Remembering when Dawgs were fit to be tied

Back in the days before overtime, ties weren't just Vince Dooley's wardrobe of choice on game days. (AJC file)

Back in the days before overtime, ties weren't just Vince Dooley's wardrobe of choice on game days. (AJC file)

Inspired by all the tie scores in soccer’s World Cup, Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com recently paid tribute to the days when college football wasn’t afraid to let a game end deadlocked.

As Maisel noted, “Ties brought a different kind of strategy to the field. Ties brought controversy. They may have ended games, but they started debates that endure to this day. … You want to get an argument restarted? Wander over to a tailgate outside Notre Dame Stadium and criticize Ara Parseghian for the 10-10 tie with Michigan State that secured the Irish the 1966 national championship.”

Which prompted my son to ask me about famous (or infamous) ties in Georgia football history. He’s 25 and thus “I only remember the last one against undefeated Auburn in 1994,” when he was 9 years old. “But I’m sure there were others of note.”

Indeed, there were, and as Vince Dooley put it in his memoir a few years ago, “Some ties feel like a win; some ties feel like a loss.”

Going back before my time, the “good” ties —  the so-called moral victories — include Georgia’s 1941 meeting with former UGA coach Harry Mehre’s Ole Miss team in Athens when the Dogs’ Frankie Sinkwich had his broken jaw wired shut and played with a protective metal chin strap and still managed to ramble for 98 yards in a 14-14 game, and the 1948 Gator Bowl when quarterback Johnny Rauch led a fourth quarter comeback from a 20-7 deficit to tie Maryland 20-20.

Easily the worst tie, at least as far as my old friend Dan and I are concerned, was the nationally televised season-opening1968 game in Knoxville. On the one hand, you’d think Georgia would have been pleased with the result since it was nearly a touchdown underdog to the previous season’s No. 2 Vols, but the Dooley team that went on to win the SEC title led the game 17-9 with second left. On the last play of regulation time the refs awarded Tennessee a touchdown catch, despite the fact that video replays showed the ball bounced off the infamous artificial Tartan Turf and into the receiver’s hands. Dooley said that was one that “definitely felt like a loss because we outplayed them. … It was a lousy way to let a game slip away.”

Interestingly, Tennessee wasn’t the Dogs’ only deadlocked game that season. (That was one of 10 seasons where the Dogs had two or more ties, and in three seasons they had three ties, including the 1950 team that had a soccer-like 0-0 game with UNC.)

The other tie in 1968, as the Dogs went 8-0-2 in the regular season, was a 10-10 result with Houston in Athens, which gets Dan’s vote as Georgia’s “best” tie and which Dooley recalled “felt like a win.” Houston had the nation’s top-ranked offense and racked up 532 yards against Erk Russell’s defense that day, with All American fullback Paul Gipson rushing for 230 of them. And yet the Cougars only scored one touchdown and led 10-7 when Georgia got the ball on its own 9 with 1:59 left. Sophomore QB Mike Cavan nearly gave the game away with an interception, but the Houston defender dropped the ball. Then Cavan led the Dogs to the Cougars’ 22, where placekicker Jim McCullough kicked a field goal to end the game even.

One of the ties that left Georgia unhappy was the 1973 opening game in Athens against Pittsburgh, which up to then had been pretty awful. The Dogs were a 17-point favorite, but the Panthers had a running back making his collegiate debut that day named Tony Dorsett, and he rushed for 101 yards as the two teams played to a 7-7 tie.

I’d been managing editor of The Red and Black that summer and all the student newspaper staff wasn’t back yet since school hadn’t started, so the sports editor asked me to help out with the coverage. It was the only regular season game I’ve ever watched from the press box, an experience I didn’t particularly enjoy since you weren’t supposed to cheer, plus a sportswriter sitting near me provided a running racist commentary on Dorsett’s exploits. My assignment was to do the UGA locker room reaction story after the game, and believe me, Andy Johnson and the guys definitely weren’t feeling lucky to have come out of that game tied. Maybe in retrospect, after losing to Heisman-winning Dorsett and Pitt in the regular season in 1975 and the Sugar Bowl in 1976, they should have.

On the other hand, a tie that felt like a win was in 1983 at Clemson. The Tigers led 16-6 in the fourth quarter when Todd Williams threw a touchdown pass to Clarence Kay, pulling Georgia within 3. Then, with 31 seconds left, Kevin Butler kicked a 31-yard field goal to tie it up. But the game wasn’t over. Clemson’s Donald Igwebuike tried a 68-yarder with 7 seconds left, but was short. So, just for the heck of it, Dooley had Butler try a 66-yarder with 1 second on the clock, but it also was no good, and the tie stuck.

