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February 11, 2012

The Day when even the Faculty went "Bonkers"

Like many of you, I'm a Bulldog fan who recently had to bust out the credit card to donate to the Hartman Fund for the right to later actually buy season tickets.  During the most recent occurrence, I thought about the number of different areas in Sanford Stadium I've sat and watched Georgia football since I began attending games 31 years ago.  During this time, my most frequented seat has been among a group of faculty members in the lower level on the South side.  My dad - a former sociology professor at UGA - has had these same seats since he started teaching at the university in 1968.  It's where I primarily sat until I went off to college, and where I still sit on occasion even today. 

The faculty section consists of a rather obedient and tame group of individuals.  Unless getting up for the bathroom or to buy concessions, most of the faculty seldom stand.  After the North side declares "Georgia!"  only a few of the faculty will actually respond with "Bulldogs."  Some time during high school, when I experienced a different location at the stadium for the first time, I remember thinking how the new location was "crazy" and near deafening.  On the contrary, whenever I've brought a new guest to sit with me among the faculty, they seemingly always ask me something on the order of when are these people going to wake up?

On a personal note, the faculty members around my dad's seats, who I'd be willing to guess have been sitting there since the 1960s as well, were awaken for the LSU game in 1999.  The following is something I'm certainly not proud of, and speaking for an ex-girlfriend of mine, I have a feeling neither is she. 

My girlfriend at the time drank a little too much prior to the Bulldogs-Tigers meeting; WAY too much for a 12:30 kickoff.  Towards the end of the game, the "excitement" first began when my ex-girlfriend passed out in her own lap.  Soon afterwards, she "got sick" at her own feet, which was followed with her getting sick all over mine.  At this point, she was promptly carried up the stairs and towards the exits, before we were stopped by stadium security and escorted to a First Aid station.  

As we all know, this type of thing happens all the time in other parts of Sanford Stadium, but not in the faculty section.   

As I sat in a First Aid room at the stadium, I missed Will Witherspoon tip away the Tigers' bid for a victory on a two-point conversion attempt and Georgia escape with a one-point win.  Nevertheless, things could have been much worse (like her getting sick at the beginning of the game, getting better, and us returning to our seats).  I swear, I still get dirty looks from the section regarding my old-girlfriend-got-sick-in-the-stands incident from more than a decade ago.

As far as pure excitement amongst my faculty friends, there's only one other personal moment I can readily recall that has the LSU incident beat: Kevin Butler's 60-yard game-winning field goal to defeat 2nd-ranked Clemson in 1984.

As many of you are fully aware, following Butler's field goal, legendary Larry Munson blurted, "the stadium is worse than bonkers!"  Included in this chaos was indeed the faculty, who might not have been "worse than...," but they were most certainly "bonkers."

I remember the aftermath of Butler's game-winner like it was yesterday...  At nine years old, I was nearly terrified as I watched these people around me, who had been near-stagnant since I had been coming to games, instantly come unhinged.  When all the screaming and jumping about finally ceased, I don't think a single soul was standing in front of their rightful seat.  At one point, a man from behind who didn't know me from Adam, tried to lift me in the air in celebration.  I was somewhat of a husky fellow back then, so I didn't get very high; nevertheless, in the attempt by a complete stranger to toss me around, I was then more confused than ever.

Suddenly, a couple of white plastic cups featuring one of those classic drawings by Jack Davis skipped through the section, spraying ice and drink on everyone within distance.  Someone had dropped, or thrown cups of Coke from the top level above.  Under normal circumstances, the faculty would have been appalled and a security guard likely would have been summoned to seek out the culprit.  But not so for the 1984 Clemson game. 

Those drenched in drink seemed to relish in the moment, especially the elderly professor who sat right in front of me that never, and I mean never, made so much of a peep for years.  As Coke dripped from his check, the old man looked to the overhang above, licked the side of his mouth, and loudly hollered "thanks" to the group above for putting "something extra" in their Coke.  At the time, I had no idea what he meant by "something extra."  All I knew is something mighty special must have occurred to turn the meekest of fans into raving fanatics.

Although I don't remember much of the game-winning field goal  itself, just what followed, probably the greatest UGA football play I've ever witnessed in person is when "the Butler did it" against the Tigers.  The moment reminds me every February while I send off my hard-earned donation dollars that watching a game at Sanford Stadium, no matter what section I sit in, exceeds watching it from my couch.


Anonymous said...

Cool, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. On a personal note, I took one of your Dad's classes in the fall of my Freshman year. Of course, as a Freshman, I didn't know that you weren't supposed to willingly sign up for 8 a.m. classes. He made it worth coming every time.

AthensHomerDawg said...

At anon 9:15AM

Very Cool!

Anonymous said...

I was a Freshman at UGA in 1984 and this was my first UGA football game. I agree the stadium was worse than bonkers! I've been hooked ever since!

Anonymous said...

I was at the game, and since I was only a poor 1982 graduate, my seats were in the upper deck of the east endzone. Butler was kicking away from us. Before the kick my date asked me if I thought he could make it. I told her that if I could have ANYONE in the country to kick it, it would be Mr. Kevin Butler.

From the second the ball left his foot you could tell it was going to be good. The ball did not curve, it did not flutter, hook or slice. It was dead on perfect the entire way. Thank you, Kevin, you are from now on a legend.

Patrick Garbin said...

Thanks for sharing your comments/stories.

Anon 9:15,
I'll make sure to mention to my dad your comment; he'll really appreciate it. Thanks.