Bill Fulcher, former Georgia Tech football player and coach, dies in Augusta

Former Georgia Tech coach Bill Fulcher, who led his alma mater’s football team from 1972-73 before leaving the profession to go into real estate, died Friday at his home in Augusta. He was 88.

The second coach tabbed to follow in the massive footsteps of coach Bobby Dodd, Fulcher first made his mark at Tech by arriving as a walk-on before earning a scholarship and a starting position playing for Dodd in the mid-50′s when the Yellow Jackets were a national powerhouse.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech

Credit: Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech

Fulcher was hired by Dodd (then serving as athletic director) before the 1972 season after Bud Carson was fired after five seasons. After three seasons in the NFL as a linebacker with Washington (1956-58) – he is said to be the first person from Augusta to play in the NFL – Fulcher undertook coaching jobs at the high-school level in Georgia and at Tech and then at Florida. His final step before returning to Tech as head coach was one season as head coach at the University of Tampa (1971).

He became just the fifth full-time head coach at Tech, following John Heisman, William Alexander, Dodd and Carson.

“I’ve taken a few wrong turns in my life, but this is it, the place I’ve always wanted to be,” Fulcher said in an article in The Atlanta Constitution at the time of his hire.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Georgia T

Credit: Photo courtesy of Georgia T

In two seasons, Fulcher was 12-10-1. He led the Jackets to a 7-4-1 record in 1972, finishing the season with a Liberty Bowl win over Iowa State and a No. 20 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. In the 16 years post-Dodd that Tech played as an independent (1967-82), it was one of two seasons that the Jackets finished in the Top 25.

After his second season, Fulcher resigned at the age of 39, stating that “it is no longer as enjoyable for me to coach football as it once was.” In reports from the time, Dodd said that there was no pressure on him to quit. Dodd named former Tech star and UCLA coach Pepper Rodgers as his successor. Of Tech’s 13 full-time head coaches, his tenure remains the briefest.

Credit: Photo courtesy o

Credit: Photo courtesy o

Fulcher went into commercial real estate after his resignation, returning to Augusta. According to an obituary published online by an Augusta funeral home, Fulcher enjoyed a successful, award-winning career in that field. His pursuits included racquetball, golf, hunting and poetry, and he sang in the choir at First Baptist Church in Augusta. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Fulcher is survived by his wife of 37 years, Bequi, three children and a stepson, a brother and 11 grandchildren.

A visitation will be held Monday 5-7 p.m. at the Thomas Poteet & Son funeral home in Augusta. The funeral service will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Augusta.