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December 19, 2015

Brother Vs. Brother

With Georgia’s game looming against Penn State in the Gator Bowl (and, yes, that’s the name I still recognize the bowl as), I am reminded of a milestone in both Bulldogs football, and college bowl history occurring more than four decades ago at the old bowl in Jacksonville: Dooley vs. Dooley—Brother vs. Brother.

Following a 9-1 regular season in 1966, and while the Georgia Bulldogs coached by Vince Dooley were packing for the Cotton Bowl to face SMU, the team was minus an integral member: Bill, the other Dooley brother two years younger than Vince, who had been Georgia’s offensive coordinator. Billy, as Vince called him, was packing at the same time too, but heading not to Dallas, but Chapel Hill, N.C., to be the head football coach of the UNC Tar Heels.

Growing up in Mobile, Ala., with two older sisters, Vince and Billy were not extremely close. Like a lot of brothers, they often fought, had their falling outs, and Vince especially thought it was unfair how he, and never Billy, had to wash the family dishes. He could understand maybe when the two were really young, but Vince recalls always doing the dishes as late as 12 years old, and Billy being 10.  However, according to Vince, “let somebody try to pick on the other one, and he had a war on his hands.”

As the brothers grew up, they grew closer. When Billy graduated from high school, he desperately wanted to join Vince at Auburn, where he was a quarterback for the Tigers. However, Auburn wasn’t willing to offer a lineman weighing less than 170 pounds a scholarship, so Billy went the junior college route. And, Vince was there to drive his younger brother around the state of Mississippi as the two decided on a school. After two years of junior college, Billy was finally offered that elusive scholarship to Auburn, but turned it down for Mississippi State because he did not want to follow older brother to school.

Approximately a decade later, when Vince was putting his first Georgia staff together in 1964, he wanted the best offensive line coach he could find. And, “every time I kept inquiring about the best offensive line coach I could get, Billy’s name kept coming up,” Vince has said. “So, I hired him.”

After three seasons in Athens, Billy strung together three consecutive non-winning years as North Carolina’s head man. However, his Tar Heels rebounded for an 8-3 regular season in 1970, and a game better the following year. For the nine-win campaign of 1971, Billy and the ACC championship Heels were rewarded with a trip to the Gator Bowl opposite 10-1 and sixth-ranked Georgia, and the other Dooley, Vince. It would mark the first time in college football history brothers faced off as head coaches in a bowl game.

A few days prior to the game, Vince commented that in some ways he was looking forward to coaching against his brother, but in other ways, he was not. He added that he was normally impersonal with the opposing head coach after kickoff; once the game started, he did not even think about who was on the other side of the field, and he did not believe anything would change simply because he was opposite his brother.

As far as brother Billy, he was cautious as his Tar Heels prepared for the Bulldogs, inspecting North Carolina’s security one afternoon to make sure no one could see inside its practice field’s fences. A reporter asked him, “Surely, you aren’t worried about security and spying when you’re playing against your brother, are you?” Billy responded, “Well, you just never know.”

At a Gator Bowl dinner, Billy was asked about sibling rivalry with Vince when they were younger, and the youngest brother jabbed, “When we were small, he stole my fire engine and I’ve never forgotten it.” But, Vince promptly retorted, “If Bill is still using that as a way to get even in the game, then I’m going to give [his fire engine] back to him.” And, surprisingly, Vince pulled a toy fire engine up from under the table and offered it to his little brother.

After handing over the toy, Vince added that it was he, and not Billy, who had to pay for their two sisters: transportation to and from Jacksonville, tickets to the game, and a hotel room. Billy remarked that he would gladly help out by having the sisters sit on the UNC side.

In a game where Dooley’s Dogs were favored by 10 points—the largest point spread in Georgia’s 51-game bowl history—the Bulldogs barely squeaked by Dooley’s Heels, 7 to 3. Following the contest, as photographers, players, and fans swarmed the head coaches, the brothers only had time for a quick handshake and a brief word.

Still, at least one of the brothers was eager to see the other as soon as possible. “It’s been a tough week for all of us,” said Vince to a reporter just prior to a post-bowl gala and dance being held for the two teams. “I’m going to the dance tonight, see Billy, and talk about this thing more.”

The reporter then asked Vince if he was glad—really glad—he had beaten the Tar Heels, particularly because they were coached by his younger brother. Not really, Vince indicated; remember, once the game started, he did not even think about who was on the other side of the field. However, he added, it would have been a different story “if I were 12, and he were 10, and I still had to wash the dishes.”

December 7, 2015

When less than $3.75 million delivered a HOF coach, & an MVP

For the third straight year, no Bulldogs...
As I write this, looking upon the playing surface at the Georgia Dome prior to the start of the SEC Championship Game, I still find it hard to believe it has been three years since the Bulldogs last appeared in this game, and all while the SEC East has been relatively “down”—or, as was the case this season, really down.

