Posted: 10:55 am Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

World Cup stirs memories of when the Dawgs were fit to be tied 

By Bill King

Making or averting ties played a big part in Kevin Butler's UGA career. (UGA)

Making or averting ties played a big part in Kevin Butler’s UGA career. (UGA)

Long extinct in college football and most other sports played in this country, the triumph and tragedy of a tie score in a big game has reared its head again thanks to the quadrennial return of soccer’s World Cup tournament to our TV screens.

Other sports may want no part of it, but the tie is still honored in soccer. In fact, a win or a tie against Germany will be good enough for the U.S. to move on to the second round of the World Cup.

But thanks to Portugal’s stoppage time goal forcing the U.S. into a draw this past weekend, we remember what a two-edged sword the tie is — sometimes it’s something to celebrate and other times it’s heartbreaking.

Four years ago, during the last World Cup, I wrote a piece looking at the role of such games in UGA football history at the request of my son (who is of a generation that can’t quite wrap its mind around the concept of a game no one wins). Unfortunately, at just about the same moment that article was posted to the Blawg, the news broke about Georgia’s then-athletic director, Damon Evans, being arrested for DUI — and, suddenly, that’s what I was blogging about.

So, with the World Cup back and ties once more in our consciousness, I thought I’d try again to look at the Dawgs and ties with a slightly revised version of my original piece. Feel free to share your own memories on tie games involving the Dawgs, and your thoughts on whether it really was a good thing for college football to get rid of them …

Inspired by all the tie scores in soccer’s World Cup, Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com recently paid tribute to the days when college football wasn’t afraid to let a game end deadlocked.

As Maisel noted, “Ties brought a different kind of strategy to the field. Ties brought controversy. They may have ended games, but they started debates that endure to this day. … You want to get an argument restarted? Wander over to a tailgate outside Notre Dame Stadium and criticize Ara Parseghian for the 10-10 tie with Michigan State that secured the Irish the 1966 national championship.”

Which prompted my son to ask me about famous (or infamous) ties in Georgia football history. He’s 25 and thus, he says, “I only remember the last one against undefeated Auburn in 1994,” when he was 9 years old. “But I’m sure there were others of note.”

Indeed, there were, and as Vince Dooley put it in his memoir a few years ago, “Some ties feel like a win; some ties feel like a loss.”

Going back before my time, the “good” ties —  the so-called moral victories — include Georgia’s 1941 meeting with former UGA coach Harry Mehre’s Ole Miss team in Athens when the Dogs’ Frankie Sinkwich had his broken jaw wired shut and played with a protective metal chin strap and still managed to ramble for 98 yards in a 14-14 game. Also, the 1948 Gator Bowl, when quarterback Johnny Rauch led a fourth quarter comeback from a 20-7 deficit to tie Maryland 20-20.

Easily the worst tie, at least as far as my old friend Dan and I are concerned, was the nationally televised season-opening1968 game in Knoxville. On the one hand, you’d think Georgia would have been pleased with the result since it was nearly a touchdown underdog to the previous season’s No. 2 Vols, but the Dooley team that went on to win the SEC title led that game 17-9 with seconds left. On the last play of regulation time, the refs awarded Tennessee a touchdown catch, despite the fact that video replays showed the ball bounced off the infamous artificial Tartan Turf and into the receiver’s hands.

Dooley said that was a tie that “definitely felt like a loss because we outplayed them. … It was a lousy way to let a game slip away.”

Interestingly, Tennessee wasn’t the Dogs’ only deadlocked game that season. (That was one of 10 seasons where Georgia had two or more ties — and in three seasons they had three ties, including the 1950 team that had a soccer-like 0-0 game with UNC.)

The other tie in 1968, as the Dogs went 8-0-2 in the regular season, was a 10-10 result with Houston in Athens, which gets Dan’s vote as Georgia’s “best” tie and which Dooley recalled “felt like a win.”

Houston had the nation’s top-ranked offense and racked up 532 yards against Erk Russell’s defense that day, with All American fullback Paul Gipson rushing for 230 of them. And yet the Cougars only scored one touchdown and led 10-7 when Georgia got the ball on its own 9 with 1:59 left. Sophomore QB Mike Cavan nearly gave the game away with an interception, but the Houston defender dropped the ball. Then Cavan led the Dogs to the Cougars’ 22, where placekicker Jim McCullough kicked a field goal to end the game even.

