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College football starts, stops, returns to Statesboro
Bulloch History

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.

Part 1

In 1924, the hiring of first head football coach, E.G. Cromartie, brought a collegiate football program to the students at the Georgia Normal School.  He was replaced in 1927 by head coach H.A. Woodle, who himself was replaced by head coach B.L. “Crook” Smith. His “Blue Tide” even played a football game in the then-unfinished stadium which has since become known as the “Orange Bowl” down in Miami, Florida. 

While the athletic programs at South Georgia Teachers College enjoyed some success, the involvement of America’s armed forces in World War II resulted in the discontinuation of all athletic programs at SGTC in December 1941. With the conclusion of the war, some sports programs were restarted, but not the football program.

In 1978, Dr. Dale W. Lick became the latest president of Georgia Southern College (the fifth name). In February 1980, Lick established a committee which eventually published a report entitled “Football at GSC: A Feasibility Study.” They recommended re-establishing a football program if the following conditions were met: if the program was financially affordable; if the college could come up with $250,000 in start-up costs; if the team played at the highest levels possible; if consultants were used to ensure all proper rules and regulations were followed in its establishment; and finally, if the program guaranteed that all NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) strictures were obeyed. 

On Jan. 19, 1981, the college hired Head Athletic Director Dr. David B. “Bucky” Wagner to oversee the program’s creation.

A group of local luminaries from Bulloch and the surrounding counties assembled to lend a hand getting the football program off the ground. Known locally as the “Dirty Dozen” (or DD), this group included Roy Akins, Al Burke, Hugh Colson, Jimmy DeLoach, Sammy Johnson, Robert Lamp, Morris Lupton, Donald Nesmith, Bobby Olliff, Frank Pearson, Ronnie Pope, Bobby Underwood, Si Waters and Bruce Yawn. 

Lupton, the founder of the “Time Savers” stores throughout the Southeast, took the lead in establishing business contacts all over the region. Ric Mandes (GSC Director of Institutional Develop-ment), Wagner, Lick and members of the DD went looking for potential sponsors and recruiting players at area high schools and colleges. 

On April 9, 1982, Lick and Wagner held a news conference to formally announce the start of the football program in the 1982-83 college year.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at

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