Leaving Out the National Titles

ATHENS - Most people never win a national title. Dan Magill won two, and those two national titles might be considered the least of his accomplishments at Georgia.

That the national titles are not the lead of the story written about Magill isn't the stunning part - everything else that he did is. If you are going to Georgia’s season opener against Clemson on Saturday take a look around at everything and know that Magill, who will live on forever thanks to his coaching, writing and whit, had a hand in virtually everything you see.

See the chain gang on the sideline? Magill did that.

See the program Boy Scouts are hawking before the game? Magill wrote that.

See the game on TV? Magill was one of the major reasons why college football games are on TV these days.

Magill, who was a legend in Athens, saw the future of college athletics after the he returned from service in the Marines. It may have been that he just loved “Georgia” more than anyone else, or that he was smart enough to realize that people would like what they would see if they heard about it enough. Either way, Magill relentlessly promoted Georgia and its athletes with the same passion that he organized its booster base.

In the 1950s Magill was ahead of his time in traveling the state and forming the Georgia Bulldog Club, which provided scholarships to athletes at Georgia. He made certain that Georgia wouldn't turn out to be what Tulane is today.

He harnessed the power of passion in a fan base - and did it not just for his sport, but all of the sports at Georgia. Football is king in the South… that’s not new. But Golf, Tennis, Swimming and Diving and Gymnastics have been and continue to be national powers, and that’s because Magill understood that John Isner worked just as hard as Matthew Stafford did.

I didn’t know Dan Magill. I played in his Crackerland Tennis Tournament once in Athens. I managed, somehow, to play on center court, so that’s pretty cool. But what I always think about when I think about Magill is how much he loved to tell stories about the 1946 Sugar Bowl, or the Rose Bowl or Fran Tarkington or someone else from back in the day.

It influenced one of my group’s favorite inside jokes: Dan Magill’s Great Gatsby voice.

We love to joke around in our Dan Magill voice - a high-pitched tone full of enthusiasm and sounding like character out of “The Great Gatsby” - about the 1942 Georgia Bulldogs and their journey to California to play in the Rose Bowl.

“There goes Charlie Trippi!”

Dan Magill was a legend. Loran Smith is a legend. Claude Felton is, too. But Magill seemingly set that duo up for everything they have accomplished. Magill was alone and did everything he did before TV; before 93,000-seat stadiums existed (“EXCEPT AT THE FABULOUS ROSE BOWL IN BEAUTIFUL PASADENA, CALIFORNIA!!!!!”); before the Internet; before cell phones; before rotary phones; before interstates.

And before interstates it must have been tough to get from Athens to Moultrie and Columbus, but Magill did it. He did so because he loved something that was bigger than himself - Georgia.

Yes, he gave Georgia two national titles, but he did so much more.

So I will give him one on his way to the Hedges in the sky; This is one for you Coach Magill

Georgia owns a 64-37-5 record over Georgia Tech - Take that Jackets.

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