I’m reminded of a story I recently heard, which first circulated around this time 51 years ago—an account of how the Georgia football program, after firing its head coach, instantly turned around upon the appearance of a new addition. And, although a young, first-year head coach and his assistants certainly were a major reason for the Bulldogs’ reversal of fortune in 1964, I do not speak of the arrival of the Vince Dooley coaching regime.

After a lowly 10-16-4 combined mark from 1961 through 1963, Georgia hired Dooley, and then got it, or acquired him, if you prefer—he was recognized by both, but most referred to him simply as “number 94.”

When No. 94 first came on campus that summer, it was said “students and faculty members alike lined to streets to watch” his arrival. Not long afterwards, Georgia was known for its hustling and dazzling play on defense and, as the 1964 regular season drew to a close, reportedly, “it can now be revealed that the ‘94’ helped make…the razzle-dazzle possible.”

Number 94 had the uncanny ability of anticipating the various play patterns of opposing offenses which, in turn, made the entire Bulldogs defense much more “knowledgeable,” as Dooley acknowledged—“like mind readers at times.” During a time when two-way players were on the decline, No. 94 was just as valuable to Georgia’s offense as its defensive side of the ball. “Needless to say, we’re enthusiastic,” Dooley remarked regarding the newcomer’s overall performance.

By the end of a 6-3-1 regular season, whereupon the Bulldogs were headed to a bowl game for only the second time in 14 years, it was declared No. 94’s “contribution to the red-shirted Dogs throughout the fall has been nothing but short of sensational, most fans and seasoned analysts, alike, agree.” And, he was likely “the Georgia Bulldogs’ most valuable player of the ’64 season.”

Sketch of Georgia's "most valuable player
of the '64 season"
No. 94. 
When I initially heard the beginning of this story, I racked my brain trying to figure out who, or apparently the MVP of Coach Dooley’s first Georgia football team, wore jersey No. 94 in 1964. I was absolutely stumped—that is, until I was informed that “he” was not No. 94 the Bulldogs’ football player, but No. 94 shortened for the IBM 7094 computer.

The arrival of Dooley resulted in a curiosity regarding if a scientific approach could better the team’s chances to win ballgames. Nearly filling an entire room at UGA’s Computer Center, an IBM 7094 computer was purchased by the university for around $3.5 million which, considering inflation, would equate to roughly $27 million today. Serving as a liaison of sorts between man and machine, Georgia’s head scout Frank Inman approached the center’s Dr. J.D. Williams, who developed a program which coded information into No. 94.

Scouting data from Inman was entered on a deck of “source cards” by Williams. The data primarily consisted of offensive and defensive play details like down and distance, formation, position on the field, etc., and obviously the plays' results. For each game in 1964, Georgia used the opposition’s play details from its previous four games. Taking about an hour to compute each game’s data, No. 94 compiled the information and then printed it out on “output sheets” for the coaches’ usage.

Although an opponent’s effort, spirit, and determination obviously could not be considered, nor if the Bulldogs happened to encounter new plays, No. 94 was able to reveal what was called “the complete picture” of every offensive and defensive play for that week’s opponent.

I did some research and found that from 1961 to 1963, or before the computer, Georgia’s .400 winning percentage ranked tied for 98th of the then-135 Division I college football teams. With No. 94 assisting the program, the Bulldogs recorded from 1964 through 1968 a 38-13-3 mark, or a .731 winning percentage—the 13th-best winning percentage in college football, which ranked second in the SEC only behind mighty Alabama. Georgia would not achieve a higher winning percentage over a period of five years until 1978-1982.

However, seemingly out of the blue, the Bulldogs promptly followed their extraordinary turnaround by finishing 5-5-1 in 1969, and then another .500 season at 5-5 in 1970, begging the question: What the heck happened?  

There are a number of theories as the reason for Georgia’s sudden two-season setback following its five-season success. For one, understanding technology develops so rapidly, doesn’t it always seem like when a new computer is purchased, in almost no time, it already seems outdated?

Well, by the late 1960s, IBM’s 7000s had become obsolete and were replaced by the company’s System/360 model. In other words, number 94, the presence which played a major role in turning around the Georgia football program in the mid-1960s, had run out of eligibility, so to speak, by the end of the decade.

December 4, 2015

What Kirby would have in common...

My first post in a while... Between my several responsibilities in covering the UGA football program, my blog has unfortunately had to take a back seat during the season. However, look for my posts to soon become more routine including, some time over the weekend, an intriguing look at a primary reason for the Georgia football program's tremendous turnaround in 1964 (and, it's not simply because of the arrival of Coach Vince Dooley).

As I've mentioned here before, one of my new responsibilities this season is as a contributor to UGASports.com of the Rivals network. There, for subscribers, I post approximately five times per week The Daily Dawg Callervery similarly to my blog, historical-related stories, facts, and stats regarding UGA football. 

