Bill Curry

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Bill Curry
Bill Curry 2013.jpg
Curry in 2013
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1942-10-21) October 21, 1942 (age 71)
College Park, Georgia
Playing career
1962–1964
1965–1966
1967–1972
1973
1974
Georgia Tech
Green Bay Packers
Baltimore Colts
Houston Oilers
Los Angeles Rams
Position(s) Center
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1976
1977–1979
1980–1986
1987–1989
1990–1996
2008–2012
Georgia Tech (assistant)
Green Bay Packers (assistant)
Georgia Tech
Alabama
Kentucky
Georgia State
Head coaching record
Overall 93–128–4
Bowls 2–3
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
1 SEC Championship (1989)
Awards
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (1989)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (2007)
ACC Coach of the Year (1985)
2x SEC Coach of the Year (1987, 1989)

William Alexander "Bill" Curry (born October 21, 1942) is a retired American football coach and former player. Most recently he was the head coach at Georgia State University, which began competing in college football in 2010. Curry formerly worked as a football analyst for ESPN.

Previously, Curry served as the head football coach at the Georgia Tech (1980–1986), the University of Alabama (1987–1989), and the University of Kentucky (1990–1996). He played football at Georgia Tech (1962–1964) and then played for ten seasons in the National Football League with four different teams: the Green Bay Packers (1965–1966), the Baltimore Colts (1967–1972), the Houston Oilers (1973), and the Los Angeles Rams (1974).

Early life and playing career[edit]

Curry was born in College Park, Georgia. A 1965 graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in industrial management, Curry starred at center for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team from 1962 to 1964 under legendary coach Bobby Dodd. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and in his second year, he was the starting Center for Green Bay in their 35-10 Super Bowl I victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

After being exposed to the expansion draft by Vince Lombardi, Curry was soon traded from the expansion Saints to the Baltimore Colts, and played as a reserve there in 1967. Through his tremendous work ethic and tenacity, Curry slowly developed into a first rate NFL center. He was the Colts' starting center during their NFL Championship season of 1968, and was viewed as a reliable force on the offensive line, and a team leader as well.

Like most of his Colts teammates, he remains bewildered by their stunning 16-7 loss in Super Bowl III at the hands of Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Miami's Orange Bowl. The Colts had finished the 1968 season with a record of 13-1 and avenged their only loss that year with a 34-0 devastation of the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship contest. They were heavy favorites to defeat the upstart Jets of the upstart AFL when disaster struck: after carrying the play to New York for most of the first quarter, due to an interception in the Jets' end zone, and two missed field goals, Baltimore had nothing to show for it. Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, and feeling the pressure, the Colts attempted a flea-flicker to help reverse their fortunes. However, after having caught the Jets' defense completely unawares, QB Earl Morrall failed to spot WR Jimmy Orr wide open near the end zone, and instead threw a wobbly pass underneath that was intercepted. In retrospect, this was Baltimore's one last golden opportunity to get back into the game. It was particularly dispiriting for Curry, who, (having no one to block due to the Jets biting hard on the initial hand-off) had a perfect view of Orr, and was sure the play would result in a touchdown. "I looked up, and saw Jimmy open, I don't know what (could've) happened."[1] he said. To add insult to injury, following the loss, Curry and his teammates were subjected to unusually harsh criticisms, including unsubstantiated claims that they had somehow thrown the game.

The Colts and Curry did go on to win Super Bowl V and the tightly-knit, veteran team made a valiant defense of that title, which ended, along with the (owner) Carroll Rosenbloom era, with a loss to Don Shula's Dolphins at the Orange Bowl in the 1971 AFC title game.

After ownership of the Colts was transferred to Bob Irsay, the team spirit which was emblematic of the franchise under Rosenbloom's reign was dissolved by newly installed GM Joe Thomas. Curry's close confidant, and Colts legend, John Unitas was unceremoniously benched in 1972, and many of those responsible for the franchise's success in years past were shipped out of Baltimore—Curry among them. He learned that he was traded via a collect call from Thomas at the Pro Bowl in Dallas.

During a brief stint with the flagging Houston Oilers in 1973, Curry suffered a catastrophic leg injury when he was hit in the back of the leg by Rams' great, Merlin Olsen. Though he did not retire until August 1975, the injury essentially ended his playing career.

Curry's NFL career is also notable for his efforts in leadership positions (including a stint as president) at the NFLPA. Though their fledgling efforts at self-assertion were largely unsuccessful, it can be argued that men like Curry and Colts teammate John Mackey laid the groundwork for the vastly improved wages and working conditions that exist for NFL players today.

Coaching career[edit]

Prior to his first head coaching assignment, Curry served as an assistant at Georgia Tech in 1976 and then for three seasons in the NFL (1977–1979) as Offensive Line Coach with the Green Bay Packers.

