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.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

157 comments Add your comment

Fair n Balanced

September 5th, 2013
3:44 am

If GA loses to SC, ill not be reading AJC next week. GA fans are too negative and lose focus on reality when we lose. I just hoe we win! Go Dogs!

Wrecker

September 5th, 2013
5:33 am

Thanks to Bill for sharing the background. This is exactly the type of stuff that the AJC can do well in covering sports.

I am inclined to agree that Spurrier’s number one focus throughout life has been on Steve Spurrier. He may spare some disdain for UGA or other programs occasionally, but only in service of his own ego.

yankeedawg

September 5th, 2013
7:11 am

Enter your comments here

yankeedawg

September 5th, 2013
7:14 am

I like Carolina as a team I hate Spurrier as a coach he is not a players coach and will take
chances like Shaw last year playing him hurt with the chance of him really being hurt! He destroyed Latimores career and will do the same with Clowney if he plays him hurt!

yankeedawg

September 5th, 2013
7:17 am

The only reason USC got Lou and Steve as coaches is because of Hootie Johnson and the Augusta National!Both are members now! We have a Dawg in charge of the National now after Steve leaves this year( with no SEC Championship rings ) Who do they get as coach!.

PigIron

September 5th, 2013
7:42 am

Steve Spurrier is obsessed with UGA?

Is this supposed to be some sort of preemptive excuse for losing to SC again?

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
7:49 am

Fair n Balanced
September 5th, 2013
3:44 am

Georgia fans aren’t too negative as a whole… it’s the vocal minority that flood these blogs to vent their spleen that are too negative. Too many people just spout what they’ve heard from other people. If a loud mouth voices an opinion most of the time the people too lazy to do their own thinking just pick it up and run with it as well.

Do most Georgia fans want to win a NC? You bet. Do most think it won’t ever happen with Richt as Head Coach, NO. It may not be this year… but who knows. The “can’t win the big one” is a mental block for the FANS. We will see what we have this weekend.

UA Grad

September 5th, 2013
7:57 am

Nice article Mr. King. I always enjoy reading your articles. I hope your daughter is enjoying school!

A Florida grad colleague also told me that Spurrier hated Ga because of the 1968 game. Apparently Spurrier thought Ga ran up the score that day.

Bottom line: GA wins or loses based on the OL and Murray. I’ll be pulling for the Dogs.

JB

September 5th, 2013
8:40 am

Football is great….but at the end of the day, I’d want my son to be more like Richt than Sprurrier. Just a sore losing kind of jerk is the ole ball coach.

JB

September 5th, 2013
8:43 am

I live in Augusta. Sprurrier is NOT a member of the National. And the Chairman now is Billy Payne, who played OL at UGA. Don’t think the ole ball coach has a chance at THAT membership. Go Dawgs.

PigIron

September 5th, 2013
9:14 am

Spurrier is a “sore loser”?

How long has it been since he lost this game?

NoAxeToGrind

September 5th, 2013
9:21 am

I was a freshman at UGA when the game was played. I still remember my AF ROTC instructors (ROTC was mandatory for all males their first two years then) making fun of Spurrier in class one day when UGA won the game….47 years ago. Unfortinately I think the result will be quite different this time. It all boils down to the coaching.

Buzz-off

September 5th, 2013
9:24 am

We will win because “35″ has posted positive comments this week. Go DAWGS and think positive. P.S. We will play Clemson again in about 4 months!!!

JB

September 5th, 2013
9:34 am

Pigiron…….I don’t care how many he has won, he doesn’t lose well. And I’m ok with that. I wish Mark would show some emotion……But Sprurrier, at his age, say’s things he shouldn’t.

Skokie Dog

September 5th, 2013
9:39 am

@NCDawg wrote, “Do most Georgia fans want to win a NC? You bet. Do most think it won’t ever happen with Richt as Head Coach, NO.”
Did you take a poll of Georgia fans? Or are you just choosing a definition of “Georgia fans”?

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
9:50 am

Skokie Dog
September 5th, 2013
9:39 am

The fire Richt crowd is a minority. Period. If you don’t like that, tough, it is reality.

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
9:52 am

The fire Richt crowd makes the BulldogNation look like idiots because people outside the state can not understand the mindset that gives birth to it.