Certainly not just for my posts but, if you're not already, I highly recommend subscribing to UGASports.com"Home of The Dawgvent." For what comes out to just 27 cents per day, you can be a subscriber, but beware... the information and insight you'll receive for those 27 cents per day can easily render an entire day spent browsing the site.

What Kirby Smart would have in common with nearly all of his predecessors... 

Kirby Smart to Georgia, Mark Richt to Miami: the coaches apparently returning to their alma maters reminds me of how intriguing it can be to survey the playing careers of collegiate athletes-turned-coaches. Dave does an excellent job of detailing Smart’s playing career for the Bulldogs from 1995 through 1998—a noteworthy career, especially when you consider he was not even one of the top-50 prospects coming out of Georgia in 1994.

I want to emphasize that Smart was a starter for only two seasons at Georgia, yet he remains ranked in the school’s top 10 in career interceptions (13) and passes broken up (22). Also, he earned All-SEC recognition for each of those two seasons, and was a team captain as a senior in 1998.

Of Georgia’s 12 head coaches the last century, Smart would be only the fourth who played football for the Bulldogs, and the only head coach in Georgia’s entire history who did not play on the offensive side of the ball as a collegiate player. Still, beginning with the first esteemed Georgia player who would eventually be a head football coach at the school—“Kid” Woodruff”—Smart and all but one of his nine predecessors interestingly do have one thing in common: a distinguished collegiate playing career.

1923—1927- George Woodruff (Georgia): Nicknamed “Kid” because of his diminutive 5-foot-8, 138-pound frame, Woodruff immediately impressed the Red and Black faithful as a newcomer, demonstrating a tough-as-nails persona, and an ability to play hurt even when considerably injured. Against Mercer in 1908, he was attacked by the opponent’s mascot, a bulldog, and its handler. With the handler swinging at his upper body, and the bulldog biting at his legs, Woodruff somehow managed to fend off the pair. Despite sharing the backfield with the legendary Bob McWhorter in 1910, Woodruff scored five touchdowns in Georgia’s first four games of the season. Moving to quarterback in 1911, he led the Red and Black to a 7-1-1 record while serving as team captain.

1928—1937- Harry Mehre (Notre Dame)... Read the rest at The Daily Dawg Caller...     

November 13, 2015

Punt Auburn Punt

Against Georgia in 1973, it was Punt
Auburn Punt, and then... Punch!
Like many of you, I am certainly fond of the greatest, and most unique plays in Georgia's football history. But, sometimes we may forget one or so of the more unique plays worthy enough to rank amongst the Bulldogs' bestone of the so-called "weirdest" plays ever in a college football game, one that was "psychedelic football," and a play so strange surely "Andy Warhol...drew [it] up [in] the game plans."

With the Georgia-Auburn game looming tomorrow, I was reminded by an emailer today of the 1973 meeting between the Bulldogs and Tigers, and a play featuring a pair of Auburn puntsboth blocked by Georgia (kind of)so odd the sellout crowd of 59,700 at Sanford Stadium should have next anticipated, according to the legendary Lewis Grizzard, "the appearance of a herd of pink elephants wearing G-strings, dancing the boogaloo to the strains of four purple baboons playing flutes."

Less than a year after Auburn's acclaimed "Punt Bama Punt" ultimately defeated Alabama in 1972, the Tigers endured what I've dubbed "Punt Auburn Punt," which led to their eventual loss to Georgia.

With Georgia leading 21-14 late in the third quarter, Auburn was forced to punt from its own 48 yard line. The snap to punter Roger Pruett was bad one, whereupon he finally gained possession of, only to have his kick blocked by senior Dennis Hester. The blocked kick bounded behind the punter as everyone gave chase, but it was the punter, Pruett, who grabbed the loose ball.

Hester was then on the run, moving from his left to the right, when he decided to attempt what is now rather common in the sport, a rugby-style punt. But, Pruett's second attempt at a punt on the same play failed miserably, dribbling up field a few yards until bouncing off of Abb Ansley.

Loose ball? That's what Auburn figured, as a mass of players attempted to gain possession near the Tigers' sideline until Auburn's Lee Gross emerged from the pile at his own 45-yard line holding the football.

I guess the Tigers' two failed punts and the ensuing chaos which followed was so extraordinary, yet controversial, it wasn't even included on the official coaches film (which normally includes all plays on special teams, as well). The following footage begins with a second-down option play by Auburn followed by a third-down incompletion (partially cut off), leading directly to Georgia's first-down play, bypassing the punts and chaos: 

As the revered Jesse Outlar said, the players in the 1973 Georgia-Auburn game will get to tell their grandchildren they participated in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, and "so can a large delegation of state patrolmen and Athens' finest."

After Gross emerged with the ball, a bench-clearing brawl ensued between the teams, forcing numerous members of the State Patrol and Athens police to eventually restore order. Still, the question remained, which team possessed the ball?

