rent like champion

April 16, 2014

Finally Making Things Right

Hugh in action vs. Clemson in 1975
Yesterday, I was informed that a 19-month pursuit of mine was finally realized last Thursday night after an interruption of only 22 years.  If you have followed this blog for some time, you might be aware of such pursuitmy attempt to have the Hugh Hendrix Memorial Award reestablishedwhich was accomplished at Thursday's annual spring football awards with the honors going to Hutson Mason on offense and Leonard Floyd on defense.

To recap, I first blogged about Hugh Hendrix about two years ago and how his life, and death, inspired the 1976 Georgia football team to win an SEC championship.  Coincidentally and unexpectedly, I met with Hugh's parents at their home in Carrollton five months later.  There, I was reminded of the old Hugh Hendrix Memorial Awardan honor I was primarily aware of because of the number of years it had not been bestowed according to my recollection of previous years' media guides.  While standing over Hugh's grave, I decided to try anything I could to rightfully restore the honor.  Less than three months later, surprisingly, a prominent member of the athletic department told me, "We are going to reestablish Hugh’s award. We are in the process of getting this done."  More than a year later, and after the process apparently took some time, the UGA football program indeed got it done.

My first reaction to the good news was to call Hugh's parents, Carolyn and Harvey.  I won't go all into it, but obviously our conversation was a joyous and emotionally-filled one.  The next thing I did was dig up old emails from readers of this blog in response to when I first mentioned reestablishing the award in September 2012.  I received all kinds of emails from readersones in support, those wanting to help, a couple saying I was wasting my time, and even a few willing to donate money to the cause (which I graciously declined).

A particular old email caught my eye; we'll just say it was from a "UGA employee."  Simply put, this guy went off on the football program, questioning how it could possibly and erroneously interrupt an award which "should mean so much to so many people" twice (the award was given out from 1976 through 1989, not so in 1990 and 1991, then again in 1992 for the final time).  For what it's worth, I was later told by someone in the know during the 1990s that the award was interrupted because of a simple mistake: the person in charge of the awards ceremony then simply forgot to ask the decision maker, "Who should be given the Hugh Hendrix Award this year?"  Once the award was left off the list, it was left off for good.  Of course, this doesn't fully explain why the honor was interrupted a second time, but who's counting?  Anyway, the UGA employee ended his email stating, "Regardless, hopefully [the football program] will eventually make things right."

At Picture Day in '74, Hugh poses with Connecticut
native David Wolfe a few decades prior to him
becoming the famed Atlanta defense attorney. 
The next thing that caught my attention yesterday was an article on Jeremy Pruitt and his opinion that Georgia's defenders weren't award worthy this spring.  Pruitt didn't want to give any awards, and didn't notice any player who deserved one, adding, "It's kind of like, nowadays everybody’s playing t-ball and everybody gets a trophy. ... It's not a big deal really."

Personally, from what I've heard of him thus far, I like our new defensive coordinator.  He's a desired change of pace for this program as seemingly not one to put up with what has plagued it for yearscomplacency and a sense of entitlement.  And, if he feels a need to pipe up and declare a standout might not play or no one deserved a spring award, and it can effectively motivate, I'm all for it.  However, and with all due respect, when it comes to the recent Hugh Hendrix spring award, I side with one of Hugh's former friends and teammates, commenting to me in an email yesterday on the award and Mason and Floyd receiving it: "Two great recipients to bring it back in style..."

It just so happens that I'll see Coach Pruitt next week at the Butts-Mehre for an interview I'm conducting for a magazine article.  Time permitting and if appropriate, I may ask him about his linebacker Floyd receiving the Hugh Hendrix Award as "the player who most strains his potential."  I can't speak of the other spring awards, but I can brief Pruitt about the namesake of the award I'm familiar with, mentioning what Hugh stood for on and off the field, while conveying that an award meaning "so much to so many people" is far from a t-ball trophy, is a big deal really, and therefore if no one really deserves it, it shouldn't be given out.

After speaking with Coach Pruitt, I may stop by the Sports Communications department in the building and offer up my assistance with the 2014 media guide with an updated and edited section from the past and a must for the upcoming edition:


Lastly, I should visit the prominent member of the athletic department who ultimately got the award reestablished, and thank him for assisting the football program after nearly a quarter-century in finally "making things right." 

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Accolades to you for your effort and success in helping to realize the reinstitutuon of the Hugh Hendrix Memorial Award. You deserve considerable credit for helping to "right a wrong."
Old Dawg

Anonymous said...

Awesome article Patrick. A true inspiration. 2 questions though---you contacted the parents, Uga didn't? And why weren't you and/or the parents invited to the awards? Although Uga did the right thing, it seems they did what was convinent for them and still don't quite get it.

jsobasky@uga.edu said...

As a personal friend of Rennie Curran, I must say that omitting him is a huge mistake. He's as deserving as anyone on this list. He's one of the hardest working people I've ever met in my life and he busted his tail day in and day out for UGA. He was the leading tackler several years in a row despite his height disadvantage. Please edit your list to include him.

Ken Helms said...

Good job Patrick. There was no better person or player than Harvey. I remember the day that summer. Some of us were lifting and Hugh said he felt bad and was going to the apt. When we got back there he had gone home to Atlanta. He was gone a couple of days later. Unreal. kwh '76

South FL Dawg said...

Great work getting this done Patrick!

Anonymous said...

Patrick - Thanks for this article. I was a proud recipient of this award back in 1989 and I was saddened when I learned they were no longer awarding it. I really appreciate your efforts to bring back this prestigious award and the honor to Hugh Hendrix a D.G.D!

- Matt McCormick

Patrick Garbin said...

Thanks for all the comments and compliments.

Ken, that's tremendous you have that memory, but most of all, you actually knew Hugh.

Anon 9:38- yep, I contacted the parents and, nope, none of us were invited to the awards, although I would fully expect the parents to be invited WAY before I would be. I could complain how UGA didn't even call the parents to notify them; however, I'm just so please the award was reestablished, I'll remain appreciative to the program.

jsobasky- Curran wasn't omitted. The players' names listed from 1976-1989, 1992, and 2014 are the actual recipients of the award, not my personal opinion of who should have won the award. Of course, if the award had been given out from 2007-2009, I agree, Curran should have, and probably would have received it.

Thanks, everyone!
--Patrick