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
10:02 am

NCdawg
The fire Richt crowd is a very small minority. Granted, very vocal on the blogs or seemingly so. Many of those professing to be dawg fans are not. Many of those are a half dozen or so of the tech trolls. A few others are the team du jour of the week. Yes there are some down on Richt and the program but, most of those would complain about being hung with new rope

dawgfan

September 5th, 2013
10:14 am

The Richt homers act like we’re just imagining Richt’s poor record against quality opponents recently. They just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. They try to put the burden on us to explain why Richt is not a great coach when it is they who should be trying to explain why he cannot beat top teams anymore. Do one of you blind Richt loyalists want to try and explain it or are you going to bury your heads even further in the sand?

It’s a fair question. The facts are not on your side. Sorry.

Skokie Dog

September 5th, 2013
10:20 am

@dawgfan: As Flat Tire cautioned me recently, watch out with the facts there. Some of our fellow posters don’t like it at all when the facts don’t support their views, and you may find yourself on the receiving end of some unkind responses.
I’m sure that you’ll bear up to the criticism, but you won’t be paid as much as Coach Richt is for doing so.
I agree with you that the record speaks for itself.

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
10:22 am

dawgfan
Define what you call a blind Richt loyalist? I would consider myself a realist. All the bile you spew about Richt might have a time and place but, this is neither. One game into the season with a championship still possible despite an opening game loss is not where the battle cries for a new coach begin. You only hurt the teams chances and you, me, nor Richt is bigger than the team/program.

You’re a whiney poopy pants crybaby.

Teams lose most every time a game is played. Grow up and get over it. You can’t win them all. What you and those like you are is spoiled, by Richt. This top 10 teams you morons keep chanting is bullshat. Richt fields competitive teams then, he’s done his job. There is a reason you’re the head fry cook at Appleby’s and not coaching college football

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
10:26 am

Whiney poopy pants crybaby AND a sore loser

dawgfan

September 5th, 2013
10:27 am

Deflect, deflect, deflect. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Didn’t say anything about firing Richt. I asked a very straightforward question: Why is Richt losing to the top teams?

Blind Richt Loyalist=Anyone who doesn’t have the balls to try and answer that question.

dawgfan

September 5th, 2013
10:34 am

What is it? 1-16 vs. Top 15 teams the past 4 seasons? I think that’s what Brent Musberger said on prime time national television the other night. I guess he was imagining it too. I guess the fact checkers at ABC are whiney poopy pants too.

Yep. You can’t win them all. $3 mil a year and we get “you can’t win them all.”

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
10:41 am

“I asked a very straightforward question: Why is Richt losing to the top teams?”
===================
Because at the end of the game, the other top team has more points on the board.

What do you expect? A full mental evaluation?

Listen, Richt is the coach for at least the end of this year. Despite all the moaning and belly aching from some of you guys, nothing is going to change that one invariable factoid. My advice is, get over it. Enjoy the season, enjoy college football

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
10:43 am

Wah Wah Wah, mommy mommy, the Dawgs lost and I poopy my pants. Fire Richt

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
10:44 am

That mean ole Richt, They pay him 3 million a year. Wah, Wah fuggin WAH. Grow up guy. Get over yourself.

dawgfan

September 5th, 2013
10:46 am

Yes, I’m the one having a fullblown incoherent meltdown and not you. Sure.

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
11:01 am

dawgfan, you’re probably a nice guy but, your expectations are far from realistic. Is being realistic “settling for less”? No, it’s just realistic. No matter the coach, we won’t win every game. Giving up on the season after one game played isn’t very realistic either, is it? So we lost. It’s not the end of the world and certainly not the end of the season. I don’t know about you but, I enjoy college football. It won’t be the end of the season if we lose this week. And, the sun will still come up on Sunday morning

dawgfan

September 5th, 2013
11:37 am

It’s unrealistic to expect a program in one of the most talent rich states in the nation with one of the biggest budgets in all of collegiate athletics to win more than ONE game against a top ranked opponent in 4 years? I don’t know dude. I’m thinking your expectations may be a tad low and that would be putting it mildly.

