James Wallace Butts was a native Georgian and a direct descendant of Captain Samuel Butts, for whom Butts County is named. During Coach Butts's first season as the Bulldogs' skipper in 1939, the Bulldogs were facing NYU in Yankee Stadium when New York Times sports editor Robert Kelley approached Athens Banner-Herald sports editor Dan Magill and asked, "What nationality is Coach Butts?" Perhaps for the first and last time in his storied career as the definitive source of data for all things Bulldog, Magill did not know the answer, so Atlanta Journal columnist Edwin "Ole Timer" Camp interjected, "Why, he's a Georgia Cracker---that's what nationality he is."
Camp was right. Coach Butts served the University of Georgia as an assistant coach, as head coach, and as athletic director. His 22 years at the helm of the Red and Black football program make him the Bulldogs' second longest-tenured coach, behind only Vince Dooley. Coach Butts trails only Coach Dooley in victories, as well; between 1939 and 1960, Wally Butts compiled a ledger of 140-86-9 that included four SEC championships, shares of a pair of national titles, and wins in the Oil, Orange, Rose, and Sugar Bowls. Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy called Wally Butts "one of the greatest coaches of all time" and praised the Red and Black headmaster for the "beautiful but deadly flow of pass patterns, sound execution of fundamentals, and . . . hard-nosed style of play" that typified his Georgia teams.
Coach Butts opened recruiting pipelines to Ohio and Pennsylvania (the latter with the help of Keystone State Coca-Cola bottler and former Red and Black player Harold Ketron) and he coached three of the four Georgia players whose jersey numbers are retired (Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich and Maxwell Award winner Charley Trippi among them), as well as "Peerless Pilot" Fran Tarkenton. Following his sudden death in 1973, Coach Butts was buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery, in the shadow of Sanford Stadium; prior to his passing, he had written weekly letters to Coach Dooley throughout the younger skipper's coaching tenure in Athens.
I mention such things about Wally Butts because he was born in Milledgeville on February 7, 1905 . . . 105 years ago today.
Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday, Bulldog Nation.