ATHENS — Darrell Huckaby has assumed a host of notable roles in his notable life – educator, author, preacher, travel expert, cancer survivor, husband, father and grandfather among them.
And now Huckaby can add Ole Faithful Dawg to the list.
Last Saturday, during halftime of Georgia’s 63-17 throttling of Murray State in the Bulldogs’ 2019 home opener, Huckaby was presented the Ole Faithful Dawg Award by UGA football lettermen Terry Osbolt and Jim Baker.
According to the game notes issued by UGA, the honor is bestowed by the Georgia Football Lettermen’s Club “to an individual who is not a football letterman but who has been a loyal and dedicated supporter of the Bulldog football team.”
“When Terry Osbolt called me in July and told me they wanted to honor me, I was flabbergasted,” said Huckaby earlier this week. “I was very flattered and honored.”
Ironically, Huckaby, a Citizen columnist for more than two decades, admitted he didn’t originally have plans to attend the game because Huck’s Tours, the travel business he has owned and operated for the last six years, found him in the middle of a 10-day excursion with 56 people on a tour of the Great Lakes.
“I originally told them I couldn’t come because I was working,” he said. “But my kids said I needed to be there.”
It didn’t hurt that iconic former coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, who was honored before the game as the playing surface within Sanford Stadium was officially christened Vince Dooley Field, requested Huckaby’s presence as well.
“I changed my mind and made arrangements to fly back (from Toronto) for a banquet honoring coach Dooley on Friday night and for the ceremony the next day,” said the Porterdale native. “And I went to the Lettermen’s barbecue before the game and got to visit with a lot of those guys, and coach Dooley made an appearance.”
Huckaby, who is one of many scribes whose word count in stories on Dooley, 87, is probably well into the five figures, said Dooley’s entreaty proved to be impossible to deny.
“Coach Dooley is the most amazing person I know,” he said. “He called me to say he’d be on the field with me, and we got a chance to talk a little after the game. What an incredible guy he is. It was an honor that they thought to recognize me on the same day they named the field in his honor.”
Equally meaningful was the fact that Huckaby’s family joined him on the field at halftime.
“It’s an honor I’ll always remember – and it’s something my kids will remember,” he said. “Our kids have all graduated from Georgia. My sons-in-law graduated from Georgia. My daughter-in-law is a (Georgia) Tech grad, but she wears red and black now … We voted to keep her.”
Huckaby is the 14th recipient of the lettermen’s Ole Faithful Dawg Award, joining an august group of members of the Bulldog Nation, including longtime UGA football goodwill operative and author Loran Smith, the Seiler family, owners of the famed UGA mascot, award-winning cartoonist Jack Davis and former UGA track coach Lewis Gainey.
“I felt honored to be in a long line of really great Georgia fans,” said Huckaby. “I don’t know why they chose me, but I was really, really honored and I’m really appreciative.”
By Sunday, Huckaby was back with his travel group and had returned to the road.