Move over Georgia, Georgia Tech, Savannah State and Georgia Southern. You now have some company on the gridiron in Divison 1 football in the Peach State. The Atlanta school reached for a high-profile name to start its football program, announcing that former Georgia Tech and ESPN color man Bill Curry coach had signed a five-year contract to become the school's first football coach. Curry will begin his new position July 1 and will immediately begin hiring staff and recruiting as GSU prepares to play its first season in 2010, competing at the level formerly known as Division I-AA, now the Football Championship Subdivision.
The school earlier announced that they are starting a football program after GSU students voted to raise their student activity fees to make it possible. "It's important to get started in the proper way in every context," said Curry, whose team will continue to play in the Colonial Athletic Association and play their home games at the Georgia Dome.
The move is comparable to the approach taken by Georgia Southern when it hired Erk Russell to start its program. Russell won a national championship in 1985, his fourth season, and won four before retiring in 1989.
When Curry was at Tech, he resurected a progam that needed it after Pepper Rogers was fired in 1979 and stayed there from 1980 to 1986. Georgia State will begin to recruit its first class of players in the fall and will have spring practice in 2009. School officials are looking for possible sites for a downtown-area practice facility. Curry, 65, grew up in nearby College Park and played at Georgia Tech, where he graduated from the Atlanta school, known for turning out engineering majors in 1965 with a degree in industrial management.
After a 9-year career in the NFL that included three Super Bowl appearances (two with Green Bay, one with the Baltimore Colts), Curry returned to Georgia Tech, earning ACC Coach of the Year honors in 1985. His Tech record was 31-43-4 after starting off the first two seasons of his tenure with a 2-19-1 mark. He was an All-Pro center with the Colts in 1971 and 1972. He also did stints in the Southeastern Conference with Alabama and Kentucky before moving on to ESPN.
He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
I don't see the Panther program being sucessfull off the bat. It will take some time and patience. The Colonial Atheltic Association is one of the better FCS (formerly Division 1AA) conferences in the country.
Georgia State, the same school that gave Lefty Drizell a second chance after that fiasco with Len Bias at Maryland, is now giving a local boy a chance to do more good. He wasn't my first choice but it was in hindsight the best choice.
Let's hope it works!