First, game officials awarded Auburn first down on its own 45-yard line, prompting the majority of the Sanford Stadium crowd to boo, while Georgia players and coaches were left questioning the ruling. The officials were unable to explain to the Bulldogs why it was Auburn's possession, so they changed their mind, and gave Georgia the ball at the Tigers' 45-yard line.

Incensed, Auburn head coach "Shug" Jordan came out onto the field, followed by Georgia's Vince Dooley, who had played and coached under Jordan. The officials again convened, and soon came to the same ruling as just before: Georgia's ball.

Following what was said to be "one of the craziest situations in college football," it was reported at least three on-field fights occurred between Georgia and Auburn players before the third quarter had even ended. Overshadowing junior Horace King's 113 rushing yards on 16 carries and a Georgia defense led by freshman linebacker Sylvester Boler which limited the Tigers to 142 total yards, "Punt Auburn Punt," a play eventually setting up the final touchdown of the contest, was the highlight of a 28-14 victory for the Bulldogs.

Evidently, "the officials headed for higher ground as soon as the game ended and could not be reached for an explanation of their ruling." However, it was rumored that since the second punt had hit Georgia's Ansley behind the line of scrimmage, even though Auburn's Gross had recovered the ball, he would have had to advance the ball past the first-down marker for the Tigers to regain possession. 

As far as Dooley and Shug, they still were left unable to explain the ruling, but did agree they had never seen anything like it before. 

"One of the officials just came over to me and said one of our players touched the ball, and it had been kicked twice," Dooley said following the game. "I didn't [understand the ruling]. I don't think anybody did."

And, even still today, I doubt there are many who truly do...

November 11, 2015

A Coach in Progress

This has little to do with UGA football, but I'm rather excited regarding my new book that was just released—my first of nine released somewhat on a national scale... And, the subject matter, Red Dawson, did play against the Bulldogs a few times for Florida State during the early to mid-1960s (but, we won't discuss the results). 

A Coach in Progress: Marshall FootballA Story of Survival and Revival

By Red Dawson with Patrick Garbin; Forewords by Bobby Bowden and Fred Biletnikoff
This book is the story of Red Dawson’s involvement with Marshall football during the last near half century spent living with the memories of November 14, 1970the worst sports-related air tragedy in history.
For more details and ordering information...

November 6, 2015

The Despair of Butts and the Bear

Considering it's Georgia-Kentucky week, I have a story to tell about legendary coaches and friends Wally Butts and Bear Bryant. 

No, it's not this infamous story, or one nearly as R-rated or humorous as Butts' supposed rant just prior to the start of the 1960 campaign, but of an interesting conversation between the two during the 1947 season when Butts was in his ninth season at Georgia, Bryant his second at Kentucky.

The Wildcats threw the visiting and two-touchdown-favored Bulldogs a party the night before the game at Lexington's Keeneland Race Track. Butts and Bryant sat together, along with a newspaper reporter within earshot, recording the two discouraged coaches, who were filled with so much pessimism, it's difficult to comprehend.

BUTTS: "I don't know what we'll do if we have to substitute our ends."
BRYANT: "Tell you want I'll do, I'll trade you six [ends] for either [Wayne] Sellers or [Dan] Edwards."
BUTTS: "Including [Wallace] Jones and [Dick] Hensley?"
BRYANT: "Including all of 'em."

BUTTS: "Anyway, we're pitiful in reserves at that position."

BRYANT: "Well, I just hope you'll take it easy on us. We're building for the future."
BUTTS: "That's a laugh. You've got the best material in the league."
BRYANT: "At one time, I might have had, but you know 12 of them quit."

BUTTS: "Anyway, every time I look at the North Carolina pictures (Georgia had been defeated by UNC two weeks before), I see how bad an offense we have."

BRYANT: "It'll look good [against us] tomorrow night."
BUTTS: "You're kidding now. It couldn't possibly look good. We just don't have the personnel."

BUTTS: "I'll tell you this, that Alabama is going to beat the dickens out of somebody before the season is over and I'll guess it'll be ol' Georgia."

BRYANT: "Yea, you're right. But, instead of Georgia, it'll be Kentucky. We don't have a chance to win a conference game."

Notably, Alabama wound up beating the dickens out of Georgia and Kentucky that season. But, the Wildcats did win a conference gametwo of them, in fact, including a 26-0 upset over the Bulldogs the following night. Still, Butts and his boys would get revenge on the Bear the following season, easily handling Kentucky in Athens, 35-12.

Soon afterwards during the spring, another writer, the acclaimed Grantland Rice, discovered the two head coaches together again talking football and, again, at a Kentucky race trackthe Kentucky Derby, to be exact.

At the time, the Bulldogs and the Wildcats were considered arguably the top two teams in the SEC. Therefore, perhaps the gloomy outlooks of the coaches had been transformed into viewpoints of optimismor, maybe not. 

