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Football life comes to end for retiring Curry

FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2012, file photo, Georgia State head coach Bill Curry watches his team warm-up before an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. Curry still gets a thrill out of working with young people, teaching them lessons about football and life. But now, after more than a half-century in the game, it's time to go. The 70-year-old Curry will coach his final game Saturday with fledgling Georgia State, then fade into retirement.  (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2012, file photo, Georgia State head coach Bill Curry watches his team warm-up before an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. Curry still gets a thrill out of working with young people, teaching them lessons about football and life. But now, after more than a half-century in the game, it's time to go. The 70-year-old Curry will coach his final game Saturday with fledgling Georgia State, then fade into retirement. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

ATLANTA -- As a commuter train rumbled by, Bill Curry strolled around the practice field on a chilly Georgia morning, wearing a blue stocking cap and barking out instructions on his megaphone.

"Field goal team," he instructed. "Be ready to kick."

A few minutes later, the final practice of a football life spanning more than a half-century was done.

For Curry, there's just one more game to go.

"It's really hard to believe," he said Thursday, before dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. "It went by fast."

Curry, who has spent the past three years building a new program at Georgia State, will retire after Saturday's game at Maine. This is not the way he wanted to go out -- the Panthers struggling mightily with a 1-9 record -- but he was feeling a little better after his players lifted him off the ground at the end of the workout, giving him that sensation of a coach being carried away in triumph.

He announced his retirement before the season even began, expressing a desire to spend more time with his wife and family. He knew this day was coming but, still, it's been weighing on him a bit as months turned to weeks, weeks turned to days.

"I couldn't sleep last night. I woke up really early," Curry said. "But I've been doing that every night for the last two of three weeks. I couldn't help but count it down."

At age 70, he has no regrets about stepping aside, other than the way he's going out. Until now, Curry could always ward off the sting of failure by telling himself that there's always the next game, the next season, the next job.

He doesn't have that option anymore.

"I've had more than one of these experiences where we didn't get the job done," said Curry, whose coaching career was marred by more losses than wins (93-127-4). "What that does, as a rule, is drives you to do the next job better. All you get when you don't win is that steely determination to do better. I'll have to do better at something else. I don't know what that is yet."