beer keg?

April 23rd, 2011
2:18 pm

wow.
i would vote for a double statue of quincy carter and stafford as a monument to wasted talent.

Nick

April 23rd, 2011
2:29 pm

Is the Tim Tebow statue of him crying like a baby or kissing his male roommates?

Cali Dawg

April 23rd, 2011
2:40 pm

Tim Tebow’s statue has him running the ball…perfect.

C Weiss

April 23rd, 2011
2:50 pm

Florida CB Janoris Jenkins arrested for possession of less than 20g of pot. It’s his third arrest — second involving pot — in 23 months..

C Weiss

April 23rd, 2011
2:51 pm

Hmmmm…am I detecting a pattern here

G8trs33

April 23rd, 2011
3:03 pm

Nick – I think the more fitting one would be of Tebow breaking Walker’s TD record in Jax. Couple of bewildered UGA defenders watching in awe in the background… Some how work in the black helmets and pants UGA broke out for the first time to celebrate the occasion.

Bawbie

April 23rd, 2011
3:17 pm

Lets go ahead and Bronze Richt so he can leave. Fire Dave Perno!

FB Fan

April 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

Why not put up a statue of the county sheriff? He has more catches than any player in history!

Burma Shave

April 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

A favorite character
Was the Fonze
But Richt will never
Be in bronze.

BURMA SHAVE

Jubilee

April 23rd, 2011
3:41 pm

RabidDawgFan really does have rabies.

It’s amazing how fast the disease spreads in rundown trailer parks. :-)

King DAWG

April 23rd, 2011
3:46 pm

Crimson Tu#ds and Florida Gaytors are insanely jealous of our message boards. They don’t have them in Alabamee and Flordiee.

Big DAWG

April 23rd, 2011
3:50 pm

Attention: If you are a high school football player and smoke weed or use other drugs, you need to go to the University of Florida or the University of South Carolina. They won’t punish you in any way. They will just turn their heads and ignore it.

HARTDAWG

April 23rd, 2011
3:56 pm

Who cares about a bronze age lets try to find a winning age first.

HARTDAWG

April 23rd, 2011
3:59 pm

September just want get here fast enough.

Chris

April 23rd, 2011
4:17 pm

Well, we wont have to worry about Mark Richt having a receding hairline version of himself erected.

AltamahaDawg

April 23rd, 2011
5:12 pm

Say coach Will, you 420 freindly right?

Dawg 39

April 23rd, 2011
5:30 pm

“You don’t here It much now” ; But, this Old Dawg still believes thar Richt was, Is , & will continue to be the best HC My Dawgs have ever had.

Ol' Dawg

April 23rd, 2011
6:20 pm

Regardless of what everyone may think about Bama and Florida, these statues are indeed impressive to recruits. These kids are often so eaten up with themselves, they can visualize their likeness being on one of those marble pedestals one day.
As for UGA, maybe find another type like marble or granite if deciding to recognize players and coaches, just to be different.

Old Blind Dawg

April 23rd, 2011
6:37 pm

G8trs33 give Walker 4 years like Tebow and the TD totals wouldn’t be close. How about the yards per carry?

Let’s wait and see how The Bow does in the pros……………….

mcgdawg

April 23rd, 2011
7:25 pm

Saban’s statue only confirms his LITTLE MAN SYNDROME. The guy has been shorter than every female reporter who interviews him. 9 feet tall…geez, cut me a break!

Burma Shave

April 23rd, 2011
7:39 pm

Georgia’s statues
Are monuments of FAIL
You can visit them
at the Clarke County Jail

BURMA SHAVE

Bama Fan#2

April 23rd, 2011
8:22 pm

Nick Saban deserves a statue at Alabama and want makes the statue even better it has the
football players name from the 2009 NC’S on it. Saban made a big deal about having the
players name on the statue. Mark Richt has a long way to get a statue but he would get
my volte for Father of the Year award and be a great salesman for a tanning salon place
instead of a carpet barn in Dalton. RTR

Dawg

April 23rd, 2011
8:25 pm

Hell fire, I thought you had to be deceased!

Lectric Shaaaaave

April 23rd, 2011
8:30 pm

Mark Richt’s face is smooth as a baby’s patootie!

G8trs33

April 23rd, 2011
8:54 pm

Old blind – Tebow only started 3 years and he was a QB. Who cares what his YPC were….

He was also part of 2 national titles and won the heisman, nothing he ever does in the pros will ever take that away…

HW should have a statue in athens. Guy was incredible and a class act. But you can’t put one up of Polack and Green. Give me a break… The 3 at florida are heisman winners. Not even emmit smith, jack youngblood or wilbur marshall will get statues. The 3 are the icons of florida football. Nobody knows who david greene is outside the south. Statue of saban is a little premature…

UGADawg83

April 23rd, 2011
9:19 pm

The folks over at Auburn can use the new Cam statue to throw toilet paper over since their trees are dying.

BirdDog

April 23rd, 2011
9:22 pm

OK gator fans, if Jenkins doesn’t get kicked off the team then you never have a right to say anything about UGA’s off the field issues.

atltiger15

April 23rd, 2011
9:33 pm

UGADawg83

April 23rd, 2011
9:19 pm
The folks over at Auburn can use the new Cam statue to throw toilet paper over since their trees are dying.

With the Newton statue being 1.5 times life size, (16ft) u might be able to throw tp on it.

atltiger15

April 23rd, 2011
9:39 pm

meant almost 10 ft

dawgfan

April 23rd, 2011
9:57 pm

Everytime Bryant Gumbel talks I want to make a farting noise with my hands like in that How I Met Your Mother episode. That guy is a massive freaking toolbag.

That is all. Thanks.