Wally Butts
File:Wally Butts.jpg
Biographical details
Born(1905-02-07)February 7, 1905
Milledgeville, Georgia
DiedDecember 17, 1973(1973-12-17) (aged 68)
Athens, Georgia
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Georgia (assistant)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
Head coaching record
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
2 National (1942, 1946)
4 SEC (1942, 1946, 1948, 1959)
3x SEC Coach of the Year (1942, 1946, 1959)
Florida–Georgia Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1997 (profile)

James Wallace "Wally" Butts, Jr. (February 7, 1905 – December 17, 1973) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head coach at the University of Georgia from 1939 to 1960, compiling a record of 140–86–9. His Georgia Bulldogs football teams won two national championships (1942, 1946) and four Southeastern Conference titles (1942, 1946, 1948, 1959). Butts was also the athletic director at Georgia from 1939 to 1963. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1997.

Playing careerEdit

Butts was a 1929 graduate of Mercer University where he played college football under coach Bernie Moore.[1] He is an alumnus of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity.

Coaching careerEdit

Butts came to the University of Georgia as an assistant to Joel Hunt in 1938. Hunt left after a 5–4–1 season to take over at the University of Wyoming and Butts was elevated to the position of head coach, which he held for 22 seasons through 1960. Butts also served as Georgia's athletic director from 1939 until 1963.[2]

Butts' assistants in his first year as head coach were Bill Hartman, Howell Hollis, Quinton Lumpkin, Jules V. Sikes, Forrest Towns, and Jennings B. Whitworth. During his tenure as head coach, Georgia won its first consensus national championship in 1942 and claimed another national title in 1946.[3] Ralph Jordan, future head football coach at Auburn University, joined the Georgia coaching staff in October 1946 as an assistant line coach. Butts was a proponent of the passing game in an era of "three yards and a cloud of dust". He developed innovative, intricate pass routes that were studied by other coaches. He was often called "the little round man" as he was five feet, six inches tall and had a squat body.

Butts coached 1942 Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich and 1946 Maxwell Award winner Charley Trippi. The 1942 Georgia team won the Rose Bowl over UCLA, finished #2 in the AP Poll, and was named a national championship by a number of selectors. Butts' teams also won four Southeastern Conference championships (1942, 1946, 1948 and 1959).[4] As head coach, Butts posted a 140–86–9 record (.615 winning percentage), including a bowl record of 5–2–1.[5] Johnny Griffith, a former player and assistant coach to Butts, succeeded him as head coach in 1961.

Later life and honorsEdit

In the 1960s, Butts filed a libel lawsuit against the Saturday Evening Post after it ran an article alleging that he and Alabama head coach Bear Bryant had conspired to fix games. Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, as it ultimately became when it reached the Supreme Court, was a landmark libel case. The court ruled in his favor in 1967, and the Saturday Evening Post was ordered to pay $3.06 million to him in damages, an amount which was later reduced on appeal to $460,000.[6] This settlement was seen as a contributing factor in the demise of the venerable Saturday Evening Post two years later.[6] Both Butts and Bryant had sued for $10 million each. Bryant settled for $300,000.

Butts was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.[7]

Butts died of a heart attack after returning from a walk in 1973.[8] He was buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia.[6]


Butts was the son of James Wallace Butts, Sr. (July 9, 1881 – January 2, 1959) and wife Annie (1881 – ?). Wally married Winifred Faye Taylor (July 12, 1907 – June 27, 1990) on February 19, 1929. They had three daughters, Faye, Jean and Nancy.

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Georgia Bulldogs (Southeastern Conference) (1939–1960)
1939 Georgia 5–6 1–3 8th
1940 Georgia 5–4–1 2–3–1 7th
1941 Georgia 9–1–1 3–1–1 4th W Orange 14
1942 Georgia 11–1 5–1 1st W Rose 2
1943 Georgia 6–4 0–3 4th
1944 Georgia 7–3 4–2 T–3rd
1945 Georgia 9–2 4–2 4th W Oil 18
1946 Georgia 11–0 5–0 T–1st W Sugar 3
1947 Georgia 7–4–1 3–3 T–4th T Gator
1948 Georgia 9–2 6–0 1st L Orange 8
1949 Georgia 4–6–1 1–4–1 T–10th
1950 Georgia 6–3–3 3–2–1 6th L Presidential Cup
1951 Georgia 5–5 2–4 T–9th
1952 Georgia 7–4 4–3 5th
1953 Georgia 3–8 1–5 T–10th
1954 Georgia 6–3–1 3–2–1 5th
1955 Georgia 4–6 2–5 11th
1956 Georgia 3–6–1 1–6 12th
1957 Georgia 3–7 3–4 9th
1958 Georgia 4–6 2–4 10th
1959 Georgia 10–1 7–0 1st W Orange 5 5
1960 Georgia 6–4 4–3 6th
Georgia: 140–86–9 66–60–5
Total: 140–86–9
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. Thilenius, Ed; Jim Koger (1960). No Ifs, No Ands, a Lot of Butts: Twenty-one Years of Georgia Football. Atlanta, Georgia: Foote & Davies Company. p. 8. LCCN 6015266.
  2. Former Head Coaches
  3. Georgia Football National Championships
  4. All-Time Winningest Division 1-A Teams
  5. Official 2006 NCAA Divisions I-A and II-A Football Records Book, page 331
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Wally Butts, Ex-Georgia Coach, Dies; Won Large Libel Suit Coached Noted Players". The New York Times: p. 46. December 18, 1973.
  7. Wally Butts profile in the College Football Hall of Fame
  8. "Wally Butts; Dropped by university, mentor was not forgotten by Bulldog fans". European Stars and Stripes: p. 21. December 21, 1973.

Additional sourcesEdit

External linksEdit

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