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October 2, 2015

Beating ‘Bama: Pulpwood Should Know

BROXTON, Ga.—With one of the most anticipated Georgia football games in recent memory looming against Alabama, I decided to take a different approach from the customary “beat story.” I reached out to a true rarity—an individual who not only could provide insight on a much-heralded game pitting Georgia and Alabama, but someone familiar with the series firsthand, having produced one of the greatest offensive outings ever by a Bulldog against the Crimson Tide.

“Where I’m from, playing a rival like the Florida Gators is a really big deal,” Andre “Pulpwood” Smith informed me from his home in Broxton, a small town in South Georgia located just outside of his hometown of Douglas. “As far as Alabama, I respected them, but never looked at them as a rivalry of Georgia. So, when we were about to play Alabama in ’84, I didn’t see it as a big-time game.” READ THE REST OF THIS STORY...

September 29, 2015

Calling the Dawg...

I recently joined and will be dropping news, notes, stats, historical tidbits, and the like at the acclaimed Dawgvent daily under "The Daily Dawg Caller." 

If you're a subscriber to, come check my stuff out. If you're not a subscriber, it is definitely worth the meager cost (and, then come check my stuff out...).

A taste of today's Daily Dawg Caller:
...and Georgia is currently a 2-point favorite, the Bulldogs would extend their own streak of being favored to 21 consecutive games which would rank as the second-longest streak in the nation in “giving points” behind... 
...on this date 59 years ago in 1956, a young couple—the Seilers—had no intention of taking their bulldog puppy to Georgia’s first home game of the season vs. Florida State, but were talked into it and ultimately did so for their “own...

September 23, 2015

The Perfect Bulldog Honored In the Perfect Bulldog Town

During the lead-up to the South Carolina game, a prestigious honor was bestowed involving another Georgia rival, which kind of got lost in the hoopla of last week.
UGA football greats, Rex Robinson, a placekicker from 1977-1980, and Richard Seymour, a defensive tackle from 1997-2000, were inducted into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame. For Robinson, although he was certainly pleased to be honored, the announcement was rather surprising.
“It really blew me away…I was truly, and seriously surprised,” Robinson admitted. “I’ve always been happy for all the guys...READ THE REST at 

September 18, 2015

When Carolina Called It Quits

The 1900 UGA football team... you won't find
any quitters (or, babies) in this group!
When the Bulldogs' season opener against ULM was called with nearly 10 minutes remaining in the game, someone turned to me in the press box and asked when was the last time a Georgia football game ended "significantly" prematurely (i.e., with more than just mere seconds remaining)...

Around the turn of the century and prior to lighting being installed at football fields in the South, Georgia had a number of games called early because of darkness. Yet, around the same time, there was also a game involving the Red and Black which ended prematurely while having nothing to do with visibility, nor the weather, but when UGA's visitors simply couldn't play "good, clean football," as it was reported, nor take "decisions like men." 

In 1900, American football was relatively new and a much different sport than it is 115 years later. The field was 110 yards long, touchdowns were each worth five points, and it would not be until 1906 until forward passing was permitted. In addition, only five yards were needed for a first down, yet with the game resembling more of a rugby scrum than what we know as football, first downs and yardage were actually hard to come by. 

Such was the case on October 20, 1900, when a 1-0 Georgia team, which had opened its campaign with a victory over Georgia Tech, hosted a South Carolina squad, playing in its season opener, at Herty Field in Athens. 

With less than five minutes remaining in a game consisting of two 25-minute halves, which had been agreed upon by the two programs prior to the contest, Georgia and South Carolina were tied, 5-5. The two teams had combined to gain 238 yards of offense on 73 plays (for the "sake" of the post, admittedly, I hand tallied the game's statistics), each scoring a touchdown and missing the extra-point attempt. With 13 minutes remaining in the opening half, Georgia fullback Samuel Hewlett scored the Red and Black's touchdown, which was answered by Carolina's right halfback and team captain, Joe Bell, early in the second half.

Already, the contest had experienced some controversy just before the first half ended. Trailing 5-0, Carolina had the ball only two feet from Georgia's goal. Two rushing attempts moved the ball just inches away from a touchdown. Just before the ball was snapped for a third try, the game's referee, a Rowbotham, whistled that the half had ended, negating the ensuing touchdown plunge by a South Carolina player. 

