Talk about a trip back in time. Those “Bulldog Country” digital billboards that are popping up between Atlanta and Athens are much fancier than what we used to see back in the Vince Dooley era, but they bring back a phrase that had sort of fallen out of fashion over the past 25 years.
Back in the 1960s, signs on roads leading into the Classic City often declared, “This is Bulldog Country” or “Welcome to Bulldog Country.” In that era, plays on the original “Marlboro Country” advertising slogan were pretty widespread.
Then, starting in the 1990s, Bulldog Country started giving way to the grander sounding “Bulldog Nation.” For that, we can, at least in part, thank my buddy Tom Stinson, a longtime AJC sportswriter and editor. The first usage of the newer phrase I could find was in an article Stinson wrote in November 1991 in which he mentioned “the Bulldog nation.”
That was before Oklahoma popularized “Sooner Nation,” followed by everybody and his brother jumping on the “nation” bandwagon. I once asked Stinny where he came up with Bulldog nation, and he said, “Red Sox Nation.”
When I searched the AJC archives, “Bulldog Country” still popped up fairly frequently until the mid-1990s, by which time Bulldog Nation was firmly entrenched.
However, perhaps Bulldog Country will make a comeback thanks to these new billboards, designed by the Adsmith in Athens for the UGA Athletic Association, using the talented Cassie Wright’s dynamic photos of Bulldog players.
Anyway, it’s a nice nod to the past. Who knows, next thing they may be wanting to put a picture of a Bulldog hoisting a plank with a nail in it on the Sanford Stadium scoreboard!
Enough reminiscing, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail. …
Len Paschal writes: Bill, I saw where UGA is calling for fans to stage a “Redout” of Sanford Stadium for the South Carolina, Alabama and Missouri games, and a “Blackout” for Kentucky. Two thoughts: Why Kentucky??!! And do you think this means the Dawgs might be back in black themselves for that game?
The fact that they announced these plans before the season even opens, instead of waiting until the week before the game as in the past, is kind of interesting. I tend to think it was a pre-emptive move to take the whole “Blackout” discussion off the table when it comes to Alabama returning Between the Hedges for the first time since the 2008 game, the last time Georgia wore black jerseys.
There’ve been unofficial fan-inspired blackouts since then (most recently for last year’s Auburn game), but the black jerseys haven’t yet made a comeback. By making this early move, it’s now established ahead of time that, for Bama (as well as the other two big conference home games), everyone will wear red. Which means we get to avoid a distracting should-they-blackout-Bama discussion the week before that game.
As for blacking out the stadium for Kentucky, I see it as a baby step toward what some UGA students have been requesting for a couple of years now: making the last SEC home game of every season a Blackout game, no matter who the opponent is. Of course, what the students really had in mind was having the team in black jerseys, too, but the official line, as of now, is that’s not the plan. Back in July, UGA spokesman Claude Felton had told me he was “not aware” of any plans for black jerseys this season. After the Kentucky Blackout announcement, I asked again, and he replied: “Don’t see anything that has changed on jersey color.”
When an early August media report claimed that UGA would be one of several schools wearing new black Nike jerseys at some point this season, athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation’s Seth Emerson that Georgia will not be wearing any alternative uniforms this year. McGarity said that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be black jerseys at some point, but those Nike prototype jerseys were not for use in games this year.
Which is a good thing. If and when the Dawgs are back in black, it should be the classy black jerseys they wore in 2007-2008, not some Nike abomination like the prototype black shirts with red sleeves that have been rumored.
So, officially, the fans will be in black for Kentucky and that’s it. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the black jerseys show up for that game, especially if the Dawgs are on a roll by then.
As Mark Richt said last season, “My goal would be to have one game next year where we could [wear black]. Maybe even have a planned event before the season starts and not have a big secret about it. But just know that that’s part of our uniform combination and do it at a time where we’re not wearing black jerseys on a sweltering hot day. But we are the red and black. … for us to be in black one game a year would make sense.”
DirtyDawg writes: Bill, I’ve been analyzing what Brian Schottenheimer and Mark Richt have been saying the past couple of weeks about the quarterback battle in a vain attempt to figure out which way they might be leaning, but I’m as confused as ever. They’re keeping it pretty close to the vest. How about you? Who do you think we’ll see start in the first game?
I think they’re playing it close to the vest because they unfortunately still don’t know. As an apparently frustrated Richt said after Saturday’s second preseason scrimmage, “I’d like to know and have some peace about it; when I make a big decision, I like to have peace, and I don’t have that right now. … I’m a patient guy, but the clock is ticking. I got a feeling it will play out in the games.”
