My first really indelible UGA football memory involves my Dad, which is not really surprising since he’s the one responsible for me growing up devoted to the red and black.
It was Nov. 14, 1959, and I was 7 years old. The Georgia Bulldogs were playing the Auburn Tigers at Sanford Stadium, and for some reason lost to the passage of time Dad wasn’t at the game. Instead, he was sitting in our living room on Hope Avenue in Athens listening anxiously to the voice of the Dogs, Ed Thilenius, describe the action. I remember he was nervously eating
Time was running out for Wally Butts’ boys, who were trailing 13-7, when Georgia guard Pat Dye, the future Auburn coach and athletics director, recovered a fumble by the Tigers quarterback. The Dogs had one more chance, and it came down to fourth-and-goal from the Auburn 13 with 30 seconds left.
In a play that we later learned he diagrammed in the dirt in the huddle, quarterback Fran Tarkenton rolled out to the right and then threw a touchdown pass to end Bill Herron in the left corner of the end zone.
Georgia won the game and the SEC championship. And when it was over Dad realized he had demolished almost an entire bag of oranges. Fittingly, Georgia ended up in the Orange Bowl.
Ever after, we always teased Dad that he pulled the Dogs through that game by eating all those oranges.
So many of my UGA memories involve my father, as I’m sure is the case with many of you. Last year, I shared a couple of those memories, one of which I’m trotting out again in honor of Father’s Day.
It involves one of the greatest UGA victories ever, the Oct. 31,1942, battle between Butts’ Bulldogs, who had an 11-game winning streak going, and Alabama, who’d won eight in a row. It was one of those “neutral” site games at Grant Field in Atlanta and the Crimson Tide led 10-0 with 10 minutes remaining, but the Dogs, featuring Frankie Sinkwich and Charley Trippi, came from behind to win 21-10, with Sinkwich throwing two TD passes and Andy Dudish intercepting a fumble in midair and running it back for another.
Georgia went on to win the Rose Bowl and a consensus national championship. After he retired many years later, Butts picked that game against Alabama as the greatest comeback by one of his teams and his greatest single day in football.
And my father was on the Georgia sideline.
Dad, who shortly would be going into the Army to serve overseas in World War II, had traveled to Atlanta with a friend for the game, but there was just one problem: They didn’t have tickets. They hung around outside the stadium, though, and one of the UGA coaches took pity on them and gave them sideline passes. “We’ll call you high school prospects,” he said. So for one game, at least, my father was a UGA “recruit”!
At age 87, Dad doesn’t go to the games any more, but he still watches them on TV, wears one of his several Georgia caps every day and has a UGA football calendar on the wall of his bedroom.
He’s been a Georgia Bulldog all his life. And, thanks to him, so have I.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop!
Please feel free to share your Dogs-related memories of your father. …