Why any game against hated Georgia is ‘special’ to Spurrier

Steve Spurrier has "special" feelings about going up against Georgia. (Associated Press)

Steve Spurrier has "special" feelings about going up against Georgia. (Associated Press)

There’s probably a little extra spring in Steve Spurrier’s step this week, and it’s not just because his South Carolina Gamecocks are going for an unprecedented fourth consecutive win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

For Spurrier, this game is personal. It’s always personal with him against UGA, whether he’s wearing South Carolina garnet or Florida orange and blue.

As he noted recently when he was talking like a “Dukie” as he prepared his team to take on North Carolina, Spurrier has always loved a good rivalry game. As he put it: “It is a little special when you are coaching against a team like that, just like coaching against Georgia. The Gators and Georgia were teams that didn’t like each other very much. That’s a special game, too, so anytime you coach against a team that was a little special wherever you coached at, it remains a special game.”

When it comes to Georgia, though, it’s more than just a “special game” for the Ole Ball Coach.

He hates the Bulldogs with a passion. And with good reason.

Joe Litsch, who attended UGA back when Spurrier was playing for the Gators and later was a sportswriter for the Constitution, provides some background on Spurrier’s hatred of all things Red and Black in this firsthand recollection he sent in to the Blawg …

Ever since Steve Spurrier left the head coaching position at Duke University to return to his alma mater, the University of Florida, in a similar capacity, he has taken every opportunity to needle and take cheap shots at the Georgia Bulldogs. And, he was unbelievably successful with his superior coaching in what many longtime Georgia fans refer to as Georgia’s “down years” — when the Bulldogs were coached by Ray Goff and Jim Donnan. But Spurrier’s real hatred for Georgia began when he was a sophomore starting quarterback for the Gators (freshmen could not play varsity in those days).

It was 1964, Vince Dooley’s first year at Georgia, and everyone was amazed at the turnaround Dooley was directing in Athens. So, the Georgia aggregation rolled into Jacksonville, underdogs but proud dogs nevertheless. Spurrier was held in check and the score stood 7-7 in the fourth with Georgia lined up to try a field goal. The snap was fumbled, but kicker Bobby Etter, who weighed a whopping 120 if he had rocks in his uniform, had been a high school quarterback and he scooped up the ball, cocked his arm once, then took off for the goal line and scored. 13-7. Then, Etter kicked the PAT and Georgia had its first win over “Stevie Baby,” as the Florida swampers liked to call him.

The next year, Spurrier did manage to pull out a 14-10 win. But it was the following year, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 1966, that literally rocked ole Spurrier’s world — and it hasn’t stopped rocking since. We didn’t know then how big that EGO was. Florida was undefeated, heading (they thought) for their first SEC title and Spurrier had the inside track on the Heisman Trophy race. The Gators were lying in wait for the upstart Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs rolled into Jacksonville with only a 7-6 Friday night loss to Miami marring an otherwise perfect record. (In those days Miami played teams, especially the stronger teams on its schedule, on Friday, thus cutting down the preparation time for the visiting team.) And of course, for this game in Jacksonville, Spurrier and the Gators were favored.

Spurrier in his quarterbacking days for the Gators. (University of Florida)

Spurrier in his quarterbacking days for the Gators. (University of Florida)

The morning of the game there was the Georgia-Florida breakfast with died-hard fans from both sides, the coaches and a couple of bleary-eyed, hungover pep bands (I was a Georgia band member). I remember well Coach Dooley’s mournful speech: “The Bulldogs will be limping today but we’ll do our best.” Talk was that All-American defensive tackle Bill Stanfill had a pinched nerve in his neck (I personally think it just irritated him and made him meaner). But there was still All-American defensive tackle George Patton, ready to go.

There was also the rumor that Spurrier was to be the primary subject of a Sports Illustrated cover story; the game was merely a backdrop as he was the odds-on Heisman favorite. The magazine had dispatched a legion of photographers to cover his every move — and they did.  Both bands were on the field for the pregame national anthem, so we got a close-up look at the preacher’s boy and his strutting — now sportswriters call it swagger.

