Would DawgNation pay money to hear Scott Woerner speak? Yes, they would.
His words crystallize a football life spent during the true glory days at UGA. He was named an All-American in 1980. That’s the program’s last national title. Maybe if sports-talk radio was as prevalent back then, the callers would pine for more diversity on offense.
“For me, when we won the national championship I won the lottery,” Woerner said. “It has been that much fun for the last 35 or 40 years.”
He shared one moment that might sum up everything a man could ask for in football.
“The best was standing on the sidelines with a Notre Dame football under your arm and my sweetie who wound up being my wife standing with me,” Woerner said. “We’re around all these people pounding you and slapping you on the back. It is over. You’ve completed an undefeated season. It does not get any better than that.”
If Woerner could replay two minutes of his life on an endless loop, he’d think about that.
“I would re-play that one,” he said. “At least for a good little while.”
He describes a recruiting culture in his day that sounds like the stuff that caused SMU’s program to receive the death penalty. His father kicked the coaches from one SEC West team out of the house.
“That’s because of a nice automobile,” Woerner said. “They had a picture of it. They said if I came to play there, I’d be driving one just like that.”
Another SEC East team pointed out the window on a car trip. They pointed at the car “in so many words” he would be driving if he joined that program.
“I would venture that those things happened everywhere,” he said. “I’m not naive and stupid. I never saw anything like that at Georgia, but I can’t say for sure it never happened. I saw it at a lot of other places.”
It was 1977. There were piranhas at the athletic dorm at Tennessee and some SEC recruiters belonged in that fish tank, too. Recruits would throw bubble gum into that tank just to see what they could do.
How did he wind up playing for UGA? That’s quite a story, too.
“I played for Weyman Sellers,” Woerner said. “The greatest coach in the history of high school football. He was the captain (at Georgia) of the 1949 team.”
Woerner said he got his offer from UGA as a senior. He played at Jonesboro High School in Georgia, but there was no doubt he was going to the University of Texas.
“We were born in Texas,” Woerner said. “My big brother and I were born in Texas. I was going to the University of Texas. I just kind of liked the idea of playing for Darrell Royal. I was out there for the Arkansas-Texas game the night he and (Arkansas) coach Frank Broyles both resigned.”
He said if Royal had not resigned he would have likely been playing quarterback at Texas instead of snatching interceptions and returning punts at UGA. Woerner committed to UGA the weekend after Royal made that announcement.
“The only place I liked as much as Texas that had the same amount of integrity to me was at Georgia with Vince Dooley,” Woerner said.
Woerner recalls Alabama legend Mal Moore sitting in his living room with a 16mm film projector. Moore said if he came to Alabama, he would play quarterback and point to the screen. He’d run the wishbone just like that. Moore spent 90 minutes on his pitch.
“He was some kind of class act,” Woerner said.
But there was no way Woerner was going to Alabama.
“Daddy hated Bear Bryant,” Woerner said. “Daddy had a bunch of people who were at Texas A&M when Bryant was there. That was all that ‘Railroad Boys’ and ‘Junction Boys’ stuff.”
UGA did not recruit him at quarterback, but just as a football player. But he did start out in the backfield.
“I pulled a muscle and the next thing I know Coach (Vince) Dooley walks up and says ‘How do you feel about playing defense for us?,’’ Woerner said. “I told him that I just wanted to play,”
That was three weeks into his freshman season. He never saw the offensive backfield again.
“I didn’t make a deal about it,” Woerner said. “I didn’t care. It was still a game. I was fortunate enough to play anything. I was going to play wherever they let me play and I was going to have a great time doing it.”
That’s was how Woerner was able to extend his career playing at safety and linebacker in the United States Football League.
What was sports nutrition like back then? No such thing.
“Did you ever go to McWhorter Hall back in the day?” Woerner said. “It was just grab it and growl. We basically had all the milk we could drink.”
Lots of things were different.
“The guys that play at Georgia now,” Woerner said. “They couldn’t have played at Georgia back then. They would not be tough enough under the coaches and the beatings. We used to beat the scout squad senseless. If we lost pretty bad, we had Bloody Tuesdays. If we lost a game, we would dread Tuesdays knowing what was coming.”
When his football career ended, he spent a career teaching physical education. Woerner is semi-retired now and lives in Rabun County.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.