Why isn’t Erk Russell in the Hall of Fame, too?

   Within minutes of posting the story yesterday about Jim Donnan’s election to the College Football Hall of Fame, I got e-mails from a couple of readers pointing out who’s not in the Hall:

  Erk Russell!

  How could that be, you ask, given Russell’s legendary career as defensive coordinator at Georgia and amazing accomplishments in resurrecting the football program at Georgia Southern?

   Seems the Hall of Fame has a rule requiring that one be a head coach for at least 10 years to be eligible for election.

   Russell, who died in 2006, was Georgia Southern’s head coach for eight seasons (1982-89).

   In that time, he compiled an  83-22-1 record and won three Division I-AA national titles.

   All of that at a school that hadn’t fielded a football team in 40 years.

   All of that after 17 inspiring years of coaching Georgia’s “Junkyard Dawgs” defense.

   And Erk Russell is not in the Hall of Fame because he wasn’t a head coach long enough?

   As one of my e-mails said yesterday, that is a rule crying out for an exception to be made.

 

    You gotta be happy for Donnan. He was a head coach  for 11 seasons — six at Marshall and five at Georgia — after a superb stretch as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator under Barry Switzer. It’s nice that the final chapter of Donnan’s coaching career will be this summer’s Hall of Fame induction, rather than his 2000 firing by UGA.

    Donnan considered getting back into coaching after that, but never did.  Now 64 and still living in Athens, he does some radio (680 The Fan) and television (ESPN) work. But “I’m really just kind of Mr. Retired,” he said Tuesday.

    He sounded happy and appreciative about the Hall of Fame election, calling it “one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever had in coaching.”

   He will go into the Hall of Fame as a member of its 2009 “divisional” class, which includes players and coaches from NCAA divisions I-AA (now called the Football Championship Subdivision), II and III and the NAIA. Donnan was considered in that class because he was head coach at Marshall, I-AA at the time, longer than at I-A Georgia.

    As the Hall of Fame pointed out in yesterday’s announcement, Donnan won more than 70 percent of his games as a head coach: He was 64-21 at Marshall, including 15-4 in playoff games, and 40-19 at Georgia. He took Marshall to four I-AA title games and one national championship. 

 

 

75 comments Add your comment

ralph starling

May 13th, 2009
6:50 am

how about eddie lee Ivery. Georgia tech’s greatest running back needs to be in the college football hall of fame.

Optimus Prime

May 13th, 2009
7:28 am

Ok, here’s my Erk story. I was attending UGA in the spring of 79 and I was on my way home for a weekend heading back to Roswell. I was heading down 78 when I run over this bit of road trash and I get a flat tire.

It’s pouring down rain and I don’t have a spare. It’s getting late and the bio-materials I had in my back seat were starting to melt. I needed to get back home or over to the hospital to get them cooled off or they couldn’t be used for transplates.

Well, I’m standing there figuring out what to do, when all of a sudden this old beat up truck pulls up behind me. I’m thinking it’s a serial killer. This bald man gets out and starts shouting at me. He’s not angry but he’s loud and he’s excited about something.

I tell him my story and he tells me that he’s here to fix this thing up. He takes his on spare (amazing that it fits my car) and he changes the tire out.

We talked for a bit at a near by coffee shop – as the bio-materials chilled again on borrowed ice. We discussed football and life and things. As I paid his bill I asked his name. He said Stan Gerald. I said thanks Stan. He said, sure.

He later told me that he knew Erk Russell. I was pretty impressed.

Spike

May 13th, 2009
8:17 am

I wish Erk was here again to coach the defense. Talk about a guy who could motivate players. I met him one time at the Athletic Offices when they were in the Coliseum. He had the firmest handshake of anyone I have ever met. RIP, Damn Good Dawg. He deserves to be in the HOF!

Mac

May 13th, 2009
9:00 am

There is a Facebook group that laments Erk is not in the HOF. Don’t know if any of its members will actually take action of any sort. I know there are accomplished media people and attorneys who are members.

Erk is definitely a hall of famer. No question. Too bad the hall doesn’t know it.

Oh, and Optimus Prime … hated your story.

buckheadbill

May 13th, 2009
9:29 am

And the floor in Stegeman Coliseum should be named for HUGH DURHAM, Georgia’s greatest basketball coach.

