|It has been recognized as the "Miracle on |
Tartan"—a "great" play in UGA football his-
tory that actually wasn't too great for the Dogs.
You see, according to my publisher, a listing of 50 all-time greatest plays should include "four to six plays" which might have been "great," but rather for the opposing team—to which I agree. However, it kind of stinks when you cannot think of at least one great play executed by the Bulldogs to offset the one that went against them.
I started to look through my book to identify which of the four original great plays for the opposition I would need to throw out to be replaced by Auburn's game-winning touchdown pass (because if you say "four to six" great plays not in Georgia's favor, I'm identifying four, and only four):
#46 The Timeout: Disputed timeout called by
#38 Trapped on the Tartan Turf:
’s game-tying touchdown catch on fourth down in ’68 is later declared an incomplete pass Tennessee
#31 Bulldogs’ Sugar Turns Sour: Dan Marino throws a 33-yard score on fourth down in the final minute to defeat
in ’82 Sugar Bowl Georgia
#19 Sanks’ Phantom Fumble: An erroneous ruling arises as
is driving for winning score against Tech in ’99 Georgia
To get more perspective—a sideline perspective—on the '68 Georgia-Tennessee game, which ended in a 17-17 tie, and the Volunteers' mistaken touchdown, this week I reached out to Charley Whittemore—the Bulldogs' starting split end and leading receiver that season.
Charley first brought up Tennesse's playing surface at the time—newly-laid Tartan Turf—a controversy in its own right which would ironically aid in the scoring of the controversial touchdown.
"It was like a brillo pad," Whittemore said of the Tartan Turf. "Because of that surface's abrasiveness, plus the heat and humidity of the game, staph infection would go through the team that year. I don't know if the turf was the real cause of everyone having staph, but that's what we blamed it on."
Tennessee quarterback Bubba Wyche began moving the Volunteers towards the Bulldogs’ goal.
Tennessee faced fourth and goal with enough time remaining to run just one play, but then, it happened. Wyche dropped back in the pocket, set himself, and fired a pass over the middle to Gary Kreis. Just as Kreis tried to make the catch near
"What I really remember about that game is Tennessee entered ranked [9th in the nation]—we weren't—and they were a substantial [7-point] favorite," Whittemore recalled. "But, when the game ended in the tie, we were really upset, while they were all happy—ecstatic—about the tie. It should have been the reverse."
Two days later, reports were disclosed that Kreis had actually trapped the football as he rolled over
"Whether [Kreis] caught it or not, it's history—they scored on us," Whittemore said. "That was the way it was back then—officials made bad calls all the time. Bad calls—you lived with them; they were part of football."
Whittemore's head coach agreed. When UGA was asked to comment on the media's findings the next week, only Vince Dooley responded, and it was certainly short and to the point: "You don't win football games on Sunday."
The Bulldogs would find some solace of sorts seven weeks later in Athens, when outgained by the Houston Cougars 532 to 276 in total yardage, Georgia somehow came away with a 10 to 10 tie. “Unlike at Tennessee, against
|With the Redcoats in the background, UGA and |
UT face off in '68, while on the verge of being
part of perhaps one of the most controversial
TDs in college football history.
Reflecting upon the 1968 season and Georgia's tie against Tennessee, followed by the second draw coming against Houston, Whittemore stated, "sometimes you don't have things go your way, but sometimes you do..."
And, just as I was about to point out how the Bulldogs recently, seemingly have things or game-deciding plays—great plays—always not go their way, Charley continued...
"Like last year, we maybe should've beaten Auburn, but if not for a fumble by Tennessee ("Pig" Howard) in overtime, we might have lost to them too, but it was the other way around—we beat Tennessee."
I want to thank Coach Whittemore for giving his account of when a "great" play wasn't so much, but also reminding me of one that actually resulted in Georgia's favor during the last several years; here's to a couple more great plays resulting in 2014. Moreover, I appreciate being reminded that sometimes we tend to focus on when things don't go our way, and neglect to recognize all the times when they do.