Why I Don't Want to See "Jim Donnan" and "Georgia Bulldogs" in the Same Story Ever Again

I’m glad I wasn’t drinking while I was reading, or else I would have done a spit-take when I read this:

Former UGA head coach Jim Donnan and former QB Quincy Carter will always be tied together in my mind -- perhaps ever more so because of the role a game against South Carolina arguably played in altering their careers. It was, after all, the 21-10 debacle in Columbia in 2000 that was the beginning of the end for Donnan and the effective end of Carter's Heisman campaign after his five interceptions contributed mightily to the Dawgs' loss.

There is no connection anymore, a point emphasized Tuesday, when Donnan was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and Carter was arrested, again, this time for violating his probation.

I attended the 2000 Georgia-South Carolina game, which remains to this day my single worst sports-related experience ever. I was in the upper deck of Williams-Brice Stadium that day and I will never return to that accursed arena ever again for the rest of my life. (Since 1988, the ‘Dawgs have gone 7-2 in Columbia, posting a 7-0 record in games I did not attend and an 0-2 ledger in contests for which I was present on the premises.)

The ongoing embarrassment of Quincy Carter’s slow slide into drug-fueled self-destruction has long since ceased to be anything other than an infuriating waste of human potential, even for those of us who believe the former Georgia quarterback was the greatest prank Georgia Tech ever played on us. However, the idea of Jim Donnan going into the College Football Hall of Fame simply makes me want to puke.

Admittedly, my nausea was assuaged somewhat by this passage from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article linked to in the above excerpt:

He will be inducted this summer as a member of the Hall’s "divisional" class, which includes players and coaches from NCAA divisions I-AA, II and III and the NAIA. He was considered in that class because he spent more years as head coach at Marshall, which was then I-AA, than at Georgia.

All right, that counts for something, because I’m glad to know Coach Donnan’s years in Athens had nothing to do with his induction, but what is it with that namby-pamby nonsense that it was "because he spent more years as head coach at Marshall . . . than at Georgia"? Might it have had a bit more to do with the fact that he regularly contended for national championships with the Thundering Herd and guided the Bulldogs to little better than mediocrity?

I also have a problem with some of Coach Donnan’s remarks upon learning of the honor:

It’s a testimony to all the good players we had. We had a good run up there at Marshall, and we did some good things [at Georgia]. . . .

Coach [Mark] Richt has gone on and taken it to another level, but I feel like we came into a program that was on probation and got it started.

What, precisely, are the "good things" Coach Donnan believes he did, and how do they overcome his having gone 2-3 against Auburn, 1-4 against Florida, 2-3 against Georgia Tech, and 1-4 against Tennessee?

What, exactly, is the significance of the fact that Georgia "was on probation" when Coach Donnan arrived in the Classic City? Other S.E.C. coaches of that era overcame much worse penalties imposed by the N.C.A.A. (Terry Bowden at Auburn and Tommy Tuberville at Ole Miss spring to mind) and the Ray Goff-era probation was not of the major variety that deprived the Bulldogs of the opportunity to appear on television, accept bowl invitations, or be eligible for the conference championship.

What, specifically, did Coach Donnan get started? It wasn’t the Red and Black’s penchant for sending players to the N.F.L. (as evidenced by Coach Goff’s 1992 Bulldog squad), or for failing to achieve greatly with vast quantities of talent (also as evidenced by Coach Goff’s 1992 Bulldog squad). It seems to me that everything Coach Donnan started was something Mark Richt had to fix, whether it was running off Carter, booting Jasper Sanks off the team, implementing meaningful player discipline, instituting mat drills, halting the losing streak to the Yellow Jackets, or winning games consistently against meaningful opposition.

As a full-throated supporter of the man during his five-year tenure as caretaker of my alma mater’s football program, I come by my low opinion of Jim Donnan’s poor stewardship honestly. I may be the only Georgia fan you will ever encounter who had a personal conversation with Coach Donnan which was anything other than wholly unpleasant. I defended the man for as long as it was possible to defend him.

Accordingly, I feel justified in saying that, aside from redshirting David Greene, Jim Donnan made few, if any, contributions to Georgia football which were both enduring and valuable. I congratulate the man on the recognition he has been given for his years at Marshall, but there is nothing he has to say about the Bulldogs that I have any interest in hearing. Ray Goff, despite his failures as a head coach, was and always will be one of us. Jim Donnan was a bad hire from someplace else whose continued association with Georgia football in any way, shape, form, or fashion I consider unwelcome, and, frankly, I’d just as soon not have his name come up around here any more.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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