When Rice asked Butts and Bryant which schools would contend for the conference crown the upcoming season, the coaches agreed on a pair of teams undoubtedly the strongest in the SEC... Tennessee and LSU.

October 29, 2015

Happy 40th to Dooley's JYDs

Today is a special date in Georgia football history (especially considering the Bulldogs will likely need a Junkyard Dog-like defensive performance this Saturday to beat the Gators): the 40th anniversary of the official release of “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs.”

Although not the original tune, I discovered the extended vinyl version of "Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs," and then set the more than six minutes of the song to highlights of Georgia’s 1975 defense—the original Junkyard Dogs:

October 27, 2015

Gator Hatin' Herschel

It's Gator hatin' week... And, there has never been a Bulldog better at hatin', or dominatin' Florida than the legendary Herschel Walker.

Herschel was at his best when facing the Gators. His 649 combined rushing yards in three games versus Florida (1980-1982) was the most Walker gained against the eight common opponents he faced during his tenure at Georgia. Herschel averaged 5.5 yards per carry against the Gators, and also scored eight touchdowns.

The 48 points Herschel scored against Florida remains tied with Georgia's Charley Trippi (1942, 1945-1946) for the most points scored all time in this series, ranking just ahead of Florida's Tim Tebow, who scored 42 from 2006 through 2009.

Speaking of Herschel's career Cocktail Party points, in order, here's every Gator-hatin' 48 of them:  

October 22, 2015

Forgotten Gators

The "truth" there was a Georgia-
Florida game in 1904. But, apparently,
the Gators can't handle the truth!
An edited re-post of mine from several years ago regarding an era of Florida football which has been disregarded and forgotten by the Gators...

I'm sure like many of you, I've known for quite some time that there is a discrepancy between Georgia and Florida regarding the series record; the Bulldogs declare they have a 50-41-2 advantage while the Gators claim to trail 41-49-2.  The one meeting in dispute was played in 1904 in Macon by a Florida squad, which evidently is not acknowledged by the school as a "true" Gators team. 

Simply, the University of Florida does not recognize any football results prior to the school's move  to Gainesville from Lake City beginning with the 1906-07 academic year.  This means the five Florida football teams from 1901 to 1905, all located in Lake City, are disregarded in the team's history.

Although, just prior to the 1903 football season, the school at Lake City began referring to itself as the "University of Florida," and so the press did as well from that point going forward.  That year, the Florida football team won one of three games. The next season in 1904, the school recorded likely one of the worst campaigns in the history of southern football, losing all five of its contests by a combined 225-to-0 score. That's no typo you see; that's an average loss by a score of 45 to zilch.

To illustrate how bad the 1904 University of Florida football team must have been, it was defeated by Georgia 52-0 in the series' first game and the Red and Black's season opener.  That dismal Georgia squad, who absolutely routed Florida, would play five more games the rest of the year, and lose them all by a combined 68-to-16 score. 

Florida also lost to Alabama 29-0 and Georgia Tech 77-0 in 1904 as well. For what it's worth, both the Crimson Tide and Yellow Jackets, like Georgia, recognize the games in their records, while the University of Florida (at Gainesville) does not. 

In 1905, Florida played just one gamea 6-0 victory over "Julian Landon," whomever they, he, or she may have been.  Upon the relocation to Gainesville the following year, the Gators finally began acknowledging their football history, and thus what Georgia claims is the rivalry's second gamea 37-0 win in 1915 and another blowout over Floridais what the Gators actually believe to be the first.

In 1941, Jacksonville's The Florida Times-Union identified the 1904 Georgia-Florida game as "the No. 1 game in the famous series."  In addition, Tom McEwen, a Florida graduate and then-sports editor of the Tampa Tribune, wrote in 1974 the book, "The Gators: A Story of Florida Football." For years, McEwen's book was considered the "bible" of the school's football history.  In the back pages, under "Florida's Past Scores," listed are the team's historical results and included are the games from, you guessed it, 1903 to 1905 (and 1901-1902 as well).

Let me add, I have a suspicion that if the University of Florida football team, whether located in Lake City, Gainesville, or any other place for that matter, had achieved, let's say, a 7-2 mark instead of its actual 2-7 record from 1903 to 1905, the results might be counted by the school, including the 1904 Georgia game.  However, since it's somewhat of a gray area and those early Florida teams were absolutely dreadful, the Gators have picked and chosen what to recognize and what not to recognize.

Personally, and I might be somewhat bias, but I side with the late, great Dan Magill when, in acknowledging Georgia's win in 1904, said, "That's where Florida was back then.  We can't help it if they got run out of [Lake City]."

Furthermore, although the Florida players and coaches from 1903 to 1905 have long past away, I'm sure they would want their efforts (or lack thereof) to be recognized.  These men sweated and bled while playing under the "University of Florida" name, so their games should be counted by the school instead of merely dismissed.

