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February 2, 2016

Curious Moves from the Past

From Blake Barnes to Aaron Murray to Jacob Park, Coach Richt 
had a tendency to land out-of-state quarterbacks, all while 
curiously signing an insufficient total number of signal callers.
Looking through an overload of historical data while preparing for the upcoming National Signing Day, something regarding Georgia's quarterback signees from the last decade or so really grabbed my attention: 

Beginning with Blake Barnes (Baldwyn, MS) in 2004 and including Jacob Eason (Lake Stevens, WA) this year, nine of the Bulldogs' 12 quarterback signees the last 13 years hailed from outside the state of Georgia. 

Wondering if the Bulldogs' desire for out-of-state quarterbacks during the Coach Richt era was an unusual tendency compared to previous coaching regimes at the school, I began with 1977or, the first season the NCAA limited scholarshipsdiscovering every Georgia quarterback signee, and the hometown of each. 

Comparatively speaking, I found the out-of-state trend regarding Bulldog signal callers has indeed been rather unusual (the percent of QB signees being from out of state is followed by the Georgia head coach and his measured seasons):

25 percent (10 of 40)Vince Dooley, 1977-1988
15 percent (2 of 13)Ray Goff, 1989-1995
22 percent (2 of 9)Jim Donnan, 1996-2000
62 percent (8 of 13)Mark Richt, 2001-2015

Still, I would become even more so bewildered...

Coming on the heels of discovering Georgia's average signing class consisted of nearly one-and-a-half fewer offensive linemen from 2008 through 2015 (averaged 3.6 OL signees per class) compared to 2001 through 2007 (averaged 4.9 OL signees per class), I was first taken aback when noticing as many quarterbacks were signed during the Goff era as Richt's (13)and, Goff's regime lasted less than half as long as that of the recently departed. 

Never mind their hometownsagain, comparatively speakingwhy did Coach Richt sign so few quarterbacks? (the annual average number of QB signees followed by the Georgia head coach):

3.33 (40 QB signees in 12 seasons)Dooley
1.86 (13 QB signees in 7 seasons)Goff
1.80 (9 QB signees in 5 seasons)Donnan
0.87 (13 QB signees in 15 seasons)Richt

So, maybe times had changed; no longer needed was an average of nearly two quarterbacks signed on an annual basis, and certainly not more than three as was the case during the last half of the Dooley era. In this age of college football, perhaps it was quite normal for a major program to average less than one quarterback signee per year.

Not really.

Knowing Georgia had ranked sixth among current big-5 conference schools in overall winning percentage during the Richt era, for a sampling, I looked up the number of quarterback signees from 2001 through 2015 of the five schools which ranked ahead of the Bulldogs in winning percentage: 1) Ohio State, 2) Oklahoma, 3) LSU, 4) TCU, and 5) Oregon.

Compared to Georgia's total of 13 QB signees the previous 15 years, or 0.87 annually, the five other programs averaged exactly 17 QB signees from 2001 to 2015, or 1.21 annually. The difference isn't necessarily significant like when compared to Georgia's previous coaching regimes; still, it's inconsistent enough to mention. 

Therefore, why do I even make mention?

Honestly, it's in no attempt whatsoever to "pile on" our previous coaching and support staffto "hate" on a head coach who left the school two months ago. Georgia has a new head coach, the old one is now in Miami, and I hope only the best for Mark Richt.

Still, I'm left to wonder how a former quarterback, and a coach of quarterbacks for years, who just said last May, "I think I'd always feel better with four or five [quarterbacks] on scholarship, quite frankly, just as a normal practice," did not sign an adequate number of quarterbacks as "normal practice"? More so, at the same time for nearly a decade, he signed an insufficient number of offensive linemen, as well?

And, Georgia sure could have used some extra offensive linemen and another quarterback or two this past seasonwe can all agree to that.

The previous coaching regime undoubtedly did some wonderful things for the University of Georgia and its football program for a lengthy, 15-year period. However, it made some rather curious maneuvers as well. Some of these questionable moves finally caught up with the program last yearthat was evident. 

Unfortunately, such actions from the previous leadership will seemingly impact the current staff. The question is, how long will it take the current leadership to stop the bleeding?

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...'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.

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 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"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.