Fan talk: What are your top sports moments you’ve seen in person?

Most unforgettable sports moment from 1965. (University of Georgia)

Most unforgettable sports moment from 1965. (University of Georgia)

With the Winter Olympics back, we’ve been treated to repeat viewings lately of one of the most celebrated moments in modern sports history, the spine-tingling ending to the Miracle on Ice. Watching the ending of that game produces a smiliar feeling to what Georgia Bulldog fans get rewatching Run-Lindsay or Hobnail Boot.

Every sports fan has those unforgettable top moments, but the best ones are where you were actually there to witness the miracle finish, championship celebration, or whatever it was. My son Bill, a UGA alum now in grad school at UNC, had one of those unforgettable sports experiences in Chapel Hill this week when he was among the howling crowd inside the Dean Dome as the Tar Heels upset their arch rival, No. 5 Duke. After the final buzzer, the fans stormed the court and then thousands mobbed Franklin Street, traditional site of such celebrations in the land of Carolina Blue.

My son called me a little after midnight to tell me all about it and proclaimed it one of his all-time top sports memories, although it didn’t top UGA’s Blackout game against Auburn in 2007.

The next day, I asked him what else is on his select list of top sports moments, and this is what he came up with:

“The 2005 SEC championship game where we rocked #3 LSU. I saw Randy Johnson’s perfect game. I’ve seen us beat Florida. The ’02 and ’06 Georgia Tech games in Athens (the 51-7 beat down and the upset of Calvin Johnson, etc.) plus the ’09 game at Tech where we were heavy underdogs. The 2000 Tennessee game just because of the surreal nature of seeing the field rushed at Sanford. The Olympics in Atlanta (and Athens). The 2003-04 Georgia basketball team gave us THREE court-storming games in Athens (Tech, Kentucky, Florida) with the Tech game being one of the best games I’ve ever attended. Also saw John Smoltz outduel Roger Clemons in a playoff game in Atlanta.”

That’s a great list, and a bit more inclusive than my own, which is more heavily weighted toward UGA football games. I can’t recall ever seeing a Braves, Falcons or Hawks game in person that was really out of the ordinary or memorable, unfortunately.

And, ironically, the only really memorable moment like that in Georgia basketball I’ve ever witnessed in person was a game where we were on the losing side: Pistol Pete’s fabled last regular season college game in March 1969. The Coliseum (as it was then known) was packed and Maravich had one of his most impressive games ever, scoring 58 points and winding up with a ridiculous 35-foot hook shot as time expired. The Georgia fans swarmed onto the floor to congratulate him!

My list of unforgettable sports moments I witnessed in person is topped by the 1965 flea-flicker upset victory at Sanford Stadium over heavily favored national champion Alabama at the beginning of Vince Dooley’s second season. As I’ve recalled before, the Dogs were hanging tough and behind only 17-10 in the fourth quarter. I’d gone to get a Coke and was walking back to my seat when I heard someone say, “The Bear better do something, or Bama could lose this thing.” Sure enough, moments later came the legendary Kirby Moore-to-Pat Hodgson-to-Bob Taylor play. And then, with the 2-point play pass to Hodgson, Georgia had one of its most surprising victories ever.

The Blackout against Auburn is a favorite sports memory. (AJC file)

The Blackout against Auburn is a favorite sports memory. (AJC file)

Close behind that one is the 2007 Blackout win over Auburn (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Sanford Stadium crowd as electrified as that moment when the Dogs came running out on the field in those black jerseys). And then there are the two loudest games from beginning to end that I can recall seeing in Athens: the 21-0 win over Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide in 1976 and this past season’s Murray vs. Mettenberger Bowl as LSU fell to Mark Richt’s Dawgs. I think the 2013 game was louder, but the post-game celebration in 1976 was wilder.

Another top memory: the 1980 game against South Carolina in which Herschel Walker outshined Heisman winner George Rogers. Plus, of course, Kevin Butler kicking it “a hundred-thousand miles” (as Larry Munson put it) to beat Clemson in 1982, the 2002 domination of the Yellow Jackets, and walking out of Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field in 2009 and seeing the completely stunned looks on the deflated Tech fans after the “We Run This State” game.