One of the ties that left Georgia unhappy was the 1973 opening game in Athens against Pittsburgh, which up till then had been pretty awful. The Dogs were a 17-point favorite, but the Panthers had a running back making his collegiate debut that day named Tony Dorsett, and he rushed for 101 yards as the two teams played to a 7-7 tie.

Andy Johnson and the Bulldogs were not happy to have been tied by Pittsburgh. (UGA)

Andy Johnson and the Bulldogs were not happy to have been tied by Pittsburgh. (UGA)

I’d served as managing editor of The Red & Black that summer and all of the student newspaper staff wasn’t back in Athens yet since school hadn’t started, so the sports editor asked me to help out with the coverage. It was the only regular season game I’ve ever watched from the press box, an experience I didn’t particularly enjoy since you weren’t supposed to cheer, plus a sportswriter sitting near me provided a running racist commentary on Dorsett’s exploits.

My assignment was to do the UGA locker room reaction story after the game and, believe me, Andy Johnson and the guys definitely weren’t feeling lucky to have come out of that game tied. Maybe, in retrospect, since Georgia would go on lose to Heisman-winning Dorsett and Pitt in the regular season in 1975 and the Sugar Bowl in 1976, they should have.

On the other hand, a tie that felt like a win for the Dawgs was in 1983 at Clemson. The Tigers led 16-6 in the fourth quarter when QB Todd Williams threw a touchdown pass to Clarence Kay, pulling Georgia within 3. Then, with 31 seconds left, legend-in-the-making Kevin Butler kicked a 31-yard field goal to tie it up.

But the game wasn’t over. Clemson’s Donald Igwebuike tried a 68-yarder with 7 seconds left, but was short. So, just for the heck of it, Dooley had Butler try a 66-yarder with 1 second on the clock, but it also was no good, and the tie stuck. (The next season in Athens Butler would kick his immortal 60-yarder to break a tie.)

The 1984 Citrus Bowl in Orlando (now the Capital One Bowl) against Florida State was another good tie. Georgia was unranked and the No. 15 Seminoles were favored by 4 points. Actually, the Dogs led 14-0 at the half, but FSU came back with two fourth quarter scores to tie the game at 17-17. Butler tried a 70-yard field goal as time expired and was just short.

Not so good were the two ties in 1985, both remarkably by the same score. Georgia came into Nashville ranked 16th in the country and a 19-point favorite, but was lucky to escape with a 13-13 score, as Vanderbilt kicker Alan Herline pushed what would have been a game-winning field goal attempt to the right at the end. The Commodores were tearful in the locker room over their missed opportunity for an upset.

And, in that season’s Sun Bowl, the favored Dogs had to rally for 10 fourth quarter points to tie Arizona 13-13, and Wildcats substitute kicker Davis Jacobs missed a field goal that would have won it.

Eric Zeier engineered one of Georgia's best ties. (Associated Press)

Eric Zeier engineered one of Georgia’s best ties. (Associated Press)

For my money, Georgia’s best-ever tie was its last one. That was the game my son remembers in 1994, when a mediocre Ray Goff team came back from a 23-9 deficit thanks to two Eric Zeier touchdown passes and tied the No. 3-ranked Tigers 23-23. The Auburn kicker missed a field goal try with 13 seconds left and so the Dogs denied Terry Bowden a 21st consecutive victory.

That tie definitely felt like a win for those of us in red and black!

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

35 comments
Classof98
Classof98

One of the greatest headlines ever, from 1968:  "Harvard beats Yale, 29-29".

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

Great news! UGA just signed a good kid for the O-Line--home grown--way to keep these guys at home. We need all the O-Lineman we can get.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Just read the buyouts in the ND contract.

The biggest loophole seems to be if conference games are added.

Gut feeling says that's gonna happen before series starts in 2017.

If so, will schools have the guts to honor contract? This is too big to cancel. No matter what happens between now and then.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Go dawgs baby! 2015 national champs!

