Making book on the legendary Georgia-Clemson series

georgia-clemson flagAs noted here before, the Georgia-Clemson football rivalry, which resumes Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, once rivaled Georgia-Florida, Georgia-Auburn and Georgia-Georgia Tech for fan intensity.

And as UGA fan Kyle King notes in his new book from Clemson University Digital Press about the series, “Fighting Like Cats and Dogs,” in the 1970s and ’80s there was no more closely contested or nationally significant rivalry in college football than the clashes between the neighboring schools.

Certainly, Saturday’s game between the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs and the No. 8-ranked Tigers is a return to that lofty status, but to provide more context for those who are new to Georgia-Clemson, I chatted (via email) with Kyle (no relation of mine that I’m aware of) about his book, and the series. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a political science degree in 1990 and got a law degree from UGA’s Joseph Henry Lumpkin School of Law in 1997. The former site manager and chief blogger for DawgSports.com lives in Hampton with his wife, Susan, and their two children, Thomas and Elizabeth. Kyle practices law with the firm of Hodges, McEachern & King in Jonesboro.

Now, let’s talk some Georgia-Clemson football!

Why did you decide to write a book about the Georgia-Clemson series rather than, say, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry or any other? Do you have a personal connection to the rivalry with Clemson? Childhood memories or something like that?

I was born after Bobby Dodd retired at Georgia Tech and I graduated from college before Steve Spurrier coached his first game at Florida, so, during my formative years as a fan, the Bulldogs’ toughest conference rival was Auburn and Georgia’s most difficult nonconference opponent was Clemson. I really regretted the loss of Clemson as an annual rival, and I wanted to remind fans of both schools of this important part of their shared heritage, in the hope that remembering their past would encourage them to revive and repeat it.

Kyle King, author of a new book on the Georgia-Clemson series.

Kyle King, author of a new book on the Georgia-Clemson series.

The book focuses on the period starting in 1977 when, admittedly, the rivalry became much more competitive, but I notice you have chapters on the earlier years online at the Clemson press website. Why limit the printed book to the later years rather than covering the entire rivalry? There is mention made about the possibility of a prequel. Any news in that regard?

This may shock you to learn, but I can be a little long-winded. In today’s market, it wasn’t practical to publish the complete history, from 1897 to 2003, in a single volume, so we elected to go with the most recent, and most storied, period in the print edition. As you noted, the earlier years, through 1976, will be available for download online, and, if the present print edition sells well, there is hope for getting the earlier chapters published in traditional book form, also. The best thing folks can do to ensure there’s a prequel is to purchase the first one!

Tell me about the process of getting this published. Why do it with Clemson rather than a Georgia publisher?

I wanted this book to be written, so I did the research and completed a manuscript before contacting potential publishers. I submitted it several places, both within the Peach State and without, and the project drew the most interest from the Clemson University Digital Press, which has a solid track record of publishing books of regional and local interest in upstate South Carolina. I think it speaks to the evenhandedness of the book that a Georgia fan wrote it but Clemson’s collegiate press published it.

Was it at all frustrating for you writing the book from an even-handed perspective in terms of the two programs, rather than from the point of view of a UGA fan?

Out of respect to both programs, and to the rivalry itself, I wanted to be fair rather than partisan. Both Bill Cromartie (who wrote “Clean Old-Fashioned Hate,” about the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry) and Cale Conley (author of “War Between the States,” about Georgia-Florida) are Georgia alumni and Bulldog fans, so I had good role models in that regard, but it was tough reliving those last-second David Treadwell field goals in 1986 and ’87, that’s for sure.

Tell me about the decision to base the book primarily on contemporary published accounts, rather than talking to former players, coaches, etc.

Journalism, as they say, is the first draft of history, so that seemed to be the best place to start. I spoke with Cale Conley, and he gave me some good advice about interviews. His experience with talking to former coaches and players was that, because they were so focused on doing their jobs during the game, and because so much time had passed since the games, the present-day memories of the participants likely wouldn’t provide as much reliable insight as you might expect.

You’re known for your use of colorful team nicknames, and in addition to the Tigers you like to call Clemson the Country Gentlemen and the Jungaleers. I’m familiar with that first one, but not the Jungaleers, and I’ve asked several Georgia and South Carolina natives and none of them recall it, either. Where did you get Jungaleers from?