Norm Carlson

May 13th, 2009
10:10 am

Having the good fortune to have known Erk when we worked at Auburn together, then watching the great job he did at UGA and reluctantly seeing his “Junkyard Dawgs” eat the Gator offense up in Jacksonville, it is difficult to imagine a sports hall of fame in Georgia would not include him.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
10:13 am

Can we please delete the post of Optimus Prime? That guy’s a complete loser and it’s disrespectful to memory of Erk Russell.

Steve

May 13th, 2009
10:16 am

Here is my Erk story…

I’m a student at Georgia Southern and I am running late to one of my classes. I wearing a UNC baseball hat and in a near sprint to try to get to class on time. I round a corner and I literally ran right into Erk Russell. I ran into him hard enough that it almost knocked me down but he did not seem to budge at all. He just looked at me with for a moment and then said “Son, next time we run into each other like this, you better be wearing a Georgia Southern hat”. I immediately went to the campus store and purchased a Georgia Southern hat after class.

Besides being one of the best coaches in the game, Erk was one of the funniest storytellers around. He spoke at some convocations and had everybody in stitches the entire time. Great man.

Georgia News - 5/13/09 | MrSEC.com

May 13th, 2009
10:45 am

[...] highly successful years coaching at then Division I-AA Marshall.If Donnan is in, why isn’t former Georgia defensive coordinator Erk Russell?  Russell won three Division I-AA national titles at Georgia Southern.  Excellent question, Tim [...]

murfdawg

May 13th, 2009
10:51 am

I guess all thos wins over Western Carolina and Elon really do count for something. Unfortunately for UGA fans and eventually for Donnan, one win over fl wasn’t good enough. I hope his trophy is in the basement of the hof.

AGTFan

May 13th, 2009
11:04 am

Here’s a GT fan in complete agreement about Erk. He definitely belongs in the HOF. I don’t mean it offensively, but I don’t think UGA has had defensive coordinator worthy of carrying his clipboard since he left. Neither has Tech. I’m not dissing any of those DCs. I just think Erk was that good.

Jonathon Furnell

May 13th, 2009
11:05 am

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Coach in 1986 at an Atlanta Hawks game of all places.

Earlier in the year, Southern had beaten Ark State for the championship. Tracy Ham was at the basketball game with some friends. No one recognized him – which surprised me but this was before the internet and all that business. I approached Tracy and extended my hand to congratulate him. He said thanks and told me that Coach Russell was there as well as part of some charity function.

He pointed me over to an area where there was some event going on. I walked over there with my young son at the time and we looked for Coach.

We heard him before we saw him. And there he was. He wasn’t as tall as I expected and he was a little heavier. But he had a presence about him that was unmistakable. I shouted out to him – “Hey Coach! Congrats on the win. We love you.” He turned around and smiled. I later found out it was actually Queen Latifah. I was kind of embarrassed.

RxDawg

May 13th, 2009
11:14 am

He isn’t!!?? Good grief I just assumed he was already.

lovethemdawgs

May 13th, 2009
11:20 am

He shoud be and someone needs to see what needs to be done to get him there. He was the best of the best.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
11:34 am

Can we please delete Steve’s post as well? Another complete loser. It’s disrespectful to memory of Erk Russell. You people are too much.

Kevrock

May 13th, 2009
11:48 am

I was in the bookstore the other day looking for a motivational book for my new business venture and I happened to look down and saw a book named “Erk”. I hurried up to look through it and there he was and there I was standing next to him in a picture and looked at another page and there I was again right next to him in another picture. I broke down right in the bookstore. I played for him 84-88 at Ga, Southern. Growing up without a Father he became my father figure , my mentor, and my Hero. Ga. Southern had little money back then so we were a bunch of rag tag, Div. 1 rejects, academic casualties, and walk ons that he turned into All Americans, and National Champions. He is by far the best motivator I have ever seen. The 10 yr Tenure rule must give him an exception!

GSUDawgs

May 13th, 2009
11:49 am

Erk was simply the best. Won a national championship at UGA. Built Georgia Southern from nothing to a national power, with the first title in 85. He could win anywhere at anything. Also, he could communicate with anyone to get the task completed. The Fame is not complete without Erk.

Lastly, (4) year letterman at Auburn in 4 different sports

Pecan cluster

May 13th, 2009
11:52 am

So the other day, I was walking past Ga. Tech and tripped over a smelly, really ugly guy lying on the sidewalk, babbling incoherently and fumbling with a laptop, while also smearing feces in his mustache. It was Jonathon Furnell.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
11:56 am

I don’t understand Pecan cluster’s post. But it does not belong here. Can we respect Coach Russell and refrain from discussions of filth mustaches? Am I the only one offended by this garbage? Please remove her post.

