(left) Wearing his famous Bulldog logo tie, Hugh analyzes one of his Georgia team’s play during his early years coaching the Bulldogs as a couple of his players look on from the team’s bench. (right) Hugh instructs Dominique Wilkins during a Georgia Bulldogs game.
advancing to the championship game. Hugh’s talented, defensive-oriented, but underrated squad was led by forwards Ron King, Rowland Garrett and Ron Harris, center-forward Reggie Royals, center Lawrence McCray and point guards Otto Petty and Greg Samuel. In the Mideast Region Semifinals, the Seminoles defeated Big Ten Champion, Minnesota, 70-56, and then routed Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky 73-54 in the region finals. The latter game was Adolph Rupp’s last at Kentucky. FSU upset heavily favored North Carolina, 79-75, in the national semi-finals. The Tar Heels were led by future NBA stars Bob McAdoo and Bobby Jones, and were Atlantic Coast Conference Champions. Then in the NCAA Championship game, FSU lost to UCLA, 81-76. The Bruins were led by future NBA stars Bill Walton and Henry Bibby. It was UCLA’s closest championship game during its remarkable stretch of 10 NCAA titles under Coach John Wooden. Hugh is the only coach in history to face Rupp, Smith and Wooden in three suc56
High Country Magazine
cessive games. Those coaching giants combined to win 16 national championships. “We were 2-1 against them in those particular games and came very close to beating all three,” Hugh stated in wry humor. Then after a loud chuckle, he added: “That’s not too shabby, is it?” FSU was not a member of a conference for the first ten seasons Hugh was its head coach. In 1976-77, Florida State joined the Metro Conference and only a season later, Hugh led the Seminoles to the league crown and earned their third NCAA Tournament bid under his direction, falling to eventual National Champion Kentucky, 85-76, in the Mid-East Regionals. Hugh’s other top FSU players included guards Ed “Skip” Young and Jeff Hogan. Hugh still has the most wins of any FSU coach. He compiled a 230-95 record in his twelve seasons as Seminoles chieftain.
Hugh took over Georgia’s program in 1978 and faced a major reconstruc-
tion job. Before he became the Bulldogs head coach, Georgia had never been to either the NIT (National Invitation Tournaments) or NCAA Tournaments, had never won a Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season or tournament championship and had losing records in 23 of the previous 27 seasons. But he immediately embarked on a remarkable transformation project with “Durham’s Dunkyard Dawgs” that produced the most prolific era of Georgia basketball. During his seventeen years as UGA’s head coach Hugh led the Bulldogs to five NCAA Tournaments, seven NIT, an NCAA Final Four, one NIT Final Four, their only SEC Regular Season championship and their first league tournament title. Hugh literally coached his first UGA team by himself during games as he sent his three assistants on the road recruiting. The assistants were only on the UGA bench for a total of ten games between them of the 28 the Bulldogs played. But the recruiting paid ultimate dividends as UGA landed the nation’s top recruiting class that would propel it