“Well, what the heck could Wally Butts do for you?”

I’m not trying to speak ill of the dead here, but it sure is funny that the AJ-C managed to omit any reference to this little story in its Furman Bisher obit this morning.


Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

28 responses to ““Well, what the heck could Wally Butts do for you?”

  1. Just Chuck

    Bisher wrote well. That’s the nicest thing I can say about him and when he wasn’t writing about Tech or Georgia football I actually enjoyed reading him.


  2. 81Dog

    I’m not going to say anything about Furman Bisher, other than I have no idea why Lewis Grizzard seemed to think so highly of him. Furman hated UGA, and loved Tech, and that’s about all you need to know about him.

    this passage in the Bear’s article kind of rung true, however:

    “The story also made an issue of a statement I made my first year back at Alabama. We’d lost our first game that year, and I had gone on television and said there would probably be some rumbling but this was my team now and the best thing about getting beat was you always get rid of the riffraff. I wasn’t talking about my players, I was talking about people, and I’ll say it again if we lose a couple of games this fall. We’ll get rid of the riffraff, the hangers-on, the few people who take up your time getting in your way and who would turn on you in a minute. We have them, Michigan State has them, everybody does.”

    It was true back then, even for the Bear. Every program has its unfortunate share of riffraff and hangers-on who will turn on the program in a minute when things arent going great. Someone should send this link to Coach Richt; if the Bear had those kind of people nipping at his heels, at least Coach Richt is in good company.

    I also was struck by the level of support the Bear received from both inside his university and outside of it when things got ugly. I’m sure a money grubbing weasel like Mike Adams would show that same absolute support for Coach Richt, rather than put a wet finger up to the wind in an attempt to figure out the most politically expedient way for him to go.


  3. Macallanlover

    I can say one positive thing, he loved, and “got it” about The Masters and Augusta National. So he was basically a decent person at heart; I always wonder about those who don’t. He had two really bad negatives: 1) he somehow supported GT, even after Dodd was long gone and there can be absolutely no justification for that, and 2) he was affiliated with the AJC, and there is nothing positive to ever say about that.


    • aristoggle

      With all due respect for your contempt of the AJC, I must rise to defend them by invoking the name of Lewis Grizzard. Oh, and the crossword puzzle.

      That said, Lewis is gone off to play with Catfish, and you can get crosswords at CVS.


      • Macallanlover

        AJC is one of few blemishes on Lewis’ resume. He and Furman can fight it out in the afterlife, you know he is enjoying the recent stretch run in the UGA/GT series.


        • Slaw Dawg

          Say what you want about it now, but the Atlanta papers were a news lifeline, sports and otherwise, back in the day and had some darn good coverage. I hate to even think about being limited to network news broadcasts, local papers and radio back then (with the exception of sports–there were some good radio sports news shows back then, including on WRFC in Athens). I lived in and around Athens when I was younger, and the ABH/ADN had good Dawg coverage, but were otherwise often just godawful (who else remembers when they put a student’s outer space alien sighting, complete with drawing, on the front page? The student’s name was given as “Mars Walker,” I kid you not.) I do have fond memories of the good ol’ Athens Observer, however.

          Despite his major SEP error and other flaws, Bisher could write, and very good journalistic writing is now limited to precious few papers.


          • Cojones

            Slaw Dawg- Only us ole’ farts remember the good reporting that led to the first deifications of sports teams. And like the memory of Furman, some people remember our bad side more than our good.


            • Slaw Dawg

              It’s like remembering, say, Stonewall Jackson only for being tardy at the Seven Days Battle, or Hitchcock only for “Jamaica Inn” and “Topaz.” You don’t deny the stinkers, but you gotta look at the whole thing.


            • Scorpio Jones, III

              I wonder if the reporting really was that good…how could you check the facts?

              On the other hand, I can remember when the AJC staffed every major college football game in the whole wide country, not just the SEC, but everywhere.

