THE MAIL BOX: Was It Something I Said?

It appears that my Tuesday column entitled "Not Just A Rivalry But A Blood Feud" has rattled a few cages up in Athens. More than a few fans are several hours into the perpetual wedgie that won't go away. Was it something I said? Some of these very articulate fans have been kind enough to write. It's the least we can do to run a few of the ones that were reasonably devoid of four-letter words.

A Mr. GiveTheDawgABone from Athens wrote:

I am a veteran of the Army and I served proudly in Viet Nam. You have stooped to a real low by calling our 1942 team a bunch of draft dodgers and cowards. You should be ashamed of yourself for that. I know for a fact that there weren't any cowards on that team. This is a insult to all Georgia fans and all military veterans.

Mr. Bone: Before you go accusing me of calling people draft dodgers and cowards, let's take a moment to review a few facts. I know ... never let the facts get in the way of a good story but here the facts are essential. You'd know that if you really would READ what I wrote. Did I ever call them cowards or draft dodgers? I don't know of a single coward or draft dodger that played on that team. I do know that a lot of fine officers who served in both the Pacific and the European theaters were on that team. Now here's the part that you should have picked up. Coach Wally Butts had his football players sign up almost to a man for ROTC. Now, they didn't do the President Bubba thing and simply threaten to sign up, they actually signed up and did all the requirements to prepare for the military. While they were in college at the University of Georgia and while they were playing football in that 1942 season, they were actually training to be officers who would go on to lead our troops during World War II. I give a lot of credit to Wally Butts, the Georgia coach for getting those guys in ROTC because they later on became fine officers. It also served a dual purpose for a football coach because his team was preserved and he won the 1942 national championship.

A Mr. JK from Alpharetta wrote:

I think you made up all this stuff about Coach Butts and our 1942 team. I think you hate Georgia so much that you will stoop to any level to try to make us look bad. I hope we rip Florida's heads off and puke down their throats Saturday.

Mr. JK: During the years I've gone to Jacksonville (and Gainesville and Athens, too ... can't forget those two years when the game was on campus ... it was lovely between the hedges... were you there? I was) I've seen a lot of Georgia fans puking after games but I can't say I've seen anyone puke down a Gator's throat. Most of the time it's been in trash cans or in the bushes along the sidewalks leading to the stadium or in the case of this girl two years ago, in the St. John's River. She had two of her friends wrap their arms around her waist and she spent something like five minutes hurling into our pristine waters. As for the part about making it up about the 1942 team, I've done the research, read the books and I also had one of the truly great sources of all time tell me about what happened that year. My source? The late, great Gene Ellenson, a former great football player at the University of Georgia who became Florida's defensive coordinator under Ray Graves and later on, executive director of Gator Boosters. Now if you'll go to page 151 of your media guide, look under E and scan on down until you see Ellenson, Eugene, 1940-41-42. That means he played three years at Georgia. He was a starter on that 1942 team and he was in ROTC just like the rest of his teammates. Gene Ellenson went on to win two Silver Stars at the Battle of the Bulge with both of his medals pinned on his chest by none other than General George C. Patton. Gene Ellenson was one of the greatest GATORS ever. When he died his veins bled orange and blue, but back in 1942, he was a Poodle and a distinguished member of a national championship team.

A Mrs./Ms./Miss SANDI from Norcross wrote:

You have some nerve to insult Vince Dooley like you did. Vince Dooley is a great man and the greatest football coach ever at Georgia. The way you describe him, you would think he's an evil man. There is no proof anywhere that Vince Dooley ever did anything that you accuse him of doing. He was a man of great integrity that all Georgia fans owe a real debt of gratitude.

SANDI: You don't mind if I do this on a first-name basis since you didn't indicate whether you're a Mrs., Ms or a Miss do you? There is no doubt that Georgia fans think Vince Dooley could have succeeded Pope John Paul. After all, Vince is a card-carrying Catholic so there would have been no need to convert. I am also pretty sure Barbara Dooley thinks Vince is a hunk. I don't know that I'd call him evil, but I can say that there are a lot of facts which tend to show Vince in less than perfect light. To those who think Vince was the greatest of the greats, all I only have two names to throw at you: Jan Kemp and Jim Harrick. Oh, I could do more, but you'd accuse me of slandering Vince and defaming him. I don't have to do that. Actually, all I have to say is Jan Kemp. You remember her don't you? She got fired from her position as an English professor at Georgia because she wouldn't toe Vince's line and give passing grades to all the athletes, but particularly the football players. She sued, won a million dollar-plus judgment and your president, Fred Davison, resigned in humiliation. Funny, but Vince didn't lose his job. Georgia fans wouldn't stand for their athletic director to lose his job, especially since the football team which he was coaching was doing so well. So when I hear anyone use the words Vince Dooley and integrity in the same sentence, pardon me if I can't restrain my laughter.

