Nothing like a “he said, he said” story, when one of the “he”s is Greg McGarity.
A lot of folks in Elberton are hopping mad at Georgia. A lot of folks.
No doubt, everybody here has seen or knows about the big granite statue of the bulldog that has sat in place of prominence behind the east end zone at Sanford Stadium. Well, it’s not in a place of prominence anymore.
In fact, sitting in your seats inside Sanford Stadium this football season you won’t be able to see it at all. And that doesn’t sit well with the good folks of Elberton, and a subset of them who happen to be very passionate about the Bulldogs and that statue in particular.
Chief among them would be Tom Oglesby and other longtime members of the Elbert County Bulldog Club. Oglesby donated the 4,820-pound statue to UGA and Athletic Director Vince Dooley in 1992 on the occasion of the 100-year celebration of Georgia football. Created by master sculptor Steve Mooney, the statue has overlooked the East End Zone ever since then.
But UGA says it had to move it in order to install new premium, field-level suites between the hedges and the east grandstand. It was part of a $63 million renovation that included moving the team’s locker room from underneath the east stands into the new building on the west end.
The statue moved with the team, but it ended up out of view underneath the bridge in the northwest corner of the stadium and no longer a part of pregame proceedings.
… Here’s where the story gets a little cloudy. Georgia officials said Oglesby was informed of exactly where the statue would be relocated in a meeting back in February and that it had been designated for that spot since construction plans were finalized last December.
“The location has never changed from where it was on the original drawings and Tom knows that,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said Thursday. “I’m not sure where there was confusion about that, but I’ve talked to Tom about it and he understands why we did what we did.”
Oglesby said he didn’t realize where the statue was going to end up until he came to Sanford Stadium this past Friday to oversee the crews charged with resetting the massive work of art. He said it was only then that he realized the statue would be out of view during the Bulldogs’ games.
“They showed me another place, which they deny now,” Oglesby said. “But it’s not where I thought it’d be. We just set it where they said to set it, but I wasn’t happy about it. I’m concerned it’s not going to be on TV. I’m worried it’s going to get vandalized. Where it is now, there’s nothing stopping a Tech fan from dropping a bottle of paint on it from the bridge and just keep walking.”
Sure, Greg, Tom sounds real understanding about it. Makes you wonder why he’s complaining about it publicly now and not when you showed it to him in the original drawings.
At least you didn’t blow him off with a “it’s only a statue, dude” defense. I guess that counts as improved PR.
Tom, if you’re looking for real sympathy, next time, write a bigger check. That’s the only language that resonates at Butts-Mehre these days.