The 1984 Citrus Bowl in Orlando (now the Capital One Bowl) against Florida State was another good tie. Georgia was unranked and the No. 15 Seminoles were favored by 4 points. Actually, the Dogs led 14-0 at the half, but FSU came back with two fourth quarter scores to tie the game at 17-17. Butler tried a 70-yard field goal as time expired and was just short.

Not so good were the two ties in 1985, both remarkably by the same score. Georgia came into Nashville ranked 16th in the country and a 19-point favorite, but was lucky to escape with a 13-13 score, as Vanderbilt kicker Alan Herline pushed what would have been a game-winning field goal attempt to the right at the end. The Commodores were tearful in the locker room over their missed opportunity for an upset. And in that season’s Sun Bowl the favored Dogs had to rally for 10 fourth quarter points to tie Arizona 13-13, and Wildcats substitute kicker Davis Jacobs missed a field goal that would have won it.

For my money, Georgia’s best-ever tie was its last one. That was the game my son remembers in 1994, when a mediocre Ray Goff team came back from a 23-9 deficit thanks to two Eric Zeier touchdown passes and tied the No. 3-ranked Tigers 23-23. The Auburn kicker missed a field goal try with 13 seconds left and so the Dogs denied Terry Bowden a 21st consecutive victory. That tie definitely felt like a win for those of us in red and black!

86 comments Add your comment

Bill King

July 1st, 2010
2:30 pm

UT96:

Yes, Eaves was quite upset that UT put in that turf without consulting with the rest of the conference.

Too Easy

July 1st, 2010
2:31 pm

Hate to say it, but the best tie in UGA history was ND/NATS in ‘80. Allowed us to take over the top spot (never relinquished). Hope Evans is exonerated, but I doubt it. Bad bidness.

Bill King

July 1st, 2010
2:33 pm

“Budwieser”:

Today’s blog was written before the DUI story broke. Once we hear from Evans or UGA I’ll have something to say about the situation. In the meantime, Mark Bradley has a post up for those who want to vent.

Rambling Reck

July 1st, 2010
2:41 pm

Mark Bradly what do you mean it’s not a laughing matter? I’m LMAO.

Spike

July 1st, 2010
2:44 pm

Bill, the 1984 tie with FSU in Orlando was a great game. You forgot to mention that Kevin Butler tried a looooooooooonnnnnnnnng field goal to win, about sixty yards as I recall. It fell just short of the cross bar to seal the tie. But that game was a lot of fun.

lawzoo

July 1st, 2010
2:47 pm

I remember ga. and ClemTech tying 7-7 in a hailstorm in 1963. Great game.

Spike

July 1st, 2010
2:53 pm

All you knuckleheads out there should remember what is said often about glass houses.

Ghost of Frank Howard

July 1st, 2010
3:02 pm

Remember what I said “A TIE IS LIKE KISSING YOUR SISTER”

Hootie Bookems

July 1st, 2010
3:06 pm

Any truth to the rumor that Damon’s unidentified passenger was an inebriated yet to be named UGA VIII?

Mr. Spikes

July 1st, 2010
3:17 pm

Damon “pickled” Evans has a good sound to it. Rumor is the other person in the car with him was a soph volleyball player. I bet his WIFE loves that. What a dumb dumb. Blahahahahaha.

Sam

July 1st, 2010
3:20 pm

I was at the Clemson tie, the fact that both kickers just missed those FG attempts was amazing.
In the FSU tie, I recall thinking something like “No way he will come close to hitting this” and then the amazement when he was right down the middle, but just short (seemed like maybe 2 yds short). Then he was visibly agree that he had missed!

Sam

July 1st, 2010
3:28 pm

How many times have you driven while exceeding the legal limit?

My guess is that all of you have at least once and probably far, far more times than that. So be careful of casting stones. He was caught (there is no right that keeps me from thinking him guilty). He needs to face the music. It would be justified for him to lose his job.

Dawg in Florida

July 1st, 2010
3:34 pm

I must admit it is dissappointing. How do you think Coach Richt feels? He works so hard to keep his athletes out of trouble and now his boss gets into the same problems he is trying to avoid. I’m a die-hard Dawg fan, but the school should show limited leniency on this issue.

I just hope Coach Richt can keep the players focused on what they need to do and how they are going to do it.

Go DAWGS!

Rob

July 1st, 2010
3:48 pm

Please be a hooker with blow
Please be a hooker with blow
Please be a hooker with blow

Ted Striker

July 1st, 2010
4:00 pm

Great topic, Bill, and an excellent column. I have really enjoyed your writing over the last 5-6 months.

