As proud families of some 4,000 students fill Sanford Stadium again this evening for graduation, it reminds me that for many UGA families, one of their best memories Between the Hedges doesn’t involve football.
I know that’s certainly the case with me, as my own son walking out onto the field in the procession of graduates in 2007 as we watched from the East end zone seats is one of my favorite moments at Sanford Stadium — even more so than my own graduation there in 1974.
Just about all the rest of my Sanford memories do involve football, of course. Here, off the top of my head and in no particular order, are some of those favorite moments I’ve experienced in the stadium. …
The flea-flicker play to beat national champion Alabama in 1965. One of the most unexpected and exciting plays in college football history. The Sanford Stadium crowd was almost as stunned as Bear Bryant and the Tide.
Prince Charles and James Brown in the house. The 1977 Homecoming game was lousy, but the student body chanting “Damn good prince!” for the prince of Wales coming onto the field and then James Brown performing “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs” at halftime with the Redcoats (with my brother Jon bracing the stage with his back as the Godfather of Soul did those splits) definitely made that day one of the most memorable at the stadium.
The Dawgs bursting out onto the field in those black jerseys against Auburn in 2007. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Sanford Stadium crowd more excited.(And yes, Bama fans, we all know your team won the next time the Dogs wore black Between the Hedges. But that’s a subject for your own favorite moments blog.)
Herschel Walker running 65 yards for a touchdown against Georgia Tech in 1980 to break Tony Dorsett’s freshman rushing record. A wonderful way to finish off the regular season in a year that saw the Dogs win the national championship.
Kevin Butler and The Kick in 1984 against Clemson. The Dogs had battled back and with 11 seconds left, the game was tied at 23 and Georgia had the ball at the Clemson 45 when Vince Dooley decided to send his kicker in to attempt a 60-yarder for the win. “Heck, any time we got past the 50, Kevin would stand right in front of me on the sidelines,” Dooley recalled later. “He always wanted to kick the game-winner. What I remember most about that Clemson kick is that he could have made it from 70.”
The electric atmosphere at kickoff of the 1976 game against Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide, which the Dogs won 21-0. As I’ve said before, that was the loudest I ever heard Sanford Stadium before they enclosed the East end zone. A very special night.
Colorado’s Ralphie rumbling onto the field surrounded by his handlers in 2006. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an opposing team’s mascot draw the kind of reaction that big bison got. That’s one of the things that makes college football special. Not all the great moments are about scoring or tackling.
The clock ticking down to zero in the 51-7 win over Tech in 2002, popularly known among UGA fans as just “the butt whippin’.” A perfect ending to an SEC championship season.
Buck Belue to Amp Arnold in 1978. The making of a Bulldog Nation folk hero, long before the throw to Lindsay Scott in Jacksonville.
Those are just some of the many moments burned into my memory from more than four decades of spending time at Sanford Stadium.
Feel free to share some of your own favorite moments. …