C tha 1

May 13th, 2009
12:02 pm

Top 5 GA coaches of all time High School and College

1. Vince Dooley
2. Bobby Dodd
3. Erk Russel
4. The coach at Valdosta High School that won all those state titles (sorry but I don’t know his name)
5. The coach at Lincoln County High School that won all those titles (don’t know his name either)
6. Coach Nix (Northside High School Warner Robins) Honorable Mention
7. Mark Richt (I’ll catch it for that one) but he deserves honorable mention

Mac

May 13th, 2009
12:08 pm

Wright Bazemore was the Valdosta coach. Nick Hyder also did very well there after Coach Bazemore.

Mac

May 13th, 2009
12:10 pm

Hey, GeoffDawg, Steve’s post was not disrespectful to Erk. Jonathon Furnell’s was. Thanks. I enjoyed Steve’s post.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
12:11 pm

Remove C tha 1’s post please. I don’t need to explain it.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
12:12 pm

Remove Mac’s post at 12:10pm. Her post at 12:08pm is acceptable.

RxDawg

May 13th, 2009
12:16 pm

I sort of agree Mac. I thought Steve’s post was kind of funny and over respectful in a way. Jonathon’s wasn’t, but this is the interweb.

Geoff, I actually need you to explain why they should remove Ctha1’s post?

Mac

May 13th, 2009
12:20 pm

Tossing subtlety aside, GeoffDawg is revealed as a troll.

C tha 1

May 13th, 2009
12:21 pm

I’d like to know why my post should be removed as well. I intended to illustrate how Erk Russel is amongst the upper echelon of football coaches in the state of GA. With all respect to Coach Donnan he maybe top 20….maybe, he simply hasn’t coached in the state long enough. But the College HOF is based off of national votes I think.

Pi$$onaDAWG

May 13th, 2009
12:33 pm

I hate ERK! We could not get around D much for many years. He was a great DC and GSU coach, but the criteria was set for admission to the HALL and that is the rule. Pete Rose isn’t in the HOF as a player because of rules. I don’t wish Coach Russel to be left out of the HOF. I am just saying the rules are the rules. Remember when Freshmen couldn’t play and we had the JV game for Scottish Rite on Thanksgiving Day? So, times and rules can change and I am sure this will be fixed in the future.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
12:37 pm

Apparently my name’s been hijacked by the old transformer in disguise (aka tech dork) himself. That is not me requesting all the post deletion’s other than Optimus Prime’s.

DirtyDawg

May 13th, 2009
12:40 pm

What I’d like to hear from a knowledgeable source – surely somebody here qualifies – is what was the real story behind why Erk Russell wasn’t UGA’s coach following Dooley? What I’ve heard is that there were differing factions within the ’search committee’ – some that dearly wanted Erk and some (the PCers) that felt like Erk’s ‘Good Ol Boy’ image wasn’t what we needed. Those that wanted him led him to believe the job was his, those that didn’t were off negotiating with somebody or other (Danny Sheridan, I think) and when the Sheridan thing hit the news Erk basically said, if you guys are gonna play that game, I’m outta here. Then when the ‘politically correct’ entrant backed out, Georgia was left with the compromise candidate, Ray Goff, and the rest is history. My question is, ‘is that the way it came down…and what role, if any, did Dooley play in talking up, or down, his long-time friend and colleague? Anybody? Anybody?

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
12:44 pm

Good eye Mac. You know a dawg when you see it. And a troll when you smell it.

Seroously though, Pecan’s post is offensive. It’s offensive even if it is in retaliation for some other post. Please remove it and all the other nonsense posts, including those by my hijacker.

Chuck Oliver

May 13th, 2009
12:50 pm

I actually thought the Jonathon Furrell post was kind of funny.

patrick

May 13th, 2009
12:56 pm

I played for Erk at GSU and was very fond of him so I am biased but I know that he was one of the best coaches that ever coached the game. He is in the Alabama Hall of Fame. He should be in Georgias and I didnt know he wasnt. Donnan aint even close to Erk in my opinion.

Erk Russell

May 13th, 2009
1:08 pm

I’d like to say a few words to each and every one of you. First, will someone let me out of this coffin?

