Posted: 10:33 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

20 of life’s amazing moments for a Dawgs fan 

By Bill King

Players and fans celebrate after last year's big win over LSU. (Radi Nabulsi / UGA)

Players and fans celebrate after last year’s big win over LSU. (Radi Nabulsi / UGA)

Recently I was looking at some photos from last year’s LSU game, which was not just the high point of the season but probably of the past seven or eight seasons.

As I wrote after that memorable late-September day:

“I’ve been going to Georgia football games for 50 years and I can say without hesitation that was the loudest I’ve ever heard Sanford Stadium from first kickoff to final whistle. On that last futile drive by LSU, particularly the fourth-down incompletion, the place was literally vibrating with a decibel level that must have approached that of a jet engine. A spine-tingling moment that never will be forgotten by the fans who were there.

“Overall, from ‘GameDay’ on the Myers quad to the terrific ‘Awaken the Nation’ pregame video to the team coming back out on the field 10 minutes after they’d gone to the locker room to celebrate some more, it was one of the most electrifying game day atmospheres imaginable. And thanks to the ‘redout’ and the fact that a free red shaker was provided on every seat, it also was the reddest I’ve ever seen that stadium. A magnificent sight for the national TV audience.”

Thinking about that day, it occurred to me, how special and unforgettable it must have been for anyone there who was attending their very first Georgia football game!

Attending your first game is one of those wonderful rites of passage for a college sports fan, but there are others as well, and some folks like to check them off, much like UGA students do with school traditions in their “G-Book.”

And it’s not just the fans. I asked former Georgia great Matt Stinchcomb for his “amazing moments,” and he offered: “First Dawg Walk. First time you heard the solo trumpeter. First walk down the railroad trellis. First home win over Tech!”

What follows is not really a bucket list for a Bulldogs fan as much as it is a sharing of those fan moments that make college sports so colorful and exciting and different from the pro variety. They’re part of what engenders the kind of loyalty that sees people still supporting their school, decade after decade.

So here, with comments from me and some of the fans who helped me compile this list, are 20 amazing moments in the life of a Georgia Bulldogs fan. How many have you experienced?

Your first game at Sanford Stadium. Game day in Athens has changed over the decades. My friend Betz Kerley remembers attending her first game with her parents when she was 4 years old. “People dressed up for games back then. Men wore suits and women wore heels.”

The atmosphere is a lot different now. But, from the “Krypton Fanfare” to the Larry Munson video to the Redcoats scrambling on the field, experiencing a game in person is so much better than watching it on even one of those giant flat-screen TVs. And there’s nothing like that moment when the fans rise and the student section points toward the southwest corner of the stadium’s upper deck as the solo trumpeter plays the opening of the “Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation.”

Ringing the Chapel bell is a must for all Dawgs fans. (Olivia King / special)

Ringing the Chapel bell is a must for all Dawgs fans. (Olivia King / special)

Your first time ringing the Chapel bell. This is a particular favorite of young Bulldogs fans. I can still see the rope of the bell pulling my son up high off the ground as he rang the bell for the first time when he was a boy. This is definitely something you want to have your children experience. Doc Eldridge, former mayor of Athens and now head of the Chamber of Commerce there, has special memories of his first ringing of the bell. It was when Vince Dooley, after his early success, was courted by Oklahoma. Recalls Doc: “As Jimbo McDonald and I were coming out of the ‘Y’ that morning (where the Holiday Inn is now), cars were honking their horns, and the KAs were shooting their cannon. It had just been announced the Vince was staying. Jimbo and I … crossed Lumpkin Street and went to ring the bell. We were the first to arrive and stayed there ringing it by ourselves until our parents came and got us around 4:00. By then the students had consumed large amounts of liquid courage and had gathered to take our place. The bell rang until midnight.”

First time down on the field at Sanford. I’ve never been on the field when the stands were full, but even walking on it in an empty stadium during some autograph sessions down there gave me a new appreciation for the immensity of the place and what it must be like for a UGA player running out for his first game Between the Hedges.

First time tailgating on campus. While it’s easier and more convenient to just grab a meal at one of the game day outlets outside or inside the stadium, there’s nothing quite like sitting under a tree or on a grassy quad with friends and family and sharing some fried chicken, or whatever your game day preference is, while you anticipate that day’s matchup.

Tailgating has become an art form at UGA. (Photo by Bill King)

Tailgating has become an art form at UGA. (Photo by Bill King)

Getting your first Dawgwear. For fans who grow up around here, this usually happens when you’re quite young, often still in diapers. But whether it’s UGA footies or a T-shirt or cap or a replica football uniform or cheerleader’s outfit, kids love sharing their parents’ devotion to the Red and Black.