As for the 2000 win that broke the losing streak against Tennessee, the atmosphere was unforgettable as the crowd smelled victory, but the moment was ruined for me by idiot Georgia fans trashing their own field, grabbing hunks of the Hedges.

Moving away from football, a couple of my top sports moments involve soccer: The surreal feeling of watching the bronze medal men’s OIympics soccer game in an almost unrecognizable de-Hedged and flattened Sanford Stadium in 1996; and my family being among a few hundred folks lined up on the sides of the Myers Quad in November 1966 as the then brand-new UGA men’s soccer team took on Georgia Tech in the first modern-day college soccer game in Athens. I remember toward the end one of the Georgia players turning to the fans with his arms out, saying something like, “This is history!”

Sanford Stadium during Olympics soccer competition in 1996. (Growing Up in Athens, GA)

Sanford Stadium during Olympics soccer competition in 1996. (Growing Up in Athens, GA)

Those are moments I’ll never forget. How about you? What are your top in-person sports memories?


Duane Grantham writes: Bill, Drinking beer is illegal as well for the guys less than 21. Would you suggest that every football player should be dismissed for beer drinking? If your answer to that is yes then no wonder you assume [Mark] Richt is right on his toughest drug policy in football. Most of us probably differ with you.

I’ve made no such suggestion. In my piece on the dismissal of Josh Harvey-Clemons, I did not make any judgment on the relative merits or demerits of beer, pot or what have you. The UGA coaching staff has done that. They test for drugs. They apparently don’t test for alcohol, leaving that up to the police if you’re found driving under the influence of it or possessing it under-age. However, if the coaching staff did choose to test for alcohol and to punish those who tested positive the same way they do with drugs, my point would be the same: If you break the rules, you pay the price. I don’t care what the substance is; if they were to ban the use of peanut butter and a player gets caught with Jif on his breath three times, well, he should be gone. Whether they should have a rule about marijuana is a completely different discussion. My point was that UGA has strict disciplinary policies and the players are well aware of them. Those who choose to violate the team rules despite that don’t belong on the team.

Jimi writes: Bill, I do enjoy your Blawg. At what point does the coaching staff accept responsibility for the discipline problems of the players that they recruit? At a top tier program shouldn’t there be more scrutiny of a young person’s character during the recruiting process? I understand that college recruits are teenagers and will undergo many changes as they become young adults, but aren’t there signs that indicate someone’s background, family support and work ethic that should be considered? It seems to me that we as fans always tend to blame the player in question and not the coaches in charge of recruiting them! Your thoughts?

Jimi, Georgia’s coaches have been known to back off from prospects who show disciplinary or academic problems as their high school career ends. But doing more than that would be pretty difficult for a college program. The NFL brings prospects in and gives them psychological tests; colleges don’t, and I’m not sure NCAA rules would even allow it. Even if they could, I doubt it would weed out all the potential problems. Athletes are no different from any other kid leaving home and going off on their own for the first time when they enroll in college. I’ve known of too many kids who weren’t athletes who never got into any trouble in high school and then went off the rails once they got to college. Dealing with the temptations of a college town and managing your time and keeping on top of your academics can be daunting for any student. Add the rigors and time constraints of major college athletics to the mix and the chances of someone rebelling or falling into bad habits are even greater. When it happens to a nonathlete, is it the professors’ fault? The dorm RA’s fault? The parents’ fault? No, and when college athletes break the rules, it’s not their coaches’ responsibility. But I do know I’d rather have a coaching staff and athletic administration that has strict rules and enforces them than one that turns a blind eye and enables athletes who have a problem, as apparently happens at some other SEC programs.

SandyDawg writes: Bill, I see where Greg McGarity is paying Georgia Southern $850,000 to move its next game against the Dawgs up a year and come to play in Athens in 2015. I understand that finding nonconference opponents who don’t demand a home-and-home contract is tough these days, and I don’t exactly consider the Eagles a “cupcake” because Georgia has to work a bit harder against that triple-option offense (and that might help a bit against Tech). But looking at the 2015 schedule, a nonconference home slate of Southern U., Louisiana Monroe and Georgia Southern, plus having the Auburn and Tech games both on the road, means only the South Carolina and Missouri games in Athens look attractive (Kentucky still being pretty much Kentucky). Of course, we don’t know yet who our SEC West opponent will be and I suppose that could kick the schedule up a notch if it’s Bama or Texas A&M (I don’t suppose we’ll see LSU again that soon). Still, as a season ticket holder, I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed yet again. How about you, Bill?

