A wheelbarrow full of fan fury
By By Buddy Bynum / editor
July 20, 2003
Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat just thinks he has it bad. Look at what's happening over in Georgia, where a controversy is brewing over sentiments that seem to run much deeper than changing a mascot.
As The Associated Press reported the other day from Atlanta, "Hundreds of growling mad Georgia Bulldog fans rallied at the state Capitol Tuesday, demanding the school president be fired for asking athletic director Vince Dooley to leave."
Earlier, about 200 Georgia fans marched outside the state Capitol to protest a decision by university president Michael Adams to dump Dooley when his contract expires next summer. Georgia hasn't seen this much excitement since Lester Maddox the ax-handle-wielding firebrand of redneck politics was elected governor.
The fans dressed in red and black and chanted Damn sorry Dog!'' about Adams. They delivered a wheelbarrow full of signatures to the Board of Regents office nearby.
What else can I say except, thanks, thanks, thanks and I love you, I love you, I love you,'' Dooley told several thousand at a Bulldog Club meeting, according to AP.
Dooley led Georgia to a national football championship in 1980 and was truly a great coach. His fans are obviously more loyal to him than CIA Director George Tenent is to President Bush.
One Georgia fan, identified as Billy Powell of Fort Valley, made the most pointed comments of the day, directed at Adams. He likened the university president to Satan.
He's a very egocentric and arrogant man,'' Powell told the crowd. Nothing but a demon from hell unleashed this controversy at the University of Georgia.''
Khayat may be criticized in some quarters for the decision to eliminate Col. Rebel from the sidelines of Ole Miss football games, but I haven't heard anyone liken him to Lucifer. The Ole Miss chancellor did write an editorial piece that ran in Mississippi newspapers explaining what the university is trying to accomplish with the mascot change. Nothing devilish in that, just an effort to move Ole Miss forward into the new century.
I'm on record as supporting the move to a new mascot at Ole Miss and, hey, if Vince Dooley retiring somehow helps Mississippi's two SEC universities beat the Georgia Dogs more often, then I'm for that, too.
What the Georgia episode says is that we care about college football in the South maybe even more than we care about academics. That's why athletic directors and football coaches are paid so much more than, say, English professors. And, we love the legendary characters like Dooley, or Bear Bryant or Johnny Vaught who have helped make college football what it is.
Legends die hard, and noisily, down here.
While the president of the University of Georgia is trying to get Vince Dooley off its campus, the former principal of Amite County High School apparently was trying to get some of his students onto college campuses. Trouble was, they may not have had the academic credentials.
According to AP, the Amite County School Board upheld the suspension of former high school principal Charlie Floyd, who was suspended without pay on Oct. 10 for allegedly changing grades in an attempt to help about 45 students attend a university. The story didn't say, but presumably, he was boosting their scores.
Isn't that sort of like, well, cheating?
Former schools superintendent Mary Russ also claimed that Floyd, the school's track coach, neglected his duties as full-time principal to pursue non-school activities and held track events for private groups on school property without fully explaining the events to the board.
School board attorney Cynthia Davis would not comment, except to say the school district had "complied with the statute and the letter decision has been delivered to Mr. Floyd." How many times have you heard a school board attorney say a district has never compiled with a statute and doesn't intend to?
Floyd denied any wrongdoing.