Georgia Tech

Convo with Bill Curry Pt. 1: Former Tech coach talks about challenges and respect for GT

Back for more on the blog today with some comments from former Georgia Tech head coach Bill Curry. Of course yesterday (Tuesday), Curry and Tech head coach Paul Johnson were in town here in Macon for the Peach State Media Day -- also called the Peach State Pigskin Preview -- and they had a chance to talk about both of their programs. It's now common Georgia sports knowledge that Curry will be leading Georgia State next year as the school welcomes a football team to campus for the first time. The Panthers will play out of the Georgia Dome and will most likely blackout the entire upper deck, enabling them to seat nearly 30,000 in the lower levels. With a large alumni base, and a larger student population than Georgia Tech's, there's a chance that the program could seat a large group of spectators for its first few games (not sure if that large group will actually total 30,000, but you just never know).

In the meantime, here are some career statistics on Curry. He was a 1965 graduate of the Institute, and lettered three years, and was named team captain in 1964. After playing under the venerable Bobby Dodd, he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. From there, he went on to appear in three Super Bowls -- including Super Bowl I -- before returning to Tech to as an assistant coach in 1976. In 1980, he took over a program that was in midst of one of its roughest losing stretches. Winning just two games his first two seasons, Curry turned a 1-9-1 Yellow Jackets program into a team in 1985 that went 9-2-1 and won the All-American Bowl. Following the next season, he bolted for Alabama; a move that still rankles some in the Georgia Tech contingent to this day.

Here are those stats:

~1980: 1-9-1

~1981: 1-10

~1982: 6-5

~1983: 3-8

~1984: 6-4-1

~1985: 9-2-1; ranked 18th by Coaches' Poll

~1986: 5-5-1

Georgia Tech Totals: 31-43-4

How he had four ties in seven seasons is beyond me. Seems like it should be a record or something. Anyway, here are some of Curry's fondest thoughts about Georgia Tech, per a conversation yours truly had with him Tuesday. Enjoy!

Bill Curry

(On his feelings about starting a brand new program and the challenge it brings):

All my life, people have told me, ‘You can’t do this.’ When I decided to go to Georgia Tech, there were people who said, ‘Curry, you can’t go to Tech, you’re not even a good high school student.’ Which was true. I went to my counselor and said, ‘I’m thinking about going to Georgia Tech,’ and she said ‘Don’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And she said, ‘Well, you’re not a stupid boy, Bill, but you frolicked all throughout high school.’

So I thanked her and went to the library and looked up the word ‘frolic;’ uh, she was right. But I show up at Tech and I got a coach (Bobby Dodd) that makes me go to class. I cut one class my freshman year and coach Dodd ran me up and down the West stands until I threw up. I never cut a class after that.

Then I graduate. So, people said, ‘Don’t go to Tech because you’re too dumb.’ So four-and-a-half years later, I think I might try the NFL. I’m the last draft choice of the Green Bay Packers, and you know what people said? ‘Don’t do that Curry, you’re too smart! You’ve got a Georgia Tech degree.’ And I realized there are people that don’t want you to try hard at things, because if you succeed, you’re going to show them what they have not done. So there are always going to be a lot of people that poke fun and laugh and say you can’t do it, and just love to prove them wrong. It’s just fun to do. So there are people saying Georgia State shouldn’t start football? It’s going to work, and it’s not because of me.

(On the respect he has for Georgia Tech, and the support he's fielded from Tech/State alums) :

It’s been really heartwarming. I owe everything I’ve got to Georgia Tech. Going to school there was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It prepared me for everything else I’ve done. I just thought I was never going to make it. It was just so demanding, but I’m eternally grateful, and that’s how all of us are. But the greatest thing now for me, is when people walk up and say, ‘Well you know Bill I graduated with you, but I also have a Master’s degree from State.’ I bet you I’ve heard that 50 times. So there are a lot of Yellow Jacket-Panthers who are anxious to help, and that’s really surprising.

In terms of my affection, respect and appreciation for Georgia Tech, it’s greater than ever and that’s because of what our school is, and because of the type of people who still go there. I’ve got great respect for anybody who walks up and down that hill for four or five years.

OK, that's all from Curry for today. I'll have an extended look at the conversation tomorrow on the blog, as well as another short notebook. Continue to check for all your Georgia Tech coverage! Thanks again.