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July 21, 2009

That & This

I had emails sent to me yesterday dealing with three different UGA football-related topics, so I thought I'd post my thoughts on each:
***Jim Donnan was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A local sports-talk radio host last Friday supported the enshrinement, citing Donnan earning the ACC's player of the year in 1967 as N.C. State's quarterback, his success as Oklahoma's offensive coordinator during its wishbone glory years of the mid- to late-80s, and his noteworthy head-coaching stints at both Marshall and Georgia.
Of course, Donnan will work for the host's radio station as a college football analyst/expert for the upcoming season. I remember a few years ago, this same host, working at a different radio station at the time not employing Donnan, made fun of the coach because he allegedly, according to the host, told his players to carry him off the field after Georgia defeated Florida in 1997; the coach being carted off by a group of celebratory Bulldogs was far from a spur-of-the-moment reaction, according to this same radio personality.
I have mixed feelings about Donnan's induction. Completing a little more than 50% of his passes for less than 1,000 yards and only nine touchdowns as the Wolfpack's quarterback in 1967, Donnan was curiously named ACC Player of Year by Coach and Athlete magazine. However, Clemson's Buddy Gore was the "official" ACC Player of the Year in 1967 voted by the conference media while Donnan, in fact, did not even earn all-conference recognition.
If Donnan was voted in the Hall of Fame for primarily being a successful offensive coordinator for five seasons and Division 1-AA head coach for six, surely another former Bulldog should be inducted as one of the game's best defensive coordinators for 17 seasons and one of the greatest Division 1-AA head coaches of all time.
At Georgia, Donnan was certainly a step up from Ray Goff but, in my opinion, his head-coaching achievements certainly pale in comparison to Coach Richt's and probably most of the head coaches in the Hall of Fame. Of the more than 1,000 players and coaches who have been inducted, just one played solely as a placekicker and only one was a punter. I'm not aware of the Hall's criteria of admitting possible candidates but seemingly it is somewhat strict if only two kickers have been voted in. Is winning only 35% of your games against ranked opponents and just 30% against Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech, Hall of Fame-worthy? (Richt has won 63% and 59%, respectively.) Donnan's lack of winning against Georgia's biggest rivals ultimately got him fired following the 2000 season. I've said since his dismissal that his firing was mishandled by UGA (i.e., Michael Adams) but I'm glad it happened, especially considering the success the Dawgs have enjoyed under Richt.
Along with most of the Bulldog Nation, I congratulate Jim Donnan on being elected into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is now one of only four Georgia coaches to earn the same recognition ("Pop" Warner, Wally Butts, and Vince Dooley, the others). However, in all honesty, if I had the opportunity I doubt I would have voted him in.
***Speaking of the Bulldog Nation, it was riled up yesterday following a column written by newspaper columnist and sports-talk radio host, Paul Finebaum. Finebaum indicating that Richt would be a coach on the hot seat if Georgia was to "stumble out of the gate" this season is ridiculous, along with the connection made to Tommy Tuberville and Phillip Fulmer. The column is yet another attempt by the attention-seeking Finebaum to stir the pot and be controversial. In my opinion, it would take a lot for Bulldog fans to, in Finebaum's words, "fall completely out of love" with Richt, like back-to-back 6-6 seasons, or something similar. If anyone is going to be on the hot seat at Georgia in the near future, it would be one of his own assistants, not Richt himself.
***A friend of mine emailed me a website that should be of interest to all Georgia football and Larry Munson fans--ChopDawg's Munson Vault. I spent nearly two hours last night listening to Munson calls from the legend's first 21 seasons in Georgia's broadcasting booth. Also included are calls made by Ed Thilenius, the play-by-play man prior to Munson, from the 1959 Auburn and 1965 Alabama games. Before last night, I had never heard the call of Georgia's famous flea-flicker against 'Bama in '65 (photo).
Let me add, there are details most Bulldog fans don't know about the 18-17 win over Alabama in 1965 beyond the successful, Kirby Moore-Pat Hodgson-Bob Taylor flea-flicker for a touchdown and two-point conversion, giving the Bulldogs a one-point lead. Many assume the game was basically over after quarterback Moore passed to Hodgson for two points. You rarely hear that 2:08 was still remaining in the game--an eternity.
After Georgia's kickoff following the two-point conversion, Alabama drove 33 yards in five plays from its 41-yard line to the Bulldogs 26 in less than two minutes. Hardly discussed in Georgia football lore is David Ray had a chance to win it for the Crimson Tide with 14 seconds remaining on a 42-yard field goal attempt, however, the Alabama kicker's game-winning try was short and wide.
Regarding the flea-flicker play, most think that there is a controversy with the first part of the play--Moore's short pass to Hodgson. Photographs prove Hodgson's knees were touching the ground and thus the supposed controversy--the play should have been blown dead prior to Hodgson flipping the ball to a trailing Taylor, who raced into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown. In fact, The Birmingham News printed these photos two days later with the headline: "camera doesn't lie--it was illegal." However, in actuality, there was no such disputation regarding Hodgson's knees touching.
"All three officials saw Hodgson's knees were on the ground," said an SEC spokesman a couple days following the game. "But they agreed he did not have the ball long enough to rule he had control of it. If he had dropped it, it would have been ruled an incomplete pass [and not a fumble]." In other words, the game officials regarded the football going from Hodgson to Taylor as more like a batted ball instead of a lateral. The fact Hodgson's knees touched the ground has nothing to do with the play counting or not and certainly is no controversy.


Tex Noel said...

Since Jim Donnan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in the divisional class; it is safe to say his recognition was for his coaching at Marshall University, a NCAA 1AA school from 1982-96 more so than his tenure at the University of Georgia, but also his overall career—NOT as OC at Oklahoma.

And, here’s the link from the College Football Hall of Fame’s website that list the guidelines for a player and a coach to be inducted. http://www.collegefootball.org/famerguides.php

Should you ever have the opportunity to visit it, regardless where you live, it’s well-worth the trip and the memories you take back with you will last a lifetime.

I have gone three times, including the Grand Opening in 1995; with other enjoyable trips coming in 1997 and 2000. (I even made the trek when it was located outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.)

Patrick Garbin said...

Thanks for the link, Tex. I agree--Donnan got in mostly because of his tenure at Marshall. I seriously doubt his playing days at NC State, OC at Oklahoma, and HC at Georgia were considered much, despite what some in the media said. I still say that if Donnan got in because of his success at the I-AA level, Erk Russell should be able to coast into the Hall of Fame.

Tex Noel said...

You're truely welcome for the link, Patrick; figured the link would be better than the entire write-up from the Hall's site.

For the success Erk Russell accomplished at Georgia Southern, I fully agree he belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame...and next year would be the best time to get him inducted.

He'd get my vote--if I had one!

George King said...

I used to have a tape of highlights that Dan Magill put out after the 1975 season, but something happened to it. I did finally find the audios of '59 Auburn, '65 Alabama, and '66 and '68 Auburn, but I'd like to find a couple of others that were on that tape, Houston '68 (last-minute drive and Jim McCullough's subsequent tying field goal) and Ga. Tech '75 (including Georgia's great 98-yard, two play drive in a 42-26 victory). Do these still exist?