Finally, it wasn't too long ago when the Gators were enjoying a one-sided 18-3 run against Georgia. It was then Florida followers were often quick to instruct Bulldog enthusiasts to stop living in the past.  

Nevertheless, apparently for University of Florida football, part of its past actually never occurred.

October 13, 2015

Blowing It

In no attempt to "pile on" with the Mark Richt naysayers, I want to post a portion of my "Daily Dawg Caller" at UGASports.com from yesterday. 

For "Pat's Weekly Stat (You Won't Find Anywhere Else)," I hated to bring up the debacle from Saturday afternoon in Knoxville. But, beginning late in the second quarter, Georgia enthusiasts began to witness a historical milestone unfold right before their very eyes—not historically good, but historically bad.

The Bulldogs’ 21-point blown lead marked the second-largest lead in the history of UGA football which resulted in an eventual loss—and, we’re talking a lot of history. In 122 seasons of football and 1,251 games, including 413 losses, Georgia has lost just nine games in its history when it led by at least 14 points during the game:

22—1978 Bluebonnet Bowl (vs. Stanford): led 22-0 in 3Q, lost 25-22
21—2015 vs. Tennessee: led 24-3 in 2Q, lost 38-31
17—2006 vs. Tennessee: led 24-7 in 2Q, lost 51-33
16—2008 vs. Georgia Tech: led 28-12 in 3Q, lost 45-42
16—2012 Outback Bowl (vs. Michigan State): led 16-0 in 3Q, lost 33-30
14—1967 vs. Houston: led 14-0 in 4Q, lost 15-14
14—1991 vs. Vanderbilt: led 17-3 in 2Q, lost 27-25
14—1994 vs. Alabama: led 21-7 in 2Q, lost 29-28
14—2009 vs. Kentucky: led 20-6 in 3Q, lost 34-27

Notably, five of Georgia’s nine blown leads of two touchdowns or more, which are in bold, have resulted during the Coach Richt era. Granted, an argument could be made that teams seemingly score more points nowadays than before, thus it’s easier for a team to allow its opponent to rally from a large deficit. And, indeed, scoring in major college football in 2015 is up more than 15% from 20 years ago in 1995, roughly 45% from 1975, and more than 80% than 1945.

However, another argument could be made that if it’s easier to score nowadays, and a team is more susceptible in allowing points, it should have an easier time counteracting its opponents’ scores by scoring points of its own. More so, whether it’s 2015, 1945, or 1895, routinely blowing a big lead when it rarely occurred in the past is head-scratching, and perhaps inexcusable.