The term “Jungaleers” dates back at least as far as the 1927 game between the Bulldogs and the Tigers. That year, both the Atlanta Constitution and The Red & Black used the term to describe Clemson in their respective postgame accounts. Tigers, of course, live in the jungle, and the name Jungaleers also was used by a dance band made up of Clemson cadets from at least 1926 through the early 1960s. The group later came to be known as the Clemson University Jazz Ensemble, which probably explains why the historic term largely has been lost to history.

"Fighting Like Cats and Dogs."

"Fighting Like Cats and Dogs."

What’s your all-time favorite Georgia-Clemson game, and why?

The 1984 game holds a special place in my heart. The Tigers came into Sanford Stadium ranked No. 2 in the nation and took a two-touchdown lead into the locker room at halftime, but Kevin Butler kicked a record-setting 60-yard field goal to win it in the closing seconds. The game produced arguably Larry Munson’s greatest play call from a game taking place between the hedges (I admit that Jacksonville in 1980 and Knoxville in 2001 outrank it in the overall hierarchy) and almost certainly Lewis Grizzard’s most memorable newspaper column.

Obviously, the Georgia-Clemson rivalry was at its hottest in the 1980-84 games. What do you think was its peak?

Hopefully, next Saturday! Historically, though, the high water mark was definitely the 1982 game, which was nationally televised and played on Labor Day. It was the first night game to take place in Sanford Stadium in three decades, and it featured not only two Top 10 teams, but also the two most recent national champions. The game was another classic low-scoring slugfest that went down to the wire, with the Bulldogs preserving a 13-7 win by bringing in an interception on fourth down to seal the deal.

I assume that, like me, you’d prefer to see UGA and Clemson find a way to continue the series, even if it’s only twice a decade as in recent years. But that’s going to be especially difficult if the SEC goes to nine conference games. What’s the best argument for the two schools playing regularly, no matter what?

When the Division I-A playoff begins next season, strength of schedule is going to be a factor in determining the participants. With several planned series (Louisville, Ohio State, Oregon) being scuttled, and with Georgia Tech most often serving as a drag on the Bulldogs’ schedule strength, Georgia’s nonconference slate could use the boost that Clemson could provide. This series generates good television, which helps to increase revenue at a time when broadcast arrangements are in transition. Finally, not for nothing, but this is a tradition stretching back more than 115 years in a sport Georgia has played for just over a dozen decades. That’s worth preserving.

Finally, what are your thoughts on this year’s game? And do you care to make a prediction?

In one sense, this is a “throwback” game pitting two highly-ranked teams in a high-profile contest. However, during the days of Vince Dooley and Danny Ford, the clashes between the two schools were defensive struggles hallmarked by field-position football and won on long field goals. This year’s game is likely to produce a lot more points than the series usually has seen. It may come down to which team touches the ball last, but I’m confident the unheralded Georgia defense is going to produce some pleasant surprises this season; I just hope one of those pleasant surprises is awaiting us in Death Valley this Saturday night.

Thanks, Kyle.

And Go Dawgs!

Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

64 comments Add your comment

ClemsonDawg

August 29th, 2013
8:45 am

Cuz

August 29th, 2013
8:49 am

I used to hate them like white on rice. I mellowed over the years.

Atldawg

August 29th, 2013
8:51 am

Where and when is the dawg walk for the Clemson game?
GO DAWGS !

old dog

August 29th, 2013
8:58 am

Saturday will be a high scoring game…………..hope our db’s are up to it……..

old dog

August 29th, 2013
8:59 am

We better be ready…………..

LHarding Dawg

August 29th, 2013
9:55 am

I was at the game when Butler kicked the field goal to win. I had invited a customer (a Clemson fan) to the game and didn’t gloat or anything after the field goal and win.

He never bought another thing from me.

So, to HELL with Clemson, I hope we beat them by 50.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
10:02 am

‘84 Kevin Butler field goal was actually 60 yards + as it was placed down about two feet on the other side of the fifity yard line.

I WAS THERE around the 25 yard line as the ball approached the cross bar the crowd roared and the stadium seats actually swayed.