For two quarters, Spurrier looked pretty good — nothing spectacular — and his team did have a 10-3 lead when they broke for halftime.

Now, I do not know what Dooley and his stalwart defensive coach Erk Russell told the Dogs at half, but when they returned to the Gator Bowl field, they owned it — and Spurrier, too. He would drop back and Stanfill and Patton would be there with him. They literally mopped the field with him and the grass stains on Spurrier’s butt attested to that fact. Stanfill has very long arms and here he would come, waving one arm in the air and grabbing for ole Stevie with the other. In short, they ripped Spurrier a new one and shut out the previously high-scoring Florida offense. It was humiliating for a Heisman Trophy winner who had visions of an SEC title and maybe a national crown.

On offense, Dooley had another All-American tackle named Edgar Chandler, who along with a line that included the likes of Don “Heavy” Hayes and John Kasey, shredded the Florida defense and let speedy Kent Lawrence scoot through holes big enough for the team bus to drive through. And Georgia quarterback Kirby Moore was in total control.

When the clock ran out, it was Georgia 27, Florida 10! The Gators’ undefeated season was gone and so were any title hopes. And Spurrier was not featured on the Sports Illustrated cover!

Florida did manage an Orange Bowl bid against Georgia Tech, another undefeated team until the Yellow Jackets visited Sanford Stadium in Bobby Dodd’s final season, and Georgia easily won 23-14. Georgia went on to the Cotton Bowl and a 24-9 win over SMU. Florida and Tech played in what Georgia fans called the Lemon Bowl, and Spurrier has never been able to get the sour taste out of his mouth.

Sure, he did beat Georgia later on — with other players. But he wasn’t able to hang on to the brass ring himself. He had to stand on the sideline, throwing visors and watching other players do what he could not.

That four hours on a Saturday in 1966 is why he hates Georgia.

The best comment that November afternoon in Jacksonville came from Florida coach Ray Graves, who said he was sure glad Stanfill was not at full strength that day. He knew it could have been worse. And I imagine Spurrier did, too.

Thanks, Joe!

Tomorrow: What fans think Georgia needs to do to beat South Carolina.

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

157 comments Add your comment

cb

September 4th, 2013
9:41 am

Ya’ll are a helluva lot more obsessed over Spurrier than he is over you.

cb

September 4th, 2013
9:43 am

I can’t wait to read this blog Sunday night after the Thumping.

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 4th, 2013
9:57 am

No, I think he hates the dawgs for the same reason everybody else does. Because you’re whinny, obnoxious, cry babies.

Like Tyler from Atlanta.

Bulldawg35

September 4th, 2013
9:58 am

I hate spurrier too!!!! Come on UGA please beat SC! Ncdawg where you at??? I need your optimism and views on the game! I’m tired of hating this week! We just need to win and keep winning! If we win out anything can happen! I want Richt and Murray to prove to the bulldawg nation that they can get it done!

Ball Coach

September 4th, 2013
10:00 am

Only thing special about this game is racking up another notch in the W column. Next week, Vandy becomes “special”.

GeoffDawg

September 4th, 2013
10:00 am

cb, I guess you haven’t been paying much attention for the last 23 years or so? You’re partially right, Spurrier’s main obsession always has been Spurrier.

GT

September 4th, 2013
10:19 am

I wonder who Spurrier was rooting for during the Clemson Georgia game…
Tech people of course was pulling for Clemson.
It would be interesting to see who he was rooting for.

dawgfan

September 4th, 2013
10:21 am

Spurrier is a competitor and he hates to lose. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. He’s got that edge that all great coaches have. Meanwhile, Mark Richt sounds like he’s about to fall asleep in his post-game press conferences. There’s no fire. No passion. He sounds like a high school geography teacher, not a big time college football coach.

cb

September 4th, 2013
10:23 am

Philiy from Columbia

September 4th, 2013
10:25 am

Spurrier will come to play…..Dogs will not be happy at 0-2

Georgia’s not that good anyway…..

