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June 30, 2009

Georgia's 14th Head Coach

Scan through Georgia's yearly football results and something peculiar may catch your eye--the fact UGA had two head coaches in 1909--co-coaches James Coulter and Frank Dobson (image--RichmondSpiders.com).
In the early days of collegiate football, it was quite common for a head coach to stay at a southern school, in particular, for only a short period of time. Among the reasons for the short coaching stints were lack of pay and prestige as the ultimate football coaching positions were located at universities of the northeast. Such was the case with the University of Georgia as the Red and Black had a remarkable 14 head coaches in just their first 18 seasons (1892-1909) of playing football.
The 1909 campaign in Athens began with James Coulter, a Brown University alumnus, as UGA's head football coach. However, following just one win in Georgia's first five games where the Red and Black were shut out on four occasions and scored only three total points, Frank Dobson was brought in to spark a stagnant offense.
Coach Dobson, a native of Roanoke, Virginia, was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech under the great John Heisman in 1908. Prior to the 1909 football season, he was selected as the athletic director of the "University school at Stone Mountain," where he would also coach the football squad. Between heading up Stone Mountain's athletic program and coaching football, Dobson apparently found time to also play on the gridiron. As mentioned in an earlier post, he was the star quarterback for the "Olympians," a club team in Atlanta, who faced Georgia on October 2 in Athens. Two weeks later, according to the Atlanta Constitution, Dobson refereed Georgia's 0-0 tie with Davidson and later a 14-0 loss to Alabama on October 30. Note: Back then, former collegiate players only years removed from playing would often officiate games, including contests involving their alma maters. Two days after officiating the Georgia-Alabama game, Dobson's Stone Mountain team appeared in the prep school championship of Georgia, losing to Gainesville's Riverside, 12-8.
At some point in early November, Dobson left Stone Mountain to help Coach Coulter coach the struggling Georgia squad. On November 20, the Red and Black lost to Georgia Tech for the fifth consecutive occasion, however, Dobson was given credit for "Georgia's wonderful showing" in a 12-6 defeat. It was quite a shock that Tech was held to only 12 points while Georgia scored its only touchdown in the first six games of the season on a one-yard plunge by left halfback Arthur Maddox. It was reported Dobson had formulated some trick plays the offense ran with success and "he taught [the team] more football in two weeks he was with them than they knew all the rest of the season. It is regrettable that they did not have him sooner."
Leading up to the season finale against Auburn, Georgia was thought to be much improved primarily because of the arrival of Coach Dobson. On Thanksgiving Day in Montgomery, AL, the Red and Black were defeated 16-5, only scoring on a 15-yard return of a blocked punt. The next day there was no mention of Dobson coaching the team in defeat, only Coach Coulter's name appeared. James Coulter would never coach again in college football, compiling just a 1-4-2 record in his lone season at Georgia.
Frank Dobson would also leave the University of Georgia following the 1909 season. After being rumored to become Tennessee's head football coach for the 1910 campaign, Dobson accepted the same position at Clemson College in late February. As Clemson's first paid football coach, Dobson would also eventually coach its baseball team and was the school's first basketball coach.
By 1910, led by the great Bob McWhorter and coached by Alex Cunningham, Georgia football had suddenly transformed into one of the better programs in the South. Late in the season, the heavily-favored Red and Black were "defeated" by a Dobson-coached Clemson team in a scoreless tie at Augusta's State Fairgrounds. Clemson's Dobson would face his previous team on two more occasions, 1911 and 1912, losing both games by a combined 50 to 5 score.
From 1913-1917 and 1919-1933, Dobson compiled a 79-78-18 record at Richmond (He curiously departed for South Carolina to coach the 1918 season but returned to Richmond the following year.) and remains, after 75 years since leaving the school, the Spiders' all-time leader in coaching victories. Following a two-season hiatus from coaching football, Dobson left for Maryland in 1936, guiding the Terrapins for four seasons through the 1939 season. In 28 seasons as a head coach at four institutions, he recorded a 110-112-20 overall record.
Frank Dobson is likely Georgia's least-heralded head football coach of the 25 in the school's history, merely co-coaching for just one, possibly two games during the 1909 season. However, he is one of the most intriguing stories in the annals of college football. For two different teams, he coached against Georgia in the seasons before (1908 Georgia Tech) and after (1910 Clemson) coaching for the Red and Black (1909). In addition and even more compelling, during the same season he coached at Georgia, he played against the Red and Black, officiated at least two games featuring Georgia, and, all the while coaching a prep school to the championship game of the state of Georgia.