BigDawg

August 29th, 2013
10:04 am

I believe Georgia has owned this series over the long haul but I remember those games from 1980 to 1987 quiet well and the struggle they were.

Go Dawgs

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
10:06 am

‘84 – Did I fail to mention that there were 11 seconds left in the game when Butler kicked the ball?

Butler also made two more 40 +yard field goals and missed a 16 yarder in that game.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
10:08 am

‘84 Final score? UGA 26 – Clempsum 23.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
10:10 am

Clempsum Cats are DAWG FOOD!

dawgfan

August 29th, 2013
10:54 am

I’m going to be completely honest here. I’m not sure there is a fan base more obsessed with the past than we are. Maybe Notre Dame, but that’s about it. We’re only days away from cranking up the 2013 season and this is the 2nd blog this week on Georgia-Clemson games played over 30 years ago. I’m sorry but I just don’t care at the moment. This is good fodder for April or May but not right now. I’m more interested in how we’re going to beat Clemson in only 2 days and how we’re going to beat South Carolina in only 9 days. This entire season could be made or broken in only a matter of days. I’ve waited longer for a pair of pants to come back from the dry cleaner than I have to wait to see how the 2013 season is going to turn out at this point. Don’t blink or you might miss it. Live in to now.

Sorry. Just keeping it real.

LHarding Dawg

August 29th, 2013
11:17 am

You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you have been.

Mobile Dawg

August 29th, 2013
11:20 am

dawgfan, I will be surprised if this doesn’t turn out to be like the Fourth of July, fireworks all night. That may or may not play to our advantage. If we play a more ball control type of offense and score as we’re capable of doing, keep their defense on the field, ours off, I think we whip Clemson into submission. I’m sure they want to do the same. Wear our defense out.

Are Richt and Bobo capable, and do they have the patience, to hold onto the ball for long periods of time?

PigIron

August 29th, 2013
11:22 am

@dawgfan

I’m guessing that you’re relatively young and don’t remember the 70s and 80s so well. Tradition is an integral part of the mystique of college football. I’m sure the older fans appreciate Bill King playing the historian here on AJC.

Have to admit, the “tradition” aspect of CFB seems to be losing its significance in the modern era. I think that’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
11:28 am

dawgfan (10:54 a.m.) – I guess because I was actually there that the ‘84 game is still exciting to me. Of course that is the past but it is a part of UGA/Clempsun history to be proud of. In this day and age the only thing that matters is today and tomorrow. Many of the 20 & 30 year old’s are ignorant of history and could care less. Guess we can thank our gub’ment EDUCATORS for that.

What’s the difference between an EDUCATOR and a TEACHER? Educators make more money but Teachers actually teach.

For those that say Murray can’t win a big game on the road I say they are wrong. He won at Florida last year, on the road, when they were ranked #2 and he won against Nebraska in the Bowl Game.

The topic of this article was about the Clempsun/ UGA tradition (history).

Now to the present – and you are right- we should concentrate on that now. This should be an evenly matched game – both teams have 12 returning starters, a veteran OL, QB and WR’s and their DB’s on both sides are a question mark. Dawgs are favored by 2 in Vegas to win and I will take that bet.

GO DAWGS – Clempsun is DAWG FOOD!!!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
11:49 am

Mobile Dawg – I agree that long, time consuming drives ending in TD’s would be best for the Dawgs but you don’t have to run 2 out of every 3 plays to do that. Dawgs will not run the ball against an 8 man front which is what Clempsun favored in 2012 on 1st and 2nd down. Expect to see more passes to the RB’s in this game…. Gurley and Marshall can catch the ball and they have worked hard at it this off season. Clemsum’s weakness on defense last year was giving up long pass plays – not stopping the run. What I am saying is – UGA’s offense is balanced and versatile and run or pass will depend on the defensive formation in front of them and the down and distance.

On the defensive side, everything about Clempsun;s offense revolves around Tajh Boyd and they lost 75% of their RB’s yardage when their best RB graduated to the NFL this year. Dawgs must keep Boyd in the pocket or at least make him go to his left where he is not nearly as accurate passing on the run. That will be the key to stopping Clempsun – and they must pressure him. Get physical with Sammy Watkins (WR) as he shy’s from getting hit. Hopefully the Dawgs get the ball 1st on offense and score first. I expect the Dawgs to win – by how much doesn’t matter to me.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
12:04 pm

UGA’s balance on offense will be the difference in this game.

