Those who read the sports pages are keenly aware that college football is a year-round exercise for most of those who can best be described as passionate fans. Even if you don’t live and die with every news-making event of your favorite college team, you know the importance of recruiting.
The recruiting season is peaking, and if I wanted to learn the latest on Georgia’s status with the precocious talent the Bulldogs covet, I could call the recruiting office and get the low down. I could walk down to Mark Richt’s office and ask him — assuming he’s not out on the road underscoring his Uncle Sam message (“I need you!”) to those he believes might make him coach of the year in a couple of seasons.
Or I could call Bob Argo, retired Athens businessman, distinguished alumnus of the University of Georgia, and a onetime member of the Georgia House of Representatives. For years, Bob has kept up with the latest in Georgia football recruiting. Not only has he kept himself informed, he has also identified players whom he helped bring to Athens to play for the Bulldogs.
In an earlier day, alumni could assist the coaches in recruiting. Get to know them and their parents. Make a pitch that connected. Mark Stewart, who was a starter in 1968 for the SEC championship team, was persuaded by Argo to come to Athens from West Virginia. That commitment alone was worth all the effort and energy Argo put into recruiting over the years.
Although he is not as active as he once was, seldom does a day go by when he doesn’t have his trusty assistant of his long business career, Janice Faulkner, print off the latest recruiting news from the Internet and bring it to his home for review.
If you drop by to see him, he may be in deep study with his printed recruiting materials. “Boy, we just got a commitment from a player we really need. Now if we can just get that boy out of Valdosta … .” Or Thomasville, or Vidalia, or wherever. You get the drift. Argo knows how many commitments the Bulldogs have and what the rating experts are saying about those who seem to favor Georgia as the school with which they will cast their lot.
This routine has been going on in Argo’s life for many years. He is a doting alumnus who cares about recruiting because he cares about the University of Georgia. This passion for good recruiting news is important to Argo, but anything Red and Black has been given the highest priority, dating back to the day he picked up his sheepskin.
Argo was a member of the athletic board and is a past president of the UGA Alumni Association. He is an emeritus trustee of the UGA Foundation, and he is a past president of the Touchdown Club of Athens. His credentials are exceptional, and so is his heart for his alma mater.
Several years ago, he was encouraged to run for the state legislature. Though more reserved and less vocal than most politicians, he was duly elected, which was a good day for the University of Georgia. It was nice to enjoy the perks that came from the position, but his primary objective was to do what he could for Athens, Clarke County, and the University of Georgia.
He operated with class and integrity. He made friends with those who wanted the best for the state but especially for the University of Georgia. He earned the respect of the powerful Speaker of the House, Tom Murphy. They became good friends. That friendship enhanced decisions favorable to his hometown and his alma mater.
Most of us have the notion that our elected officials are sent to the legislature to serve instead of becoming self-serving. Bob Argo, the passionate Bulldog recruiting advocate, quietly underscored service in a fashion that not only was good for the state, but it brought dividends to the University of Georgia.
Loran Smith is co-host of “The Tailgate Show” and sideline announcer for Georgia football. He is also a freelance writer and columnist.