My take on that is we’ll probably see at least two of the three scholarship QBs play in the first game. If I had to put a wager down on the starter, I’d bet on Brice Ramsey.
But will the other one be Faton Bauta or Greyson Lambert? At the start of the summer, my guess was Bauta, who might not have the throwing arm of Lambert but is seen by some as more in the Hutson Mason take-care-of-the-ball mode.
However, a recent quote from the new offensive coordinator made me question that. Said Schottenheimer: “I hate the term ‘game manager.’ We’re not looking for that. We’re looking for a guy who can go out there and make plays as well. Certainly there’s going to be a lot of vertical elements to what we do. At the end of the day they’ve got to move the team and score points.”
That definitely would seem to favor Ramsey and Lambert, who are seen as more downfield passing threats than Bauta.
Thankfully, the opening game is one where the coaches can still play around with the lineup without having to worry unduly about getting a win. Plus, as senior offensive tackle Kolton Houston noted recently, whoever starts can lean on Nick Chubb. “27 left and 27 right sounds pretty good to me,” Houston said. “As long as we’ve got that, we’re going to be all right.”
Linda Bailey writes: Bill, I saw where 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason signed a financial-aid agreement with UGA, but was puzzled to hear that this does not lock him in as a Bulldog. He still has to wait until February to sign an official letter of intent. If that’s the case, what’s the point of signing the financial aid papers?
As DawgNation recruiting guru Michael Carvell explains it, the signing of the financial paperwork is a pretty big deal, even though it’s nonbinding, because it allows Georgia’s coaches to basically have “unlimited” communication with Eason even before his planned early enrollment at UGA this coming winter. And that’s always a plus.
Bobby Hayes writes: Bill, I was happy to see that Herschel Walker, Kevin Butler and Champ Bailey all made the Football Writers Association of America’s list of the best college players of the past 75 years. But I couldn’t believe that the likes of Frankie Sinkwich and Charley Trippi didn’t make the list. I think maybe some of the football writers were too focused on more recent All-Americans. Your thoughts?
The football writers group acknowledged up front that their list would be subject to a lot of raised eyebrows. As FWAA committee chairman Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman put it: “Truly, it was an exciting – if not impossible – task to find the best 75 college football players ever. Please save your hate mail, but feel free to weigh in and tell us how we messed up. And I’m sure we did, but no one should argue that it wasn’t a great idea to honor the best who have ever played the game. Let the debating begin.”
As for your complaint, Bobby, I agree with you that, at the very least, Heisman winner Sinkwich should have made the list. And you could make a pretty strong case for Trippi, Fran Tarkenton, Bill Stanfill, Jake Scott and David Pollack, too.
Matt Cafaro writes: Bill, I know other schools get more press for their rivalries, and I won’t complain about the Iron Bowl being seen as the biggest rivalry in college football, or the Red River Shootout for that matter. … However, there are no other schools with as many important rivalry games (or better named games) than UGA. We have Clean Old Fashioned Hate. the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. It got me thinking: As a fan who grew to really love the Dawgs during the 1990s, I hate Tennessee and South Carolina almost as much as Tech, Florida and Auburn. … We need to name the Tennessee and South Carolina rivalries. Tennessee had our number for so long, but we’ve flipped it under Richt (possibly the best thing Richt has done at UGA was flip this rivalry), while under Spurrier, South Carolina has owned Richt (4 wins in the last 5 years). These are games every bit as important as those other three. They should have proper names.
Some folks already refer to the Georgia-South Carolina game as the “Border Bash,” taking the name of an annual children’s charity event held in Augusta the Friday before the game each year, attended by mascots and cheerleaders from both schools. That’s at least a starting point. As for Georgia-Tennessee, I haven’t heard any nicknames offered for that rivalry. Maybe something to do with Lookout Mountain, which straddles the border? If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to share.
Michael Addison writes: Hi Bill, I am wondering if there is some sort of video archive of UGA football games. I’m not talking about just the ’90s to the present; I think many Dawg fans have their VHS tapes and DVDs of those games. But what about the games from decades before then? Myself, and especially my father, are quite nostalgic and keenly interested in history. I have to believe that we are not the only people who would pay a king’s ransom to have a DVD set of UGA games going back all the way to the earliest days of televised games. Even before that, there may be some early film. Somewhere, tucked away in a dusty basement at UGA, there just has to be some film of these games. Even better, if the video could be mated to a UGA radio announcer making the calls (think Munson and even those before him), that would be even better. This is about preserving tradition and history as much as anything else.
There’s actually a UGA Vault app that UGA legend Kevin Butler is involved with, which is available for both iPhones and Android devices. It includes game films, interviews and documentaries, and is updated frequently. You can find out more about it here.
Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg
Bill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.