Originally created 08/16/98

Goff hopes to make mark on air



On a night when Sleeping With The Enemy is on the tube, let's all think of Ray Goff, sports radio personality.

That's right. The paid-off Georgia coach, ousted three years ago at a princely sum partly due to the wrath and venom spewed from microphones and airwaves, now sits behind one, two days a week, the defender that is all coaching.

It's as if President Clinton invited Kenneth Starr for a weekend at Camp David. Or Rick Barnes asked Dean Smith to be his best man. Or if Dennis Rodman shagged rebounds for Karl Malone.

The oil and vinegar combination won't spontaneously combust when Goff sits behind the mike at WQXI 790 "The Zone" in Atlanta, which he'll do every Monday and Thursday from 2-4 p.m. with Jamie Dukes and Matt Stephens. The king of all bellyaching has now jumped, feet first, into the cauldron.

"I still complain about guys on the radio being unfair," Goff said from his office in Atlanta.

"I told 'em that if they wanted someone who'll be a negative guy, a guy who will jump on coaches and players, they got the wrong guy. I'm going to defend them. No one's ever spoken up for them."

He vows to be a coach's best friend, even though he hasn't been around the game much since his forced ouster following the loss to Virginia in the 1995 Peach Bowl. And don't expect to see Goff coaching anytime soon.

"I've been blessed to do what I wanted to do before I turned 40," said Goff, who maintains a farm in Watkinsville and commutes there three nights a week.

"At 43, it's time for me to change direction somewhat."

His direction now is about construction, and he helps start a construction company -- Myrick, Batson & Gurosky -- whose niche is building churches. Goff said his group will net almost $80 million this year.

The 9-to-5 gig helps him devote more of his time to being a dad, commuting across the South with his two daughters, age 11 and 14, to horse shows.

"Every weekend, from Athens to Chateau Elan to Clemson, we're on the road," Goff said. "It's almost like recruiting. But this is so much more enjoyable because I'm with my children more than I ever was when I was coaching."

The radio gig arrived on a whim. Goff and ex-basketball coach Hugh Durham were guests on "Steak" Shapiro's midday show a few months prior. Station operations director Matt Edgar described Goff as "relaxed and informative," and when Goff kept calling Shapiro "Snake," a personality was born.

"He was on for 10-15 minutes, and he was very funny, very good," Edgar said. "We talked about getting a Southern voice with credibility over the air, and when we approached coach Goff, he seemed receptive."

Sports talk radio does not portend to be erudite or high-brow. It is brash, boisterous and boorish. Goff enters the scene of second-guessing, a former favorite target, and vows not to get caught up in the format's histrionics.

"Radio guys are known to rip 'em," he said. "I'm not a ripper. Some of these guys I'm working with are the same guys who ripped me."

Yeah, "Coach Goof" remains a popular moniker, and when his play-calling came into question during his seven years in Athens, the radio talking heads were the ones calling for Goff's.

"I'm not the type of guy who is going to make people mad because I know what coaches and players go through, a lot more than people who sit behind a microphone and talk," he said.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat anything either. There are so many things as coaches that we'd like to say but can't because then it looks like an excuse. I think I'm going to be an excuse-maker for a lot of coaches. I don't have to be politically correct on the radio."

Ray Goff, No Holds Barred. Ears can't wait.