Bill Curry Returns To Face Alabama

Long-time followers of Bill Curry on more than one occasion must have said, "What is he thinking about?" And that would be true today as the Social Security eligible Curry is head coach of a start-up football program at an Atlanta town school.

Bill Curry doesn't always do the expected. Alabama followers got a taste of that when Curry decided at the height of his popularity as head coach of the Crimson Tide to leave Bama for Kentucky. Alabama had just won the Southeastern Conference championship and played in the Sugar Bowl and Curry was national coach of the year. He headed off to a program that isn't quite a football wasteland, but, as the saying goes, you can see it from there.

At the end of the 1996 season, Curry was out at Kentucky, but into a comfortable briar patch. Curry had previously spent time as a television broadcaster, and he was a natural as a college football television analyst following his Kentucky coaching career.

But he couldn't stand being away from football, and when Georgia State in Atlanta finished a feasibility study on starting a program, Curry took over in 2008, even though the first game would not be played until this season.

Curry's only winning record as a head football coach was at Alabama (26-10 from 1987-89). He was 31-43-4 in his seven years at his alma mater, Georgia Tech (1980-86) and 26-52 in his seven years at Kentucky (1990-96). Now he's winning again as the Panthers are 6-4 with only one game to play.

That one game for Georgia State is Thursday night against Curry's former team, Alabama. Kickoff in Bryant-Denny Stadium will be at 6:30 p.m. CST with television coverage by ESPNU.

Alabama is also having a winning season, 8-2, and the Crimson Tide is ranked 10th in the nation. Bama, of course, is a prohibitive favorite to defeat Georgia State.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban has great admiration for Curry as a coach and as a person.

Saban took note of Georgia State being a first year program, but not looking like it.

"You wouldn't know it," Saban said of Georgia State being in its first year of football. "The team is very well coached. They've won six games. They don't look like they have any organizational issues. They do a lot of different things; they don't have a lot of penalties. They've been practicing for a long time.

"I think the issue is that they haven't been able to do the full body of work and recruit four or five recruiting classes to have maybe the numbers of players in depth, although I have a lot of respect for the players that they have playing.

"They play hard, they execute well, they've got some decent skill players on offense and they've scored 30 points a game versus who they play. They play quality football."

Saban and Curry don't have a deep personal history, but Saban has a strong opinion about the Georgia State coach.

"I think Bill Curry is a fantastic person," Saban said. "He's always, I think, been a class guy in everything that I've ever had any dealings with him, and he's always been very fair and honest with me. I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. When he was in broadcasting I got to visit with him on a few occasions, but I always felt like he did a great job when he was a coach. I always thought he was an outstanding, classy person with great character and has done a good job in everything that he's sort of tried to do. That's my impression of him."

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