              Bisher was ok, and I can remember that as a rookie sportswriter I was in awe of him, until I read some of the game stories he did from time to time.

              His lack of empathy for some athletes made me cringe, and if he did not see it happen, it did not happen.

              His attempted libel of Butts and Bryant was inexcusable….selah


    • Uglydawg

      I once heard that GT gave Bisher’s son a football scholarship. I have no evidence of this other than a dim memory. It may be absolutley incorrect and my intention isn’t to besmear, but to inquire…does anyone know it it’s true?


        • reipar

          I am sorry he is dead. Much like I am sorry when anyone dies. However, I am not going to sit here and write tributes to the man just because he is dead. All you need to know about him comes from this very story. Not only does he accept the scholarship for his son, but he actually says “If someone wants to imply that I have been bribed, coddled, bought out, employed as Georgia Tech’s house man I will listen. But I want to know: What’s the charge?” What’s the charge…..those are the charges. You are a mouth piece for GTU.

          The guy was a sleazy politician before it was cool to be a sleazy politician.


  4. 69Dawg

    As someone old enough to remember the Post and it’s made up stories, this really takes me back to the bad ole days of UGA football. At the time this article came out there was not 1 person at UGA that believed it. UGA under Johnny Griffith as so bad and Alabama was so good it made no sense at all. If Bear was going to bet on UGA he would have had to wreak the Bama bus. All he had to do to win betting on Alabama was have them show up. As far as the Georgia Tech game and the 7-6 score, I listened to it on the Tech station and it was one hell of a game. Tech had a very good team and Bama had Joe Willie, Bear went for two and the Tech D stopped them, simple as that.


    • Hackerdog

      What I don’t understand about it was, why collude for the favorite? I can understand if UGA pulled the upset. Maybe something dirty went on, but trying to protect a 17-point favorite? Why bother?

      Does anybody think our coaches would be interested in breaking any rules to sneak a peek at the Buffalo playbook?


  5. indemnitor

    The AJC was going to mention that whole kerfluffel about Furman/ Bear Bryant/ Wally Butts but unfortunately they had to report on UGA athletes out of control- to wit: Stealing hash browns; Emerging from an Alley illegally; and failure to provide your full/middle name.

    Priortities, folks- the paper is only so long [and so wide too, now]



  6. NC Dawg

    Far as I could ever infer, Bisher didn’t really like anybody, including his co-workers.


  7. tess

    If you live in the state of Georgia, you can read the Post story yourself via GALILEO, usually accessible from your public library’s web page. MasterFile Premier has the Saturday Evening Post going back to 1931.

    You’ll need your library system’s password, but you can just call to ask for that. The story is interesting if only to smell the excitement the magazine obviously had that they could bring down someone big, facts be damned. It isn’t too different than the breathless tone of a R&B football arrest story.


  8. Mayor of Dawgtown

    My Mamma told me only to say good about the dead. Furman Bisher is dead…………………………………………………………….


  9. Four tickets, four hot dogs, four cokes

    My Dad refused to read Bisher when I was growing up because of what he did to Coach Butts. And the fact that he always like tech made it worse.

    His golf stories, however, and love for the Masters were spot on.


  10. Cojones

    Similar to 81Dog’s take, the “riff raff” quote struck me the same way about a few of our fans. Now we have a label for Skeptic Dawg.

    After the string of Bama victoriesBear quoted from 1960-64, he could have mentioned the following game with a new coach, Vince Dooley, when Bear lost on the last, now famous “Flea-flicker” Play, as Georgia won on the last play by going from our 20 to the goal line. The 2-pointer was run with no time on the clock that had us winning by 1 point in Sanford. The partying began before leaving the stadium and I remember that the Chapel Bell rode all night through Athens in the back of a pickup truck.

    Yes, we will remember the infamy Furman Bisher caused us with the SEP article and the criticism of our (and Bama’s) toughening training in a hard wire circular pen, 3′ high, where players (mostly D) had to beat each other senseless in order to come out with the football; then it was thrown back in for the next player to be able to leave practice until the last two men, who, were so worn out they didn’t care who was last and didn’t get to play in the next game.