Skokie Dog

September 5th, 2013
11:46 am

@dawgfan: I’m sure you’re not surprised by the devastating logic that has been unleashed in response to your earlier remarks. And I’m guessing that you’d find it much easier to enjoy college football if the Georgia Bulldogs consistently played well in games against quality competition. I know that I would.
So, let me offer up some of what we’ll hear next week IF Georgia loses to South Carolina on Saturday.
1. They’ve only lost two games, and they can still win the SEC East and the conference championship; all they have to do is win the rest of their games.
2. All of Coach Richt’s goals for the season are still intact.
3. The team played really well, but they just couldn’t catch a break when they needed one.
4. Murray looked really tough taking that abuse from that all-world defensive end Clowney (who looked winded at times), and the U.Ga. O-line blocked well against him on some plays.
5. Clock management had nothing to do with the way the game ended.
6. It was great to see that the special teams did such a great job again, except on those few occasions when they didn’t. That’s been fixed again.
7. The refs were obviously biased against Georgia, calling all those penalties.
8. Coach Richt worked so hard getting the team ready for this week’s game that we probably should just give him another raise right now. Surely, he’d have the team prepared even better next week if he was just paid as much as other SEC coaches who win championships or division titles.
9. North Texas had better watch out.
10. We run this state.

Skokie Dog

September 5th, 2013
11:50 am

(I offer apologies if the earlier version of this post somehow appeared already.)
@dawgfan: I’m confident that you’re not surprised by the devastating logic that has been unleashed in response to your earlier remarks. And I’m guessing that you’d find it much easier to enjoy college football if the Georgia Bulldogs consistently played well in games against quality competition. I know that I would.
So, let me offer up some of what we’ll hear next week IF Georgia loses to South Carolina on Saturday.
1. They’ve only lost two games, and they can still win the SEC East and the conference championship; all they have to do is win the rest of their games.
2. All of Coach Richt’s goals for the season are still intact.
3. The team played really well, but they just couldn’t catch a break when they needed one.
4. Murray looked really tough taking that abuse from that all-world defensive end Clowney (who looked winded at times), and the U.Ga. O-line blocked well against him on some plays.
5. Clock management had nothing to do with the way the game ended.
6. It was great to see that the special teams did such a great job again, except on those few occasions when they didn’t. That’s been fixed again.
7. The refs were obviously biased against Georgia, calling all those penalties.
8. Coach Richt worked so hard getting the team ready for this week’s game that we probably should just give him another raise right now. Surely, he’d have the team prepared even better next week if he was just paid as much as other SEC coaches who win championships or division titles.
9. North Texas had better watch out.
10. We run this state.

Old Dawg

September 5th, 2013
11:57 am

Bill, I was sitting just above the UGA bench at the game you described. I remember coach Russell having to hold Bill Stanfill back from racing back onto the field when he was supposed to take a “breather.”

It always amazes me what inspires people, and it’s always been obvious that defeat has led Darth Visor on his rampage against Georgia. While he will obviously end his career with a major edge in wins over the Dawgs, he’ll always have the emotional scars from that defeat.

I’m sure his therapists have made a lot of money assisting his recovery through the years.

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
11:58 am

Fruitless argument folks. The doom and gloomers think that THEIR facts are the only ones that matter… that is just fact and again if you don’t like it, tough. I can make statistics stand on their head… they are not the only gauge. Yes, we haven’t won many “big games” lately. But that does not mean it won’t happen or CAN’T happen in the future. There is no guarantee that the results you are looking for will happen with any other coach.

So call names and point fingers and throw tantrums… because that is how you think reality works.
YOUR facts are the only valid argument in doom and gloom world so it is fruitless to even discuss it.

I’m done… I don’t wish to waste any more energy on fruitless arguments with negative people. Pessimism is NOT realism. I’ve said it a hundred times and since you won’t listen, I’ll just ignore you because I have better things to do with my time. I respect your right to feel the way you do but I will not be hauled down into your gloomy world.

Dawgs win on Saturday. And then we will see what happens from there.

