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My Take 5/17 - Sills, Eagle Club want Erk statue

Lots of former coaches have one.

Heck, Joe Paterno and Nick Saban have one, and they ’re both still coaching.

In fact, Saban got one in Tuscaloosa, Ala., less than five years after he got done telling everybody in Miami, "I’m not going to be Alabama’s coach."

They’re life-size statues, and when you look around the college football landscape, they’re reserved for a very short, elite, iconic list of coaches.

One man decided it was time Erk Russell had one.

Derek Sills, a resident of Liberty County and the president of the Coastal Eagle Club in Midway, started "The Erk Russell Project" to collect the funds to make it happen at Paulson Stadium.

Coastal Courier sports editor Patty Leon filled me in on Sills and the Erk Russell Project on Monday, and my reaction was probably similar to yours if you haven’t already heard about this cause.

I gave myself a nice, hard facepalm and thought, "Why hasn’t this happened already?"

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Statesboro community and the Eagle Football Players Association stepped up big time when the bust of Erk Russell was commissioned, crafted by GSU art professor emeritus Pat Steadman and placed in Paulson Stadium.

When the Eagles head-butt that bust before every home game, it is hands-down one of the most unique and touching traditions in college football.

But that’s just it. The bust of Erk Russell on the turf in Paulson is for the team.

What about the fans?

Sills has planned activities to raise the money for the project, and is basically asking for anybody in the Eagle Nation to contribute to make it happen.

When this thing gets done, it will have been built by the Eagle Nation, for the Eagle Nation.

And of course, for Erk.

According to Leon, Sills has already received donations from Vince Dooley, Tony Barnhart and GSU president Dr. Brooks Keel.

And knowing how this community feels about Erk Russell, there’s more where that came from.

Erk built the program from scratch, turned it into a winner and capped it all off with a perfect season.

He lived out the rest of his life by touching GSU players and fans everywhere.

His name was enshrined on the press box at Paulson with his three national championships. His bust overlooks the field.

The next logical step is to erect a statue for everybody at Paulson Stadium to enjoy.

Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

Pig-Paddy Party
• May 27
• Benefits cost of Erk statue
• $20 per ticket
• $5000 prize
• GSU coaching staff on hand
• Contact Derek Sills, (912) 408-6521
Other ways to donate
• Mail check to 170 Bluff Creek Dr., Midway, GA,31320.
• Mention Erk project in memo line, make payable to Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation