under construction

under construction

January 30, 2016

A Good Solution?

Georgia's A.O. Halsey
Facing Mercer at Alumni Athletic Field in front of 1,500 spectators, the UGA football program played its initial game on this date 124 years ago today. I've blogged about this momentous and historical event on several occasions, including mentioning how the end result should not have been what the record books indicate: Georgia 50, Mercer 0.

Instead, exactly why should the Red and Black have prevailed by a 60-0 score that afternoon on what would be renamed "Herty Field"?

According to A.O. Halsey, Georgia's starting right tackle for the contest, "the official scorer had made two trips across to the dispensary during the game," missing two Red and Black touchdowns, counting four points each, and an extra point, worth two points at the time.

I have always been intrigued with Halsey's claim ever since first reading it in John Stegeman's The Ghosts of Herty Field. Similarly to how someone nowadays would walk from North Campus, cross Broad Street, and walked into, say, Blue Sky, I have pictured the official scorer leaving the field early with the score 50 to 0, crossing Broad Street (while maybe watching out for passing horse-and-buggies), and entering the Broad Street Dispensary.

Yet, turns out, the Broad Street Dispensary was not your run-of-the-mill, well-established bar but rather, despite "dispensing" alcohol, what was considered a new "solution to the alcohol problem in Clarke County."

Years before foot-ball came to the UGA campus, Athens attempted to implement a city-wide prohibition, only to discover it produced black market liquor. In turn, the corruption caused more drunkenness, crime, and health issues in the city. A "dispensary" was believed to be a solution, guaranteeing only high quality liquor would be sold in Clarke County while bringing in new revenue to Athens.

A few months prior to the Dispensary's grand opening in late September of 1891, The Athens Banner outlined "the dispensary plan," or "A Good Solution," which included the elimination of "blind tigers":

I'm reminded of a t-shirt I recall occasionally seeing on campus when I was a student during the 1990s, declaring that Athens was "a drinking town with a college problem." Apparently, the same was true a century before in the 1890s as the Dispensary provided little "solution" at all. You could say, the Auburn and Clemson teams weren't the only "tigers" Athens had to contend with as "blind tigers," or illegal bars, would prevail in and around the city. In time, the controlled liquor sales of the Dispensary, which was also believed to be a "corrupting influence" on Athens politics, was just as much frowned upon by many residents as their disdain for illegal liquor. 

Alas, the Broad Street Dispensary, or the reason why Georgia wasn't credited with 10 points it had earned against Mercer in 1892, finally closed its doors on New Year's Eve, 1907, the day before state-wide prohibition went into effect.

January 14, 2016

From Cavan to Campbell to Coley...

...it's no secret that the amount of combined payouts Georgia has paid its assistant football coaches has significantly climbed over the years, but how significantly?

Considering that last season the Bulldogs, ranking fourth in the country, paid their assistants a combined $4.8 million, or more than double the amount than just six years before in 2009 ($2.02 million), you can imagine how much greater the payout is than, say, three decades ago.

Or, can you?

I couldn't imagine the difference until conducting some research on the salaries of Georgia's assistant coaches over the last three decades. And, the escalation is rather staggering. 

So, from Cavan to Campbell to Coley, or Sherman to Scelfo to Schumann if you prefer (and, inflation cannot be used as rationalization, as the "buying power" of $1 in 1986 has only slightly more than doubled in 30 years), see for yourself the salaries of Georgia's assistants in 2016 compared to a couple of those coaching the same/similar positions from previous eras:

Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney, $850,000
1991- Wayne McDuffie, $90,000 
(At the time, not only was McDuffie considered perhaps the highest paid assistant in all of college football, but his annual salary actually exceeded that of two SEC head coaches.)
2005- Neil Callaway, $156,000

Offensive Line: Sam Pittman, $650,000
1994- Mac McWhorter, $66,640
1996- Chris Scelfo, $90,000

Running Backs: Dell McGee, $275,000
1986- Mike Cavan, $35,000
1994- David Kelly, $58,000

Wide Receivers: James Coley, $450,000
1987- Ray Sherman, $50,580
1996- Darryl Drake, $70,000

Defensive Coordinator: Mel Tucker 
(Currently, Tucker's salary for 2016 is unavailable; however, for comparison's sake, DC Jeremy Pruitt's was paid $1.3 million last year.)
1986- Bill Lewis, $57,240
1994- Marion Campbell, $106,000 (Georgia's first $100,000 assistant coach)

Defensive Line: Tracy Rocker, $525,000
1996- Greg Adkins, $60,000
1999- Rodney Garner, $114,400

Linebackers: Kevin Sherrer, $375,000
1986- Dicky Clark, $33,060
1994- Frank Orgel, $63,050

Secondary: Glenn Schumann, $225,000
1996- Greg Williams, $85,000
2004- Willie Martinez, $135,000

Special Teams/Tight Ends: Shane Beamer, $275,000
1986- Ray Goff (TEs), $35,000
1996- Brad Lambert (STs and DEs), $65,000

January 1, 2016

There was a time when WE were No. 1...

On 1/1/1981, WE were Number One...
What has been an annual ritual of sorts is being posted here again on another January 1st (And, perhaps will be every January 1st until the Bulldogs win another national championship. I mean, if Clemson can win what would be two titles since Georgia’s last, or what would be Alabama’s fourth the last seven seasons, surely the Bulldogs can capture another national championship, right?). Happy New Year!

Today, the first day of a new year, is a special day in Georgia football history, particularly, the date of January 1, 1981. In their history, the Bulldogs have played on the first day of the year more than any other (24 times); however, none of the other firsts of January that came before or since can quite compare to that of 1981.

The Georgia fans who remember the 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl are fortunate and understand how celebrated and distinctive that victory was for all Bulldog faithful. I was only five years old at the time and barely remember the game, but I’ve done enough research, writing, and heard and read plenty of accounts regarding the game to give, what I believe, an accurate narrative.

Although undefeated and number one-ranked Georgia was only a one-point underdog entering the game against the Fighting Irish, who had lost one, tied another, and was ranked seventh in the nation, few gave the Bulldogs a chance at victory.

Famed football forecaster Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder said the Fighting Irish were "far superior" to Georgia. Notre Dame All-American linebacker Scott Zettek commented they should have been favored by not one, but 10 points, and said Georgia's freshman phenom tailback, Herschel Walker, only ran the football well "because his offensive line blocks well. Anyone could run through those holes. They could pick somebody off the street."

So, you can imagine how shocking it was to many when the Bulldogs emerged from New Orleans’ Superdome on the winning end, especially if you take a look at the stat sheet.

A win is inconceivable when there is a 328-127 disadvantage in yardage, 17-10 in first downs, and 34:41-25:19 in time of possession, but somehow, some way, Georgia pulled it off that day against the Fighting Irish.

The 17-10 decision is also likely the only college football game ever in modern history where an individual player out-gained his entire team. Walker, named the bowl’s MVP while playing most of the game with a separated shoulder, rushed for 150 yards on 36 carries and two touchdowns. The rest of the Bulldogs netted minus-23 total offensive yards on 29 plays.

It was said the Dawgs achieved victory by having "the luck of the [Georgia] Irish." Georgia intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble while committing no turnovers. Notre Dame missed a field goal, had another blocked, and also misplayed two kickoffs, the second of which led directly to the Bulldogs’ first touchdown.

Besides having some luck, the Bulldogs also encountered "the ill-advised of the Irish." I’m no football coach or expert analyst but, I truly feel, if the Fighting Irish’s game plan had been what got them to the Sugar Bowl in the first place—run the ball—they likely would have finished on the winning side.

In 1980, Notre Dame had a spectacular running game, showcasing two halfbacks—Phil Carter and Jim Stone—each rushing for nearly 1,000 yards during the regular season. Although stout, Georgia’s defense against the run had allowed several opponents during its regular season, even a bad Vanderbilt team, some success running the football.

...and, you weren't!
Notre Dame’s passing game had been dismal in ’80; starting quarterback and freshman Blair Kiel only attempted approximately 11 passes per game, completed less than 40 percent of his attempts, and did not throw a single touchdown the entire year. However, for whatever reason, Kiel and the Irish came out throwing against the Bulldogs.
For the most part, ignoring the run until the second half, Notre Dame threw on four of its first seven plays and finished with 28 pass attempts, completing only half, and, as mentioned, was intercepted three times.  On the contrary, the Bulldogs’ offensive attack was to simply hand it to Herschel and hope they never had to pass.

Buck Belue, an All-SEC quarterback in 1980, lost 34 yards on 13 rushes, primarily due to being sacked multiple times, and missed on his first 11 pass attempts. Nonetheless, Belue’s twelfth and final attempt made up for a horrendous passing day by clinching victory on the greatest day in Georgia football history.

With just over two minutes remaining in the game, leading by seven points, and possessing the ball at the 50-yard line, Georgia faced third down and seven to go. Belue rolled to his right and completed a short pass to Amp Arnold, barely picking up the first down.  If Belue’s pass had resulted like his previous 11, Georgia would have been forced to punt to Notre Dame, who had a timeout remaining with more than two minutes left. Instead, the Bulldogs kept their drive going, ran the ball five times, ran the clock out in the process, and then nearly got ran over by the throng of celebratory Dawg fans that stormed the field.

During the bedlam, referring to Jimmy Carter and approximately 200 of his presidential party in attendance, a Superdome security guard screamed, "I’ve got the damn President of the United States in here, and I can’t get him out!" At the same time, a police officer was overheard saying, "Thank God [the fans] ain’t armed." And, the late great Lewis Grizzard would later perhaps put it best, giving his own epic account:
"We've had it tough in this state. First of all, that Yankee scoundrel Sherman came through here and tried to burn it down. Then we finally got a man elected President—nobody liked him. But on January 1st, 1981, I looked up at the scoreboard in the Superdome and it said 'Georgia,' where I went to school, '17,' 'Notre Dame 10.' We had won the national football championship. Children laughed and grown men cried. How ‘Bout Them Dogs!"

All season long, Georgia had been criticized for facing a relatively easy schedule; just one of its 12 opponents, ninth-ranked Notre Dame, finished the year in the AP’s top 20. When the final rankings were released, although the Bulldogs were number one in both the AP and UPI polls, seven of the 101 combined voters actually placed a one-loss Pittsburgh squad atop the rankings despite the Bulldogs' perfect record.  Regardless, starting right guard Tim Morrison might have said it best when asked after the Sugar Bowl if there was any doubt Georgia, despite its schedule, was not the best team in college football:

"Hell, no!" replied Morrison. "We’re the only 12-0 team in the country, and by God, we’re No. 1!"
No other season in Georgia football history before or since can quite compare to 1980—the Bulldogs' lone undefeated, untied, and, as Coach Vince Dooley likes to say, only "undisputed" national championship season.

If you didn’t understand before, perhaps now you realize why January 1st, specifically the one from 35 years ago today, is cherished by the Bulldog Nation.