Friday, September 08, 2006

R.I.P Erk Russell

This is a sad day indeed in the Bulldog Nation.

Former Georgia Southern head football coach and University of Georgia defensive coordinator Erk Russell died Friday after a car accident. According to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, he was pronounced dead on arrival at about 9:10 a.m. The hospital CEO said he didn't die from injuries sustained in the crash, but instead most likely from a stroke just before the accident.

For those who don't know the legend of Erk Russell, it truly looms large in Georgia football history. He served as the defensive coordinator at UGA for 17 years, and was on hand for the national championship season of 1980. After that season, he left to become the head coach at Georgia Southern, reviving a program that had been dormant since 1941. He led the Eagles to three 1-AA national championships, in 1985, '86 and '89.

Anyone who loves college football knows this is a sad day, and not just in the state of Georgia. I could go on and on about this great man, but instead let me close with a letter he wrote to his players on that fabled 1980 UGA squad:

Gentlemen: (linemen)

The football season of 80' will be my seventeenth as a Georgia Bulldog. During this time there have been many thrilling Saturdays of competition, each with it's individual memories, because each game has it's own personality. There are two Saturday traditions and experiences which have remained basically the same throughout the years for me and I would like to share them with you. The first one concerns the RAILROAD TRACK CROWD.

These are my people because they love the Dogs almost as much as I do. Oh, I know they do some crazy things- like turn over our opponent's buses sometimes and now and then they throw one another down the bank and into the street below. But they stamp out Kudzu and they pull for us to win and that ain’t bad. If you can get off the bus to cheers of THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD and walk down those steps to the dressing room and not be inspired to play football as best you possibly can, something important is missing beneath the Georgia jersey you wear. It is impossible not to be inspired. They choke me up! The season of 1980 will be the last for THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD.
A great Georgia tradition will have passed with the new addition to our stadium. The view from the tracks will be no more. Your team will be the last Georgia Team to be greeted and cheered by the RAILROAD TRACK CROWD.
Wouldn't it be fitting if their last team was also the best Georgia Team ever. Think about it! Another Saturday tradition which has meant so much to me over the years can be stated very simply. "THERE AIN'T NOTHING LIKE BEING A BULLDOG ON SATURDAY NIGHT-----AFTER WINNING A FOOTBALL GAME."

I mean like whipping Tennessee's ass to start with, then ten more and then another one. This is the game plan. We have no alternate plan.

Sincerely,
Erk Russell

No alternate plan, indeed, Rest in peace, Mr. Russell

5 comments:

Jeff's Page said...
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Jeff's Page said...
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Jeff's Page said...
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STAK said...

I'll never forget the championship season........it seemed like everywhere you went in GA that year, people were on FIRE for the DAWGS..........what a great time........and as far as Erk goes, he was revered as a hero by most everyone i know......he'll be missed....

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to admit, Stak, I was only 10 years old when the Dawgs won it all, so I've mostly adopted the legend as an adult .. even so, it looms larger than just about any other real-life story, sports or otherwise, I can think of ... I've never been to a funeral for someone I never met before, but I will be there in Statesboro tomorrow as everyone gathers in his favorite stadium to delebrate the life of this truly great man