Erk Russell Dies at 80
Erk Russell, who led Georgia's "Junkyard Dawgs" defense and then built a small-college powerhouse of his own at Georgia Southern, died Friday after a car accident in Statesboro, Ga., a hospital official told The Associated Press. He was 80.
Following are quotes from Georgia officials regarding Russell:
³Erk Russell is an icon of Georgia football history, and we join all the Bulldog Nation in mourning his passing," University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams said. "I had come to know him over the years and have great respect for his many contributions to the University and its football program. His tenacity, combined with a loving spirit, inspired loyalty in his players, fellow coaches, and all who love the University of Georgia. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in their time of great loss.²
³This is a sad day for the Bulldog Nation," Director of Athletics Damon Evans said. "Coach Russell touched the lives of so many people. His legendary status as a hard-nosed defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia will always be remembered. Erk truly embodied what it means to be a Georgia Bulldog.²
³We had Erk speak to our team a few years back and we still show that video to our team on occasion," Georgia head football coach Mark Richt said. "He had charisma. He didn¹t take himself too seriously and people loved him because they knew he cared. He left a huge impression on the Georgia program, the people of Georgia, and especially the players he coached and his fellow coaches.²
³Erk coached through motivation not intimidation as some thought," said Loran Smith, Georgia Radio Network sideline reporter and longtime Executive Secretary of the Georgia Bulldog Club. "He had the most remarkable ability to make everybody feel good. Secretaries loved him. Custodians loved him.
Most of all, his players loved him, which is why the least talented athlete could make a contribution if it was only for one play or one series. He felt that defense was reaction and recognition. He could motivate a kid with heart and an appreciation for team play to help Georgia win championships.
He was selfless and was happiest with a beer, a cigar and good conversation.
To me, the mark of a great man is when the little people admire and love you. That was certainly the case with Erk. He was the heart and soul of Georgia football for the years he was here.²
³We¹ve had many fine assistant coaches at Georgia, but Erk Russell was probably the most instrumental assistant in our history," said former Georgia Sports Information Director Dan Magill. "He had more to do with the fighting spirit of our defenses than anyone and probably the greatest impact of any assistant on the success of the teams during his tenure.²
Funeral services for Erk Russell will be held Sunday at 2:00 pm in the Georgia Southern football stadium.