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – Where are you little buddy?

Upset special: Temple over Notre Dame

Mobile Dawg

August 29th, 2013
12:32 pm

Great assessment Flo-Ri-Duh. My gut tells me the Dawgs can dominate this game, with the right game plan and execution.

dawgfan

August 29th, 2013
12:39 pm

That’s all I have to say about that. Not trying to be a jerk.

I think we lose on Saturday. Like Schultz said, I doubt we’ll be ready. I think Clemson will be more fired up and we’ll take the usual ho hum business as usual approach that worked wonders on the road early in Richt’s career but seems to have gone stale and backfires now. I think the defense will put forth a valiant effort but just doesn’t have the experience for a game like this yet. I think Bobo will panic and abandon the running game, which Clemson should not be able to stop. I think it will be close game and a painful loss. I expect alot of shoulda, woulda, coulda’s after the game.

I hope to God I’m wrong.

Lenny

August 29th, 2013
1:16 pm

Dawgfan is right. The past is great, but Bill, let’s quit living in the 80’s, ok? And let’s stop giving Dooley all this credit. He’s the most overrated coach in SEC history, if you ask me. What did he do after Herschel? What did he do in the 10 years prior? He was mediocre with a few bright spots. Richt will be remembered as the better coach 30 years from now. Mark it down.

NCDawg

August 29th, 2013
2:46 pm

DawgFan I wouldn’t say “obsessed”. Bill writes from the perspective of a long time fan and he lived this history. It is part of who he is. I experienced those games and I can understand wanting to pass along the rich history because if you came to be a Dawg fan in the 90’s, Clemson is just another ACC team. The talk of rivalry is insane to someone in that age group. Keeping those feeling alive is part of the human experience and it isn’t all about reliving the glory. It’s about keeping it alive so it doesn’t fall into dust and blow away.

Sure the game coming up on Saturday is not going to be won by remembering the past but remembering the past makes that game richer for those that experienced it.

NCDawg

August 29th, 2013
2:52 pm

Remembering the past is not living in the past. Living in the past is the refusal to progress forward or believing there is any point to it. Understanding where something came from provides a basis for how to progress forward. Understanding history is important because we can always learn from it and aply it judiciously to guide the future. Understanding how mistakes shaped the present teaches us how to avoid them in the future.

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
2:53 pm

You people are delusional. Clemson has the best qb in the. Nation. Best OC in the nation too! We are going down….and I refuse to watch it….we had our best shot last year and blew it…..

NCDawg

August 29th, 2013
3:18 pm

Bulldawg35 – fine. Don’t watch.

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
3:18 pm

SC
Clemson
Gators…..I want UGA to beat these teams so bad that I’m about to have a nervous break down…..ya know I would feel better about this game if we had JHC and Corey Moore! Plus rump! But oh no….the jury is still out on Damian swann and Shelton Dawson. I just can’t believe that we starting the season with Langley and Norman starting in the secondary! The horror!

NCDawg

August 29th, 2013
3:20 pm

A small hint for Bulldawg35 – you already had the breakdown and this is the blowback from that meltdown.

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
3:32 pm

Ncdawg…

Okay you really think so??? It was crazy to open up with Clemson anyway! Knowing you…you think we should’ve opened up with Bama! Smh! UGA has the talent to go undefeated this year…but Grantham will continue to hinder this program and ken Olvadotti!!!! The season will be over has soon as it starts! When we open up 0-2…..I’m going fishing for the rest of the fall!

dawgfan

August 29th, 2013
5:29 pm

I’m sure with politics, economics and that sort of thing it’s important to know where you’ve been, but we’re talking about a game played by men in tight pants here. I could really care less about where we’ve been. I’m only interested in where we’re going. 10 win seasons and nostalgia about the good ole days isn’t doing it for me anymore. I want something bigger.

We’ll see if we’ve got the cajones to get it done soon enough.

NCDawg

August 29th, 2013
6:18 pm

Dawgfan – if we’d beaten Bama last year and won a national championship, you are telling me you would recount it to those that missed it years later?
And of course I want more but I also enjoy what we’ve got and what we’ve had.

