It hasn’t been that long since Larry Munson’s retirement for us not to still have that voice echoing in our heads the famous question to the sideline color man. Of course, we are talking about Loran Smith, the name that has been synonymous with UGA football for as long as I can remember, and I will hit the big 60 this June.
Loran Smith has been many things to our beloved University, including “athlete, fund-raiser, broadcaster, author, and historian.” Smith, having been born in Wrightsville, Georgia, a spot famous for producing another UGA alum who you may recall, named Herschel Walker, began his career at UGA in the college of Agriculture in etymology. However, he eventually switched to journalism. Now, when asked about the early switch in careers, Smith quips that his first major “bugged“ him. For you Auburn fans who are reading this blog, etymology is the study of insects. I know that otherwise this one would have gone right over your heads.
Smith has had many jobs with the University during his long association, including Associate Sports Information Director, Business Manager of Athletics, and Executive Director of the Georgia Bulldog Club (started by Smith himself in 1964). He not only has written more newspaper articles about the Dawgs over the years than one can count, but he has authored several books about the Dawgs’ rich history, including “Glory, Glory” with Lewis Grizzard, and “Dooley Dawgs” with Vince Dooley. (source: 100 Things Bulldogs Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Jon Nelson)
Loran Smith has meant a lot to our University and accordingly has carried the appropriate weight with its inter-workings. For those of us old enough to remember the Ray Goff and Jim Donnan years (pass the Tums, please), there is little question in anyone’s mind as to what was the cause of the early demise of Jim Donnan’s career at Georgia. Dooley’s official reason for the firing, as Athletic Director, was Donnan’s less than successful win-loss record. And, true enough, had the record not improved in the couple of years which followed, the firing probably would have taken place without any other impetus. However, the main reason Donnan was canned at that point in time, all had to do with his dislike and unwillingness to get along with Loran Smith. Anybody who listened to the post game radio shows heard the short, curt answers that he gave Smith, with the attitude that Smith’s questions were dumb and he was above having to put up with them. And of course there was at least one time that he was so upset with Loran’s questions that he refused to talk to him and stormed off.
Donnan did wonders with Marshall’s football program, before coming to Georgia, where he could be just a football coach; not be shoved in the public eye on a constant basis; and require the polish to be politically correct as the head coach of a major university. Donnan’s rough persona was alike letting the proverbial “bull loose in the china shop!” The problem was, the china shop was the University of Georgia, and the first piece of china Donnan broke was the Dawgs’ most cherished antique, Loran Smith (Sorry Loran, no pun intended, Dude).
The question of the day is, as they say “just for shits and giggles,” what if Jim Donnan and Loran Smith never had a problem with each other; that Donnan was able to do with his own recruits what CMR was able to do with Donnan’s recruits, and turn the program around within two years of his actual firing? Would Jim Donnan still be UGA’s head coach today or not? Food for thought? Or not?
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