Georgia Football: What Made the Georgia Bulldogs Great

Kevin King@kevin glen kingSenior Analyst IIJuly 8, 2012

Georgia Football: What Made the Georgia Bulldogs Great

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    There's nothing like a Georgia game day at Sanford Stadium. The grass is a deep green, the numbers perfectly aligned and painted and the famed hedges are trimmed neatly.

    Uga's house is sitting stately near the visitor's section with the air conditioner humming. Near the main gate, the Uga shrine stands. Guarded by a bigger than life statue of Uga, the marble wall contains a plaque to commemorate each of the Uga's who came before. 

    Every thing sitting patiently, waiting for the fans. As game time nears, the over 92,000 fans who have arrived, begin to make their way toward their seats. The Georgia Redcoat Marching Band, the beautiful national champion majorettes and the cheerleaders perform flawless routines on the field.

    Closer to game time now, it's the Battle Hymn Soloist, playing the stirring rendition in the upper reaches of the stadium. Next, it's the recorded voice of Larry Munson narrating the pre-game video clip of past legends and current stars who will bring a tear to a Bulldog fan's eye.

    It's all this and a hundred other little things that make the tradition-rich experience of Georgia football like no other. 

    Want to know the eight big things that made Georgia Bulldog football great? 

    Press ahead!

Honorable Mention: The Georgia Cheerleaders

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    How 'bout them dawgs! More like it, how 'bout them peaches! 

    You can't officially say that the pretty cheerleaders we get to see on the field every year are what has made Georgia football great, but it sure doesn't hurt!

    Also, how 'bout them majorettes! I understand from an issue of Bulldawg Illustrated, they won a national championship in 2011 in their NCAA competition. Well, if they didn't win one for routines and athleticism, I'm certain they could win just on looks and charm.

    Another part of the overall pageantry and eye-catching routines is the Redcoat Marching Band. They have entertained millions of Bulldog fans over the years at football games and other sporting events.

    Their talent and the precision of the routines is truly amazing, and just as with the cheerleaders and majorettes, they add to the overall game-day experience.

    Three more reasons and a proud shout out to more of what makes Georgia football great!

No. 8: The Hedges and Sanford Stadium

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    Privet Ligustrum, A.K.A.—The hedges.

    According to an article by John D. Lukacs, published by ESPN, they were originally planted in 1929, after Charlie Martin, the school's unofficial sports information director, wanted to add something impressive to Georgia's new stadium. 

    Martin wanted to add rose hedges to beautify the stadium as well as distinguish it from all the other stadiums in the south. Fortunately, before planting, he checked with university horticulturists and found the roses would not thrive in the local environment.

    So, as a last-second replacement, the privet Ligustrum was hauled in from Atlanta and planted just hours before the building was dedicated.

    Legend has it that Grantland Rice, who worked in Atlanta before moving on to even larger fame in New York first coined the phrase "between the hedges." It was included in an article he was writing as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal, where he wrote that on one particular Saturday, Georgia "would have its opponent between the hedges."

    From that point forward, the words became more than just a catchphrase written and uttered by sports reporters. To Georgia players, coaches and fans, it took on a special meaning. "'Between the hedges' was a battle cry for us, for big games," Vince Dooley says. 

No. 7: Uga V—That Dawg'll Bite!

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    The Georgia football mascot tradition continues with the latest English Bulldog on the sidelines this year—Uga VIII. Like all the Ugas before him, expect Uga VIII to represent the school well and uphold the fine tradition as one of the most popular college mascots ever.

    But this article is about what makes Georgia football great. Certainly, a great mascot helps. But greatness can be like life. To get all it has to offer, you gotta take a bite out of it!

    Uga V, who represented the Bulldogs as the official mascot from the first game of 1990 through the 1999 season, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and declared the nation's best college mascot.

    However, Uga V's most famous moment was caught on camera against the University of Auburn in1996, on the day the Tigers and Bulldogs played their 100th game in the series.

    Auburn running back Robert Baker scored late in the first quarter to put Auburn up 13-7. Just as he was getting ready to shake up a little celebrate, Uga V came after him hard.

    The dog's trainers disagreed on whether Uga was being playful or protective when he came after Baker. I say you look at the video and decide. I have. There is no doubt in my mind he meant to bite that Auburn guy's butt.

    Auburn got up 28-7 later in that game. But, Coach Dooley and Georgia worked up some motivation and won the game in four overtimes 56-49.

No. 6: Larry Munson

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    Larry Munson

    September 28, 1922

    November 20, 2011

    "Run Lindsey, Run!"

    "My God, a freshman!"

    "Sugar falling from the sky, There's sugar falling from the sky!"

    "We stepped on their face with a hobb nailed boot!"

    Rest in peace, Munson. You are definitely a part of what makes Georgia football great!