CODawg

September 4th, 2013
10:26 am

Always love reading the backdrop about Spurrier’s hatred for us. Thanks, Bill, for amping up the game even more.

Z dawg

September 4th, 2013
10:28 am

Can coach Richt and Bobo build the level of obsession to win like old Stevie? Until then, we will keep getting our scared asses beat.

Owen Scott, III

September 4th, 2013
10:34 am

Old Stevie sat home for the last two SEC Championship games while we played for the trophy.

Ball Coach

September 4th, 2013
10:41 am

… and lost.

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 4th, 2013
10:44 am

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – Todd Gurley – toss sweep to whatever side Clowney is on! You heard me right. Run right at Clowney – not away from him. The Game Crocks will load the box to stop the run on whichever side Clowney is NOT on. So take it right to him with with the 265 lb FB, Night Train Hicks, leading the way. Then short drop back passes – get the ball out quick. Run a couple of end arounds and miss direction plays to get Clowney to chase and wear him down.

Put a spy on Shaw and put the wood to him (legally)… don’t let him scramble. KEY for the “D” is stopping the RB – got to stop the run. That’s where it all begins. Way to soft against the run and missed to many tackles last week. Quit beating yourself with dumb penalties. It’s the DAWGS home field this time. Advantage DAWGS!

As for Spud, he’s always going to be a whining, crybaby, visor throwing PUNK. Guess he’s got no complaints about the schedule this year?

Bama Fan #2

September 4th, 2013
10:46 am

Good luck to the dawgs this week end!!
Murray better have some good insurance ready!!
RTR

Ball Coach

September 4th, 2013
10:51 am

We wont hurt Aaron. Don’t need to. Just need to scare him a little bit. That’s all it takes.

dawgfan

September 4th, 2013
11:02 am

The Richt fans will insist that there is no such “edge” and that it doesn’t exist. They are wrong. You can see it in the results of our football team. All the turnovers, missed tackles, penalties and stupid mistakes are the result of a lack of attention to detail. That starts with the coaches. It’s the maniacal pursuit of perfection that makes a great team. Of course no team or coach will ever be perfect, but its the pursuit of that perfection that makes greatness. We don’t have that with Richt. We’ll lose a big game and he’ll get up there and talk about how all of our goals are still intact. He has the team celebrate when a team that whipped our tails loses so we can back in to the SEC title game. That’s not greatness. It’s actually kind of pathetic.

Please understand that I wish all of this wasn’t true, but it is.

Bulldawg35

September 4th, 2013
11:02 am

Flo-ri- duh

I agree….hicks and gurley are the keys to this victory. Also many people may laugh but I think gates is tired of getting whipped! He is tired of the media and fans critiquing him! I think he will step up and have a great game…no he won’t completely stop clowney…but I think he will hold him at bay! I hate SC even worse than Florida….and that’s saying something! Living here in the palmetto state….I want my dawgs to put a end to this non sense and beat spurrier!!!!!

BazookaJoe

September 4th, 2013
11:08 am

It will be funny to watch the chickens crawl back in their hole once we spank them and send them home. Then we can get on to play some REAL teams instead of the pretenders.

BazookaJoe

September 4th, 2013
11:09 am

35 – south carolina is not WORTHY of our hate. They are just another team on our schdule. If spurrier wasnt there I doubt we’d even know they existed….

Bulldawg35

September 4th, 2013
11:10 am

What I and you people forget…is that we beat FLA when they were ranked number 2!!! So we can beat these top ten teams…we just got to do it more often! We have the talent….this sat will tell a lot on what direction will this team take!

Bulldawg35

September 4th, 2013
11:12 am

Joe…

Yeah they probably don’t…but I live here in the upstate of South Carolina…and have to listen to all of their crazy fans….so it’s different for me!!!

SimpleDawg

September 4th, 2013
11:14 am

A great piece on a real piece of……..

