Shortly after I posted my clip from the 1978 Georgia-Georgia Tech thriller, ghostoferkrussell contacted me, asking if the video was from when Tech's Eddie Lee Ivery was injured against the Bulldogs.
It was the same game; one featuring not your run-of-the-mill football injury.
Evidently, there were some Jacket fans who believed Coach Dooley ordered his Wonderdogs of '78 to perform a "code red" and purposely harm Tech's, at the time, greatest running back in team history. I had never heard of such controversy and decided to investigate the enemy's accusations.
Ivery's ankle injury occurs just prior to the four-minute mark of the clip:
The injured ankle would be detrimental to the Yellow Jackets in 1978.
Leaving the game in the third quarter, Ivery already had more than 160 yards rushing. If he had not been forced out with the injury, admittedly, there's a good chance Georgia Tech would have defeated the Bulldogs.
A little more than three weeks later, Ivery would also miss the Peach Bowl. Against Purdue, Tech was held to 12 net yards rushing on 33 rushes after averaging more than 200 rushing yards per contest and nearly five yards per rush during the regular season. Ivery's replacement, Bucky Shamburger, was limited to 20 yards on 13 carries in a 20-point loss to the Boilermakers.
More than 30 years later, there are still some ticked-off Techies, who adamantly allege Dooley's "Code Red." As one blog poster stated:
I am not saying we would have beaten Purdue with Eddie Lee, but losing him to the cheap shot in athens took a lot of the wind from the sails. I still suffer from the dry heaves because of that.
From another Jacket poster:
Georgia has a long tradition of thuggery. Georgia fans threw rocks at Tech players & fans after Tech won the first game of the series in Athens in 1893. Dooley issued a “Code Red” and a “Bounty” for any player knocking Eddie Lee Ivery out in 1978 enabling Georgia to win 29-28 & this player boasted about it afterwards.
Let me first add that in the 1893 game, the contest's umpire made several questionable calls against Georgia. Come to find out, he was the brother of Georgia Tech’s trainer. Also, the Tech squad had several players who did not even attend the school, including a Leonard Wood. Wood was a 28-year-old lieutenant surgeon in the U.S. Army.
With my team facing such unfairness, I might have thrown rocks as well.
Although the camera pans away from the play soon after Ivery is tackled, there is no evidence from the video clip of a cheap shot. After extensive research, I personally cannot find anything mentioned in a newspaper or the like of a late hit, cheap shot, Code Red, or bounty, and I certainly have never heard of a Bulldog player later boasting about it.
If anyone does know of any evidence, please let me hear from you.
What was evident was the "thuggery" by the Yellow Jackets just three years later in Atlanta.
During the 1981 meeting between the Bulldogs and Jackets, the behavior of the Tech fans in the stands and players prompted Georgia cornerback Dale Williams to say, "They were using their mouth more than their shoulder pads the whole game. I couldn't believe some of the things that went on out there today."
Safety Steve Kelly added, "You really had to be careful. [Tech] took some unnecessary shots when the play was over."
"On the final drive, [the Yellow Jackets] were spitting on us," said Georgia quarterback Buck Belue.
The rivalry might have been old-fashioned, but clean?
That was the straw that broke the Bulldog's back! With Georgia already drubbing Tech 37-7 late in the game, Dooley, at the request from the team, replaced his reserve offense and reinserted his starters. This included The Man of Steel, who had already called it a day.
"We wanted to cram the ball down their throats, and we did," said Belue. The senior quarterback added that it was the first time he had ever seen the eyes of the normally mild-mannered Walker "light up."
Nearly three decades after the game, rarely will you hear a Bulldog complain about Tech's undeniable and confirmed, low-rent misconduct from 1981. Instead, you'll hear about Superman's 225 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-7 blowout on the Flats.