Jun. 16—VALDOSTA — Former Georgia national champion and Valdosta High quarterback Buck Belue returns to Valdosta Friday.
Belue will host a book signing for his new book "Inside the Hedges". The signing will be held at the Salty Snapper, located at 1405 Gornto Road in Valdosta, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Belue will also be speaking to all in attendance, discussing details about the book starting at 6 p.m.
"We're excited about being back home," Belue said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. "We're going to plan to come back during the football season. I'm trying to hit all these spots around the state in June and July. We've been to Macon and done a few here in Atlanta. We're going to Columbus and Augusta...Jacksonville, Florida next week. So yeah, we're busy trying to get it out there."
According to Belue, "Inside the Hedges" has been in the works "about 30 years". Belue said he has always enjoyed writing and began taking notes in his daily planner when he was in college at the University of Georgia — a routine he got from his father.
"It's something I had thought about doing for a long, long time and I've written it and rewritten it and rewritten it again," Belue said. "It's been one of those challenges to get it right. My wife sort of gave me a push, 'Look, can we go ahead and get this thing done?' I worked on it and really focused on getting it done last summer. We put it together the last year but I've been working on it for 30 years."
"Inside the Hedges" focuses on Belue's journey to the 1980 national championship with Georgia. Belue also discusses his Valdosta experience as a two-sport athlete in football and baseball, being recruited by legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and his decision to go to Georgia.
"There have been so many times through the years where I've had people, especially here in Atlanta, that have been curious. 'How did Valdosta do it? How'd they win all those games?' I knew there was just a natural interest about Valdosta. In the beginning, I write about the Valdosta experience and what I thought the secret sauce was and how they went about winning all those games.
"It also allowed me to brag on a lot of the coaches and teammates that I had that maybe never got the credit for the great job they did. That was something that really motivated me to get this out there — to be able to brag on the hometown, so to speak."
With Belue's book coming out this year, the former quarterback turned broadcaster was worried about the book conflicting with Georgia winning its first national championship since his team did it 42 years ago. He also explains why he has been reluctant to talk much about his team's national title.
"I had no idea Georgia was going to win the national title, obviously," Belue said, referring to Georgia's national title win earlier this year. "I've had people tell me, 'Belue, this is terrible timing!' Then I had some others say, 'Well, this is really going to help.' It sort of remains to be seen how that's going to work out, but it's been a passion. It's always been something I've really wanted to do.
"I know there's been some other people that have written about the 1980 season and I may have ruffled a few feathers by not sitting down with them and talking with them. It was because I didn't want to give the stories away. I thought maybe one day I'd get around to doing this."
Shane Thomas is the sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times.