Columnist: “Some leave great legacies that are delayed a bit.”
Georgia and Georgia Tech just reported signing fine football recruiting classes at this year’s National Signing Day. Both Coach Richt and Coach Johnson say they did well with the young men signed to play at the two great football programs.
My Main Street barber, and a font of common sense, Jerry Cowan commented, “you know it takes a while to evaluate these recruits, they don’t always turn out the way coaches and fans expect.”
Jerry recalled events back in 1957 when Madison was involved in one of the great football recruiting wars. It seems that Coach Bill Corry at Morgan County High had developed an outstanding quarterback. This youngster was also an honor student, and president of the student body. College coaches were sure that he along with a quarterback up the road in Athens were,“can’t miss” prospects. The Madison protégé was the great “Snooks” Saye. He signed to play with Coach Bobby Dodd and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
In Athens they were just as excited about a young man playing there. He was the son of a preacher and could electrify crowds with his scrambling and fourth quarter comebacks. You may have guessed that the Bulldogs had signed Fran Tarkenton.
Even casual football fans know that Fran won many games between the hedges, and he fulfilled the promise that Coach Wally Butts saw in him.
His NFL career may have been even more exciting as he scrambled for the Minnesota Vikings and lead them to playoffs year after year. Later, his business career earned attention as well.
The Tech coaching staff could not believe their good fortune. “Snooks” Saye from Madison could pass like no one they had seen. It was almost magical. He could make any type of pass depending on the situation and the play called. Coach Dodd was also impressed with how quickly he learned the offense.
However, the second freshman game of his career “Snooks” Saye suffered a devastating injury requiring multiple surgeries. He was never the same.
Coach Dodd encouraged him to assist in recruiting, game preparation, and to become involved in student government.
Once again he was elected class president. “Snooks” did not leave a lasting legacy on Georgia Tech’s program. It is interesting to note that when the AJC Sports Editor Furman Bisher asked Coach Dodd to name the greatest quarterback he had coached his response was “Snooks” Saye and he did not start a game nor score a touchdown for us.”
The young man from Madison went on to Tulane Medical School and established a successful OB-GYN practice in Marietta delivering thousands of Cobb County babies. But he still had some of that Tech DNA in him.
He had become interested in an emerging technology laparscopy surgery. It is the use of miniature cameras to make the surgery more precise, the process becomes less invasive and the healing time is dramatically improved.
Dr. Saye put his practice on the sidelines and created The Advanced Center of Laproscopic Surgery. It became world famous ad to date over 16,000 surgeons have been trained in new techniques at the Center.
Today if you want to stir the emotions of the Bulldog faithful just mention games with Frank Tarkenton beating the opposition in the fourth quarter.
However, if you are like me and in the fourth quarter of your life the exploits of “Snooks” say ehere he has found ways to increase your life a decade or two-that is something that is worth shouting about.
It is a legacy the “Snooks” has left for all of us it is just not what Coach Corry and Coach Bobby Dodd expected in 1957.
I recall the words of Jerry Cowan, my downtown barber in Madison, “it takes a while to evaluate these recruits, they don’t always turn out the way coaches and fan expect.”
Some leave great legacies that are delayed a bit.