Russell remained one of the most popular figures in state college football history 26 years after helping lead Georgia to its last national championship.
He served as Vince Dooley's defensive coordinator for 17 seasons before moving on to Georgia Southern, where he built the school's first football team since 1941. The Eagles won national titles under him in 1985, 1986 and 1989.
Russell graduated from Auburn with both batchelor's and master's degrees. He was AU's last four-sport letterman, playing football, baseball, basketball, and tennis for the Tigers. And he was a helluva guy. If you never got a chance to chat with Erk, you really missed out on something.
Every fan has a couple of "what-ifs" they daydream about during the long summer months. In my case, I've always wondered, what if Auburn had hired Erk instead of the hapless Doug Barfield in 1976? We'll never know, but I feel very safe in guessing that the second half of the 1970's would have looked very, very different with Erk in charge.
He was a great coach, and a better man. I only met Erk a couple of times, getting to talk with him very briefly, but I miss him already.