Bobby Pope

State coaches hall missing a few big names

The Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, which is housed in the Dalton Trade and Convention Center, was started in 2001 with football head coaches Wright Bazemore, Dan Pitts and Bill Chappell and basketball head coach D.B. Carroll in the first class of inductees.

Since that time, 86 individuals have been enshrined, but legendary Lanier football, basketball and baseball head coach Selby Buck is not among them, and that is difficult to imagine.

First and foremost, Buck was one of the co-organizers of the GACA back in 1938. Then you look at his record as a coach for 30 years with the Poets. He won 11 GHSA basketball titles, four football championships and two baseball crowns. If that kind of record can’t get you into that hall of fame, I wonder what qualifications are needed.

There are several other ultra-successful coaches from Middle Georgia who have not made it into that hall of fame. Southwest basketball head coach Don Richardson had a 20-year run with the Patriots, leading them to six GHSA championships and one mythical national title. He compiled a record of 463-90 and was a state coach of the year on six occasions. Richardson also coached in the prestigious Dapper Dan Classic in 1979.

It is a mystery to me that neither former Taylor County basketball head coach Norman Carter or former Fort Valley High School football and basketball head coach Norman Faircloth have been selected for induction. Maybe there is a bias against coaches named Norman.

Carter coached at Butler/Taylor County for 12 seasons and compiled a record of 350-32, winning six state championships in girls basketball. He won one at Butler in 1964 and then five straight at Taylor County, after the consolidation of Reynolds and Butler, between 1968 and 1972. Included in those 350 victories is a 132-game winning streak. He also won a state boys title at Taylor County in 1967.

I have heard the reason he has not been selected for the GACA Hall of Fame is because he coached only 12 seasons. That is like saying Jim Brown doesn’t deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because he played just eight years with the Cleveland Browns.

Faircloth won five state titles while coaching at Cochran and Fort Valley. His 1943 Cochran team won the state Class B basketball title. After moving to Fort Valley, the Green Wave won Class B basketball championships in 1952, 1954 and 1961. His 1962 football team at Fort Valley finished with a perfect 13-0 record and the state Class B crown. Faircloth recorded 545 wins in basketball and had a 138-73-8 record as a football head coach. He was named state Class B Football Coach of the Year in 1951, 1959 and 1961.

Buck, Richardson, Carter and Faircloth have all been inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. It would be hard to imagine, but maybe none of the quartet has ever been nominated for the GACA Hall.

The 2016 GACA Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted Saturday night, comprises former Putnam County football head coach Al Reaves, Columbus girls softball head coach Debbie Ball, Peachtree Ridge track and cross country head coach Ron Clanton, Vidalia football head coach Buck Cravey, Murray County basketball head coach Ken Ross and Karen Russ, Cartersville tennis head coach.

Middle Georgia high school coaches are well represented in the GACA Hall of Fame. Middle Georgia coaches in that hall are Pitts (Mary Persons), Robert Davis (Warner Robins/Westside), Rodney Walker (Mary Persons/Peach County), Bobby Gentry (Hawkinsville), Eric Staples (Perry), Glenn Cassell (Vienna), Alvin Copeland (Northeast) and J.B. Hawkins (Crawford County).

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