I agree that if the SEC West opponent turns out to be somebody like Arkansas the home schedule for 2015 will be pretty meh aside from the two key SEC East games against the Gamecocks and Mizzou. To me, the real problem is that in the recent conference scheduling turmoil, Georgia-Auburn got off-track by having the Bulldogs go to Auburn two years in a row, and as a result now every other year you have both Auburn and Tech as away games. I wish there was some way to fix it so that the Dogs would face one of those two traditional rivals at home every year like they previously did. Of course, what’s really going to be interesting is seeing whether the SEC adds a ninth conference game in 2016.

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

279 comments Add your comment


February 22nd, 2014
11:55 am

Let’s talk about my worst moment……well driving 6 hrs to Jacksonville ans sitting the rain and slop only to watch us get embarrassed by Bo pelini….and me and my wife getting merchandise stolen by the hotel workers! Now y’all satisfied?


February 22nd, 2014
12:28 pm

All the top sports moments I have are all pre Richt. Thank God I have some.

Owen Scott, III

February 22nd, 2014
12:46 pm

1) 1965- Sanford Stadium. UGA- Alabama football game Kirby Moore passing to Pat Hodgson, lateral to Bob Taylor who went 73 yards for a touchdown.
2) 1981 UGA- Ole Miss at Oxford (Hemingway Stadium). Herschel Walker rushing 41 times for 265 yards with numerous amazing plays.


February 22nd, 2014
1:04 pm

well i had many during the 80-82 years-i was fortunate enough to work freelance for ABC and CBS sports as a camera op during my college years-so the 1st was being on the floor of the Superdome doing sideline camera as the Dawgs beat Notre Dame for the National Championship! being on the field for the pandemonium is something i will never forget. the other was 1981 Ga Fla and the 95 yard game winning drive. i was behind the back line of the end zone shooting, and i knew that Herschel would be going over the top, so i creeped in to get get the right angle. when the play unfolded he leaped right into the frame- a perfect shot! 2 seconds later someone grabbed my belt and yanked me backwards- it turns out that i was so intent on getting the shot i had actually creeped just past the end line into the end zone by a few inches-one of the officials had grabbed my belt and pulled me back-he yelled at me but i didn’t care-the Dawgs had won! haha


February 22nd, 2014
1:09 pm

I was at the Hobnailed Boot game. I thought Richt could walk on water and turn water in to wine. The sky was the limit.

Where did it all go wrong?

Russell Hall

February 22nd, 2014
3:11 pm

My best:

1. Herschel Walker’s debut game in Knoxville.

2. USA Women’s Soccer Team wins Olympic Gold at Sanford Stadium.


February 22nd, 2014
3:16 pm

Top moments I’ve witnessed:
1. Georgia beating #6 Clemson in 1991 right after the Braves clinched their worst to first season. Georgia AND Clemson fans were doing the chop!
2. 07 Blackout game.
3. 3 game series over the Dodgers in 91. Ron Gant hit game winner Sat night, Sid Bream Grand Slam on Sunday
4. 96 Olympics – Gold Medal women’s game. USA beat China. At the time, it was the largest crowd ever in world history to witness a women’s sporting event – and it was in Sanford Stadium
5. 02 SEC championship game when we blocked the Arkansas Punt. Crowd was deafening.

Honorable mention: LSU game in 86 (or was it 87?), Kevin butlers 60 yarder, ‘13 shoot out over LSU, Sugar Bowl over Hawaii


February 22nd, 2014
3:36 pm

In no particular order.