And it can lead to special moments like my friend Dan Pelletier recalls: “When my son was 2 ½ I bought him a UGA replica uniform, complete with pads and helmet. He wore it all summer in the 90-plus degree weather. That fall I took him to his first game Between the Hedges. When UGA came on the field, his eyes got as big as saucers and said, ‘Dad, they have uniforms just like mine!’ A priceless moment at Sanford Stadium with a third-generation Bulldog.”

Your first away game. Whether it’s on the road in the SEC, traveling to some faraway place like Arizona, or just making your way to the Joke by Coke in Atlanta, there’s a very different but special feeling about watching the Dogs win at the opponent’s home stadium.

Your first Georgia-Florida game. With the stands in Jacksonville split 50/50 between orange and red and many in attendance having spent several days getting “primed” for the game, it’s one of college football’s classic experiences.

There's nothing like a win over the in-state rival. (Sean Taylor / UGA)

There’s nothing like a win over the in-state rival. (Sean Taylor / UGA)

The first win over Tech. Fortunately, this usually comes pretty early for anyone who starts attending Georgia football games.

First big win over a highly ranked team. From last year’s Athens victories over South Carolina and LSU to the Ray Goff-led upset of Clemson, I’ve seen a bunch, but I still have spine-tingling memories of the first big win I saw, the 1965 flea-flicker shocker over the Crimson Tide.

First time attending Picture Day and, even better, your first time taking your child to Picture Day. Or a similar gathering like the annual Countdown to Kickoff. Getting to meet the players is fun for fans of any age, but watching a child come away with an autograph from their favorite player is very special.

First time petting Uga. Whichever number Uga, it doesn’t matter. Adults and kids alike get a real kick out of petting the wrinkled brow of the best college mascot around.

Dawg Walk is exciting for both the fans and the players. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Dawg Walk is exciting for both the fans and the players. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Your first Dawg Walk. The viewing conditions aren’t ideal unless you get there early, but there’s nothing to get you cranked up for a big game like watching the players make their way through the throng of fans and the Redcoat Band and into the stadium. But you’ve not truly experienced the full Dawg Walk unless you hang around for Rooster Call, a good-spirited slamming of the day’s opponent from a couple of members of the band, who then lead the “rooster cheer” that’s become a tradition over the past 15 years or so.

Your first Bulldogs bowl game. Whether it’s in New Orleans or Orlando or just at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, attending a postseason game is a very different sort of game day experience that every fan should try at some point.

Your first trip to the UGA Bookstore for souvenirs and Bulldogs clothing. It’s fun (and can be quite expensive) at any time, but on game day, when the place is packed, it’s a another great way to get into the spirit.

Watching an SEC basketball game at Stegeman Coliseum. Big moments in UGA fandom aren’t limited to football. Georgia’s aged indoor arena has its detractors, and attendance can be pretty spotty for early-season nonconference games, but when the place is packed for a big SEC opponent like Kentucky or Florida, the Steg really rocks.

Attending a Gym Dogs meet. The atmosphere isn’t quite as raucous as during the Suzanne Yoculan heyday of numerous national titles, but the gymnastics team still is a major draw and the performances are usually pretty exciting.

Watching a baseball game at Foley Field. Currently undergoing major renovations, UGA’s baseball stadium is admittedly one of the smallest in the conference. But it’s still a fun, intimate place to watch a ball game and, when it’s packed for a big one, the atmosphere can be pretty electric (though I miss the days of the more outlandish fans on Kudzu Hill).

Visiting the place where it all began. In my days as a student, what had been Herty Field was just a parking lot. But now it’s a beautiful green space with a fountain, where UGA students play Frisbee golf, read, eat lunch or, increasingly, get married! If you haven’t checked out this North Campus jewel, be sure to do so next time you’re in Athens.

And a new opportunity for Dawgs fans: attend a UGA hockey match in downtown Athens. After years of having to play “home” matches elsewhere, the Ice Dogs club team finally has a true home arena in the Classic Center, and they’ll begin their first full home season there this fall. This is one I’m looking to check off myself.

Your first special moment. Maybe it was Herschel’s first touchdown at home. Or the emotional ovation when David Jacobs took the field on Senior Day after a career-ending stroke. Or the team running out in black jerseys against Auburn. One thing’s for sure: If you attend UGA football games regularly, you’ll definitely have memories that will make you smile … and maybe get a little misty-eyed.

Meanwhile, UGA is asking fans to “Spread the Red!” by wearing red for the season opener against Clemson Aug. 30.