June 27, 2009

100% Georgia Bulldog

Yesterday I met with Coach Dan Magill (photo--Red and Black) to discuss, among other things, Georgia football's "lost" victories of 1908 and 1909 and details regarding the Bulldogs' 7-6 victory over Tulane in 1937. These topics of conversation seem like exchanges that would leave most bored out of their skulls. However, fascinating and interesting, certainly not boring, are adjectives used to describe any discussion with the legendary UGA tennis coach and athletics historian.
I'm sure most of you know who Dan Magill is: World War II veteran, associated with UGA's athletic program for six decades, Georgia's head tennis coach from 1955-1988, retiring as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history, and the foremost knowledgeable source on the history of University of Georgia athletics, to name only a few. The Dan Magill Tennis Complex is named in his honor while Magill, 88 years young, is the curator of its ITA Hall of Fame. In addition, he has authored several books and still writes a column for the Athens Banner-Herald.
I got to know Coach Magill as he was writing the foreword for my second book, About Them Dawgs! The man is as gracious and courteous as he is knowledgeable, personally giving tours of the Hall of Fame for anyone who enters its doors. You'll find Magill there most Monday through Friday mornings, however, if you give him a call (706-542-8064) in advance, a tour can be scheduled most any time. I'm not a huge tennis fan but have to say that the Hall of Fame, located directly behind Foley Field, is rather impressive. I highly recommend paying it a visit and, if you have yet to have the pleasure, meeting Coach Dan Magill. Have a historical question regarding Georgia football? Rest assure Magill will have your answer...

June 25, 2009

I'm Back

After a two-week hiatus, I'm back and ready to blog about the Bulldogs. I was on vacation for a full week, have a lot going on with the job, and my dad is experiencing some health issues. For those of you who check in on a regular basis, as I've mentioned before, I recommend signing up to receive an email every time the blog is updated. To do so, you can enter your email address in the box located below "Other UGA Sites" on the right panel. This feature is rather useful since I post only once or twice a week.
Within the next few days, I'll post on one of Georgia's co-coaches of the 1909 season--Frank Dobson. Remarkably, after coaching at Georgia Tech in 1908, he played against, officiated a game featuring, and coached for the Red and Black all during the same season. Huh?!? Talk to you soon...

June 11, 2009

One of the Finest Bulldogs Ever...

I saw a video (below) yesterday on the late Bill Hartman (photo--UGA Sports Communications) and it prompted me to write a post on one of the greatest Bulldogs of all time.

As a senior fullback in 1937, Hartman would be recognized as Georgia's lone first-team All-American during a five-season span from 1936 to 1940. Towards the end of the '37 campaign, he was moved to quarterback because of a rash of injuries sustained by the team. Nevertheless, it was Hartman's punting and kick returning, not his play at quarterback, that would turn an apparent season on the decline into one of a success.

Against Tulane in mid-November, Hartman's 17 punts, including several that pinned the Green Wave down towards their goal line, for more than a 40-yard average were the highlight of a 7-6 victory for Georgia. Following a 0-0 tie against Auburn a week later, the Bulldogs secured their second consecutive draw--a 6-6 decision versus Georgia Tech. Georgia's lone points and only time it would cross the 50-yard line into Yellow Jacket territory came on a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Hartman. The All-American and his fellow Bulldogs went undefeated against this trio of powerful foes despite gaining only 167 COMBINED offensive yards in the three games.

