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April 11, 2016

Quotable G-Day

Carson in '53
With the 73rd G-Day game this weekend, I thought I'd post 10 notable and historical quotes regarding the annual intrasquad spring contest. If anything, the following should exhibit how G-Day has gone from a highly-contested affairone in which the local media and assistant coaches used to actually place odds on the gameto more of a simple, glorified scrimmage:

1953: During a 25-to-25 draw between the Red and White in 1953a rare tie in the spring seriesRed starting quarterback and All-American Zeke Bratkowski appeared to have thrown the ball too hard, and thus was dropped, on a couple of occasions to teammate John Carsonpasses which, if completed, could have been the difference in a Red victory. Contrary to it being his fault, Bratkowski explained the misconnections following the contest:

John had just taken his military shots, and his left arm was still swollen.

Stoll in '57
1957: Although the teams were seemingly divided up evenly by the assistant coaches, resulting in a 48-0 rout by the White over the Red, the 1957 G-Day game is the most lopsided in the history of the annual spring game. After the blowout, Georgia coaches were absolutely bewildered over the result, including head coach Wally Butts, who remarked, "I just don't understand it. We thought we had it divided as evenly as possible." When first-year interior line coach Cal Stoll, who would eventually be the head coach at Wake Forest followed by Minnesota, was asked what he thought of the one-sided affair, he thought he'd offer up a joke regarding his defensive coaching habits during that spring:

I just want everybody to know, I've only been coaching the Whites' defense. 



Dooley in '68
1968: For the longest time, Georgia's roster was divided into two teams for G-Daynot according to who played on the first-team offense, first-team defense, second-team offense, etc.but, by two assistant coaches, serving as the game's head coaches, and their assistants and, as mentioned, divided as evenly as possible. In 1968, the Red was head coached by assistant John Donaldson, whose staff included Billy Kinard, Ken Cooper, Doc Ayers, and Sam Mrvos, whereas the Black was head coached by Frank Inman, who was assisted by Jim Pyburn, Jim Wood, and Mike Castronis. And, what players belonged to which team was serious business. According to head coach Vince Dooley, who would be simply acting as a fan for the game:

I had trouble finding out the starters. These coaches take this game so seriously that I had to pledge secrecy before they'd give me a list of the starters.


Goff sacked by Zambiasi
during '76 G-Day
1976: Beginning in 1976, and for the next 15 years or so, notables in the media were chosen as honorary guest head coaches for G-Day. The first of such games pitted Jesse Outlar of the Atlanta Constitution coaching the Black, who benefited by having the services of No. 1 quarterback Ray Goff, against Harley Bowers of the Macon Telegraph coaching the Red, who was stuck starting the Bulldogs' No. 3 signal-caller, Anthony Flanagan (No. 2 quarterback Matt Robinson was injured). At halftime of what would be a notable upseta 19-13 victory for the underdog BlackOutlar declared to his quarterback that if he didn't lead the Black to a couple of quick scores, he'd be fired as head coach. Goff wasn't amused:

To heck with the coach! Did you see what the other quarterback is doing? I'm the one who may get fired.
In '78, Grizzard, Dooley,
and Black QB Randy Cook


1978: For the 1978 G-Day game, the honorary coaches were the legendary Lewis Grizzard for the Black and WSB Radio's Phil Schaefer for the Red. Behind tailback Willie McClendon, the Black throttled the Red, 24-0, including scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game. Afterwards, Grizzard was jokingly asked why he didn't go for two points following the final touchdown and really run the score up. Grizzard quipped he had been too busy hugging the cheerleaders to realize he had scoredand, it was the only mistake he made the entire contest. Schaefer was then not too complimentary of the game's officials, whereby Grizzard joked again:

I thought my Uncle Charley called a good game!

Dooley and Schaefer


1982: Four years after Grizzard and Schaefer squared off on G-Day, head coach Vince Dooley was still telling the story of how much the latter media member endured in a losing effort:

That's the way it is when you lose. The year broadcaster Phil Schaefer coached a losing team, everyone ran off and left him, and he had to walk back to the Coliseum. 







Griffith
1984: More than twenty years removed since serving as head football coach at Georgia, Johnny Griffith reportedly still contributed to the Bulldog Club, attended games, was friends with then-head coach Vince Dooley and, between himself and his business as the executive vice president of a stone-crushing company, bought more than 20 season tickets. However, as the Bulldogs' head coach from 1961 through 1963, when he won just 10 games in three seasons between the legendary tenures of Wally Butts and Dooley, Griffith was regarded as Georgia's "forgotten coach"and, how! In 1984, G-Day was to not feature a customary intrasquad game for the first time, but a game pitting the then-current players against an Alumni team. Overseen by executive secretary of the Bulldog Club, Loran Smith, hundreds of invitations were mailed to Georgia alumni, asking for them to participate in some manner in the annual G-Day game. Curiously, Griffith did not receive an invitation, although Smith had a logical explanation for the omission of the Bulldogs' former head coach:

A processing error.

1984: Leading up to the Team-Alumni G-Day game of '84, worthy of mention was the fact Leroy Dukesa starting linebacker on Coach Dooley's first team 20 years before, who had gained roughly 50 pounds since his 190-pound playing weightwould be playing opposite of his son, redshirt freshman quarterback David Dukes. According to the elder Dukes, who worked as manager of the Ramada Inn Hotel in Athens:

I want to get [into the game for] just one playa blitz in the split 60 [defensive formation]so I can tackle David.  

In the second quarter, it was reported Leroy "waddled on the field, blitzed before the ball was snapped and grabbed" David, but couldn't bring his son down. Having appeared for the one play, as he promised, Leroy "puffed back to the sideline," whereupon he removed his No. 42 jersey, giving it to teammate Bill Krug (1975-1977), and then put on a specially made "I Survived" t-shirt.


Ray (L) and Scott (R) Rissmiller
1989: Five years after the first Team-Alumni G-Day game, Georgia featured the secondand, likely the last gameof its kind. Like the initial one, the second Team-Alumni game featured a father-son pair squaring off: lineman Ray Rissmiller, an All-American in 1964, against freshman guard, and son, Scott Rissmiller. And, like the game from five years before, according to the elder Rissmiller, the father and son had a close confrontation on the gridiron:

One time [in the game] this [opposing] guard spun me off, and I was waiting for him to finish me off, but he went by me. After the play, I heard, "Are you all right, Daddy?"


Donnan in '96
1996: From a competitive contest, to one coached by media members, to an affair featuring an Alumni squad, G-Day drastically changed over time to more so a scrimmage structured solely for evaluation purposes by exhibiting multiple units and player combinations. By the 1990s, how the Red and the Black squads actually performed on the field was fairly insignificant as evident just prior to the 1996 G-Day game according to Georgia's then-new head coach, Jim Donnan:

If we look like an outhouse or penthouse [at G-Day], I'm not going to worry about. I hope people are still going to come see us play next year.

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