Bill Curry

From Buzzpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Coach Bill Curry with Buzz

Bill Curry (born William Alexander Curry) was born on October 21, 1942. Curry was raised in College Park, Georgia, and played football as a center for the Yellow Jackets from 1962-1964. Curry also served as head coach of the Yellow Jackets from 1980-1986. Bill Curry is currently the head football coach for the Georgia State Blue Panthers.


Contents

Life at Tech

Bill Curry (right) with Bobby Dodd (left)

Bill Curry’s first love was baseball, but, after watching his football idol Johnny Unitas lead the Baltimore Colts (now the Indianapolis Colts) to victory in the 1958 NFL Championship Game, Curry chose football as his career path. When the time came to choose a college, Curry knew he wanted to play college football, and he knew he wanted to play for Bobby Dodd, Georgia Tech’s head coach at the time. “My mom got the idea that I was intrigued with Bobby Dodd, and she knew that if I went anywhere other than Tech, I would never go to class because I was not interested in school,” Curry said in an interview with a writer from the Georgia Tech newspaper The Technique. Sharing a personal anecdote with the Technique writer, Curry said, “I cut one chemistry class the second week of school. The next Wednesday morning they had me at Grant Field Stadium running up and down the stadium steps... I decided that chemistry at eight in the morning was a wonderful thing.” [1]

Bill Curry played center and occasionally played the position of linebacker for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team. Curry was a part of four winning teams for Tech during his four years; however, Curry did not start a game until his senior year at Tech. In 1964, Curry graduated from Tech with a degree in Industrial Management.[1]


Playing Career After Tech

In 1965, Bill Curry was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and made the starting roster. Once again, Curry found himself playing under another renowned coach, Vince Lombardi. But, in Curry’s opinion, “Lombardi was the antithesis of Bobby Dodd, and I hated his guts. I never forgave Vince Lombardi for not being Bobby Dodd.” [1] Curry stayed with the Packers for one Super Bowl and two seasons before being traded to the Baltimore Colts (now the Indianapolis Colts).

Yet again, with his trade to the Baltimore Colts, Curry was placed on a team where he played under another famous coach, Don Shula. In the sometimes strange world of athletic trades, Curry was then in a position to play alongside his childhood hero and the man who inspired him to pursue his football career, Johnny Unitas.

In his five seasons with the Baltimore Colts (1967-1972), Curry played numerous positions. In season one with the Colts, Curry was a defensive linebacker. After his first season, Curry was placed back at his original offensive position of center. After his performance in the 1972 Pro Bowl, Curry was quoted criticizing Colts General Manager Joe Thomas after Thomas benched Curry’s idol, Johnny Unitas. Soon after, Curry was traded to the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) for the 1973 season. Curry spent one year with the Oilers before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams (now the St. Louis Rams). Curry spent one season with the Rams (1974) before retiring from his NFL career.

Coaching Career at Tech

In 1980, Bill Curry was offered the head football coach position for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. In response to his former player accepting the head coaching position, Bobby Dodd said, "I knew it was going to take Bill longer than it takes most other people because he was a lineman. Usually, quarterbacks or defensive backs or receivers make better coaches because they understand more about the game. Lineman usually make poor game-day coaches. Bear Bryant was a prime example. Bear was a real poor Saturday game man." [2] Unfortunately for Coach Curry, he was entering an athletic program that was mired in losing streaks in the football, basketball and baseball programs. Funding for the athletic program was dwindling, yet increased funding was exactly what the athletic programs needed to stay alive. As a result, Coach Curry, along with Homer Rice and others, sought to raise the Georgia Tech athletic fee to $15. Curry’s concerns about the Georgia Tech athletic program extended to Georgia Tech's basketball team. Yellow Jacket head basketball coach Bobby Cremins said, "We were in a major rebuilding situation and Bill treated me great. He was always on my side, helping me in recruiting. Bill Curry is a class act." [1]

In the winter of Tech's 1981 season, Curry's leadership and coaching abilities began to be questioned. Homer Rice was "fighting back the wolves from Curry's door." [2] Those willing to allow Curry to fully establish himself as a coach at Tech remained patient. But, many individuals were only concerned with Tech's losing streak. Homer Rice went to Coach Curry's aid. "There was the solid group that believed so strongly in Georgia Tech and Bill Curry and would support him no matter what. To another group, wins were more important than the program. That's where I stepped in. It became my job." [2] When a group of dissatisfied Tech supporters sought to "buy up" Curry's contract after only two seasons, Homer Rice responded with a resounding, "No." [2] As a result, some of these supporters withdrew their financial support. Overall, this loss of financial support did little to damage the athletic program. A year prior to Curry accepting the head coaching position, alumni donations to Georgia Tech's athletic program were approximately $600,000. For the 1985 season, the alumni contributions exceeded that of $3 million. [2]

Over his seven seasons as Georgia Tech head football coach, Coach Curry’s record was 31-43-4. But Curry explained, “It was an incredible nightmare when we were 2-19-1 [in 1980 and 1981].” [1] Coach Curry considered his 1980 schedule to be the “toughest schedule in America.” [1] It wasn’t until Curry’s first win over the University of Georgia in 1984 that the Yellow Jacket football team seemed to be making a turn-around from a losing team to a winning team. Coach Curry’s 1985 season left the Yellow Jackets with a record of 9-2-1, resulting in a winning season. In 1986, Curry finished out his last season as Georgia Tech’s head football coach with a record of 5-5-1.

Coaching Career After Tech

After leaving his head coaching position at Georgia Tech, Coach Curry became the head coach for the University of Alabama for three seasons, all of which were winning seasons. His last season at Alabama ended with an SEC Championship.

In 1990, Bill Curry took the head coaching position at the University of Kentucky. Curry remained head coach for seven seasons. In his seven seasons at Kentucky, his overall record was 26-52. After his 1996 season, Curry was asked to resign from his position as head coach of Kentucky.

From 1997 to 2008, Bill Curry took a break from coaching. In 2008, Curry was asked to become head football coach of Georgia State University. Curry accepted and is currently the head coach of the Georgia State football team.

As an Author

Ten Men You Meet In The Huddle

In 2008, ESPN published Bill Curry’s autobiography Ten Men You Meet In The Huddle. Curry opens the story with his first day of Vince Lombardi’s training camp with the Green Bay Packers. Curry divulges, “The book is a labor of love. As I went around the country...friends, especially my wife and George Plimpton, began to harass me and say, ‘you have to write these things down, people love these stories.’ The book is a story of the great human beings I ran across, mostly in the NFL. My dad, my high school coach and Coach Dodd are in the book.”[3] In his book, Curry describes his first few practices with the Green Bay Packers in these words: "This was not Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech football was a petting zoo. This was a jungle!" Curry dedicated the book to his wife Carolyn.[3]









References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Bill Curry: 'A Class Act'." The Technique [Atlanta, GA], Volume 94 ed., Issue 17 sec.: Sports. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Georgia Tech Archives (MS349. Box 4. Folder 7. Ray Ellis Papers).Hinton, Ed. "Tech's rise: Curry gets the credit." Atlanta Constitution 14 Dec. 1985: n. pag. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Curry, Bill. Ten Men You Meet In The Huddle. New York: ESPN, 2009. Print.


Source Summary: Squad Symbolizes New Tech Spirit

Source Summary: Athletic Association-Fact Book'91

Source Summary:Remembering the 1985 Yellow Jacket Football Team

Personal tools