For three separate stints (1939-1942, 1946-1956, 1974-1994) totalling 36 seasons, Hartman was an assistant on the Bulldog coaching staff. After a collegiate playing career during which he was identified as one of college football's most underrated players, Hartman seemingly became, besides Erk Russell, Georgia's most well-known assistant coach in its history.

The video from Damn Good Dog!:

This video of Hartman and Uga V occurred during the pregame of Georgia's victory over Ole Miss in 1992. Adding to the incident, Uga was scheduled to be the first live mascot ever to appear at Arkansas' Razorback Stadium the following Saturday after Hartman's fall. It would be the first ever SEC contest for Arkansas after playing in the now defunct Southwest Conference for years. The SWC had not allowed live mascots on playing fields.

As a new member of the SEC, Arkansas was set to welcome Uga V. That is, until Hartman nearly disabled the damn good dawg. Uga's close call triggered owner Sonny Seiler to think about the mascot's future lineage. So, instead of traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas, Uga spent the weekend with a female companion carrying on his bloodline in Moultrie, Georgia.
I'll be on vacation for the next week, so I'll probably won't be posting anything for a little while. Go Dawgs!

June 5, 2009

Munson: "Massaquoi!"

I was playing around with my blog this morning and thought I'd try inserting a video for the first time--not nearly as difficult as anticipated. I like going to YouTube and viewing Georgia football-related video clips. My two-year-old son enjoys these videos also, often pointing to a blank, computer screen, requesting, "Bull-gods?!? Bull-gods?!?" We especially appreciate the ones with Larry Munson's calls in the background.

Like many of you, I grew up listening to Munson and still have a hard time believing that we'll never hear his gravely voice call another game. My first distinct memory of the legend was him begging our '82 defense to "hunker it down one more time" at Auburn. Moments later the defense "broke it up," and my family and I jumped around our house in delight as sugar apparently fell from the sky at Jordan-Hare Stadium. I think Scott Howard does an admirable job as Munson's replacement but as Ray Goff once said, "Boy, it's tough to follow a legend..."

I thought I'd post video of perhaps the last great call by Munson--Massaquoi's winning-touchdown catch and two-point reception against Georgia Tech in 2006. Two months after this call, I would speak to Mr. Munson for the first time when I asked him to write the foreword to my first book, Then Vince Said to Herschel... Without any hesitation, he graciously accepted. A couple of weeks later, his foreword arrived in the mail, looking like it had been typed on a typewriter. A note was attached declaring, "Pat, Clean It Up!" However, there was hardly any corrections or editing needed on my part; Munson's foreword was written as eloquently as his voice sounded on the radio. His foreword (January 2007):

To the REAL fans:

It always amazes me when somebody decides to go digging through the long-ago history of some team. They always come up with things I’d never envision. This book is going to reach you the same way it did me. All sorts of things that happened many years ago to let us all know that Georgia fans have always been the same: extremely passionate and out of their minds when it comes to beating the main part of their schedule each year.

As I write this the United States of America had just wrapped up the greatest bowl season in the history of American football. Never have so many favored teams gotten so far behind so quick game after game, and yet they managed to come back in the second half and win. And if you really do remember some of the offenses that the Dawgs were running back in the ’20s and ’30s then you must have been in a state of shock when you saw all those bowl games we just watched. There were things in those bowl games that smacked of long-ago days in football; funny looking formations and people trying to hide the ball. All those great bowl games we had this winter had to bring smiles to all the old-timers. This is the case even for those guys who have been in the ground now for close to 70 years! How can we possibly match what just happened?

Was Georgia’s rally against Virginia Tech one of the greatest games in the school’s history? Was the Oklahoma-Boise State bowl game just like something that we all played out in the streets many years ago when were so young and green?

Settle back and read these words now and see if some of it sticks to your memory block. Some of these games go way, way back and some of the plays described are just like those goofy plays we saw this past winter in the bowl games. Despite all of television’s efforts, the games actually are better than they’ve always been. And beyond a shadow of a doubt the girls are much better looking!!!

Sincerely yours,

Larry Munson
(a very old football announcer)