October 9, 2015

Although A Loss Is A Loss, Two In A Row Renders A Season Lost

From DAWGTIME.com: Athens, Ga.—Following the Bulldogs’ 38-10 thumping they received from Alabama at Sanford Stadium, and with a road date against Tennessee looming this Saturday, it seemed wherever I turned this week, I heard or read—ad nauseam—a similar statement I recall from last year following Georgia’s 18-point loss to Florida, and maybe even in 2013 after its 15-point setback to Missouri: Beginning in 2006, for 10 years now in a row, Coach Richt has lost at least one game each season by more than 14 points.
Ugh, I say!
The annual-lopsided-loss statement was even directed at Richt this week during one of his press conferences, and the head coach responded rightfully so: a loss is a loss, no matter how big the loss.
“Well, I think that the good news is [the Alabama game] only counted as one loss,” Richt said. “I mean that was enough of a game where it could have counted as two. But, it was one loss.”
I’ll admit I’m one of the first people to point out flaws in the Georgia football program over the last decade—and, there have been plenty of them. However, I believe the big-loss-every-year assertion is just another, convenient way for an unsatisfied fan base to “pile on” its head coach without having enough knowledge to fully support the statement. In other words, by doing a little research, you can find that Richt’s lopsided losing tendency is not all that unique.
What other football coach suffered at least one lopsided loss on an annual basis?
There have been plenty of them, like nearly the entirety of the two coaching regimes at Georgia prior to Richt. Under Ray Goff and Jim Donnan for 11 seasons from 1989 through 1999, the Bulldogs lost at least one game, and more so two games, by more than 14 points every year except one (1992).
For all 22 seasons of the Wally Butts era (1939-1960), besides the undefeated season of 1946, Georgia lost at least one game by at least 13 points. And, Coach Butts is in the College Football Hall of Fame; there’s even a building on campus named after him.
Even Vince Dooley suffered at least one loss by 14 or more points 11 of 12 seasons from 1968 through 1979, including nine in a row (1971-1979). And, Coach Dooley is a legend, regarded as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the SEC.
Speaking of the SEC, from 2006 to the present, other schools in the same boat as Georgia is Auburn, which has won a national championship and played for another the last decade. The Tigers have lost a game by more than 14 points in nine of 10 seasons with the one exception being their undefeated national title team of 2010. South Carolina which, overall, has done rather well since Steve Spurrier’s arrival in 2005, has also endured a lopsided loss every season except one during the same time period. And then, there’s Missouri, a program which has nearly the exact same winning percentage as Georgia since the start of the 2006 season… As far as the Tigers’ consecutive seasons of losing at least one game by at least two touchdowns, I started counting backwards beginning with last year, got to 20 straight seasons, and decided to quit counting.
During his press conference, Richt added that even with a loss—no matter the margin—a lot can be accomplished by his team.
How many SEC teams have won the league undefeated in the last 10 years?” Richt asked. “I mean, that would be a good stat to check out. Not many. Not many. It's just hard to go undefeated in our league, for sure.”
I decided to check out that stat as well, and discovered the head coach was indeed correct.
In the previous 10 seasons (2005-2014), only three times did an SEC team win the league undefeated, whereas it resulted on just four occasions the previous 16 years.
Despite the four-touchdown loss to Alabama, Georgia has a lot to play for. The Bulldogs still control their own destiny of possibly winning the SEC, and earning a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff. And, it all begins with a victory over Tennessee in Knoxville.
“We feel like we have to take advantage of this week,” offensive lineman Hunter Long said on Monday. “We have to come out and show that last week [against Alabama] was not us, and we have to show the country what we’re really about.”
What the Bulldogs absolutely cannot be “about” is suffering a defeat to the Volunteers. With another loss, any hope for a conference championship this season is likely dashed, while a possible spot in the playoffs assuredly disappears. And, with another loss, a portion of the Bulldog Nation, many of which are those I described earlier—those that have already began to “pile on” Richt—will simply jump ship.
Therefore, the question arises, considering the magnitude of this Saturday—a game which is actually more significant than last week’s meeting with the Crimson Tide—is Georgia’s preparation this week more intensified than before? Has the coaching staff demonstrated an increased sense of urgency?
“It’s just like every other week,” offensive tackle John Theus claimed. “The guys give it their all, and the coaches have been equally as intense.” Defensive tackle James DeLoach agreed with his fellow senior teammate: “Our coaches come hard each and every day, and I don’t think there was a difference compared to previous weeks,” he said.
With Georgia facing a must-win following a loss—no matter how lopsided—it was evidently business as usual this week in regards to its on-field preparation. However, as far as their off-the-field, or mental preparation for Tennessee, the same cannot necessarily be said; the Bulldogs fully realize back-to-back setbacks would devastate what was a promising 2015 season.
“Although I don’t think [preparation has been] amplified, we do know the importance of this game,” Theus added. “We are fully aware of that.” 

October 2, 2015

Beating ‘Bama: Pulpwood Should Know

BROXTON, Ga.—With one of the most anticipated Georgia football games in recent memory looming against Alabama, I decided to take a different approach from the customary “beat story.” I reached out to a true rarity—an individual who not only could provide insight on a much-heralded game pitting Georgia and Alabama, but someone familiar with the series firsthand, having produced one of the greatest offensive outings ever by a Bulldog against the Crimson Tide.

“Where I’m from, playing a rival like the Florida Gators is a really big deal,” Andre “Pulpwood” Smith informed me from his home in Broxton, a small town in South Georgia located just outside of his hometown of Douglas. “As far as Alabama, I respected them, but never looked at them as a rivalry of Georgia. So, when we were about to play Alabama in ’84, I didn’t see it as a big-time game.” READ THE REST OF THIS DAWGTIME.com STORY...

September 29, 2015

Calling the Dawg...

I recently joined UGASports.com and will be dropping news, notes, stats, historical tidbits, and the like at the acclaimed Dawgvent daily under "The Daily Dawg Caller." 

If you're a subscriber to UGASports.com, come check my stuff out. If you're not a subscriber, it is definitely worth the meager cost (and, then come check my stuff out...).

A taste of today's Daily Dawg Caller:
...and Georgia is currently a 2-point favorite, the Bulldogs would extend their own streak of being favored to 21 consecutive games which would rank as the second-longest streak in the nation in “giving points” behind... 
...on this date 59 years ago in 1956, a young couple—the Seilers—had no intention of taking their bulldog puppy to Georgia’s first home game of the season vs. Florida State, but were talked into it and ultimately did so for their “own...

September 23, 2015

The Perfect Bulldog Honored In the Perfect Bulldog Town

During the lead-up to the South Carolina game, a prestigious honor was bestowed involving another Georgia rival, which kind of got lost in the hoopla of last week.
UGA football greats, Rex Robinson, a placekicker from 1977-1980, and Richard Seymour, a defensive tackle from 1997-2000, were inducted into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame. For Robinson, although he was certainly pleased to be honored, the announcement was rather surprising.
“It really blew me away…I was truly, and seriously surprised,” Robinson admitted. “I’ve always been happy for all the guys...READ THE REST at DAWGTIME.com. 

