September 6, 1980. Herschel Walker introduces himself to Mr. Bill Bates and the rest of the Tennessee Volunteers. I was a youngster, living in Dublin, Georgia. To many people outside of Atlanta, especially those of us in small rural towns, Georgia football was everything. I’ve lived in large cities (Chicago, Atlanta), travelled all over the world, and to this day, I just don’t think people who haven’t lived in a small town can truly understand friday night high school football or how deeply the love of college football is ingrained into the psyche of small town life. In many communities across America football is everything.
Hershel Walker went to school in Johnson County, just a hop, jump, and skip from Dublin. Anyway, I don’t remember watching the game on television (perhaps it wasn’t televised)…what I remember is listening to Larry Munson announcing on the radio. That 1980 season, I don’t know, it just seems now in hindsight that somebody somewhere (maybe even up there) decided this was Vince Dooley’s year. So many important moments, but for most of us it started with the Tennessee game. Down 15-2 at half-time (and by the way, the legendary Johnny Majors was still head coach at Tennessee, with a younger Phil Fulmer as an assistant coach by his side), Vince Dooley brought the young freshman into the game. What followed was stunning and a precursor to the career of the finest running back of the modern college era.