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Georgia State scores TD with Curry

Georgia State graduates should be jumping for joy over the hiring of their first football coach.

With Bill Curry in charge, the Georgia State program struck paydirt, literally.

Yes, he's 65-years old and will be closer to 67 when the Panthers actual run their first play from scrimmage.

Yes, he's been away from the coaching grind for more than a decade, but Bill Curry has the ability to put Georgia State on the Division I-AA football map, and quickly.

When Georgia State Athletic Director Mary McElroy brought Curry aboard, the school scored its first touchdown.

He was an all-star center at Georgia Tech back in the 1960s when the Yellow Jackets played in the Southeastern Conference, he won a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers and he played for three legendary coaches-Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech, Vince Lombardi with the Packers and Don Shula with the Baltimore Colts.

Curry incorporates a little of all three men into his coaching philosophy, especially when it comes to class and integrity.

With Bill Curry aboard, the Georgia State Panthers know exactly who they are getting-a gentleman who preaches the importance of family, God and education above football.

Still, he's a fierce competitor, who hates to lose.

During his tenure as head coach at Georgia Tech from 1980-86, there were some lean times down on The Flats as the Jackets often struggled to gain respectability, posting a 34-43-3 record during his tenure, but his job was never in danger.

Most Tech graduates and fans believed in the things their coach stood for.

Curry showed his stern side when he suspended seven starters for curfew violations in 1985 right before the Yellow Jackets played Michigan State in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham. Tech went 9-2-1 that year.

One of those players he sent home was starting quarterback John Dewberry. Dewberry now is a successful real estate developer who has nothing but respect for his former coach.

With the missing players on the sidelines, Tech went out and won the game.

Yes, Curry broke the hearts of some Tech fans when he left the program to become the head coach at Alabama. That was not a good fit for the man with ties to Dodd, Lombardi and Shula, not Paul Bear Bryant.

Despite going 26-10, winning an SEC title and going to three bowls, Curry did something totally unacceptable in Alabama circles, he never beat arch-rival Auburn.

For that sin, he earned a brick through his office window.

Unhappy with a new contract that gave him very little control over who to hire as assistant coaches, he resigned.

He quickly wound up at Kentucky where basketball will always be king. Curry coached in the Bluegrass State from 1990-96 before spending more than a decade as a broadcaster with ESPN.

Tech fans still love Bill Curry. It showed last year when he was in the running to become the school's athletic director, a job which eventually went to Dan Radakovich.

Now, Curry is back where he belongs, coaching football.

Just like he did at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky, Curry will attempt to turn the Panthers into a winning football program.

That's important, but Curry will also take those college football players in his charge and turn them into fine young men.

Simply put, that's what Bill Curry is all about.

(Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at dgorman@news-daily.com)