- 1980 Indy 500
- 1971 seeing Wilt Chamberlain play
- 1990 seeing the Magic and the Lakers
- 1995 Talladega 500
- 1996 Michael Johnson winning gold in the 200 meters
- 2013 UGA vs Florida, flew to and from the game in a private plane
- 2014 Ireland beating Scotland 26-3 in rugby
- 2014 Dublin beating Kerry in Gaelic football
- 1998 Chic-fil-A Peach Bowl – Had an all access Press pass, because I responsible for the first cybercast of that Bowl game


February 22nd, 2014
3:56 pm

Sports moments: Attended the 1960 Orange Bowl and watched a very young Fran Tarkenton quarterbacked team beat Coach Dan Devine and Missouri. Also saw the ‘65 team beat the Bear in Athens and how about listening? That Georgia at Michigan game at Ann Arbor was pretty special. Many, many more.


February 22nd, 2014
3:57 pm


T'Ville Dawg

February 22nd, 2014
4:46 pm

Butler’s 60 yarder of course. The ball in flight looked in slow motion as all the air was sucked out of the stadium. Then pandemonium as the crowd went crazy. Very lofty moment.

“Sugar falling from the sky at Auburn”. Herschel and Bo Jackson on the same field. What a day. On my only trip ever to the “lovliest village on the plain”, I was rewarded by my car being egged as I left the parking lot. Worth it though. At least I was not there for the hosing.


February 22nd, 2014
6:27 pm

Schedule won’t matter in 2015. Why?

Richt wins 6-8 games with first year inexperienced quarterbacks and 2015 will be the first year for someone like Bauta, Park, or Ramsey.

team will go 6-6, 7-5, or 8-4. Has happened all 4 times before (Greene, Stafford, Cox, Murray).


February 22nd, 2014
7:43 pm

Very true. Richt is 41-23 with a new QB. VERY mediocre. The way he’s set up our program we need a guy going #1 in the draft or shattering records to even have a prayer at competing with the best, and even those results were far from spectacular.

Hard to imagine things changing much with Mason. It’s no knock on him. He could probably win a championship under a more competent coach.


February 22nd, 2014
8:02 pm

DJ Shockley was a first year QB who won an SEC championship. He had some limited experience but not more than Mason, who has started two games and played about a half against UK.


February 22nd, 2014
8:05 pm

Don’t let your disdain for Coach Richt get in the way of the wrong facts. And you didn’t.


February 22nd, 2014
8:28 pm

UGA is a QB-Pass Centric system, on offense and defense.

On offense, you need an experienced Qb who can throw the long ball and rack up 400 yards a game and score 35+ points per game to have a chance to win against good teams.

On defense, you need to be able to force a lot of turnovers like Grantham did in his first 3 years, because the Richt system means the Qb will commit a bunch of turnovers:
Cox had 15 in 1 year
Murray threw 41 int’s in his time at UGA
Mason threw 3 int’s in his 2 1/2 games in 2013.

Inexperienced Qb’s, that can’t run well, don’t win more than 6-8 games see Greene, Stafford, Cox, Murray. All won 6-8 games in first regular season as starter.


February 22nd, 2014
8:31 pm

Pretty sure I included Shockley in that 41-23 record there Captain Clueless. Please don’t let your love that dare not speak its name for Richt get in the way of reality.


February 22nd, 2014
8:36 pm

Richt’s a fear based coach. He led the league in punt safe calls.

He also does not let his Qb’s run much, with the 1 exception of DJ.

Murray was a top rated dual threat Qb, but never was allowed to run much for fear if injury.

Fear of things going bad, it’s the Georgia way.

That’s why Nick Marshall bombs at UGA, and wins a National Championship at Auburn.

Auburn coaches don’t let fear guide them.

P.S. Murray was injured on a passing play.


February 22nd, 2014
8:41 pm

Grantham forced a ton of turnovers in his first three seasons at UGA, covered up a lot of offensive system deficiencies.

But in 2013, Grantham couldn’t force them, and you saw what happened when the defense doesn’t bail Mark Richt out.

5 losses.

All came when the team lost the turnover battle.

UGA is completely careless offensively with the football and finished 13th in turnover margin in the conference out of 14 teams.

I feel sorry for Pruitt.

Cox, after watching for 4 years, led the team to finish -16 in turnover margin in 2009.

mason, after watching for 4 years, has come out firing, 3 int’s in 2 1/2 games.


