Lamb family tree all football

ATHENS - A few years back, 11-year-old Taylor Lamb decided he didn't want to dress up like a football player for Halloween anymore.

"He's like, ‘I'm going to dress up like my dad,'" said Bobby Lamb, Taylor's dad and the head coach at Furman.

So for the last several years, residents of Greenville, S.C., have seen a small boy with a collared shirt and a cap come to their door seeking candy. And that's as sure a sign as any that the Lamb coaching tree is going to branch out again.

Bobby is the son of Ray Lamb, a longtime Georgia high school coach and now Mark Richt's coordinator of high school relations at the University of Georgia. Ray Lamb's only other son, Hal, is the head coach at Calhoun High School, where Hal's son Tre is a backup wide receiver and quarterback and another coach in the making.

"Oh yeah," he wants to be a coach, Hal Lamb said. "He's very smart so we try to talk him out of it, but he obviously wants to do that." It's easy to see why Tre and Taylor want to be football coaches. It must seem like the best gig in the world from their point of view. That's because things are going well in the Lamb family. Georgia, where Ray helps keep tight the ties that bind recruiting classes, is 7-1 and ranked No. 11 in the country; Furman is 7-1 and No. 1 in Division I-AA, and Hal's Yellow Jackets are 10-0 heading into the state playoffs this weekend.

"When all of us are having good seasons, it makes Christmas go a lot better," Hal said.

Speaking of Christmas, Linda Lamb can remember a Christmas seven years ago when Hal bought his daughter a chalkboard and her husband and sons spent half the night drawing up Xs and Os before finally wrapping the gift. Lamb's daughter Lynn couldn't escape her lineage either. She's married to Michael Davis, Hal's offensive coordinator at Calhoun.

"I tell everybody we're like the Bowdens, but the decimal point is not on the same spot in the paycheck," Bobby said.

Ray Lamb was born in Louisville in 1936 to a mother who would lose her husband to a heart attack six months later. Lamb and his four brothers and sister survived on welfare and the farming sustenance their mother could put together, and sports at the nearby school were their only affordable options for entertainment.

Lamb endedup as Louisville Academy's quarterback and went on to play at Middle Georgia Junior College in Cochran and then Tennessee-Wesleyan, where he was named to the school's hall of fame.

"I was always around the school and into sports," he said. "I just felt like I always wanted to coach."

That desire turned into a 35-year prep coaching career and three state championships. Two of his state titles came in his first six years as a head coach, at Warren County High School, and the other came at Commerce High School, where he spent 22 seasons.

Bobby was a senior and Hal a junior on the Commerce team that went all the way.

"Ray would have coached for a quarter a day," Linda Lamb said. "He just loved it. I think they just saw how happy he was, and they wanted to do the same thing."

Life was good growing up the coach's kid when the coach was always winning, both sons said.

"It was a great experience for both of us," Bobby said. "The best thing about growing up was we were always the most popular kids in the school just because we had the keys to the gym."

Linda Lamb tried to talk to her sons out of the coaching, but it was no use.

"I said, ‘Listen fellas there's a lot more money and a lot more things you can be doing,' but they're real happy, and that's all I care about," she said. "They love coaching, and they got it honest."

Ray Lamb, who was hired at Georgia in 1993, and his wife see every Calhoun game that coincides with a Bulldog home game or open date, and Ray has even made it to three Furman games this year. He enjoyed watching his sons play football more than he does watching them coach it, he said.

"I second-guess them too much," he said.

When he watches the Paladins throw the ball over the field, the old wishbone coach still cringes a little, he admitted.

"He's kind of an after-the-fact guy," Hal said. "He's going to tell you what you should have done there and should have done here."

Hal and Bobby, who never coached for their father, talk at least once a day but rarely about their own teams. It's usually about the Bulldogs or Falcons or Braves.

"It's always sports-oriented for sure," Bobby said.

All the sports talk hasn't driven Linda Lamb crazy yet. In fact, she's usually right in the middle of it. The surest sign that she's a football fan?

"She never met a referee she liked, I can tell you that," Bobby said.

Linda and Ray's relationship even survived a near-catastrophe brought on by the sport. In his first year as a head coach and unfamiliar with the state playoff setup, Lamb scheduled his wedding for the weekend after the regular season ended. Warren County went into its final game 8-1, and a win over perennial power Lincoln County would mean a trip to the state playoffs.

"If we win the game, I've got to postpone the wedding," Lamb said.

Lincoln County won 16-13, and, in another measure of Linda Lamb's devotion to the sport and her family, she was upset.

"I'm up in the stands saying, ‘Go. Oh dear lord, what am I going to do? I want to win, but what am I going to do?'" she said. "Deep down I was (hoping to win). I figured I'd figure it out one way or another."

With that kind of raising, how could the Lamb boys have turned out any differently?

"It's in our blood," Hal said.

The Lambs

Father: Ray, 69

Sons: Bobby, 42 (Coach at Furman University); Hal, 41 (Coach at Calhoun High School)

Daughter: Lynn (Married to Calhoun assistant coach Michael Davis)

FYI: Ray, Bobby and Hal each are in their college's hall of fame as players, Ray at Tennessee-Wesleyan, Bobby at Furman and Hal at West Georgia. (Davis also is in the West Georgia Hall of Fame.) ... Hal Lamb is a 2-handicap golfer and once scored 52 points in a high school basketball playoff game, but he's the less outgoing of the brothers, his dad says. "I told Hal his TV show reminds me of Mark Richt's," Ray said. ... Lynn Davis played collegiate tennis for two years at Truett-McConnell College.

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