But, even more controversy was to follow. 

During the 1900 football season, a student's
depiction of a UGA football game. 
With the score knotted at five towards the end of the game, a series of lost fumbles capped the contest's final few possessions, the last of which causing quite a stir: Carolina fumbled while possessing the ball near its own goal line. When Rowbotham unpiled the mass of players, "hugging the ball for dear life" at the bottom of the pile was Georgia right end Julian Baxter. 

As the Red and Black lined up at Carolina's 5-yard line in attempt to drive for the game-winning score, they realized there was no defense to oppose them. Captain Bell had ordered his team off the field, charging the officials with “robbery” and indicating the game could be given to Georgia.

Carolina's Bell, who rushed for a game-high 70 yards on 16 carries, was beyond irate with Rowbothaman esteemed referee at the time who, along with the length of the halves, had been previously agreed upon by both schools to be one of the game's two officials. Before Bell ended the game by charging off the field with his team, according to The Atlanta Constitution, he had already claimed the officials were,  "incompetent, dishonest, and determined to defeat his team" after Rowbotham had ended the first half just prior to Carolina's apparent touchdown.

After Carolina called it quits, Rowbotham waited a few minutes, and then had no choice but to call the game, awarding Georgia a 5-0 forfeited victory per Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association rules.

But, the peculiarity of this very old-school football game had just started, demonstrating that the battle between Georgia and Carolina extended beyond the gridiron, but in the press, as well.

An entire three days after the game, The State (Columbia, S.C.) finally ran a story detailing the Georgia-Carolina meeting. The newspaper first claimed that their story was late printing (three days late?) because a Western Union telegraph office in Athens purposely closed early on Carolina's team manager, L.C. Crawford, keeping him from sending his report of the game to the newspaper.

The State also claimed Rowbotham was a "referee on the steal," "Carolina was cheated out of a touchdown" right before halftime, and Carolina quarterback Harry Withers, and not Georgia's Baxter, recovered the fumble at the end of the game. In addition, the newspaper declared that even if Georgia rightfully recovered the fumble, there wasn't enough time to "have scored again" anyway (even though possessing the ball on Carolina's 5-yard line with nearly five minutes remaining).

The Athens Banner promptly fired back at the "babyish" report, or "tale of woe," by The State, declaring "the strangest baby tale" was "not authentic which, by the way, is a mild way of putting it."

For the only game I can think of in UGA football history called prematurely, while having nothing to do with visibility or the weather, the 'Cocks' take-my-ball-and-go-home attitude is only a small blemish on an otherwise proud tradition of USC football. So proud, surely if Joe Bell would have known that USC football would have been mired in mediocrity for over a century, while having a non-winning all-time record as late as the end of the 2009 season, the Carolina captain would have stuck it out with more of a winning attitude, and not simply satisfied with defeat.

September 8, 2015

Here's to "New" Beginnings

With the appearances made by Virginia-transfer Greyson Lambert and UAB-transfer Jake Ganus last Saturday, a historical milestone was reached in UGA football history. 

Lambert became only the second Bulldog starting quarterback in history who had previously played at another Division I program, and the first to throw a touchdown. Ganus, who is the first Georgia player to have transferred from a defunct program since Terrell Davis left Long Beach State for Athens following the 1991 season, started Saturday at one of the inside linebacker positions.

So, when was the last time the Bulldogs had two transfers arrive from other programs the same year while making immediate impact like Ganus and Lambert? 

Never—nothing even close has ever occurred in the annals of UGA football.  

A little more than four years ago, I posted Georgia's All-Time Transfers, or one-time Bulldogs who left the program for other schools. On the contrary, in the spirit of new beginnings for Ganus and Lambert, here's the Bulldogs' All-Time Arrivals team (11 position players + a kicker + some reserves + a pair of ironic honorable mentions, while excluding players from JUCOs, prep schools, and those pre-WWI players who played football at UGA while attending, say, law school after being an undergrad somewhere else):

Back- STEVE ROGERS (1977): Hailing from Jacksonville, Fla., Rogers transferred to UGA following a freshman season at the Naval Academy in 1975. As a reserve for the Midshipmen, the dual-threat quarterback was responsible for a couple of touchdowns, and was even the team's primary kick returner in the Army-Navy game—"the greatest experience of my life," according to Rogers after his transfer. Following a couple of unfortunate scrapes with the law while sitting out a season in Athens, Rogers was tangled in a quarterback competition in 1977 even more complicated than the Bulldogs' three-way race in 2015.