True DAWG

September 4th, 2013
11:19 am

All this is great Bill BUT he whoops us annually and I am tired of it!! Theres no reason for it! We out recruit him year after year- I am still ok with Richt but if he doesn get it done Sat- lets get him out of here and bring in Smart! He already has the first SEC loss to a mountain west school, and first coach with 3 staraight losses to SC and firs time ACC has ever beaten op ten ranked opponents

Andy

September 4th, 2013
11:38 am

Spurrier has and always will own the Bulldogs.

BIG MIKE

September 4th, 2013
11:41 am

Spurrier knows he’s headed for Payback City….These guys have been waiting for this game since last year. They know they embarrassed themselves and believe me, that won’t happen this time. I predict UGA crushes SC by 21 points. They’ve got the guns to do it, all it will take is the attitude and crowd…much like SC had last year. The worm has turned.

Honey Bobo

September 4th, 2013
11:52 am

Wow, now every p–ant A She She team in the country thinks they’ve got a chance against the SEC.

Thanks Georgia. No, really, thanks.

You really are the SEC’s spastic little brother.

Knight Dawg

September 4th, 2013
11:54 am

Please…no tech fans allowed…..remember, we still own you and tech just quit in the first half of the game last year…..so you can’t speak until we come to Atlanta and derail your triple floption again late November….

NCDawg

September 4th, 2013
12:01 pm

CB + a know nothing SC fan. It is a PROVEN fact that Spurrier preps extra hard for Georgia every year. Ask former players and assistants. THEY will tell you. You are probably some 20 something year old with no historical perspective at all.

It’s better to keep your mouth shut and have people THINK you don’t know anything than it is to open your mouth an leave no doubt at all. You may extract your foot from your mouth now.

OldDawg

September 4th, 2013
12:07 pm

I think dawgfan has the right read on this. Living in Alabama, a day seldom goes by that I don’t see that same maniacal pursuit in Saban on the evening news. The edge that comes with that is apparent in those coaches. They definitely know how to be sure everyone understands what they expect, and if they don’t see it, they let everyone know. CMR is not that kind of coach, and maybe that’s for the better in most regards. But there is a difference. How much it really matters is the question.

crackbaby

September 4th, 2013
12:08 pm

The Ole Ball Coach loves to tweak UGA and its fans. He relishes the role of villain.

How about having the backup QB throw for two TD passes in the 4th quarter in Athens to hang “half a hundred” on the Dawgs at home. 52-17 in 1995 while the Braves were winning the World Series. There was also a plane circling Sanford Stadium with a banner, “Gators for Goff”. Don’t think Spurrier did that, though…

You have to admit he makes it interesting.

BIG MIKE

September 4th, 2013
12:18 pm

I like Spurrier and Saban as coaches, but overt tenacity isn’t any more effective than the congenial and cerebral approach Richt and Dooley had. It takes a lot more than a coaches nature to win at any level.

cb

September 4th, 2013
12:20 pm

Actually, NCDawg, I am a life long resident of Georgia and I am 37 with many fruits of my loins running around. I am sure I am not as smart as you though, cause you a Dawg Fan, baby. Hellz yeah. You are God’s gift to footbaw. We all know that.

SSI

September 4th, 2013
12:28 pm

The description of that 1966 game is both entertaining and accurate. I too was sitting in the Gator Bowl that faithful day when Bill Stanfill and George Patton took Spurrier’s measure. Quite well.

NCDawg

September 4th, 2013
12:47 pm

Flo-Ri-Duh
September 4th, 2013
10:44 am

AMEN! If they send Clowney up the middle give it to Hicks so he can plant his helmet in his chest and blow him back. You run it AT speed guys… you make them expend energy fending off blockers and then after a few plays you do something to the far side to force him to pursue. Then go back at him with a wall of blockers. You can’t take away half the field for 1 guy.

I don’t know about you guys but didn’t it seem like our plan for Clemson was a bit simplistic? It was very vanilla. We didn’t see any pistol formation… we didn’t try to spread them out with 4 wides either. Murray said that they were as deep into the playbook as he could imagine… he also said they were throwing stuff at Brice Ramsey that he didn’t see late in his sophomore season.

Don’t be surprised if you see some different stuff Saturday.

