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ATLANTA - Claude Felton has been Georgia’s sports information director forever. OK, not literally forever, but for a long, long time. Thirty-eight years, to be exact.
The cool thing about that is he has the perspective of having also been around the last time Georgia played for a national championship in football. Actually, the Bulldogs played for national titles three years in a row from 1980 to 1982. But the only time they won it was on Jan. 1, 1981, when freshman Herschel Walker led them to a 12-0 season and 17-10 win against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.
Felton now works under the more distinguished title of senior associate athletic director for sports communication. We asked him to reflect on how things have changed in the business since Georgia’s last appearance in the championship game.
“Well, first off, there wasn’t nearly as much media or different types of media,” Felton said this weekend. “Of course, there were no cellphones, no internet. But there was the same amount of excitement.”
And there was, of course, a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding Walker, who many believed should have won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and eventually did as a junior. He left Georgia after his junior season as the SEC’s all-time leading rusher and remains so.
At the time, though, he was a fascination for national press, who came from all around to chronicle the exploits of this ungodly freshman running back from Wrightsville.
“There was a media frenzy around him pretty much the whole year,” Felton said. “We had media from all over the country coming in to talk to him almost every week. Everything then was done pretty much in person. There weren’t a lot of phone interviews back then. A lot of national media came to Athens that year.”