Rogers is one of the few Georgia players who had a newspaper article dedicated to him written by the late, great Lewis Grizzard—"The Legend of Steve Alan Rogers," which forecasted him being named the Bulldogs' starting quarterback a little over a week prior to the start of the season. In the end, Rogers was the team's second-stringer, but made starts against Alabama and Auburn before ending the '77 campaign sidelined with an injury. After a move to defensive back, Rogers returned to Coach Dooley's doghouse after another disciplinary issue, and was dismissed from the program. 
• Reserve Back: safety Chip Miller (Appalachian State '71-'73, Georgia '74-'75)

Back- TERRELL DAVIS (1992-1994): Prior to the 49ers dropping football, Davis rushed for 262 yards in just five games as a freshman at LBSU in 1991. For three years at Georgia, despite playing behind Garrison Hearst for a season, at times being injured, and perhaps underused, Davis rushed for 1,657 yards, averaged 5.2 yards per carry, had five 100-yard rushing games, caught 46 passes, and scored 18 touchdowns. A mere seven-season NFL career which is borderline Pro Football Hall of Fame-worthy, Davis' 7,607 rushing yards for an NFL career by a former Bulldog is second only behind Herschel Walker; his three AP first-team All-NFL selections is tied for the most with Champ Bailey and Richard Seymour.
• Reserve Back: tailback Olandis Gary (Marshall '94-'95, Georgia '97-'98)

Back- VERRON HAYNES (1999-2001): Arriving from the Bronx, Haynes rushed for over 300 yards at Western Kentucky as a true freshman in 1997. After transferring to Georgia and sitting out the '98 season, the fullback seldom carried the ball, but instead blocked for those that did, during the final two years of the Coach Donnan era. However, with the start of the Coach Richt regime, Haynes' role in the offense increased to where he averaged 163 rushing yards per game as the 2001 team's starting tailback the final four contests of the season. As a senior, including Georgia's bowl appearance, Haynes rushed for a team-high 823 yards, caught 20 passes and scored 10 touchdowns, including the historical "Hobnail Boot" reception, upsetting Tennessee in Knoxville.

Back- MARK VINCENT (1987): When the SMU football program was dealt the "death penalty" by the NCAA in 1986, about 50 Mustangs on scholarship found new homes, including Vincent and Shelly Anderson (see below) at Georgia. Vincent, a Texas native and two-year starter at cornerback for SMU, immediately made an impact in 1987 as a standout in the Bulldogs' secondary. In what would be his lone season at Georgia, Vincent intercepted three passes in his first five games (after intercepting just one pass in three seasons at SMU), and was honored as a member of the defense's distinguished "Junkyard Dog Club" by the fourth game of the year. Starting every game for the Bulldogs at right cornerback, Vincent finished his senior campaign with 59 tackles, including three for loss, and four PBUs. 

Notably, while transitioning from SMU to UGA in early August of 1987, Vincent said, "I'm still 100 percent SMU, but I had to find a new place to play until things get settled down [at SMU]. ... I plan on going down there [after one year at UGA] and helping get the [football] program back on its feet the right way." Only two months later, Vincent had already experienced a "slight" change of heart, demonstrating that attending the University of Georgia sure does seem to have an effect on people: " No. 1 choice for law school is Georgia. I love it here. I don't even think about SMU now. It's gone better than anything I could have expected. I wish I would have been here the whole time."
• Reserve Back: cornerback Dale Williams (The Citadel '77, Georgia '79-'81)

Receiver- JIMMY ORR (1955-1957): Orr started off at Wake Forest before transferring to Clemson to play basketball, In the spring of 1955, the speedster from Seneca, S.C. decided he wanted to play football, so he transferred againthis time, to Georgia. In three seasons as a Bulldog, despite playing halfback (and catching just 42 career passes for 701 yards and 5 touchdowns), Orr remarkably led the SEC in receiving as both a sophomore and senior. From 1955-1957, he also rushed for nearly 300 yards, averaged more than 22 yards per kickoff return and 18 yards per punt return (and a touchdown), intercepted a pass on defense, and averaged more than 37 yards per punt on 75 career kicks. 

