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April 16, 2008

Reasons Furman Bisher Blows

Apparently, the Birmingham News ran an article a few weeks back about the infamous Saturday Evening Post article in the early 1960s that accused Bear Bryant and Wally Butts of fixing an Alabama vs. Georgia game.

Bryant and Butts were both vindicated in the libel law suits following the story, and the resulting back lash and legal payments bankrupted the paper. The suits are still studied in Law and Journalism School for the ground breaking decision regarding libel in regards to "public officials" vs. "public figures."

The story revolved around a phone conversation between Butts and Bryant that was apparently over heard by a third party. That third person took notes of the conversation and accused a drunken Butts (serving as AD of UGA at the time) of giving up the Georgia play book to Bryant. The third person sold his story to The Post for $5,000.

In their rush to bring down UGA, Alabama and College Football, the Birmingham News says that magazine didn't bother to look at the notes from the phone conversation. It was a hastily assembled story that didn't hold up under investigation. And frankly, Bear Bryant didn't need Georgia's play book to obliterate Johnny Griffith's team.

I throw Bisher into this because he helped Frank Graham Jr. write the story.

Fall out from the story:
  • The Saturday Evening Post went bankrupt Georgia and Alabama stopped playing every year to avoid the story. We moved to playing about twice every 8-10 years in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
  • Bryant was so enraged by the incident that he came to hate Atlanta. If memory serves, his team packed a lunch when they came to Atlanta after that. He refused to spend a nickel in town.
  • The scandal helped push Butts out as Athletic Director.


Anonymous said...

Good post Westerdawg. I have the book about the scandal, called "Fumble", I haven't read it in years, I need to pull it back out.

You are right in the details. Bryant was very upset with Bisher about it. Another thing to remember, Tech was still in the SEC at the time, Bobby Dodd was just off his heyday in the 50's, and Alabama was ascending to power under The Bear after a weak decade in the 50's.

Bisher and Dodd were very tight. So tight that Bisher's son attended Tech on football scholarship and never played a down under Dodd as HC. The Bear always thought Bisher was out to get him/Bama to protect Tech/Dodd.
Just a few years later the infamous Chick Graning incident occured between Tech and Bama, adding more fuel to the fire between the two. This is also background to the story of why Bama never accepted Bill Curry, besides not beating Auburn.

Regarding Butts, the Griffith hire was a mistake because the other assistant coaches that interviewed for the job were kept on staff, creating dissension immediately. It was a train wreck without any help from Butts to Bryant.

The university supported Butts 100%against the Saturday Evening Post. When Bryant and Butts were victorious, a pep rally was held on campus, the students had banners reading "Our Butts is Clean", complete with kegs to grow the crowd. At least this is the story according to a couple of alumni that were there at the time.

Butts real downfall was a short time later, it was his behavior. He was seen riding around Athens with "fancy women" and young coeds, and he became an embarrassment to the university administration. In fairness, I understand his mental faculties were going away at the time, he was not the same man as before.

Hunker Down Dawg said...

I always knew Bisher sucked, now you tell me he blows too. UGA coverage in Bisher's sports section has not been the same since Lewis Grizzard stopped writing in the sports section. Lewis was UGA's answer to Tech's Bisher. Now there are none. Thus, I read the blogs, like this one, written by mere amateurs (LOL) for the news I want.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:20, I heard that Dodd offered Bisher's son a football scholarship at the hospital when the kid was born, and when the Bisher kid didn't even play high school football Dodd gave him a scholarship anyway. When it was discovered Dodd tried to justify it by saying that he had given his word at the maternity ward and he was a man of his word!

We both know that it was an investment by Tech in years worth of positive press coverage.

Anonymous said...

What makes Bisher even more insufrable is his ridiculous attempt at nuetrality. Every year he writes the same BS column about how he hates seeing UGA play the gnats because they are like his sons. Atleast assholes like Finebaum own up to their loyalties.

Hunkering Hank said...

Can a douchebag blow?

thomas johnson said...

Yeah, and along with everything else he can shove his annual Thanksgiving Day column up his ass! Bisher will never be missed around here. Someone with your tenure as a senior sports columnist in Atlanta should be beloved and treasured. Speaking for Atlanta natives, you just suck.

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