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June 24, 2011

Dawg-Gone Goal Posts

I'm not sure exactly how, but yesterday my wife and I got on the subject of the 2000 Tennessee game - the night the goal posts went down in Georgia.  Certain of my response, she jokingly asked if I had been one of the celebratory fans to run onto the field after (or even during) the game (we didn't know one another at the time).

After I incessantly went on and on about the total disregard and disrespect displayed by fans that night for our stadium, players, and tradition, I asked "Why?!?  Did you run onto the field?"

My wife promptly replied that she had actually helped bring down one of the goal posts...she was kidding. 

"No," she answered sincerely, "but if I had been a few years younger and still a student...maybe I would have gone out there."

Until I viewed the 2000 Georgia-Tennessee game this morning for the first time in nearly 11 years, I had forgotten how frenzied and electric Sanford Stadium was that night... (and that an official got hit in the head by a football):

Recalling the past, I could almost see how a jubilant UGA student might have had the urge to tear down a goal post, or two...  He or she had probably been in elementary school the last time Georgia had not only defeated Tennessee (1988), but also beat a ranked team in Sanford Stadium (1991- Clemson). 

Furthermore, it seemed the rage in college football at that time was to tear down goal posts.  The local newspapers didn't help the stadium's cause the week of the game, running stories in wonder if the goal posts would come down upon a Georgia victory.

The teardown of 2000 was the first (and last) time goal posts had been brought down in Sanford Stadium.  Apparently, it nearly had initially happened after the Bulldogs' momentous 21-0 win over Alabama in 1976, but as Coach Dooley said years later, "[Some fans] got one [post] part of the way down and we asked them to stop.  They did."

Before 2000, Georgia enthusiasts had somewhat a history of bringing down goal posts; however, they simply just didn't do it, or allow it, in their own house.

Gator Bowl teardown of '76
Five weeks following the failed Alabama attempt, The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party spilled into the Gator Bowl's end zones as Dog fans tore down both goal posts after Georgia's 41-27 comeback victory over Florida in 1976.  It was thought to be the first time the Jacksonville stadium's posts had ever been dismantled and would eventually cost the Gator Bowl $2,695 for a couple new ones.

A high school football game played at the stadium following the Bulldogs' victory over the Gators was forced to use a single makeshift structure as a goal post.

Nine years later after Georgia defeated No. 1-ranked Florida in 1985, Dawg fans attempted to do the very same destruction to the Gator Bowl but were met by approximately 250 of Jacksonville's finest wielding night sticks.

The police arrested six on the field attempting to bring down the goal posts - four of the six, according to the Jacksonville police, were "highly intoxicated."  What were the other two thinking?!?

In 1931, Georgia upset New York University 7-6 at Yankee Stadium in front of 63,000 spectators.  Although the Bulldog supporters might have been small in number, they were colossal in spirit as they tore down both goal posts in the home team's own backyard.

Following the victory, parts of the Yankee Stadium posts actually rode back with the Georgia players on the team train.  In addition (and so the story goes), pieces of the goal posts had made their way out onto the street outside the stadium.  A particular UGA student struggled to carry one of these pieces, which was longer than he was, through the Bronx and back to his hotel.

Has it really been more than 30 years?
Suddenly, a New York taxicab pulled up beside him and the passenger inside offered the student a ride to wherever he needed to go.  From there, the taxi, the student, the prized piece of post, and the generous passenger - none other than UGA's Dr. Steadman Sanford - all somehow, as a newspaper reported, "rode in style to the hotel."

Then there's the most famous goal-post demolishing of all time in Georgia football history (and the only other one I can think of off the top of my head): the one which followed the capturing of the 1980 national championship.  I'm not aware of any specific details - just that the memorable moment is captured in one of my most favorite photographs.

Back to my wife's and my conversation...  She suddenly piped up, and again in jest, "What if Georgia won a national title?  Would you then attempt to run onto the field and maybe try to bring down a goal post?" 

In attempt to be humorous, I said, "No, security would be too tight."  Seriously, considering it would be evident that it only happens every three to four decades, "if I was a few years younger and still a student..."

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