Curry returned to Georgia Tech in 1980 as head football coach. While it has been reported that Curry's first head coaching decision was to dismiss the quarterbacks coach, Steve Spurrier, he denies this. Curry said, "I never fired Steve. Georgia Tech fired the [Pepper Rodgers] staff before I got there. Then while I was deliberating who from that staff to retain, Steve took the Duke [assistant’s] job."[citation needed] Curry led his team to a 9–2–1 record in 1985 and a win in the All-American Bowl. For his efforts, he was named the ACC Coach of the Year in 1985 by the Associated Press and the Atlantic Coast Conference media. Curry posted an 34–43–4 record over seven years at his alma mater, including winning seasons in 1982 (6–5), 1984 (6–4–1), and 1985 (9–2–1) and won the All-American Bowl.

Curry then accepted a job as head coach at the University of Alabama. There he posted a record of 26–10, won a share of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) title in 1989 and made bowl appearances every year of his three-year tenure. In September 1988, he refused to fly his Alabama team to play Texas A&M because of fears that Hurricane Gilbert would harm his players. The hurricane never reached Texas A&M at College Station, Texas, and Aggies coach Jackie Sherrill claimed Curry used the threat of weather as an excuse because his quarterback was injured.[citation needed] The game was rescheduled for December 1, when Alabama routed A&M, 30–10. Curry also suspended Alabama quarterback Jeff Dunn for breaking team rules prior to the 1988 Sun Bowl against Army.

After posting a 10–1 regular season record (the only blemish being a third loss in a row to Auburn), Curry's 1989 Crimson Tide squad shared the SEC title with Auburn and Tennessee—Alabama's first SEC title since 1981—and earned the berth in the 1990 Sugar Bowl, where they lost to the Miami Hurricanes, 33–25.[2] Curry was honored in 1989 as the SEC Coach of the Year and received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award.

Curry's three-year record of 26–10 gave him the highest winning percentage among Alabama coaches since Bear Bryant.[3] However, Curry had an 0–3 record against Alabama's arch-rival Auburn, and never once beat the Tigers in the twelve games he coached against them over his career. Perhaps his best-remembered on-field act with Alabama came during the 1990 Sugar Bowl, when he castigated receiver Prince Wimbley for celebrating a first down against Miami with a dance. Curry called Wimbley to the sideline, grabbed him by the jersey, and lectured him. As ABC game cameras showed, Wimbley turned away and Curry grabbed his face mask and brought him into eye-to-eye contact.[citation needed]

In early 1990, Curry received a contract which contained provisions he disliked, including no raise and removal of his power to hire and fire assistants, .[4] Curry was particularly upset by this since he'd led the Tide to its first SEC title since the Bryant era. He responded by accepting a job offer to become the head coach at the University of Kentucky.

In 1993, Curry's Wildcat squad posted a 6–5 regular season record and earned a spot in the Peach Bowl, Kentucky's first bowl game in nine years. The Wildcats lost that game to Clemson, 14–13. Curry never achieved a record better than 6–6 at Kentucky. The Wildcats posted six losing records in his seven years at Lexington, including a one-win season in 1994. Curry was asked to step down after the 1996 season and was succeeded by Hal Mumme.

On June 11, 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Curry had been chosen as Georgia State University's first head football coach.[5] The Georgia State Panthers played their first season in 2010, competing in the Colonial Athletic Association at the D-I Football Championship Subdivision level. The Panthers play their home games at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Curry's first class of players was recruited in 2009 for practice.

On August 15, 2012, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Curry would retire following the 2012 season.[6]

Honors[edit]

Bill Curry is a member of the state of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the American Football Coaches Association Ethics Committee.[citation needed]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Independent) (1980–1982)
1980 Georgia Tech 1–9–1
1981 Georgia Tech 1–10
1982 Georgia Tech 6–5
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1983–1986)
1983 Georgia Tech 3–8 3–2 3rd
1984 Georgia Tech 6–4–1 2–2–1 5th
1985 Georgia Tech 9–2–1 5–1 2nd W All-American 18 19
1986 Georgia Tech 5–5–1 3–3 4th
Georgia Tech: 31–43–4 13–8–1
Alabama Crimson Tide (Southeastern Conference) (1987–1989)
1987 Alabama 7–5 4–2 4th L Hall of Fame
1988 Alabama 9–3 4–3 4th W Sun 17 17
1989 Alabama 10–2 6–1 T–1st L Sugar 7 9
Alabama: 26–10 14–6
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (1990–1996)
1990 Kentucky 4–7 3–4 6th
1991 Kentucky 3–8 0–7 10th
1992 Kentucky 4–7 2–6 5th (East)
1993 Kentucky 6–6 4–4 3rd (East) L Peach
1994 Kentucky 1–10 0–8 6th (East)
1995 Kentucky 4–7 2–6 5th (East)
1996 Kentucky 4–7 3–5 4th (East)
Kentucky: 26–52 14–40
Georgia State Panthers (NCAA Division I FCS Independent) (2010–2011)
2010 Georgia State 6–5
2011 Georgia State 3–8
Georgia State Panthers (Colonial Athletic Association) (2012–present)
2012 Georgia State 1–10 1–7
Georgia State: 10–23
Total: 93–128–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

References[edit]

External links[edit]