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How it came to be

By Joe Joe Wright

joejoe.wright@cordeledispatch.com

How in the world did the Georgia Bulldogs ever become the Georgia Bulldogs?  Why not the Bullfrogs or maybe the Georgia Gators, arghhhh!!!! Ugghh I can’t believe I even said Gators in the same sentence with Georgia. I apologize to the Bulldog nation. But seriously who decided their mascot?

As best can be determined in 1920. Many old-timers say Georgia acquired the nickname, Bulldogs; because of the strong ties with Yale whose nickname is Bulldogs. Georgia’s first president, Abraham Baldwin, was a Yale man and the early buildings on campus were designed from blueprints of the same building at Yale. But on Nov. 3, 1920, Morgan Blake of the ATLANTA JOURNAL wrote about school nicknames and said «The Georgia Bulldogs” would sound good because there is a certain dignity about a bulldog, as well as ferocity.” After a 0-0 tie with Virginia in Charlottesville on Nov. 6, 1920, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION writer Cliff Wheatley used the name “Bulldogs” in his story five times. The name has been used ever since. Not very extravagant huh? How about the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets? It is a little more evasive but the name was first used in 1905 by the Atlanta Constitution in reference to students dressed in the yellow and black colors as “Yellow jackets” and it became common there after. That wasn’t very exciting either. Auburn fans all know how the “war eagle” cry started it is a great story. The only problem is their official mascot is Tigers, but then Auburn fans have always been confused. I could go on and on I mean Alabama Crimson tide, the fighting Irish of Notre Dame, this is the most confusing. First of all Notre Dame Cathedral is in Paris, France and a large section of Ireland is Protestant as well but then the Irish like to fight and the “Popes Pugilist” might sound a little corny.

I am more interested in how the Crisp County Cougars got their name, actually I know but I would like to share the story especially with the millennials in our area. Let’s go back to 1970. The last graduating class of the Crisp County Rebels was in the spring of 1970 as well as the A.S. Clark Rams. Or as some use to say the “golden” Rams. Enter now integration. As a matter of fact the class of 1982 began 1st grade that fall and would become the first totally integrated class in Crisp County. A fact that all of my classmates and myself have always been proud of. In speaking with then Head Football Coach Tom Avret, who was in his first year at Crisp County, he said. “ I really don’t remember to well what happened but I do recall we were joining together two schools of almost equal size and neither wanted the others mascot name.” “A meeting was held and the kids of the new school were given an opportunity to participate in the process,” Avret lamented. Rhondalyn Wright West said, “ we were the best class ever, the class of 1971.” We were tasked with the complete joining together of two separate cultures from the same community in to one unified school, it was not easy and there were some difficulties but we made it work.”” I was already at Crisp County High but I will always remember being so excited about the students joining us from AS Clark,” West further expounded. Another student tasked with a leadership role as the schools joined forces was Tommy Sanders of the class of 1971. “ I don’t remember everything but I do so much recall how Mr. Darley told us the importance of this transition.” “ He made it very clear that our schools were joining and it would be up to the students to really make it work, so I took our job of what the new team colors and what our mascot would be very serious.”

The bi racial committee of students decided first on using the gold colors from A.S.Clark’s Forrest Green and Gold and the Columbia Blue from the Crisp County Rebels Blue and Gray.  After reaching a conclusion on the teams colors next up was the team mascot. “Many names were proposed including the Bruins (UCLA had the same colors as we had now just adopted for our school) but a list was developed and presented to all the student body to vote on a team name. Most of the kids on the committee favored Cougars because the name “SANG” Crisp County Cougars. The name stuck and was voted in by a large majority. In 1976 new Head Coach Ferrell Henry changed the colors to different shades of blue and gold. (THANK GOD) because the original blue and gold was ugly in my humble opinion and we have been as we are now pretty much the same for 40 years.

So now you know how the Cougars became the Cougars So in the book of Cougars Chapter number one  we will call it “Genesis”, let us place the story of all the brave young kids who really wanted to stay where they were but the adults said no you are going to move and they found the courage to make it work. Seems that other generations might be able to learn something from that group, just a thought.joejoe 4