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national headlines. Georgia put in lights for the game to help consummate the deal. The network even participated in financing the cost of the lights. Herschel Walker was in his third year but had suffered a broken thumb in practice. His status, will he play or won’t he, dominated the headlines.
While in Athens, at that time, one could buy liquor by the drink, the restaurants were nothing to rave about. I knew that the ABC crew would soon arrive with limited menu options, particularly on Sunday night, the eve of the big game. Bill Hartman, longtime chairman of the athletic scholarship fund, was sensitive to such circumstance and was eager to help. My wife, Myrna, and I agreed to host a dinner, catered by Lee Epting, who was making a name for himself as caterer of renown.
The guest list included these iconic broadcasters: Keith Jackson, popular play-by-play announcer, from Roopville on the West side of the state, Frank Broyles, his color man, a native of Decatur, along with Jim Lampley and Jack Whitaker, the classic TV essayist. Whitaker was bowled over by the collegiate environment, the small-town gentry connected with college football. After supper, they all took to our back porch for after dinner drinks and conversation. It was raconteur hour at its finest. Keith sidled up to me when the evening came to a close and whispered, “My company really appreciates this, my friend.” That dinner approval was a high moment of my UGA days. Recently a similar scene took place when Verne Lundquist, the long- time CBS announcer, who still calls the Masters golf tournament for the network, took up residence on our back porch, sitting in the same seat where Keith Jackson sat 30 years prior. He and his longtime friend, Steve Hatchell, CEO of the National Football Foundation, charmed our guests with their stories the way that Keith and his gang did in 1983. One of the guests, John Claster of Naples, Fla., called upon returning home and said that he was “homesick’ for our back porch. We have had others to share their classic story telling on that porch through the years, including Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers and announcer Mike Tirico. If only I had recorded them all.