A Mr. BigDogBites from Atlanta wrote:

You trash our great team in 1942 and you call them draft dodgers. You're just jealous because they were so good and beat Florida 75-0. You call the greatest coach we ever had a scumbag. You tarnish the name of that great 1980 team with your lies about Georgia and the NCAA. Shouldn't you look in the mirror first or do you remember that Florida was such a s*%#thole of corruption and probably still is? Or have you forgotten Charley Pell?

Mr. Bites: Please read my response to The Boner. I never called them draft dodgers. They were in ROTC. They beat Florida 75-0. You have that right. Now let me tell you why I'm so perturbed. I'm not the least bit bothered by the fact those football players were in ROTC and Florida's football team had volunteered almost en masse for the military right after Pearl Harbor. Wally Butts should be commended for getting those guys in officer training and it certainly helped his football team, didn't it? What irks me is that in the fourth quarter, against a team that had players who couldn't have even made the Florida practice squad the year, Butts had the starters in the game with a 60-plus point lead in the fourth quarter. I know because Gene Ellenson, one of the starters on that team, told me. Okay, I'll agree that Vince was the greatest coach you ever had, but show me where I called him a scumbag? Maybe I implied that he was, and that might be a good word to actually describe him but it's not one I actually used. You can go to the NCAA website and you'll find that on January 4, 1985, Georgia lost scholarships and had three coaches placed on notice and recruiting restriction by the NCAA for improper aid and transportation, extra benefits and improper recruiting contacts. All these violations were during the Herschel Walker era. There was a widespread rumor for years that Vince Dooley personally intervened with the NCAA committee and stopped the investigation in its tracks. In those days, as the television committee chairman, only Walter Byers was more powerful at the NCAA than Vince. Florida paid the price for its transgressions many times over. As for Charley Pell, all I can say is look at his legacy with former players. Look how many of them got their degrees compared to how FEW got theirs when Vince was at Georgia. Please check those graduation numbers for the era when Vince was the football coach and the words "how low can you go" probably describe them best. Also, thanks to Charley Pell organizing Florida's boosters, the Gators are unquestionably the richest, best funded athletic program in the Southeastern Conference.

A Mr. RGS from Savannah wrote:

You haven't changed from the days when you wrote for the Savannah News-Press. You're still the biggest Gator homer going. You hated Vince Dooley back then and you still hate him now.

Mr. RGS: You haven't seen me in years so I appreciate the compliment. I don't have nearly as much hair as I used to have back in those days and it's been a long time since I could fit into a pair of slacks with a 32-inch waistline. So see? I have changed. Now, as for Dooley, hate probably takes it a bit to an extreme. Let's just say I hold him beneath contempt and leave it at that. You're right about two things, though. I still love the Gators and can't for the life of me figure out why anyone with a reasonable mind would be anything else. When it comes to Dooley, you're 100 percent correct to say I didn't like him then but it would be safer to say that I like him even less now.

A Mr. DostaDawg87 from Valdosta wrote:

You can't handle it that Georgia's better in football and better in all sports than your Gators, can you? All you can do is insult our great athletic program and all our great coaches. Remember Charley Pell? We do. The Gaytors are still the wannabes in the SEC. They still lick our butts.

Mr. Poodleboy: I couldn't resist. You call us Gaytors, I'm calling you Poodleboy. Let's start with the fact that only UCLA and Florida have been in the top ten of the Sears Cup every year for the last 20. Can Georgia say that? Nope. So much for the better athletic program. Football? Let's see, you've won how many conference and national championships since Herschel Walker graduated? One and none's the answer there. Florida has a national championship and seven SEC championships in that same time. What's that record against Florida the last 15 years? Two wins, 13 losses. So much for football. Charley Pell? Well, we did our time in the NCAA jail. Georgia's been on NCAA probation for football (1997) and basketball (2004) since then and we can't forget your gymnastics coach, Suzanne Yoculan, who was sanctioned last year for paying for her gymnasts to go to New York City on a shopping spree (you could look it up). In typical Poodle fashion, Suzanne said she didn't even know it was a violation. Well, Poodleboy, since 1990, every school in the SEC has gone on probation at least once in at least once sport ... well, everyone but Florida, which runs the cleanest program in the SEC and as clean a program as there is in the SEC.

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