Thanks for doing what is sometimes a thankless task.

Your Bulldog Brethen,

Ted

How2fish

July 1st, 2010
4:12 pm

Mr. Spikes… rumor we don’t need no stinking rumors…why not wait what 5-6 hours and I’m sure his passenger will be revealed. Till then no reason to pile on..

Mr. Spikes

July 1st, 2010
4:17 pm

Ok it was reported the passenger was a 28 yr old female that also got arrested for disorderly conduct. The facts just keep getting better. Blahahahaha

bug

July 1st, 2010
4:20 pm

UGa, my deepest sympathy in your recent loss.

Bill King

July 1st, 2010
4:21 pm

Spike:
Look again. I didn’t forget Butler’s attempt. It says: “Butler tried a 70-yard field goal as time expired and was just short.”

css_sports

July 1st, 2010
4:30 pm

Talkin’ Football tonight at 6 pm ET on CSS covers latest in Damon Evans story. Mark Schlabach will be live from Athens. Tony Barnhart, Bob Neal and Brady Ackerman in studio to discuss latest from college football’s most knowledgeable insiders. css-sports.com

D@nmed Damon

July 1st, 2010
4:31 pm

Confirmed now that he was with a 28 year old female… GSU graduate.

VERY VERY poor judgment on his behalf….. And I am no saint but he is the FACE of UGA Athletics. Just embarrassing.

Odell Thurman

July 1st, 2010
4:44 pm

I think we tie for most arrests in NCAA history.

Mark Racked

July 1st, 2010
5:09 pm

Any truth to the rumor that AD Evans will be suspended for the first half of the Louisiana-Lafayette Game?

[...] Continue reading here… [...]

dagnabit

July 1st, 2010
5:32 pm

A loss of integrity, honesty, faith; a tie without a sister’s kiss. An ad’s DUI.

RockyMtn Dawg

July 1st, 2010
5:33 pm

She’s on the right. http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=4633817&id=639246174

Budwieser Bob

July 1st, 2010
6:19 pm

Ok Bill

We have nothing more than a Tiger Woods here. Girl now involved thats not his wife

Its time to go Damon

Camden Mark

July 1st, 2010
6:44 pm

Was dat Damon’s wife?She sure purrty.
Embarrassing.

Ed

July 1st, 2010
6:44 pm

Evans should resign. The mug shot says it all, and Georgia can do much better. Let me guess – he’s married, right?

Camden Mark

July 1st, 2010
6:48 pm

U got dat rite Ed
(Not funny)

DawgSinceBirth

July 1st, 2010
8:32 pm

The Ghost of Wally Butts: That 22-22 tie was in 1978…would have won the SEC Title…William Andrews was down at the goal line, but……………..

Go Dawgs!

[...] source Tags: feeds [...]

Spike

July 2nd, 2010
11:58 am

Bill, I apologize. I guess I read it too quickly. Spike stands corrected.

Ed

July 2nd, 2010
12:04 pm

Eliminating the tie has eliminated some of the excitement of college football. Some of the best games were those where a team tried to AVOID a tie – Georgia’s two-point conversions against Bama in ‘65 and Tech in ‘78, Nebraska’s failed attempt against Miami in the ‘84 Orange Bowl, a failed two-point attempt by FSU in one of its late 80s classics against Miami.

Take those same games now, add extra points, overtimes, and in some cases, basketball scores, and it’s not the same. Besides, these games long enough without multiple OTs. Do we really need almost 4-hr. games to be extended indefinitely?

The last good change to college football was when they moved kickoffs back to the 35-yard line and brought kickoff returns back to the game. Other than that, they should have left the game alone somewhere in the 80s, because it didn’t need fixing.

Ed

July 2nd, 2010
12:16 pm

My family and I were in the opposite side of the Citrus Bowl from Butler’s kick, in the far corner to his left. We couldn’t believe he was trying a field goal from just outside his own 40 yard line. The ball looked like it was shot from a cannon, but fell just under the crossbar. The way the Orlando papers were gushing about Butler the next day, you’d have thought he made the kick.

Take the same situation, today. Now the Georgia coach would just have his QB kneel down and go to overtime rather than risk a low-trajectory kick that could be blocked (which FSU was known for). Overtime has taken a lot of the desperation and high-pressure decision making out of the game that made it so fun to watch.

copdawg

July 3rd, 2010
8:13 am

maybe all the weaving in traffic lanes was not caused by alcohol, i’m just saying