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
1:13 pm

Fake GeoffDawg – do you dress up in your mom’s underwear also? Why don’t you act like a man and stop hiding behind your hijacked screen name? I stand by my original loser declaration for you optimus.

egeagle

May 13th, 2009
1:18 pm

Erk is in the Ga Hall of Fame. This is a national hall. Does coach deserve it? Of course he does. No one took a dormant program and made it into a TRUE national champion within three years. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but his winning percentage was phenomenal, and his playoff record was an awesome 16-2! Back to back titles,four title game appearances within 5 years, three titles, and the first perfect 15-0 season in the 20th century as his swan song? And there’s a question? Those numbers are only a part of his legacy. Many successful HS coaches learned under him, and PJ hasn’t done too bad at Tech. I guess that’s payback for GATA.
Erk was the best.

Erk Russell

May 13th, 2009
1:29 pm

Seriously guys. Let me out of here. I. Must. Eat. Brains.

Sorry about that. I’m not a zombie. Seriously. I’m not. Must. Eat. Brains.

Whoa, kidding. Really. Someone let me out.

RxDawg

May 13th, 2009
1:33 pm

Ah, appologies then Geoffdawg. I should of known better. I actually always found you to be an excellent poster.

MountainDawg

May 13th, 2009
1:38 pm

Erk Russell was UGA’s greatest DC & a legend at GaSouthern. No doubt he deserves enshrinement in the National HoF. The closest DC we’ve had to Erk’s caliber was Van Gorder, and “Mr.RareBlitz” Martinez isn’t in the same stratosphere as Erk!

tenn.DAWG

May 13th, 2009
1:40 pm

Coach Donnan certainly deserves to be in the HOF.His record speaks for itself and he has handled all the other stuff (Michael Adams) with a lot of class.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2009
1:40 pm

Thanks RxDawg. A lack of screen name security and no moderator are the only real drawbacks to posting here.

Erk'sthebest

May 13th, 2009
1:42 pm

In a conversation about football coaches, Jim Donnan’s name would not even be mentioned with Erk Russell’s. Erk was the best coach to ever coach in Alabama or Georgia, Bear Bryant and Vince Dooley not withstanding. Whatever it takes, if you include any football coach for achievement, you have to include Erk.

steve

May 13th, 2009
1:58 pm

Here are some quotes about Erk:

“If I was picking a list of top 10 coaches that I have ever met and wanted to play for, Erk Russell would be on that list. He is unsurpassed as a motivator.” – Bobby Bowden

“Not a young man who played for Erk Russell…won’t tell his children and grandchildren something he learned from this great man. It was like that with Knute Rockne and Bear Bryant” – Keith Jackson

“I would follow him into a blazing fire. Never have I known anyone who could lead young men like Erk Russell” – Billy Payne

“Erk Russell is absolutely the master of motivators. He could inspire a group of ragtag players into performing like All-Americans.” – Bill Stanfill

I can’t find the quote, but somewhere along the line Pat Dye said that he thought what Erk Russell did at Georgia Southern is one of the most truly remarkable accomplishments in the history of college football.

So, simply stated…Erk should be a Hall of Famer.

Erk Russell

May 13th, 2009
2:34 pm

Ummm… guys?

Zombie Erk Russell

May 13th, 2009
2:45 pm

Ok, I’ll fess up. I turned undead back in the virus of early 2003. Like a lot my fellow 2003 zombies, I’m still scratching at the inside of my coffin. It’s really really difficult, even with unresting undead dedication, to claw one’s way out of a coffin buried six feet underground. People underestimate that challenge. They think that zombies simply pop up out of the ground, cause that’s what you see in movies. It’s not that simple.

So please, let me attend my HoF induction and I’ll try to keep the feedings to a minimum. Much appreciated, zom-erk.

steve

May 13th, 2009
2:53 pm

Zombie guy – How old are you? Does your mother know you are playing on the internet without supervision?

Lane

May 13th, 2009
3:23 pm

What Erk did @ GSU, was unprecented – felt he should have been offered head coaching job after Dooley!!!

Donnan, got Georgia back on track after Goff – allowed MR to take program to the next level – the guy could recruit!!!

Zombie Erk Russell

May 13th, 2009
3:26 pm

steve, I’m eating your brains first. A little tasty treat, like tappas.

Pi$$onaDAWG

May 13th, 2009
3:59 pm

What is all the Bullsh*t about Zombies? This about a great coach and football.

mexdawg

May 13th, 2009
4:04 pm

ERK RUSSELL should have been the coach at Georgia after Dooley.He deserved a shot.Our lame duck search comittee didn’t agree so we were all denied what could have been some of the best football Georgia has ever played.I would have loved to see it happen.Georgia Southern our lost was your gain.No one motivated players like ERK.I still have a picture in my game room of Bloody ERK on the sidelines after head butting several players.ERK you are the BIG DAWG.