February 22nd, 2014
8:51 pm

Unfavorite performance: UGA vs UF 2008, 2009, and 2012
Stafford threw 3 int’s in 2008 vs UF
Cox did it again 3 INT’S in 2009 vs UF
Murray did it again 3 int’s in 2012 vs UF


February 22nd, 2014
9:02 pm

Joe Montana would have thrown 3 INTs against Florida in ‘08 and ‘09. We couldn’t block anybody.

Mark Richt does not understand the game of football.


February 22nd, 2014
9:07 pm

Nah, not so much. Only 1 sec team had 3 int’s in both seasons, other than UGA.


February 22nd, 2014
9:14 pm

I’m sure genius UGA AD G MCGARITY will schedule 2 top 10 teams for first 2 games. I think he’s done that 3 out of the last 4 seasons.

Only AD in the nation to do so.

You would think UGA would put their AD’s through an IQ test pre-hire, but obviously skipped that for AD G McGarity.

He’s the dumbest AD in the country, and I’m sure 2015 will be no different.


February 22nd, 2014
9:17 pm

No particular order:

The 1983 Final Four in Alburqueque
Beating UNC and Michael Jordan (as well as St. John’s) in Syracuse in 1983 Sweet 16
Beating Auburn in 1982
Beating Clemson on Labor Day night in 1982- the first UGA game I saw in person
Butler’s 60 yarder to beat Clemson
Beating UF 42-0 in 1982
Beating #1 Florida in 1985
The 1983 Sugar Bowl (even though we lost- great game!)
The 1984 Cotton Bowl where we beat Texas
The 1984 Florida Citrus Bowl, where Butler just missed a 72 yd FG
Seeing Bo Jackson hit a home run OVER the lights in the first night game at Foley Field
Seeing Dale Murphy throw a runner out at home in the top of the 9th to preserve a tie and send the game in to extra innings the night before I was to drive 10 hours to Indianapolis for Officer Basic Course
Being court side for the NCAA tennis championships as the Dogs swept the team, singles, and doubles championships
So many more memories, both good and bad, but those are the ones that come most immediately to mind.


February 22nd, 2014
9:20 pm

Something’s wrong with the UGA pass QB centric system.

UGA’s offense averaged 38 points a game, and 480 yards a game.

But lost 5 games.

With a first year guy at QB, Mason, expect scoring and yards to steeply decline, and losses to go up.

Same for whichever first year starter gets his training wheels in 2015.


February 22nd, 2014
9:24 pm

Logan Gray’s -66 rating vs uf in 2009. Also, unmemorable.


February 22nd, 2014
9:26 pm

Not so top performances:
2012 Murray’s 58 qb rating vs South Carolina
2013 Murray’s 84 qb rating vs Vanderbilt

Tough games to watch. Had no rhythm, which was strange for a 4th/5th year QB.


February 22nd, 2014
9:31 pm

Best performance recently:

Aaron can put on a show:
14 for 19 vs Fla Atlantic in 2012
18 for 23, 5 td’s, 0 int’s, vs New Mexico St, what a game!!!!!!


February 22nd, 2014
9:35 pm

Gurley’s two 3 td games in the last couple of years:
Tenn in 2012
GT in 2013

ran all over em!!!!!


February 22nd, 2014
9:54 pm

1959 GA vs AU,1965 GA vs AL,1976 GA vs AL & GT,1980 GA vs T A &M – HERSCHELS 1ST GAME IN SANFORD,1980 GA vs GT,1984 GA vs CLEMSON,2011 GA


February 22nd, 2014
10:02 pm

My point is that if put the entire game on the shoulders of the freaking quarterback but don’t bother to field guys who can block for them they are going to throw INTs.

Mark Richt does not understand football.

Mobile Dawg

February 22nd, 2014
10:14 pm

Run Lindsey Run.

Buck Belue as a freshmen leads comeback vs the Bugs in Athens. We were down 20-0 at half time, Tech fans were chanting we were going to the toilet bowl.

Wife’s an Auburn alum, 2013 Iron Bowl, what a game, what a scene.


