I planned to do something I hadn’t done in nearly 20 years. I was going to skip Furman’s home game with Georgia Southern on Saturday – the last game of the season and with one of Furman’s main rivals – and go kayaking. Furman hadn’t been playing well this season, and I was just ready for a change. Be careful what you wish for. The change I wanted was much more dramatic than I had anticipated. On Friday, head coach Bobby Lamb resigned. I immediately changed my plans and decided to go to the game.
Bobby Lamb has been associated with Furman for nearly 29 years. My senior year at Furman Bobby was a freshman, taking over as quarterback for the team. He has been with the team in some capacity ever since, as an assistant coach, and for the last nine years as head coach. Unfortunately the last six years or so have not been kind, with Furman not playing the kind of football we saw in 1980’s. There were already grumblings.
As one radio commentator stated, even though it was becoming apparent that change was necessary, to fire someone with such a long history with the school was more like a divorce than an employment action. It’s messy, and it leaves the fans with mixed emotions. That was evident at Saturday’s game, and in the pre/post-game analysis online and on the radio. The mood seemed to be “thanks for all you’ve done, but it’s time for you to go.”
It was also interesting (and somewhat disgusting) listening to all of the blame-shifting. There were those loyal to Bobby who preferred to blame the previous administration for not supporting football enough by providing funds for better facilities, etc.
There some that even suggested that Furman’s academic standards were too high, and that these should be relaxed for football players. Those comments made both mine and Laura’s blood boil. Furman is first and foremost an educational institution, and the standards should be high and the same for all.
…and that brings us to Saturday’s game. Furman took the kick-off, then on the first play complete a pass to Adam Mims for a 71-yard touchdown run, 7-0 with barely any time off of the clock. On GSU’s first play they fumbled and Furman recovered. Two plays later we had scored again, 14-0 within the first three minutes of the game. It looked like it was going to be a great send-off for Bobby.
Alas, it was not to be. Furman made some amazing goal line stands to keep GSU out of the endzone. However, we traded fumbles, and had more than our share of miracles and lucky breaks. It seemed that we had used up our miracle quote before the game ended. So, with the score 28-17 and Furman looking like it was going to win, GSU roared back in the last five minutes of the game for a final score of 28-32. Furman once again managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Furman ended with its first losing season in a very long time.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next several years. Sure, as a fan I’d love to see Furman regain its championship status. However, we come to games not because they are winning, but because we know these kids. These are Laura’s students, and we’ve gotten to know some of them very well. We want to see them succeed on the field, but more importantly we want to see them be successful in the classroom, and graduate to become productive members of the community.
If anything, that was Bobby Lamb’s legacy. To him the development and success of young men was more important than a winning football team. Unfortunately, coaching success isn’t measured in those terms. I hope that he can find another place where he can work with a good program, and continue to work with and develop fine young athletes. Good luck Bobby. I wish it had worked out differently.