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Kirby, He’s One of Ours

Life changes through the years, but one thing that has stayed constant in my life, at least since 1964, has been my enjoyment of college football. Especially the Georgia Bulldogs.

When that love affair began, it was via radio. Nowadays, just about every fan’s team can see every game on television, but there once was a time when just a few games were on that medium. Today, a Saturday televised college football schedule begins at noon and it never stops until past midnight.

A modern fan might find it hard to imagine enjoying your favorite team by radio. I’ve got two words for you. Larry Munson! He began his broadcasting job with UGA in 1966 and his legendary growl and gift for creating a phrase became the true voice of the Georgia Bulldogs. “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and crushed their face!”

There are so many names to remember through the years. Vince Dooley came to Athens in 1964 and immediately made a difference. In the opening game of the 1965 season when Alabama and Bear Bryant were kings of the mountain, Georgia used a trick play to defeat them 18-17.

It involved the first “Kirby” I remember of Georgia football, Kirby Moore at quarterback. It’s interesting that the play would not have been successful with today’s instant replays. The play was a hook and lateral. Moore threw a ten yard pass to his tight end, Pat Hodgson, who, then lateralled to the trailing running back, Bob Taylor.

The only problem was that Hodgson’s knee was clearly on the ground before lateralling. With today’s technology, the referees would have stopped the game, looked at the replay, and nullified the touchdown. I’m glad there was no technology back then. Come to think about it, we could do without some of our modern technology today!

Of course no Georgia football fan would be worth his or her salt if there was no mention of the great Hershel Walker. To this day, I have never seen a more valuable player than Walker. All I will say is in regard to his current US Senate campaign. “Run, Hershel, Run!”

The current coach of the Bulldogs, and everyone from Bainbridge knows him, is the second “Kirby” of Georgia football, Kirby Smart. The connection to Bainbridge is because his daddy, Sonny, came to work here under Coach Ralph Jones in 1982 and was an integral part of that 1982 State Championship Bearcat team.

Kirby played all the sports in Bainbridge from Little League baseball to high school football and earned a scholarship to play at the University of Georgia. According the Red and Black, the UGA newspaper, he was salutatorian of his senior class, which means he was pretty smart, no pun intended.

He was successful in college also, earning All-SEC status as a senior and graduated in business from the Terry School of Business. He later earned his Master’s degree at FSU.

I’ve never met Kirby, but I imagine his intense competitiveness was always aimed toward a coaching career. Probably was in his DNA since his father coached all his life.

You know one has arrived when there is no need to say the last name. Like Elvis, there is no need to say “Smart.” He’s Kirby and this year just might be his year to win the national championship in college football. That is not to be taken for granted, though.

Not only does a coach have to have good players and Kirby does, good players need good fortune along the way. The football is a strangely shaped object and can bounce unpredictably.

Here’s hoping that this is the year the ball bounces in Kirby’s favor. After all, he’s one of ours!