Ramblins - Bobby Dodd: more than just a street name

By Pat Edwards
Ramblin' Reck Club

This year is an exciting one at Bobby Dodd stadium. The football team is doing well, and attendance is as high as it has been since the 1970's.

The Bobby Dodd stadium has been a centerpiece for so much action and excitement at Tech that it is appropriate to remember the man for whom it is named.

Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd was born in 1908 in Galax, Virginia. He was named after another famous Virginian, Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Coach Dodd was the youngest of Edwin and Susan Dodd's four children.

Early in the fall of 1921, the Dodd family relocated to Kingsport, Tennessee. The young Bob Dodd, twelve years old and weighing only 100 pounds., made the seventh-grade team of Kingsport's first organized football program.

The easy happiness of Bobby's life came to a sad end in 1924 when Bobby's father took his own life due to business failure and financial troubles. The family was forced to move, but was held together by the brave perseverance of Susan Dodd, Bobby's mother.

During the next three seasons, 1924-26, the Kingsport Indians would ride a high wave of success. They were helped by Dodd, who moved from a receivers position to quarterback and kicker, gaining two state titles.

In 1926, Bobby Dodd, who admitted to hating school, graduated and was admitted with a scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Bobby had discussed thumbing a ride to Atlanta to look over Georgia Tech, but his brother John dissuaded him, warning that he was "too dumb to go to Georgia Tech." He considered attending UGA but could not gain a scholarship.

He entered Tennessee, where he played four years under the strict and dower Bob Neyland. He enjoyed great success on the gridiron, playing as an all-American; he led his team by characteristically calling plays from the huddle in contradiction to those called by his coach.

In 1931, upon graduation from Tennessee, Dodd accepted the job of assistant backfield coach under Coach William Alexander at Georgia Tech. He would stay at Georgia Tech for the rest of his life.

The Tech team of 1931 suffered her worse record since 1902: 2-7-1. Things were so bad that in 1931 the Athletic Association could not pay the coaches' salaries. Dodd and another assistant coach were paid out of Coach Alexander's own pocket through those hard days.

During 1931 the new assistant coach met the sister of Wink Davis, a halfback he coached. Alice Davis would become his wife in 1933; they postponed their wedding until after the football season that year since Bobby was coaching his future brother-in-law.

In 1944, Bobby rose to the position of Head Coach as Coach Alexander retired to become the head of the Athletic Association.

Coach Dodd struggled with dismal manpower prospects due to the War, but slowly rebuilt the program, culminating in a 1952 national championship.

During his twenty-one years as head coach, Bobby Dodd became regarded by his players, fans, the press, and his peers as a pinnacle of gentlemanly play and sportsmanlike conduct on and off the field.

Coach Dodd didn't restrict his attention to the athletic field. He offered his prestige and time to many activities on and off campus, including extensive work with disabled citizens and fund-raising activities for the academic facilities at Georgia Tech.

Coach Dodd retired from head coach of the Yellow Jackets in 1966 to serve another ten years as Director of the Athletic Association, where he retired in 1976 to act as an Alumni Association consultant until his death in 1988.

During his coaching career he compiled a record of 165-64-8 including 9-4 bowl record including eight straight bowl victories (six in six seasons in 1952-56).

Coach Dodd was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993 where he was already honored as a player, a double honor only shared by Amos Alonzo Stagg.

Frank Broyles, a former player and assistant coach for Coach Dodd, stated Bobby Dodd's character and legacy best when he said of him, "He taught us to care because he cared. He taught us to be concerned because he was concerned. He taught us that honesty is sacred, is absolute, and is eternal."

"[Bobby Dodd] taught us to care because he cared... he taught us that honesty is sacred, is absolute, and is eternal."
—Frank Broyles
GT Assistant Coach

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Copyright © 1997 by Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor
and by the Student Publications Board