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Former UGA quarterback Buck Belue authors book on 1980 championship season
Buck Belue
Buck Belue, who quarterbacked Georgia to a national championship in 1980, was at Universities Forever in Cumming on Saturday to promote his book 'Inside the Hedges: The Quarterback's Journey to the 1980 National Championship.' - photo by David Roberts

Buck Belue famously guided Georgia's football team to a national championship 42 years ago. 

What some might not know is that Belue's career as a writer began in earnest around that same time.

Belue was at Universities Forever in Cumming on Saturday to promote his book, 'Inside the Hedges: The Quarterback's Journey to the 1980 National Championship,' a project that was decades in the making.

"I had a daily planner that my dad gave me when I was at Georgia," Belue said. "So most days, at the end of the day, I would just jot down some notes from the day. I'd gone through and written it probably in the late 80s, then a couple of years later changed it — you know, write, rewrite, write, rewrite. It goes on the shelf, then you're back working on it again. Really, my wife kicked me in the butt and said, 'Let's finish this thing.'"

Belue quarterbacked the Bulldogs to a 12-0 record in 1980, culminating with a 17-10 win over Notre Dame Jan. 1, 1981 in the Sugar Bowl. 

Georgia captured its first national championship since that fabled season in January with a 33-18 win against Alabama in the title game.

"I got to work last year on it, before the football season started," Belue said. "I had no idea that Georgia would win the national title. I've had these friends that have said, 'You're crazy releasing the book now, right after the '21 team.' There was some of that thought process going on. We just rolled with it and said the timing is the timing. Hopefully the renewed interest in the program would spill over and may have people interested in what happened in 1980."

Georgia was loaded with talent in 1980 — there were five future NFL Draft picks on the roster, plus Hall of Fame head coach Vince Dooley and legendary defensive coordinator Erk Russell.

But part of Belue's focus in writing the book was shining a light on his hometown of Valdosta, as well as some of the lesser known players on Georgia's 1980 team.

"The real motivation for me was, I've had so many people through the years ask me about Valdosta, where I grew up, and the football program being so successful," Belue said. "It allowed me to talk about my hometown and brag on the people that helped me through those high school days. Also, I was motivated by writing about the 1980 season and about the guys that never got the credit. They hear about Herschel [Walker], Coach Dooley, Erk Russell, Buck Belue, and there were just so many guys that played a big part in the championship, and it really gave me an opportunity to really brag on them, which was a real motivator, too."

Belue played one more season at Georgia, leading the Bulldogs to a 10-2 record the following year while engineering an offense that averaged 31 points per game, the ninth most in the country in 1981.

Belue was selected by the Montreal Expos in the sixth round of the 1982 MLB Draft, and some of his book discusses his path as a two-sport athlete.

Belue, who lives in Forsyth County, currently hosts the Buck Belue Show on 680 The Fan.

"Twenty years we've been here. We've called it home," Belue said of living in Forsyth County. "We just love it. We just live a couple miles down the road, and we just found a place where we love the people. We sort of fell into it. My wife and I, when we decided to buy a home we didn't really know where we wanted to go, but we're just really blessed to have found Cumming."

Buck Belue
Former Georgia quarterback and current Forsyth County resident Buck Belue, right, with Universities Forever owners Stuart Cohen, left, and Jini Lee. - photo by David Roberts