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

Concerning OT.  I do not like OT.  There should always be a winner.  Why, because i cannot forget one particular game in high school.  It was a region game (important), the weather was not sloppy but it was wet.  Our Veer option offense was clicking on all cylinders; however, our defense forgot to get off the bus (actually most of us played both ways at this time). There was 43 seconds left in the game and we had a football field to go.  Coach decided it was too wet and risky to go all out.  We ran conservatively and tied the game. NO penetration rule at the time--we lost the region because of that tie.  The team we tied beat a team that had beaten us.  If we win that game, we win head to head and go on to state.  Now there are sub-regions and region play-offs but back then you either won the region and advanced or you did not.  I beoieve that football is a gladiator sport (stole this from DawgnCO) and it must be decided on the field not in the region, conference, or NCAA offices--just my two cents.

Dawg350
Dawg350

I like the 1997 stomping the best when Robert Edwards had 4 or 5 td's that game. Even Olandis Gary came off the bench to smack the gators in the mouth....that's the only game where we really laid the hammer down on a spurrier team.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill...I'd like you to know I appreciate your columns very much. They bring back a lot of great memories in my life. Even beyond football.

Thank you sir.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

Speaking of Notre Dame, and I was, I'm sure you've heard, Bill, that we'll be playing them in 2017 and 2019.  This is great news.  If there is any way possible, I want to be at both games.  It will be a true thrill to see the Dawgs take on the Irish in South Bend, if I can get tickets.  And, of course, I will be in Sanford Stadium.  Finally, a big-time OOC matchup that many of us have been waiting for.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

One of the greatest games I ever saw in person was when Tech tied Notre Dame 3-3 in 1980, pushing us (UGA) over the top into the Number 1 ranking.  It was a huge upset (yes upset in a tie game) of the then number 1 ranked Fighting Irish and I knew exactly what it meant to Georgia if they were to win that day against Florida.  When the announcer at Grant Field gave the final update on the Ga - Fla game that was ending at about the same time, you could have heard a pin drop, except for me screaming for Georgia.  And, yes, I missed the greatest ending to a UGA game of all time because of that.  I wouldn't have been in Jacksonville anyway because I was still in High School but I would have been watching on TV if I'd been at home.  I didn't really realize what I'd missed because I'd never been to the Gator Bowl.  I think hearing Larry's call afterwards made me feel as if I'd been there.

HotDawg
HotDawg

I remember when Kevin Butler barely missed that 70 yarder against fsu. I had told people around me, who were unfamiliar with Butler, that he was very capable of making that FG.

They were in disbelief as Kevin booted it straight down the middle and just fell short of the crossbar by about 1 yard, on the last play of the game.

Speaking of soccer Bill, Kevin Butler's soccer days at Redan was a huge help in his football abilities and success.

Just have to add, as I've mentioned before on the blog, I was at the game Kevin booted that 60+ yarder to beat clemson. And as it sailed over the goalpost, I believe it would have been good from 70 yards. The loudest I ever heard Sanford. Everybody in the stands were falling over and hugging each other. Kevin Butler is The Greatest kicker ever in my book.

He also took over after our great national champion kicker, Rex Robinson.

Remember when Rex won that game at the end in the Kentucky night? Larry Munson had an infamous call for that...was the kick good Larry? Hehe

HotDawg
HotDawg

Ties have always sucked. Ole Pat has to live with "Tie Dye" forever for his boring tie against syracuse in the sugar bowl.

Tom Osborne had the balls to go for the win against miami in nat champ game. Didn't win, but he had cahones.

DawginCO
DawginCO

I don't think any competition should ever end in a tie.  Games are played to win.  Denying anyone the opportunity to win is just wrong.  It isn't just ultra competitiveness that sparks this.  it is just understanding human nature.  Continuing a contest until there is a winner is the right way to do things.

Dawg350
Dawg350

I'm just glad they won't be any more ties! Just UGA stomping mud holes in our opponents from here on out!

robodawg
robodawg

Thanks for the Dawg history, Bill. There were definitely good ties and bad ties, and it added a different dimension to the game. I remember the dynamic it added of when it was acceptable to take a tie vs. gamble on a winning score at the end of a game (such as going for it on 4th down vs. taking a field goal to tie, or going for 2 when 1 point would tie). 

I'm not sure what it says about our culture that we had to get rid of games finishing in a tie, but whatever it means, I don't think it's flattering.