No. 5: Buck Belue to Lindsey Scott

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    Third down-and-10 from their own 8-yard line, down to Florida 21-20, with about a minute left to play in the game. It was looking like Herschel Walker's 238 rushing yards may be wasted, as was the 7-0 record so far in terms of a national championship.

    Another really good season for the dogs and their fine coach. But, the poor performance of their QB, Buck Belue, with 52 total passing yards and two interceptions, had them teetering on the edge of failure.  

    Unless somehow they got a miracle, 1980 was going to be at least one game short of all the marbles.The seconds began to tick away as the ball was snapped, Belue was looking for Scott to get at least 10 yards and a new set of downs.

    As Lindsey Scott caught the ball for what was first-down yardage, the miracle began to unfold. Two Florida defenders knocked each other off the tackle and fell down on either side.

    The miracle ended with Munson breaking a steel chair as he made the most exciting play call of his long career.   

    As Munson regains his composure in the press box, on the field, another defining moment unfolds, another piece of what made Georgia football great comes together!

No. 4: Erk Russell and the Junkyard Dogs

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    Erk Russell coached the defense at Georgia for 17 years. He is credited with the creation of the "Junkyard Dog" defense.

    It was a specialty defense that used innovative alignments of the down linemen and linebackers to make the running game of the most dangerous offenses of the day, the Veer and other option attacks much less effective.

    Russell was a very hands-on coach who would use headbutts with his linemen to get their intensity levels up. His special trick with the headbutt was that he did it without a helmet. As a result, Russell's shiny dome would have blood trickling down from butting heads against helmets.

    Georgia became known for playing aggressive, never-say-die defense. During their 12-0 championship season of 1980, Georgia averaged giving up only 11.5 points per game and recorded three shutouts.

    Erk Russell, one of the finest defensive coaches of his time, along with his optimism and his enthusiasm, is a prime reason why Georgia football became great! 

No. 3: Herschel Walker

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    One of the top five running backs to ever play the game! During Herschel Walker's three years in Athens, he rushed for over 5,000 yards and won a Heisman Trophy.

    His Georgia teams went 33-3, won three SEC championships and one national championship. He wanted to come back for his fourth year, but he had already talked to an agent about signing a pro deal so the NCAA said no. 

    I heard an unconfirmed report that Vince Dooley cried about that—I know I would have.

    I remember watching during Herschel Walker's debut game in Knoxville. The Vols were beating Georgia 13-0, and it was getting into the fourth quarter. It looked like UT's defense had their number.

    Then, in came this kid, No. 34 from Wrightsville. I watched as he ran around, over and through a very good Vol defense as Georgia came back and found a new hero, winning 15-13.

    For the next three years, we watched a steady diet of Herschel right, Herschel left, Herschel up the middle, and it never got old; it was always good. Georgia became a hard-nosed running football team that played very good defense.

    Herschel Walker was an important part of what makes Georgia football great! 

No. 2: Vince Dooley

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    Vince Dooley roamed the Georgia sidelines for 25 years. During all that time, he only had one losing season (5-6) in 1977. Dooley also had seven seasons of double-digit wins. His record was 201-77-10 (713 percent).

    Dooley won 20 bowl games, six SEC championships (1966, '68, '76, '80, '81, '82) and one national championship (1980). Other awards include Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (1978), AFCA, Sporting News and Eddie Robinson, Coaches of the Year (1980) and various other awards that are listed in his bio on Georgia

    Dooley would be considered a conservative play-caller by today's standards. Still, his system worked very well in the league and time his teams played. When I watched Dooley, I saw a CEO-type head coach.

    Coach Dooley ran his football team like a good leader runs a business. He encouraged his coaches and allowed many of the day-to-day decisions and activities to be handled by the capable staff that he hired and trained.

    He well understood the importance of playing good defense and special teams and made both a priority. He always seemed to have the final say but often deferred to his people.

    Vince Dooley was a great coach and leader at Georgia. He's the baker who stirred the ingredients, and he's definitely a big part of what makes Georgia football great!

No. 1: 1980 National Championship

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    Not only did Georgia win the national title in 1980. They finished 1981 at 10-2 and ranked No.6 in the nation. 

    Then, in 1982, they won 11 straight and were ranked No. 1, playing Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. However, they lost that game in the closing minutes 27-23 to finish 11-1. The Bulldogs only lost three games in three years during the period from 1980 through 1982.

    Now with the new four-team playoff system about to start, the opportunities for teams who are continuously getting close will increase. In 1980, the Georgia Bulldogs proved they were capable of fielding a team that can win every game in the new age of college football.

    Winning that NCAA championship in 1980 put Georgia football in the national spotlight. Coaches, players and fans of the SEC already knew well that Georgia had a great football program. After the 1980 Sugar Bowl, all of America was aware also.

    The undefeated season and national championship is definitely an important part of what makes Georgia football great!