The 291st pick of the 1957 NFL Draft, Orr was the 1958 NFL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and one of Johnny Unitas' favorite targets as a standout end for the Baltimore Colts during the 1960s. Orr was essentially tops in all career receiving marks for an NFL career by a former Bulldog before being surpassed by Hines Ward.

End- BEN WATSON (2001-2003): Watson transferred to Georgia after catching 8 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown for Duke in 1999. As a member of Coach Richt's first three Bulldog teams, the Rock Hill, S.C. native made a combined 65 receptions for 852 yards and 6 touchdowns. After earning All-SEC honors as a senior in 2003, Watson was a first-round selection of the New England Patriots. Appearing in his 12th year in the league, and the third with the New Orleans Saints, Watson enters the 2015 season with the fifth-most catches (360) and fifth-most  touchdown receptions (32) in an NFL career by a former Bulldog.
• Reserve End: tight end Jermaine Wiggins (Marshall '94-'95, Georgia '97-'98)

Lineman- ALEC MILLEN (1991-1992): Signing with North Carolina out of the Marist School in Atlanta, the 6-foot-7 Millen was a member of consecutive 1-10 Tar Heel teams (1988-1989), starting at left guard in '89. Transferring and then sitting out Georgia's lowly 4-7 campaign of '90, he was a starting offensive tackle for Bulldog teams in 1991-1992 which, ironically for Millen, had a combined 19-5 record. After earning first-team All-SEC recognition as a senior, he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers early in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, but would never see the field in a regular-season game. Today, Millen is an associate pastor at a church in Pennsylvania.

Lineman- DAVE LLOYD (1957-1958): A center for Texas Tech in 1955, Lloyd was lured to Georgia by line coach Wyatt Posey, who had coached the big Texan in Lubbock before accepting an assistant job in Athens. After being a member of the Bulldogs' B-team (i.e., redshirted) for a year, Lloyd was arguably Georgia's most valuable player during the 1957-1958 seasons, often playing nearly entire games as the team's starting center, linebacker, and the kicker on kickoffs. In a time when collegiate athletes could leave school before their final year if selected in the NFL Draft following their fourth season, Lloyd decided to forego his senior campaign at Georgia after being picked 47th overall in the draft by Cleveland. Playing for the Browns, Eagles, and Lions, the Red Raider-turned-Bulldog had a successful 12-season career in the NFL.

Lineman- SHELLY ANDERSON (1987-1988): In three consecutive seasons at two schools, lineman Anderson started at three positions along the offensive line, but never at two different ones the same year. Prior to transferring to Georgia along with Vincent, Anderson started two games for SMU at right guard in 1986 after solely playing a reserve role as a freshman. As a Bulldog, he started one game at left tackle in 1987 before starting every game as a senior the next season at left guard.  

Lineman- AL FRANCIS (1957): A reserve center for Notre Dame in 1955, Francis, along with teammate halfback/end Dick Wilkins, decided to leave the Fighting Irish for Athens. After sitting out a season, Francis served as the Bulldogs' backup center in 1957 behind Dave Lloyd.
• Reserve Lineman: OL George Mrvos (Penn State '84, Georgia '87)

End- RUSTY RUSSELL (1973-1975): The son of legendary UGA defensive coordinator Erk Russell, Rusty began his collegiate career at Florida State, where he was a linebacker for the Seminoles in 1972, but did not letter. Walking on at Georgia, Russell was one of the Bulldogs' leading tacklers in each of his three seasons in Athens, while starting at three different positions: DT in '73, DE in '74, and returning to linebacker in '75. As a member of his father's "Junkyard Dogs" defensive unit as a senior, Russell was third on the squad with 90 tackles.
• Reserve End: Dick Wilkins (Notre Dame '55, Georgia '57)

Kicker- TODD PETERSON (1991-1992): The Valdosta native was used sparingly as a placekicker at the Naval Academy in 1988-1989. After transferring to Georgia and sitting out a season, Peterson missed five of his first eight field goal attempts as a Bulldog, and was benched. Regardless, his senior campaign of 1992 jump-started a brilliant placekicking career. After making 13 of 16 field goals in his final year at Georgia, Peterson kicked for six different teams in a dozen seasons in the NFL, which resulted in him being one of currently only three ex-Bulldogs to score 1,000+ career points in the league.