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@HotDawg  Oh yes, and by the way, sounds like you spent a few evenings doing the Buckhead thing............you seem to know it well, it has changed, I'm afraid, not for the better.........but the girls are still fun..........always will be............GO DAWGS

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@HotDawg  Heck, I'll second that HD.........I remember a lot of the "tie" games too..........The Butler kick to beat Clemson/ you're right, loudest I can recall between the hedges........that Kentucky night sitting around a campfire with just a few friends, Larry, and a little "nip"............wow what memories!...............Bill mentioned the 1966 Notre Dame v Michigan State tie............Seems to me that game was televised on tape delay.........and if I remember correctly, Clinton Jones put a hurtin' on the Irish that day..........anyway.........I'm with ya HD........."Ol Bill out did himself with this story..........Best to you both, RED

HotDawg
HotDawg

I'd be willing to give stub hub or another outlet fair market cash today to secure tickets for me when they come out in 2017 and 2019.

HotDawg
HotDawg

DVoR...Great call. That may have been the greatest tie in UGA history. And it didn't even involve UGA!

I remember Sports Illustrated's issue the following week had Herschel on the cover, running by gators, with the headline "Now Georgia is #1".

One of my favorite keepsakes.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg Great memories of Kevin.  When he made the one against Clemson, it was the biggest celebration I've ever been a part of.  Coke (and cups) rained down from the sky for 30 seconds because it was hot and everyone had a drink and they just threw them up in the air wherever they stood.  I've never seen anything like it before or since.

HotDawg
HotDawg

One more....I watched that frustrating game against Arizona with friends in Buckhead.

There was a place that showed the game on a movie screen on its stage. With full tables throughout the venue. It was standing room only,and a lot of ticked off people at the end. More than a few were throwing the last of their beers at the screen when it was over.

I forget the name of the place, at the moment. Across from the old Buckhead cinema in middle of Buckhead. Close to w. paces ferry and peachtree. May still be there? Famous venue. Concerts, plays, wrestling matches, old movies, etc. A lot of stuff went on there.

The days when Buckhead was fun and so were the women. You could still drive without hassle. No riff raff.

Good Old Days, Buckhead Beach, Aunt Charlies, Buckhead Saloon, Clubhouse, Limelight, etc., etc.

Sorry. Were we talking about football?

Go Dawgs!!

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg I always admired Tom Osborne for that call but here's why.  Because they were playing for the possibility of being called the Greatest Team of All Time and to be that they had to win it.  On the other hand, it was in some sense a terrible call because it meant they let a National Championship slip away.  They would have won it with a tie.  The loss cost them EVERYTHING!

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@DawginCO Not being argumentative, but are you willing to carry it through until players start getting injured due to fatigue? What about ties that have to be broken with some artificial gimmick at the end?  Are those worth breaking ties for?   What if the game continues until 5 in the morning and no one is left in the stands?  I just think that sometimes the two teams really are equal and it would be better (and more reflective of the circumstances) if the game simply ended in a tie. 


What is it about a tie that makes it "wrong", anyway?  Of course you want to win but isn't it better than a loss (at least most of the time).  And sometimes, as Bill discusses, it feels like a win if its against a better team or you were behind the whole time.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@Dawg350  why dont we slow down and start beating some good teams first before we talk about mud holes

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@HotDawg Both games (there and here) should be much in demand. 

DawginCO
DawginCO

@DawgVoiceofReason   Look at the Dawgs 4 OT win over Auburn.  Awesome game.  I just think that a tie is a game that somebody is isn't brave enough to continue until there is a winner.  Baseball has never had ties.  Basketball hasn't either as far as I know.  Why should football?  Of all our sports, football embodies the warrior spirit the most.

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

@FlatTire @Dawg350 Flat you gotta believe it is coming to our time.  Van Gorder defenses kept offenses in check, but we couldn't always score the big TD etc.... Now that our offense can put up tons of points, our D has been the achilles heel.  We have to believe that our potent offense with a DC that has a van gorder attitude is what we've been waiting for--at least i am going to hang on to that idea until things change.

HotDawg
HotDawg

With the previous back-to-back @auburn games, we now have Auburn and tech away in odd years. And N.D. away in 2017, wonder who's on our home schedule that year?

In 2019, might have to get the Hartman points up to grab season tickets just to go to the ND game.

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

@DawginCO @DawgVoiceofReason I never know if i am liking a topic or if i am inadvertently disliking it.  DawgnCO i agree with your point of view concerning OT.