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
12:01 pm

dawgfan
They are all talent rich. Maybe you haven’t noticed but no school has fences set up around the state borders and they all have money by the boatloads. Low expectations, me? Hardly and I want a NC as much as anyone and as quickly as possible. I don’t however, see tearing down the program as the solution there. That my friend is realism

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
12:06 pm

ARdawg – it is fruitless to argue with ideologues. People that mistake Pessimism for realism and insist that THEIR facts are the only valid baseline are simply ideologues. They have embraced it as their reality and nothing we say will change it.

I am done with the arguing. It feels like bashing my head against a wall and that isn’t worth it to me. I’d advise anyone to just ignore the negative stuff for the moment. They can have their little “fire ‘em all” tantrums all they want… I don’t have to react. I have better things to do.

Dawgs win Saturday. And then we will see what happens after that.

Skokie Dog

September 5th, 2013
12:08 pm

(I apologize if the earlier version of this post somehow appeared already. The server appeared to have comsumed it.)
@dawgfan: I’m confident that you’re not surprised by the devastating logic that has been unleashed in response to your earlier remarks. And I’m guessing that you’d find it much easier to enjoy college football if the Georgia Bulldogs consistently played well in games against quality competition. I know that I would.
So, let me offer up some of what we’ll hear next week IF Georgia loses to South Carolina on Saturday.
1. They’ve only lost two games, and they can still win the SEC East and the conference championship; all they have to do is win the rest of their games.
2. All of Coach Richt’s goals for the season are still intact.
3. The team played really well, but they just couldn’t catch a break when they needed one.
4. Murray looked really tough taking that abuse from that all-world defensive end Clowney (who looked winded at times), and the U.Ga. O-line blocked well against him on some plays.
5. Clock management had nothing to do with the way the game ended.
6. It was great to see that the special teams did such a great job again, except on those few occasions when they didn’t. That’s been fixed again.
7. The refs were obviously biased against Georgia, calling all those penalties.
8. Coach Richt worked so hard getting the team ready for this week’s game that we probably should just give him another raise right now. Surely, he’d have the team prepared even better next week if he was just paid as much as other SEC coaches who win championships or division titles.
9. North Texas had better watch out.
10. We run this state.

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
12:11 pm

ARdawg – no use arguing it with them. They’ve embraced that as their reality. I for one am done with even acknowledging the doom and gloomers. It’s a drag and I don’t need my entertainment to be a drag. Football is supposed to be fun. But some people can’t have fun… they always have to push it to extremes. When you embrace the concept that pessimism is realism that is over the top. Sad but true.

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
12:12 pm

ARdawg – it’s useless… you are wasting your time. Just sit back and smile when the Dawgs win this weekend.

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
12:14 pm

And watch the nitpicks… it would be amusing if it weren’t so sad. And so predictable.

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
12:15 pm

Remember they really believe pessimism equals realism…

ARdawg

September 5th, 2013
12:15 pm

NCDawg
Ah, it doesn’t hurt to poke them with a stick now and again :)

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
12:15 pm

And when that is the case there is no point to arguing any of it.

NCDawg

September 5th, 2013
1:46 pm

Just damn… the system ate the first 3 of those posts and then the shorter posts went through..

No telling what may pop up later…

rambodawg

September 5th, 2013
2:02 pm

Nice to see most of the trolls have been banished, thanks Bill

Skokie Dog

September 5th, 2013
2:44 pm

Life is great on the sunny side of the street, right?

Big Game Ahead: All Aboard to Athens

September 6th, 2013
12:33 am

[...] If you really want to understand the history behind the passion, take a look at this. [...]

Hopeful

September 6th, 2013
8:07 am

For you delusional Dawg fans, you don’t have much of a defense this year. The Clemson game was a track meet with both teams moving up and down the field. Spurrier will probably find a way to win. Regardless of his feelings about UGA, he definitely does not want to lose to a team that his in-state rival just beat.

DawgNight

September 6th, 2013
9:53 am

Road to the SECCG starts here!

DawgNole

September 6th, 2013
9:55 am

True DAWG
September 4th, 2013
11:19 am
. . . 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
________________________

You might be a “True DAWG,” but you aren’t speaking the truth when you say this game marked the first time the ACC has ever beaten “op ten” ranked opponents. Assuming you mean “top ten” opponents, I can assure you that it’s happened many times before this season.