To each his own.

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
6:25 pm

SC is whipping unc like they are going to whip us next sat! I’m already physically sick!!!!

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
6:27 pm

I don’t care about past victories! I want a win sat over those tigers!

dawgfan

August 29th, 2013
6:46 pm

If, if, if. If this and if that. Tired of the ifs. Tired of the day dreaming. I want something real.

I’m not enjoying the Cap One bowl berths. We’ve proven a million times over we can do that. It does nothing for anyone.

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
6:51 pm

A. Liberty bowl
B. outback
C. Capital one

I wonder which will we be going to this year????

dawgfan

August 29th, 2013
7:38 pm

UNC back got a pretty nice block on Clowney. He is human.

CHDawg

August 29th, 2013
8:08 pm

@dawgfan, “UNC back got a pretty nice block on Clowney. He is human.”
Nope, Spurrier had him trapped and shaved in the Northwest. He had tutors teach him English. A lot of people don’t know this, but he is the Sasquatch. He still isn’t used to the heat in the South, as you can see.

CHDawg

August 29th, 2013
8:10 pm

Bulldawg35, the players are a little tougher than you, thankfully. Relax, we can play with those cocky chickens!

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
8:54 pm

Chdawg,

Yeah okay then….how did we do against then last year? Help help help!!!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
9:00 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – You messing with those Milk Duds still? YES one of the side effects is a nervous breakdown……… get help NOW!

N.C. is an ACC school and not quite physical enough to stay with the Game Crocks but I was impressed with how the hurry up offense has worn down Clowney… he is spent by the half and didn’t get close to a sack. N.C.’s OT named Hurst has handled Clowney pretty much on his own and done a good job.

Hope it is HOT in Athens when the Dawgs meet the Game Crocks .. Clowney’s achilles heel is the heat and how it wears him down.

ARdawg

August 29th, 2013
9:10 pm

The chickens looked an awfully lot like the chickens tonight. Clemson will put up more of a fight.

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
9:10 pm

Yeah okay then…..clowney was just saving himself for next week! When they play us….clowney will be back to his normal self….anyways Clemson is going to pound us

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
9:22 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud)- I’ve been telling you all along that Clempsun is ACC… Can’t go with the inferior league ….. Dawgs have to much for them. Vegas has the Dawgs favored by 2.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 29th, 2013
9:49 pm

Vandy is taking Ole Miss to school…. 21-10 near the end of the 1st half after being behind by 10.

Hugh Freeze has those recruits snowed… Nkemdiche hasn’t done squat to be so over hyped. Go Commodores!

ARdawg

August 29th, 2013
9:57 pm

Clowney has been kept in check by a very weak ACC bottom dweller. Take out a couple of big plays and the chickens wasn’t so good. Didn’t look like a #6 team

Bulldawg35

August 29th, 2013
10:13 pm

Heck….it doesn’t matter what conference they’re in! We always make good teams look great!

ARdawg

August 29th, 2013
10:44 pm

Braindead35
What will you do when your predictions turn out to be untrue? Change your name?

NCDawg

August 29th, 2013
10:56 pm

It’s a scary prospect that Vandy… VANDY might be pretty good… they stole the Vols place! LMAO! I’m being a little sarcastic but not much. Vandy has shown signs… somebody better slap them down or they might start REALLY believing.

Eddie...Lee...and..Ivory...

August 29th, 2013
11:57 pm

Were I a Dawg fan I’d be happy! Going into Clemson w/ Connor Norman starting especially.

ARdawg

August 30th, 2013
12:25 am

Eddie Lee and Stevie
Connor Norman is a DGD if he’s on the field then, he’s the MAN

dawgfan

August 30th, 2013
5:48 am

Clowney’s schtick is growing a little old. I don’t mind confidence. Usain Bolt is my favorite athlete, but Usain never disrespects his opponents. Clowney seems to go out of his way to put others down. I guess he gets it from Spurrier. That UNC tackle owned his azz last night and this clown gives him no respect and says it was just their fast paced offense. What a clown.

Somebody better knock him flat on his azz next week or I’m going to be disappointed.