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August 1, 2014

The Dogs' "Flaming Hogs"

Seeing Red: An 85-year redheaded transition, of  
sorts, from (top) Leathers and Maddox to (bottom)
Theus, Kublanow, and Pyke. 
I'll warn you in advance: this week's post is rather random...   Nevertheless, shortly after reading another article indicating that redheads could become extinct (I thought that theory was put to rest a few years ago?), it dawned on me that this season's Red and Black squad is certainly and remarkably represented by redheaded players.

Redheads, which are thought to make up only between 2 and 8 percent of the American population, are represented at Georgia by John Theus, Brandon Kublanow, and Greg Pykeall of whom are offensive lineman, and all of whom may very well start in 2014.  What are the chances?  Well, I decided to figure it out using some roughvery roughmath.

Considering the population of redheads in our country, plus a couple of other factors which I won't bore you by explaining their details, I eventually figured that the probability of a major college team featuring at least three redheads of its starting five offensive linemen is roughly 1 in 15,000.  In other words, the entirety of FBS football should average having a team with a trio of starting redheaded offensive linemen about once every 120 years.  Phenomenal!  I thought to myself, because of such rarity, this Bulldog threesome is most deserving of a nickname of some kind.

The first nickname which popped in my head was one given to a group of Bulldogs from 85 years ago: the "Flaming Sophs of '29."  There were 12 members of the Flaming Sophs, eight of whom were starters (of just 11 positions) on Georgia's 1929 team.  Led by this distinguished dozen, the Bulldogs compiled a respectable 21-8-1 record in three seasons, including a 12-0 combined mark vs. Georgia Tech, Auburn, Yale, and UNC.  In October of this group's initial season, it dedicated Sanford Stadium with an upset over Yale; and in October of its final season, it was recognized by some in the media as college football's best team of 1931.

The Flaming Sophs featured a redheaded pair regarded as one of the best guard tandems in football, each of whom was even nicknamed for their hair color: Milton "Red" Leathers and Ralph "Red" Maddox.  Both were All-Southern linemen; Maddox was also a first-team All-American in 1930, while Leathers eventually became the first Athenian to play in the NFL.  

According to another UGA football historian, it was the hair color of the two Reds why the entire group was nicknamed the "Flaming Sophs" in the first place.  However, I personally haven't found any evidence of such, believing the nickname was actually given in retrospect, while the sophomores were regarded as "flaming" not because two of the 12 members had red hair, but likely because the dozen instantly became an integral part of the Georgia program as mere sophomores.  Still, led by Red Leathers and Red Maddox, the Flaming Sophs were appropriately nicknamed.    
As for the current three RedsTheus, Kublanow, and Pykethe nickname "Flaming Sophs II" wouldn't work; although Kublanow and Pyke are sophomores, Theus is a junior.  And, the "Flaming Linemen" just doesn't have a good ring to it.

Since I'm high on the hogthat is, a big fan of the Hog Index, which comparatively measures the strength of a team's offensive lineGeorgia's "hogs" have performed rather well the last two seasons (ranking 2nd in 2013 and 5th in 2012 of the Bulldogs' annual offensive lines the last 19 seasons), and Georgia will likely look to Theus, Kublanow, and Pyke to be three of the team's lead hogs in 2014, I thought it was appropriate to consider the moniker the "Flaming Hogs" for the Dogs' 1-in-15,000-chance redheaded threesome.
Whether nicknamed or not, and perhaps we should wait to see if the trio is actually deserving of one beyond their rarity, Georgia's three flaming linemen have a tough act to follow in 2014 behind the two famed Reds who spearheaded the Flaming Sophs of '29.   

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