February 22nd, 2014
10:42 pm

That’s bull. You can always throw the ball away or take a sack.

Don’t have to force it, and throw an int.

La La Land

February 22nd, 2014
11:06 pm

35: /by your wife do you mean Michael Sam?


February 22nd, 2014
11:22 pm

I saw the 1965 “Flea Flicker”…………and that one play turned me into a BULLDOG!……………I was 11 years old at the time and went to Georgia Tech games with my Uncle and Georgia games with one of my buddies and his dad……………..That day I became a “Dawg” and ended up going to school there as well…………..I love everything Georgia, and don’t have to win every game every year or win the National Championship to stick with ‘em……………….Coach Mark Richt is the greatest coach Georgia has ever had…………and the “flea flicker” tells me anything can happen anytime on the football field…………….GO DAWGS………………RED


February 22nd, 2014
11:23 pm

Watching game 7 of the 2004 Stanley cup final in the times forum as the aaLightning beat Calgary. Not a game, but when Verlander was a Lakeland Tiger, the booster club had lunch with the team. I was seated next to him.


February 22nd, 2014
11:36 pm

GOLDENDOME…920pm..Perhaps time for Smashmouth with our Horses…..


February 23rd, 2014
3:41 am

Anyone get the feeling that Goldendome is a GT fan?


February 23rd, 2014
3:45 am

If he’s not a GT fan then he epitomizes a fan who ONLY sees the “glass half full” all of the time. This was a fun article by Bill King and thanks for the memories. My first UGa game as a student was the 1965 Bama flea-flicker one mentioned several time. I was also there for the Pistol Pete show. Incredible memories.

Class of 93

February 23rd, 2014
4:07 am

Best game, running out onto the Superdome field with my dad when we won the National Tittle and seeing one of the goal post fall. We saw 3 Irish fans on Bourbon Steet afterwards and one of their hats hangs on my wall.
2nd best Neyland 1980 seeing Hershall run over Bill Bates from the upper deck.


February 23rd, 2014
4:57 am

'65 DAWG

February 23rd, 2014
7:13 am

Surprised no one has mentioned the miracle run of the UGA basketball team winning the SEC Tournament, playing 3 games in 30 hours, culminated with the wins at Georgia Tech!!!!!
I was among the few blessed to get tickets. What a great run!!!!


February 23rd, 2014
8:29 am

GoldenDome, that’s easy for you to say while sitting comfortably at your desk typing on the Internet. You’re not the one with a 6′4″, 300 lb. defensive linemen who wants to rip your head off chasing after you.

A QB is only as good as his blocking. You need to learn more about football.


February 23rd, 2014
8:32 am

And LOL @ just take a sack. If the QB fumbles after getting clobbered you’d blame him for that too.

Maybe GoldenDome is a Tech fan. Like them, he knows absolutely nothing about football.

Of course that can be said about alot of Kool Aiders too.


February 23rd, 2014
8:44 am

That’s right we did have a horrible OL in 2008 and 2009……this has been an ongoing nuisance in the program…..Richt needs to bring in an consultant to help him with the OL.


February 23rd, 2014
8:51 am

That was a great comeback MobileDawg, I like listening to Buck on 680 but i sure hated him that day in Athens. Kind of wish you hadnt brought it up, I had forgotten about that.

Mobile Dawg

February 23rd, 2014
9:21 am

I believe that was the Eddie Lee Ivory team gt, but it’s been a while. I’m sure we’ve lost some heartbreakers like that but I don’t remember them.


February 23rd, 2014
10:40 am

Lala land is gut rake!

You better watch your pathetic mouth buddy! You sure talk about Michael Sam a lot….gee I wonder why. Lmao!


February 23rd, 2014
10:57 am

Yea Mobile, Eddie Lee was a good one. I think thats when Lucius Sanford was terrorizing offenses. He tore ND up one, I just cant remember.


February 23rd, 2014
11:02 am

UGA will lose to

Tennessee L
Auburn L
Mizzou L

Sc L
Clemson L

Florida L

I expect a similar season like last year…..a bunch of close games! Everybody happy about that??? I don’t like our OL or qb or secondary! Thanks everybody!