Georgia Southern University unveiled the addition of Coach Erk Russell’s name and championship years to the two retired jerseys at Paulson Stadium at halftime of Saturday’s game vs. West Georgia. Russell guided the Eagles to three championships, including back-to-back titles in 1985 and 1986, the first in I-AA. Georgia Southern completed the 1989 championship season undefeated and untied, earning recognition as the first 15-0 college team of the 20th century. Russell passed away one year ago today.
‘The addition of Coach Russell’s name to our retired jerseys pays tribute to his contributions to Georgia Southern,” said President Bruce Grube. ‘His passion for coaching football and for the game itself, his energy and charisma, created an atmosphere of excitement on campus and in the community. Coach Russell and his Eagle teams made us proud to be associated with Georgia Southern, and made our football program the most respected in the nation.”
More than 45 feet in width, the white lettering reads ‘Coach Erk Russell” with three footballs detailed with the years of his championship seasons. The nameplate is centered between the retired jerseys of former Eagles Tracy Ham (8) and Adrian Peterson (3) on the southern facade of Paulson Stadium.
Russell coached in Paulson Stadium for six of his eight seasons, ending his coaching career after defeating Stephen F. Austin before a stadium-record crowd of 25,725 in the 1989 NCAA championship game. Russell and his Eagle teams posted a 41-1 record at Paulson Stadium from 1984-1989, including an 11-0 mark in playoff games, and a string of 37 consecutive home victories.