    And I remember several years later that Bisher championed a WAC team that no one was familiar with to play in the Peach Bowl against FSU. Arizona St. had players like Green, a RB similar to Hearst, a TE (or was it WR?) named JD Hill and a FB named Monroe Elie (or was it Elie Monroe because their coach, Frank Kush, kept reversing his name) who all made it to the NFL. Almost forgot the QB, Danny White, who replaced Roger Staubach with the Dallas Cowboys. These players were together (maybe at separate times) over the next few years until White QBed in the inaugural Fiesta Bowl vs a Pittsburg team featuring a famous running back,Tony Dorsett. I attended that game and reflected back with my companion, my father-in-law, how, if it wasn’t for Furman Bisher of the AJC, people would never have heard squat about the team lost out west, Arizona State University, and who broadened our horizons outside College Football on the East Coast.

    Sometimes, on balance, you have to acknowledge the good with the perceived bad.


  11. Go Dawgs!

    All reporters have gotten something wrong in their careers. However, to rush an article like the Bear-Butts game fixing story without even contacting either of the principle figures for comment isn’t “journalism”. It’s a tabloid hack job, and it’s something they teach you not to do on the first day of journalism school at any third rate community college, much less the University of North Carolina, where Furman learned his trade. Bisher was a talented writer and by all accounts a good reporter. The Saturday Evening Post saga stands as a glaring counterexample to that theory, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

    Rest in peace, Furman.


  12. heyberto

    I wish his family well and hope his passing was not painful, certainly this is terrible news. But if we’re talking his career and professional legacy, I don’t have anything nice to say and I will not emulate the GT fanbase that populates Stingtalk route by trouncing the man personally. He may have been a good writer, but he was not a good reporter / investigator / commentator. Technical skills are just not enough to warrant professional integrity.. even in the sports reporting world.


  13. Will Trane

    Wally Butts…lifetime achievements. Life time subscription to Life magazine and a life time honorary Bama alum.

    Furman Bisher…lifetime homey…for Georgia Tech. The second best thing about beating Tech is the pain it causes the AJC sports department.


  14. Lrgk9

    IMO as writers:

    Jesse Outlaw – Yea

    Furman Bisher Nay


    • 81Dog

      one difference between Outlar and Bisher was this:

      Jesse made it very clear, every time he wrote something good about UGA, that he had gone to school at UGA and his son, Barry, had played football there.

      Furman never made it clear that he was longtime buddies with Bobby Dodd, never admitted Dodd gave his infant son a football scholarship at birth, or that Bisher sent him to Tech on said scholarship, for which he did nothing (until Channel 2 did a bit on it while the kid was a student), and so far as I know, he never admitted any regrets about the whole SEP incident, or offered any apologies to anyone.

      He was a noteworthy part (for good or bad) of the Atlanta news media for about 50 years, and I’m sorry for his family at his passing, but I dont miss his column. I’m also unsurprised that the AJC slobberfest over what a great mentor/writer/resource he was, all of which may be true, failed to note any of the aforementioned failings. C’est le vie.


  15. shane#1

    Bear and Wally probably were discussing plays, just not plays that UGA ran. Butts believed in throwing the ball, then Coach Johnny Griffith did not, and that drove Butts crazy. Bear had a young QB named Joe Namath and Butts was famous for his complicated passing routes that were executed with clockwork precision. People that think Bobo’s offense is simplistic never saw Griffith’s offense in action. Butts couldn’t do anything for Bear because he was AD, not Coach, and with UGA’s record at the time Bear didn’t need any help. People said that Bama seemed to know every play UGA ran, well, so did half the stadium. Deep down Bear thought Bobby Dodd was behind the plot and he hated Tech and Atlanta for the rest of his life. Sad, he and Dodd were once friends.