Item No. 1 is to give a congratulations to the 2019 Colquitt County High football team for its accomplishments in the first season under coach Justin Rogers. Records were set, records were chased, and major caliber competition went down in defeat. The Packers beat some impressive teams in Class 7A but also fell to some impressive teams in Class 7A. No shame in that.
The page now turns to the 2020 season, and perhaps the real work for Rogers in this new job begins (recall what was said about this year’s senior starters in the Nov. 24 game story). We should all pledge our continued support of this program as it moves forward and show that same support to the other Packer teams competing hard the rest of this school year. We did a good job so far with the softball team and its historic Elite 8 run.
Item No. 2: As the Georgia Bulldogs head to the Southeastern Conference championship football game, I am reminded of what all made this university special over the years.
Do you know who is considered, “The Greatest (Georgia) Bulldog Ever?”
Well, no, it’s not somebody who only had a three-year athletic career in Athens, although it was one of the best in college football’s 150-year history. No, it’s not the one who coached said super-athlete and put together a national championship run still talked about today. No, it’s not the one who told us what a hobnail boot is or saw sugar falling from the sky.
This distinction goes to one Dan McGill. His was a two-fold influence on UGA athletics, one as a tennis coach. His name adorns the tennis complex on campus, and many an NCAA championship’s been decided there. McGill’s other mark was made in the sports information office. He ran the press box at Sanford Stadium for years and years.
All together, McGill gave 60 of his 93 years to Bulldog athletics. Yes, even as a teenager McGill was a batboy for the baseball team, and he attended the Grady College of Journalism. Oh, he did a third major achievement there, founding the Georgia Bulldog Club.
This is not a tribute to McGill, but an attempt to create some perspective on my real topic of interest here. While McGill is the greatest UGA representative ever, one could argue the greatest Bulldog football supporter ever south of Athens is Moultrie’s own Murray Poole.
In the Nov. 24 edition of the The Moultrie Observer, you will see coverage of a tribute the University of Georgia Athletic Association gave Poole the Monday before Saturday’s final home game of the season. Poole, in his job of 40 years as a sports editor in Brunswick, was a presence covering Georgia football live. Upon retirement, Poole continued to report on the games of his alma mater for 14 more years through Bulldawg Illustrated, a publication also produced in Brunswick.
At some point in 2019, Poole decided it was time to stop spending the fall analyzing players and match-ups, but was going to give it one more ride. That ride will soon be over, and last Saturday’s was his final home game to observe at Sanford Stadium (ironically, this is the first year it is also called Vince Dooley Field).
He’s got one more trip to Georgia Tech this weekend, and he will try to pull out a victory in that SEC title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 7. From there, who knows …
Poole is as close to a mentor as I have in this sports journalism business, he giving me my first real newsroom experience as an intern in the early 1990s. Much of my game-note taking style was patterned after his, and we remained in contact for those first six years when I worked in nearby Jesup.
Loran Smith, another major contributing legend to the UGA universe with numerous wonderfully written pieces and radio work, did a wonderful piece about Poole and his career. It wasn’t just about the Bulldogs; he gave the local scene in Glynn County his full attention and achieved icon, not to mention Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame, status.
It’s even more of a special time for Poole, as he and Mrs. Barbara Poole celebrated their 50th anniversary. And, Smith’s article was in the program for the Texas A&M game. And, the school recognized him further at halftime with his picture on the big jumbotron. I hear, straight from the horse’s mouth, that he missed it “running my mouth in another part of the pressbox. LOL.”
As part of this farewell tour, the producers of Bulldawg Illustrated asked Poole to do a series on his favorite coverage assignments. He picked 15, and No. 2 is in this week’s edition (bulldawgillustrated.com).
The list doesn’t only contain football games. He’s been to The Masters at Augusta National, Atlanta Braves World Series games, an Ali-Frazier boxing match on closed-circuit TV in Brunswick (the details he could remember, very impressive), and the final (yes) high school football game of Hershel Walker’s career, a state championship game in Johnson County. And Smith’s article talks about Poole’s chance to meet boyhood idol Mickey Mantle at a local golf club.
No. 3 on the list was Georgia-Florida 1980. He concluded the column with a transcript of Larry Munson’s call on the Belue-to-Scott miracle game-winning touchdown pass.
Well, several years ago we are at a function at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon. One of the Hall’s neat features allows you to watch a great moment in state history, hold a microphone and read the broadcast call. Then it plays it back with your recording. You can do Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, Larry Mize’s winning chip at the Masters or Belue-to-Scott.
Poole chose the latter. If you know him, he didn’t quite reach Munson’s level of vocal intensity, but at least he didn’t break a chair. Hard to do when you are standing up.
All I can say these are good footsteps to follow. It’s 54 seasons for Poole covering Georgia football in some capacity. I am past the halfway mark on that number having just covered 28 high school football seasons so far. But being halfway past as good and dedicated to this craft as Murray Poole, probably not.
By the way, Poole is still a big supporter of his hometown Packers. Long before Colquitt County was in my radar as a future home, I remember him talking about how Colquitt lost a championship game in Moultrie in such heartbreaking fashion that the tears were flowing everywhere.