HONORABLE MENTION: In early January of 1987, just after Wichita State had dropped its football program, former-Shocker players defensive back Derrick Richey and fullback Eric Gilstrap drove 850 miles to Athens after being lured by the Bulldogs to transfer. However, upon their arrival to UGA after the rather lengthy trip, the two players were denied admission because of a problem with their transferable hours.

"We're going to take steps to see something like that never happens again," said Coach Dooley after the players were turned away, prompting Richey to declare, "Georgia should have checked that out before recruiting us."

September 5, 2015

Follow that Dawg!

Follow the Dawgs in 2015 on Twitter @PGarbinDT.

Reporting from the press box this season for, FOLLOW ME @PGarbinDT for my insight and perspective (for what that's worth...) of each game this season, beginning today when the Bulldogs tangle with the ULM Warhawks.

August 30, 2015

Is UGA -35 Over ULM... accurate point spread for this Saturday's game?

Introducing the About Them Dawgs! Blawg's newest advertiser, The Saturday Edge:

In the direct right panel, enter your email address and "Submit" to receive The Saturday Edge's 2015 SEC Betting Prospectus for FREE. I was personally sent a copy of this prospectus, and I can confirm the prospectus is packed with information, stats, and ATS data to assist you with prognosticating Georgia's season opener, and ALL the Dawgs' dozen or so games to follow...

August 25, 2015

PULPWOOD Previews the 2015 Season

I recently interviewed my friend, the real Andre "Pulpwood" Smith, to get his thoughts on Georgia's 2015 season. 

Pulpwood, who follows the Bulldogs religiously, thinks highly of the team for the upcoming year. In addition, he stresses speed kills, watch out for Sony Michel, no fullback dared to tell Coach Dooley he wanted to play tailback, and don't even think of mentioning "Alabama" around Pulpwood.

Speaking of the Crimson Tide, and my favorite tidbit from Pulpwood, which concludes his preview: "Georgia was whipping Alabama back in the old days when they had those ugly helmets, or no helmetsor, whatever it was..."

August 12, 2015

Although Once Forgotten, "Flan" Is Now Finally Found

Anthony (Tony) Flanagan, "The Flim-Flan
Man," Georgia's first African-American QB
Thirty years agoalmost to the dayas Georgia was opening its fall camp of 1985, Vince Dooley suddenly uttered the name of one of his former players most of the surrounding Bulldog followers had long forgotten. 

Dooley had been questioned by the media regarding whether he was going to choose Wayne Johnson or sophomore James Jackson to start under center, signifying the first time in school history an African American would be starting at quarterback for the Bulldogs.

"It is [an antiquated subject] to me," Dooley declared to reporters. "People forget about Tony Flanagan."

Yet, although it had been nearly a decade since he had left UGA, how could anyone truly forget Anthony (Tony) Flanagan, "The Flim-Flan Man," or simply "Flan"?

Between leading Southwest (Atlanta) High School (now known as Mays High) to state basketball championships as a junior and senior, Flanagan guided the Wolves to a state football title in 1973. The lanky, 6-foot-3 and roughly 200-pound quarterback could run like the wind, and had a rifle for an armmake that, arms. Flanagan was ambidextrous, able to throw a football 70 yards on the fly with his throwing arm, and nearly 60 yards with the other.

During Southwest's perfect 13-0 campaign, Flanagan passed for 2,241 yards and 31 touchdowns, rushed for 12 touchdowns and, get this, kicked 60 PATs and two field goals. Simply listing his high school accolades would be a blog post in itself, but the fact of the matter is Flanagan was one of the most highly recruited and publicized high school athletes in the state and, still today, is considered perhaps the best amateur athlete ever to come out of the Atlanta area.

