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Lessons from legends

Published: Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 13:11


Georgia State Sports Communications


Curry in his first year as a Green Bay Packer.


Bill Curry standing along side former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd.


Previous 3 photos courtesy of Bill Curry

Curry on his first day of coaching the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

In 1980 the Empire struck back, Dustin Hoffman finally "graduated" to an Academy Award, and 3-M gave the world Post-It Notes. In Atlanta, Ted Turner introduced CNN, the first all-news network, while William B. Harts­field International Airport opened. Ronald Reagan ousted incumbent Jimmy Carter from office, and a college dropout named Bill Gates signed a deal with IBM.

It was also a year for war. In the mountains of Afghanistan and in the oil fields of Iraq and Iran, there was war. In Lake Placid, N.Y., the true "Cold War" was being waged, as the U.S. men's hockey team collided with the Soviet Union in the Winter Olympics. But there was another war in 1980, another "miracle," when Dan Devine led his No.1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish into battle with the Yellow Jackets at Grant Field in Atlanta on Nov. 8. First-year head coach Bill Curry was there to greet them.

Badgett taught toughness

"Football is just life marked off in 100 yards, men," Bill Badgett would repeat over and over again to his players at College Park High School in Atlanta. Among them was Bill Curry.

"His [Badgett's] biggest contribution was pure physical toughness and he forced us to de­cide whether or not we were going to be physi­cally aggressive football players," Curry said. "And you can't play this sport without being ag­gressive. It is a hostile, almost jungle-like envi­ronment on the field. You either hit or you get hit, every play."

It certainly was a jungle-like environment on that warm November day. Curry's record with the Yellow Jackets was 1-7, and with No. 1 Notre Dame coming to town, things weren't getting any easier. But it was a new day, with another 100 yards on which Curry and his men would make a stand.

Notre Dame's vaunted offense was averaging more than 28 points per game, and their defense was ranked sixth in the na­tion after shutting out Navy 33-0 the week be­fore.

For Tech fans, the outlook was bleak. For the men on the field, one ray of hope was the return of starting quar­terback Mike Kelley, who had missed time with an injury.

"What we tried to do every week was to have the men believe that we could actu­ally win that game," Curry said. "Now we would have to do certain things, and we'd have to force certain errors. But if we did that, we'd have a chance to prevail in that game."

Dodd preached field position

Coach Curry was well known at Georgia Tech, even before his head coaching position. He attended Tech and played for the legendary Bobby Dodd.

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