ATHENS — Georgia’s newest student assistant coach could probably still kick a 40-yard field goal. Well, he might be able to if it wasn’t for the artificial hip he just had installed.
Kevin Butler, a former Chicago Bear and Georgia Bulldog who’s in the College Football Hall of Fame, is coaching the Bulldogs’ kickers and punters. Long a distant adviser for UGA kickers who cared to call and ask for his input, Butler is now fully sanctioned.
A student and player at Georgia from 1981-84, the 54-year-old Butler returned to school this fall to complete class requirements for his undergraduate degree. That fulfills the NCAA’s requirement for being an on-field assistant coach.
“He is an undergraduate student; he’s finishing up his degree, which allows him to help us,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I think it’s the greatest asset a first-year coach could have, especially with somebody like me who really has not dealt on the psychological side of kickers. Who better to have than one of the greatest ever to kick in the game.”
Butler has always made himself available to Georgia’s kickers who might want to pick his brain for advice. Blair Walsh and Marshall Morgan, most recently, often would utilize his knowledge of kicking on a personal basis. At the same time, Butler’s son Drew Butler was a punter for the Bulldogs.
NCAA rules eliminated the use of volunteer coaches in the 1990s, so Butler could never offer on-field instruction. Because of his class responsibilities and other personal duties, Butler is not at Georgia’s practices every day.
Butler is not the first to utilize the classroom as a way to help his alma mater. Bill Hartman Jr. was Georgia’s longtime volunteer kicking coach until the NCAA outlawed such positions in January of 1992. So Hartman, a 1938 UGA graduate, returned to school in his 80s to pursue a graduate degree.
Butler, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1985 and won a Super Bowl with them that year, never finished requirements for his undergraduate degree. The Duluth resident plans to now.
He did not return calls seeking comment, however. He, too, must adhere to Smart’s “one voice, one message” policy.
At Georgia, Butler was a three-time, first-team All-SEC selection. He left as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 353 points (122 PAT’s, 77 field goals). His 353 career points and 77 field goals are still second most in SEC history for career scoring by any player (kickers and non-kickers). He holds the school record for most field goals in a career (77) and longest field goal (60 yards). Set the NCAA record with 27 multiple field-goal games.
Butler has actually been helping the kickers since midway through preseason camp. But it wasn’t until former Bulldog and current ESPN/SEC Network college football analyst Matt Stinchcomb tweeted it on Tuesday that it drew any attention. Butler wears a wide-brim sun hat pulled low and sunglasses during the practices and the kickers are at the far end of the distant third field at the Club Sports Complex.
“Man y’all have been off your mark with that!” Smart said when he was finally asked about it after Tuesday’s practice.” I’ve been waiting on somebody to bring that all camp. We had bets on who it would be.”