Flanagan was lured by what was reported as over 300 colleges, offering scholarships in four different sports: football, basketball, tennis, and track. In the end, he decided to sign a football grant-in-aid at Georgia, for one, since the school was close to home. But, by also signing a football scholarshipand not a grant-in-aid specifically with any of the other three sportsFlanagan had the option of being a multi-sport college athlete. Regardless, as a senior in high school, he announced he would only play basketball at UGA... at first, leaving the door open for the possibility of participating in a second sport down the road. 

After he averaged nearly 12 points and more than three rebounds per game, while leading the Bulldogs in assists both years, during his freshman and sophomore seasons on Georgia's basketball team, Flanagan finally decided to explore other avenues and went out for the football team in the spring of 1976.

The quarterback position at Georgia in 1976 was described as undoubtedly the deepest position on the team, and perhaps the deepest the Bulldogs had ever been at quarterback. Already six signal callers were jockeying for position that spring, including the top two, who were both proven seniors: Ray Goff, the starter the season before, and Matt Robinson, the starter in 1974. 

Nevertheless, after having not played organized football in about two-and-a-half years, Flanagan promptly began showing flashes that spring of the brilliance which made him a household name around Atlanta a few years before. He soon was the team's No. 3 quarterback, yet seemingly stuck behind the two immovable seniors, Goff and Robinson. 

"When Tony got comfortable on the field, he was a really good player," Steve Davis, a teammate of Flanagan's at Georgia, recently told me. Davis was Georgia's starting split end, and second-leading receiver in 1976. "Tony had a really strong arm." 
The first 3 possessions Flanagan was
a Bulldog quarterback, he directed
Georgia on drives for touchdowns.

For the G-Day spring game, Flanagan was named the starting quarterback of the Red squad, honorably coached by newspaper editor Harley Bowers; Goff the starter of the Black team, headed up by renowned sports writer Jesse Outlar (Robinson was sidelined with an injury). Late in the second quarter with the Red leading the Black, 9-3, Flanagan proceeded to direct his team on a long drive which would be the difference in the game.

Facing second and goal from the Black's 11-yard line, Flanagan rolled to his right and appeared to be trapped at the sideline by several defenders. Suddenly, he jumped in the air and out of bounds but, while still in the air, he whipped a perfect touchdown strike to Davis. 

"It was unbelievable," Davis said. "Tony threw me the ball when he was out of bounds, but his feet were inbounds when he left the ground. He probably was about five to six feet out of bounds when he finally landed."

Trailing 16-3 at halftime, Outlar would report that he approached his quarterback, Goff, to say "if he didn't get a couple of quick touchdowns his coach was going to get fired." Whereupon, Goff apparently replied, "To heck with the coach, did you see what that other quarterback (Flanagan) is doing? I'm the only one who may get fired." 

Flanagan's running and passing prowess established him as the star of G-Day, which ended in a 19-13 victory for his Red team.

By the start of the season, although remaining the Bulldogs' third-string quarterback, Flanagan was drawing nationwide attention, like from Georgia's season-opening opponent, 15th-ranked California. Cal's Mike White believed there was such a good chance of him seeing playing time against his Bears, the head coach actually spent some time game planning for Flanagan. 

Flanagan wouldn't appear against Cal; however, a week later at Clemson with Georgia leading 34-0, he was inserted late in the game and, according to Matt Robinson in my book Game of My Life:
"...this was a rather historical moment in UGA football history...Anthony made the first ever appearance for the Bulldogs by an African-American quarterback in a varsity game. Late in the game, Anthony led the offense on a long drive which resulted in a touchdown to wrap up the scoring."
At Clemson, Flanagan had also become the first Bulldog athlete to see varsity action in both football and basketball since Zippy Morocco during the late 1940s.

For the 1976 regular season, Flanagan appeared in four games, rushing for 73 yards on eight carries and completing his only pass attempt for a 16-yard gain. Against Vanderbilt, he also added another milestone to his legacy when he rushed for this 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter:

In the season's end Sugar Bowl, trailing Pittsburgh 27-3 and the game already decided, Dooley inserted Flanagan under center for Georgia's final offensive series, essentially indicating who was the Bulldogs' likely starting quarterback in 1977. But, any vision the head coach had of the dual-threat signal caller starting for him nine months later would not be realized.

