Georgia football’s original excitable boy, David Pollack, is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame for the second year in a row, it was announced this past week.
Frankly, I was surprised that Pollack, the most-decorated player in UGA football history, didn’t make it into the hall last year, on his first try.
Pollack, who played nonstop, like the Energizer Bunny, terrorized opposing offenses after switching from fullback to defensive end. He’s one of just two Bulldogs to be a three-time All-American (Herschel Walker is the other). He was the recipient of the esteemed Lombardi and Bednarik trophies, and was a two-time SEC defensive player of the year.
You might wonder whether the hall voters overlooked the current ESPN college football analyst because he didn’t have a long pro football career (due to a serious neck injury). But, as DawgNation’s Mike Griffith pointed out, college programs generally do not get players inducted into the hall in consecutive years, and former Georgia All-American offensive tackle Matt Stinchcomb was among the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame inductees.
I’ll be even more surprised if Pollack doesn’t get into the hall this time. But, a recent note in the Junkyard Mail from Blawg reader Buddy Johnson raised another question about Pollack — whether he should be included if you had to pick just four figures for a UGA athletics version of Mount Rushmore, the iconic Black Hills monument topped by four U.S. presidents.
Arguing over such lineups is common among sports fans, and I’ve lost count of how many “Rushmores” I’ve seen picked for various college and pro teams.
Johnson’s own choices for a UGA Mount Rushmore —Walker, Frank Sinkwich, Vince Dooley and Pollack — mirror the suggested lineup that CBS Sports came up with three years ago.
Walker, in fact, has been the single name included on every UGA Rushmore lineup I’ve ever seen. As CBS said: “Put simply, you cannot think of Georgia football without thinking of Herschel Walker. From his first season running over defenders to his Heisman Trophy reception, Walker left a mark on not only Georgia, but the SEC and all of college football.” He finished in the top three of the Heisman voting in each of his three seasons in Athens, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1999.
Dooley, of course, is a legendary coach (who is being rightfully honored this fall with his name going on the field at Sanford Stadium).
Sinkwich, Georgia’s other Heisman Trophy winner, led the nation in rushing in 1941, was a two-time consensus All-American, and was named SEC Player of the Year.
And then there’s Pollack. Georgia football’s all-time leader in quarterback sacks (36) and tackles for loss (58.5), he also has one of the most famous “interceptions” in SEC history on a play where he stripped the ball away in the end zone for a touchdown against South Carolina.
I know there are some UGA fans who don’t like the fact that Pollack doesn’t always pick the Dawgs in every game on his ESPN telecasts, but I respect the fact that he didn’t want to become a joke like Lou Holtz, who always picked his former teams, no matter who they were playing. It’s made Pollack a more credible voice.
Of course, listings like this are very subjective, and you could make a strong case for other UGA stars, including one of Sinkwich’s teammates on the 1942 national championship team, two-time All-American Charley Trippi, whose jersey number was retired by UGA (as were Sinkwich and Walker’s). After his Georgia career was interrupted by service in World War II, Trippi returned to the team and won the Maxwell Award in 1946, given to the most outstanding football player in the country. Trippi is in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and is regarded by many as the greatest all-around athlete ever to play at UGA. How do you leave him off?
Of course, there are other legendary UGA football players whose names deserve consideration if you’re playing the Mount Rushmore game, including three-way player Champ Bailey, who was in for more than 1,000 plays in the 1998 season, including more than 100 in seven different games, and won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s best defender.
And what about quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who went on to set lots of records in his lengthy NFL career? Or Georgia football’s defensive wild man, Jake Scott, who also had a great NFL career? And, about 10 years ago, I did a reader poll on UGA’s all-time best football player after Walker, and the winner was running back-quarterback-receiver Hines Ward, another longtime NFL star who won a Super Bowl MVP trophy.
There are other things to argue about. For many, including longtime head coach and athletic director Dooley on UGA’s Mount Rushmore is a no-brainer, but others would prefer to keep it to athletes. (You could always do a UGA Mount Rushmore featuring off-the-field figures, in which broadcaster Larry Munson and longtime tennis coach and all-round Dawg promoter Dan Magill could join Dooley and, say, Wally Butts in the lineup.)
Why just football?
Speaking of athletes, there are those of us who wonder why a UGA athletics Mount Rushmore should be limited just to football. Why not pick Georgia’s four all-time greatest athletes from any sport? And, if you do that, you have to consider some of UGA’s great female athletes, as well.
Can you really have a Bulldogs Rushmore without Dominique Wilkins, who was named SEC men’s basketball player of the year in 1981, and went on to be a nine-time NBA All-Star and one of the best dunkers ever, earning the nickname “The Human Highlight Film”?
And, if you’re expanding your view beyond football, you’ve got to include two-time All-American Teresa Edwards, who played in two NCAA women’s basketball Final Fours, and was a five-time Olympian, winning four gold medals (the first one while she was still a Lady Dog) and a bronze while playing for her country in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000. Sports Illustrated ranked her 22nd on its list of the 100 greatest female athletes of the 20th century.
Not far behind her, though, would be current Georgia gymnastics coach Courtney Kupets, the most honored and winningest collegiate gymnast ever, during her career with the Gym Dogs. She is the only gymnast to win the all-around and every individual event in NCAA competition, and is the all-time NCAA leader, with nine individual championships. She also won a silver team medal and an individual bronze at the 2004 Olympics.
You even might find a few folks who’d argue in favor of looking at the world of golf, where you’d have to consider two-time Masters champion (and former Dawg) Bubba Watson.
Heck, why limit UGA’s Mount Rushmore to just two-legged legends? My brother Tim and my daughter Olivia both suggested including Uga, named the nation’s best mascot by Sports Illustrated.
As Tim said, “He’s the face and tail of Georgia sports.”
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