September 18, 2015

When Carolina Called It Quits

The 1900 UGA football team... you won't find
any quitters (or, babies) in this group!
When the Bulldogs' season opener against ULM was called with nearly 10 minutes remaining in the game, someone turned to me in the press box and asked when was the last time a Georgia football game ended "significantly" prematurely (i.e., with more than just mere seconds remaining)...

Around the turn of the century and prior to lighting being installed at football fields in the South, Georgia had a number of games called early because of darkness. Yet, around the same time, there was also a game involving the Red and Black which ended prematurely while having nothing to do with visibility, nor the weather, but when UGA's visitors simply couldn't play "good, clean football," as it was reported, nor take "decisions like men." 

In 1900, American football was relatively new and a much different sport than it is 115 years later. The field was 110 yards long, touchdowns were each worth five points, and it would not be until 1906 until forward passing was permitted. In addition, only five yards were needed for a first down, yet with the game resembling more of a rugby scrum than what we know as football, first downs and yardage were actually hard to come by. 

Such was the case on October 20, 1900, when a 1-0 Georgia team, which had opened its campaign with a victory over Georgia Tech, hosted a South Carolina squad, playing in its season opener, at Herty Field in Athens. 

With less than five minutes remaining in a game consisting of two 25-minute halves, which had been agreed upon by the two programs prior to the contest, Georgia and South Carolina were tied, 5-5. The two teams had combined to gain 238 yards of offense on 73 plays (for the "sake" of the post, admittedly, I hand tallied the game's statistics), each scoring a touchdown and missing the extra-point attempt. With 13 minutes remaining in the opening half, Georgia fullback Samuel Hewlett scored the Red and Black's touchdown, which was answered by Carolina's right halfback and team captain, Joe Bell, early in the second half.

Already, the contest had experienced some controversy just before the first half ended. Trailing 5-0, Carolina had the ball only two feet from Georgia's goal. Two rushing attempts moved the ball just inches away from a touchdown. Just before the ball was snapped for a third try, the game's referee, a Rowbotham, whistled that the half had ended, negating the ensuing touchdown plunge by a South Carolina player. 

But, even more controversy was to follow. 

During the 1900 football season, a student's
depiction of a UGA football game. 
With the score knotted at five towards the end of the game, a series of lost fumbles capped the contest's final few possessions, the last of which causing quite a stir: Carolina fumbled while possessing the ball near its own goal line. When Rowbotham unpiled the mass of players, "hugging the ball for dear life" at the bottom of the pile was Georgia right end Julian Baxter. 

As the Red and Black lined up at Carolina's 5-yard line in attempt to drive for the game-winning score, they realized there was no defense to oppose them. Captain Bell had ordered his team off the field, charging the officials with “robbery” and indicating the game could be given to Georgia.

Carolina's Bell, who rushed for a game-high 70 yards on 16 carries, was beyond irate with Rowbothaman esteemed referee at the time who, along with the length of the halves, had been previously agreed upon by both schools to be one of the game's two officials. Before Bell ended the game by charging off the field with his team, according to The Atlanta Constitution, he had already claimed the officials were,  "incompetent, dishonest, and determined to defeat his team" after Rowbotham had ended the first half just prior to Carolina's apparent touchdown.

After Carolina called it quits, Rowbotham waited a few minutes, and then had no choice but to call the game, awarding Georgia a 5-0 forfeited victory per Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association rules.

But, the peculiarity of this very old-school football game had just started, demonstrating that the battle between Georgia and Carolina extended beyond the gridiron, but in the press, as well.

An entire three days after the game, The State (Columbia, S.C.) finally ran a story detailing the Georgia-Carolina meeting. The newspaper first claimed that their story was late printing (three days late?) because a Western Union telegraph office in Athens purposely closed early on Carolina's team manager, L.C. Crawford, keeping him from sending his report of the game to the newspaper.

The State also claimed Rowbotham was a "referee on the steal," "Carolina was cheated out of a touchdown" right before halftime, and Carolina quarterback Harry Withers, and not Georgia's Baxter, recovered the fumble at the end of the game. In addition, the newspaper declared that even if Georgia rightfully recovered the fumble, there wasn't enough time to "have scored again" anyway (even though possessing the ball on Carolina's 5-yard line with nearly five minutes remaining).

The Athens Banner promptly fired back at the "babyish" report, or "tale of woe," by The State, declaring "the strangest baby tale" was "not authentic which, by the way, is a mild way of putting it."

For the only game I can think of in UGA football history called prematurely, while having nothing to do with visibility or the weather, the 'Cocks' take-my-ball-and-go-home attitude is only a small blemish on an otherwise proud tradition of USC football. So proud, surely if Joe Bell would have known that USC football would have been mired in mediocrity for over a century, while having a non-winning all-time record as late as the end of the 2009 season, the Carolina captain would have stuck it out with more of a winning attitude, and not simply satisfied with defeat.