Bobby Pope

Georgia’s winningest JUCO coach

Longtime Middle Georgia Junior College basketball coach Ben Rogers holds a record that might never be broken. During his quarter century tenure with the Warriors, his team’s won 468 games, which makes him Georgia’s winningest all-time junior college basketball coach.

Luke Rushton, who coached at Young Harris from 1951-1969 is second on the list with 461 victories. Rogers’ record definitely won’t be broken at Middle Georgia or Young Harris since both institutions are now four-year schools.

In today’s college environment, it is doubtful that a coach would stay at the same junior college long enough to surpass Rogers’ mark.

It is interesting that Rogers became a college basketball coach because his sport growing up was football. Even though he played high school basketball, as well as baseball and competed in track growing up in Bainbridge, he was an all-state lineman in football and gained a scholarship in that sport to Troy State, where he was a four-year letterwinner. He also lettered in tennis for the Red Wave.

While at Troy, he epitomized what we know today as the “student-athelte.” While earning a BS degree in math, he was president of Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and was named to Who’s Who in American College and Universities in 1960. Rogers also received his Masters in math from Georgia in 1966.

Following his graduation from Troy, Rogers made his foray into the coaching world at the University Military School in Mobile, Alabama, where he spent two years coaching football and basketball. From there he moved to high schools and spent two seasons.

He got his first head coaching position at Franklin County in 1964, not in basketball, but as the school’s first football head coach as three schools had merged to form Franklin County. After one season in Royston, he moved on to Crisp County, again as football head coach, spending two seasons with the Cougars and compiling 11-7-2 record. He was also the Crisp County basketball head coach and led the team to two state tournament berths.

When J.L. “Pee Wee” Padgett stepped down at Middle Georgia in 1968, Rogers moved to Cochran, taking over as Middle Georgia athletics director and basketball head coach. Rogers, who turns 79 on Jan. 17, has spent almost two thirds of his life in Bleckley County. After moving to Middle Georgia, he became a junior college lifer, and the Warriors enjoyed great success under his leadership.

Included among those 468 victories are two trips to the National Junior College tournament, seven Georgia Junior College Athletic Association titles, two Region XVII Championships, as well as six runner-up finishes, and one Southeastern United States Junior College crown. During his 25 years on the sidelines, he produced seven junior college All-Americans and had more than 140 of his players sign with four-year institutions.

While serving as athletics director and basketball head coach, Rogers also was as an associate professor in math at the school for 32 years. Upon his retirement, he was appointed associate professor of mathematics by Georgias’s board of regents.

Rogers, who won seven coach of the year awards at Middle Georgia, was named to the National Junior College Hall of Fame in 1998 and to the Decatur County Hall of Fame in 2004.

Not only was Rogers an excellent coach and teacher, he is also truly a nice man.

Contact Bobby Pope at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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