Bill Curry has many stories to tell from his days as a two-time former Pro Bowl center who played on three NFL championship teams in Green Bay and Baltimore, or from a coaching career that included stops at Alabama and Georgia Tech, where he was coach of the year in the SEC and ACC.
But before retiring in 2012, Curry, 71, spent the final five seasons of his career at Georgia State, where he was the Panthers coach in their inaugural season of 2010.
Curry, who spoke Thursday at the Charlotte Touchdown Clubs monthly luncheon, talked to the Observers David Scott about the challenges of starting a football program and what the Charlotte 49ers who are in their first year of football are facing as they move forward.
Q. What were the biggest challenges you faced starting a program at Georgia State?
There were so many distractions. We didnt have a field, a locker room, an office, or even a chin strap. Im not complaining, but no one can tell you what its going to be like. Youre making those decisions and thats a condition of your continuing employment.
Q. Anything you would have done differently?
I would have spent more time with the student body, talking to them about what it is to have a team, whats expected. If necessary, go into the dorms. I would have paid a lot more attention to the human beings involved students and student-athletes. Thats as important as what kind of equipment you buy.
Q. Georgia State played at Alabama that first year , the kind of game Charlotte isnt playing. Was that game (a 63-7 Alabama victory) good or bad for the program?
It was good! I had guys running up to me with tears in their eyes, saying thanks for bringing us here to play. They wanted to play against those guys. Now if youre scared, thats a bad sign. But we needed the money, too.
Q. What has football done for Georgia State?
Weve got a great band. Weve got a fight song. We have an identity. Try and get people to come back to downtown Atlanta for a physics symposium. We have a great physics department, but youre not going to get 20,000 people to come for that. They will for a dumb football game. If youve got a team that tries hard against a decent opponent, theyll come. Our chancellor told me when he got there that everywhere he looked in Atlanta, there was Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Auburn stuff. Now all you see is blue.
Q. Georgia State and Charlotte are both moving quickly from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivisions. Good idea?
Georgia State has moved up way too fast. This league theyre going into, the Sun Belt, is way too much. But well play because we can. We had no choice but to move up fast. (Charlottes move to Conference USA) is going to be a trip. It wont be easy. But we live in America, the land of doing it fast, the quick fix, do it now. We should have waited 12 years to do it at Georgia State, gotten used to winning first. But we dont get to do that.
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