Entrenched in a three-way quarterback battle as late as just a week prior to the start of the '77 campaign, Flanagan reportedly first stopped practicing, followed by his sudden departure from campus. After having difficulty with his studies, Flanagan had been declared academically ineligible because of an alleged grade forgerya charge he vehemently denied. In January, he enrolled at Gardner-Webb, seeking to play both football and basketball after sitting out a year. But, Flanagan would never participate in either sport at the small college in North Carolina, and his collegiate athletic career was over.
Flanagan and Coach Dooley during the '77
Sugar Bowl vs. Pitt inside the Superdome

Flanagan resurfaced four years later at the age of 25 when it was reported he had decided to try out for the Atlanta Pride semi-pro team of the non-paying American Football Association. Roughly 1,100 individuals, including a handful of former NFL players, tried out for the Pride's meager 37 roster spots, with Flanagan emerging as the team's starting quarterback.

Passing and running with the mastery he had demonstrated years before, Flanagan guided the Pride to the league's playoffs. In late August 1982, just over a week after being responsible for four of his team's five touchdowns in Atlanta's playoff game, Flanagan was signed by Boston of the upstart United State Football League (USFL). However, during training camp prior to the start of the new league's initial season, Flanagan became ill and was cut from the team. He would soon be diagnosed with diabetes.

It's been said by those who knew Flanagan that he surely had to be disappointed that his athletic career after high school didn't quite pan out, and saddened because of the disease he endured. Still, those same people will say he never appeared disheartened or dissatisfied. In fact, Flanagan appeared to find as much pleasure in teaching sports to kids as he had discovered while playing sports himself as a youth.

For 14 years, Flanagan worked with the Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department, coaching youth sports—namely (and fittingly), football and basketball—at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. As a consequence of a tough lesson Flanagan had learned while at UGA, children could not play for "Coach Flan," as he was affectionately called, unless they had passing grades in school.

In 2001, after a bout with pneumonia two-and-a-half years before, and a steady decline in health, Flanagan suffered a burst blood vessel in his brain from complications from his diabetes, leading to an untimely death at the age of just 44. He left behind his wife, Rosalyn, two grown children, and a grandchild.

Less than a year after Flanagan's death, Rosalyn and supporters from old Southwest High School formed a group to lobby the City Council to rename the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. The center, where Flanagan touched the lives of countless children, was successfully renamed in honor of the man who was still regarded as likely the greatest amateur athlete from the area. However, not long after its opening, stringent budget cuts closed the center, creating a void in the community for youth and adults, while the facility fell victim to vandals.
Rosalyn (left) and Mayor Kasim Reed (center) 
were part of a large gathering recently reopening 
the Anthony Flanagan Recreation Center in Atlanta.

Still, Flanagan's story would have a happy ending, and one certainly fitting for an individual who might have made mistakes, but learned from them to move forward and help others.

After running a campaign of reopening area recreation centers, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, along with Councilman C.T. Martin and the Department of Parks and Recreation were successful in reopening the Anthony Flanagan Memorial Recreation Center at West Manor Park in Atlanta. Just last week, there was standing room only for the reopening, brimming with a mixed crowd of former high school and UGA teammates and coaches, elected officials, community activists, and contemporaries and family members of Flanagan. In addition, the event would not have been complete without the attendance of the number of former youth under Coach Flan's direction.

And, of course, Rosalyn was there too.

It was Rosalyn who just after Flanagan's death had said, "he told me [recently] that whatever God had put him on this Earth to do, he had done it."

Furthermore, even since leaving this earth, you could say Flanagan had "done it," as well. For now, although his time at Georgia is forgotten by most, the athletic legend once known as "The Flim-Flan Man," or simply "Flan," will be remembered with the center that bares the name of "Coach Flan."

August 6, 2015

Take One: "Ummms" the Word

Last night, I was fortunate to join Greg Poole and co-host Bob Miller for the debut edition of the Bulldawg Illustrated On-Air podcast to discuss my perception of the first two days of fall camp.

I come on the air around the 9-minute mark, and they allowed me to ramble for about eight minutes.'s Trent Smallwood joined the show after me to weigh in on the latest Bulldog recruiting news. 

As Greg mentions, hopefully this was the first of a soon-to-be second appearance by me on the show. In the meantime, I'm going to work on reducing my "Ummms" when speaking...