Hyosub Shin/AJC
Charley Trippi, shown here in 2007, didn't make it to the Rose Bowl or national title games, but he watched every play from his Georgia home.

Charley Trippi was with Bulldogs every step of way in College Football Playoff

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Did Charley Trippi make it to the championship game? What did he think of UGA’s two bowl games this year?

— Susan Davis

Thank you so very, very much, Ms. Davis, for sending in this question. It reminded me that I hadn’t followed up on that storyline from last season, and it also gave me a great excuse to talk to Charley and Peggy Trippi again. The last time I spoke to them was on the Sunday after the SEC Championship Game, after Georgia had learned that it would, in fact, play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1943, when Trippi did as a sophomore. His reaction was priceless!

As for attending the actual game, Trippi and his wife had every intention of doing so. Both UGA and the Rose Bowl invited the couple to travel with the Bulldogs to California, and they were offered free passage and lodging with the Georgia contingent, of course. When the invitation was extended, Trippi told his wife immediately, “Oh, boy, let’s pack!” Unfortunately, just a short time later, when Georgia was needing to firm up arrangements, Trippi had a change of heart. He came in from his daily routine of working in the yard and realized that such a journey would be too great. While he’s in better shape than most people his age — Trippi turned 96 on Dec. 14 — he thought better of undertaking the challenge. The Trippis also were invited to the National Championship Game against Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. And although that game meant a car ride instead of a cross-country airplane trip, again they turned down the invitation, mainly because of the late hour of kickoff.

“We were kindly invited to both,” Peggy Trippi said Thursday. “But it just wasn’t in the bag for us.”

But Charley Trippi watched every play of both games on television, according to his wife. And, as one might suspect, he was particularly thrilled with the Bulldogs improving to 2-0 in the Rose Bowl. “Oh, please, that was something!” Peggy Trippi said. “We enjoyed that one.”

They actually enjoyed the National Championship Game a week later, too, even though the Bulldogs lost to Alabama 26-23 in overtime. Peggy said her husband still watches games intently, but very much with a coach/athlete mentality.

“He watched every play, right here in our den,” Peggy said. “You know, he’s very calm and quiet. He’s kind of like, whatever happens, happens.”

Charley has a hard time hearing on the phone, as one might expect. But after Peggy relayed it to him, he was able to answer my question about the Bulldogs coming oh-so-close in the national title game.

“You know, they may have lost the game, but look what they’ve done in a year and a half!” Trippi said.

Added his wife, “He’s behind the team, I’ll tell you that.”

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