06-27-2006, 12:55 PM #1
So, Herschel Walker Wanted to be a Tiger?
[size=18px]So, Herschel Wanted to be a Tiger? [/size]
By: Roy Philpott
Date: Jun 26, 2006
In one of the most unusual statements you'll ever hear from a player of his stature, former Georgia running back Herschel Walker admitted in an interview with an Atlanta television station that his first choice in the recruiting process was actually Clemson, not Georgia.
If you're a Clemson fan, it has be one of the most intriguing stories regarding a former recruit to come out in recent memory.
And to make it even more mind-boggling, is the fact that the end result was produced by nothing more than a simple flip of a coin more than 26 years ago.
During an interview with an Atlanta television station on Sunday, former Georgia running back and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker admitted that Clemson was actually his first choice in the recruiting process, over Georgia.
"My parents really wanted me to go to Georgia," Walker told the reporter. I told them, 'I'm not going to Georgia. I'm not going to Georgia.' So I ended up flipping a coin and pulled the names out of a bag and Georgia won. And I said I'm going to Georgia and didn't really mean it.
"My parents called Coach Dooley ... and they told him and everybody else, 'Herschel has decided to go Georgia.' He showed up at my home that night and I was too embarrassed to tell him I was joking so I ended up signing and going to Georgia."
Later Walker admitted off-camera to the reporter that Clemson was actually his first choice.
Of course, it never happened. Walker never signed with the Tigers, instead choosing to play his football for the next three years in Athens with the Bulldogs.
All he did during that time was help lead Georgia to the 1980 National Championship, while also winning a Heisman Trophy (1982) and establishing 11 NCAA records, 16 Southeastern Conference records and 41 UGA records along the way.
He went on to have a successful career in the pros, including 12 years in the NFL after a short stint in the USFL. While playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles, he gained over 8,000 yards rushing, 4,000 yards receiving and scored more than 80 touchdowns.
Some may argue that Walker's professional career never lived up to the incredible expectations placed on his shoulders after leaving Georgia, but without question, he was one of the best ever to step on the field at the collegiate level.
And if you are a Clemson fan, it has to make you wonder.
What if the flip of that coin had fallen if favor of Clemson that night? What if Herschel Walker ended up wearing orange and white as opposed to red and black? What if his parents picked up the phone and made a call to Danny Ford, instead of Vince Dooley?
The possibilities are endless.
Would Clemson have finished its 1980 season with more than six wins with Herschel Walker and his 1,600+ yards and 15 touchdowns in the mix? Could Clemson have won more National Championships during that time, as opposed to just one in 1981? Would more wins during this three-year period have strengthened Danny Ford's legacy enough to keep him as Clemson's head coach past 1990?
Some may call considering the possibilities of Herschel Walker coming to Clemson ridiculous, but at the same time, the process in which he ultimately he chose Georgia over every other school, including Clemson, illustrates two clear points.
One, it shows just how important recruiting actually is.
Had Walker come to Clemson in 1980, the Tigers would have had clearly been a more talented football team. Nobody can logically argue that adding one of the top running backs in college football history to a team doesn't give that team a better chance to win.
Two, it also shows just how difficult it can be to actually land a player of Walker's caliber.
Clearly, while Walker does not in any way regret his time at Georgia, a key reason in his decision came down to the flip of a coin.
Fast forward 26 years to today's information-crazed society and that flip of the coin is now comparing the facilities at school "X" to the facilities at school "Y." Or maybe it comes down to weather during an unofficial visit or the way an assistant coach sends out a text message or hand-written letter..
In other words, the fate of a game, a season, even an entire football program for the years and years, sometimes just boils down to good or bad ... luck.
That night when Herschel Walker flipped a coin, the University of Georgia had a little bit of luck working its favor.
And that little bit of luck ended up going a very long way.
The good news for Clemson fans is that just recently the Tigers have enjoyed a bit of luck of their own when it comes to recruiting running backs.
In fact, maybe one day the signings of James Davis, one of the top running backs in the south in 2005, and C.J. Spiller, one of the top running backs to ever sign with Clemson earlier this year, will prove to be the kind of difference maker Walker was at Georgia.
But still, a story like Herschel Walker's has to make you wonder, "what if?"
So, Herschel Wanted to be a Tiger?
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