NCDawg

September 4th, 2013
12:49 pm

CB – not an intelligence issue… it’s perspective and experience. I know the history and YES he is maniacal about beating Georgia.

NCDawg

September 4th, 2013
12:52 pm

And I was born and raised in Georgia. If I were born in Alabama… then I would be the smartest football fan alive…LOL

NCDawg

September 4th, 2013
12:53 pm

But your statement was ignorant and deserved to be refuted. Life is tough like that.

NCDawg

September 4th, 2013
12:55 pm

Oh and I never said anything about where you were from… you ASSUMED that. I said you were probably a SC fan.

dawgfan

September 4th, 2013
12:56 pm

Richt’s calm demeanor used to have its strengths but I’m afraid that time has passed. Is it any wonder that our SEC Title drought began at the precise moment that other SEC teams started winning national titles? The league has gotten better and passed Mr. Nice Guy by.

There is always a tinge of holier than thou self-righteousness in the air whenever my fellow dawg fans start talking about all these winning coaches. Spurrier is a dirtbag. Saban is the devil. Etc. There is nothing to indicate that these guys are any lesser men than Richt so let’s give that a rest. They just win more football games than he does and you don’t like it.

Jim Ortiz

September 4th, 2013
1:00 pm

In 1982 there as a cocktail party for the past Heisman trophy winners. Of course the team mascot was there, along with Herschel Walker. When the Heisman winners were lined up and getting ready to go into the dinner, only one former winner broke the line, and came over to rub UGA’s head. That man was Steve Spurrier. Maybe if sonny took UGA over to their sideline he would distract Spurrier.LOL!! If Clowney plays like he did last sat. 3 tackles, whole game, as reported by ESPN, and gasping for breath, they’re in trouble.
Spurrier has no one to blame but himself, and the Florida offensive line for his performance in 1966. People like to blame others for what happens to them. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF!!!
I don’t like Spurrier’s attitude toward UGA. Hire him to coach UGA’s football team?!? NEVER!! He would probably take the money and lose!!! Then blame someone else!!

GO DAWGS!!!!

Macclenny_dawg

September 4th, 2013
1:01 pm

Confidence is the 1st step in winning. Its obvious that Murray doesn’t have that against top ten teams. Its obvious that Bobo doesn’t have it just look at play calling. Or does Bobo not have it in Murray??? Either way Uga doesn’t have it!!! Time 4 a change!!! It starts at the top!!! Go Dawgs!!!

momo

September 4th, 2013
1:02 pm

The team with the most points on the scoreboard at the end of said game WILL WIN!! You can take that to the bank!!!

momo

September 4th, 2013
1:03 pm

momo

September 4th, 2013
1:04 pm

I bleed BLACK!!

MttPF

September 4th, 2013
1:10 pm

Clowney has been dissed by every pundit for taking plays off against UNC. Wouldn’t want to be in Murray’s shoes for all the whiskey in Ireland!

NCDawg

September 4th, 2013
1:11 pm

Flo-Ri-Duh
September 4th, 2013
10:44 am

AMEN! You run AT speed. I’d run student body (left or right) at him… a wall of blockers… to frustrate him. And then run something to the opposite side to make him have to run all the way across the field. If they send him up the middle, the give him a face full of Hicks running the ball.
Wear him down trying to beat blockers instead of hunting on the run chasing QBs.

Mobile Dawg

September 4th, 2013
1:18 pm

All good in theory NCDawg, I tried to use logic in figuring a good game plan vs Clemson, just seems like our coach, Bobo or Richt, don’t. Ball control was the key against Clemson, all we did was try and pound it up the middle, no creativity whatsoever. The six straight series of 3/4 and out was what doomed us. The running game up the middle.

C from Marietta

September 4th, 2013
1:22 pm

I love reading the whinny Dawg fans. Murray doesn’t have this or Coach Richt doesn’t have that. Well, Coach Richt has FORGOTTEN more about football than you folks will ever know. You sit on the coach and think you know everything. Probably never played a down of college football. You really need to understand how stupid you sound. Like it’s easy to just win a NC. LOL