“We’re really looking for a big turnout for the ‘Dog Walk’ and for the student section,” Mark Richt said. “We’re asking everyone to wear red and black and make it one of the those memorable games, memorable atmospheres.”

Maybe it’ll be another of those amazing moments.

Go Dogs!

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

42 comments
Dawg Walker
Dawg Walker

My greatest Dawg moments ?  Most probably getting to watch my son walk in the Dawg walk and stop to give me a hug before walking into the stadium.   The only thing better was watching him kick a 37 yard field goal against South Carolina and hear 92,000 people roar their approval.  I understand how blessed I have been, and I will never forget.   Here's to all the fans and alumni, the parents of all the students that watch their children - (be it the redcoat band, the cheer squad, and the students in the seats) and get to experience the thrill of being part of the Bulldog Nation.  I also understand how hard the football players work (including off season) to generate the excitement of the games, and rehab from the injuries they suffer.  My hat is off to them   - .  GO DAWGS!

jdoug
jdoug

Not only did I see Herschel's first college touchdown, I covered his games at Johnson County High School and was at the Walker house the night Vince signed him. So there's that, too. P.S. I've done all the other "firsts" except the picture day and the gym Dogs.

Buzz-Off
Buzz-Off

My first game was in '65.......the famous flea flicker against Bama. I was in awe and couldn't believe all the fun and craziness.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Go Georgia Bulldogs!

HowlinDawg
HowlinDawg

I have so many great UGA memories it would take a book or two to fill, but my favorite happened when the spring training game was held at Clarke Central prior to the 1996 Olympic soccer sames at Sanford Stadium. Fans were able to tailgate and gather all over the field before the game. My six-year-old son, Benjamin-Hayes,  ran all over the field, his curly blond hair and loose-fitting California Angels jersey flying in the wind. At one point he stopped where some folks were enjoying fried chicken and potato salad, two of his favorite foods. 


Politely asking for a bite of the potato salad, one of the ladies gave him a heaping spoonful and a few chicken fingers. As he turned to leave, the lady hugged him and sad, "you're the cutest little angel in the whole state of Georgia." 


Later on, Hairy Dawg provided a high-5 and a ride on his shoulders all over the field. From then on, every time Benjamin-Hayes saw Hairy Dawg on TV, he'd yell – that's my friend." And, like any good dad, I never explained to Benjamin-Hayes that a different man was wearing the HD suit. 


A later my son was diagnosed with leukemia and he passed away two years later. Before he passed away, Benjamin-Hayes, who often communicated with angels though his illness, explained to his mother an me that he would be an angel singing to his friends at Children's Health Care on the Emory Campus.


I've written a memoir about him, Gone Off with the Angels, and it's on Kindle (shameless plug, I know). 


So, in thanks to the kind lady at Clark Central, I always remember the cutest angel in the whole state of Georgia whenever I see Hairy Dawg high-5 or carry a kid on his shoulders.


Go Dawgs!

DawginCO
DawginCO

If the Dawgs are sitting undefeated or with just 1 loss, how ridiculously loud will Sanford Stadium be when Auburn comes to town ( assuming they haven't lost a couple by then)  Payback for the fluke?  Homecoming for Marshall?  Possible Top 10 matchup?   They may want to send a survey team to shore up the stands for that one.

Dawg350
Dawg350

The UGA / auburn game in 2007 was the best UGA game I've ever been too...was loud as I ever heard Sanford stadium. 2nd was the game against Carolina in 2009. Such a joy to see spurrier's disappointed look on his face

HotDawg
HotDawg

Hanging banners from the dorms (and all over Athens) cheering on the Dawgs during the season.

It was crazy beautiful with the championship banners when students got back for Winter Quarter Jan. '81. (Ya'll remember when it was quarters?)

EricGallant
EricGallant

I left Athens in 91 to participate in The Gulf War. We had some fairly bleak years for the football program for the preceding 4 years. The departure of Dooley, losing to Vandy, losing to GT etc.  I returned to Athens for the first time in October 2000 for the game vs. TN.

Amazing game! Amazing win! Epic after party.

UA Grad
UA Grad

Nice article, Bill. I went to school at Alabama, but I was the Georgia/Clemson game in 1980 and saw Scott Woerner's punt return and interception. If I remember correctly Sanford Stadium had open endzones at the time. Also, don't forget a trip to The Varsity!!    

HotDawg
HotDawg

There are so many great memories.

Every experience associated with my beloved Dawgs and school has had the wonderful feeling of a "first", and the excitable goosebumps that go with it.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Minus 9 days....

Single digit days have arrived!!!!!!!

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

Bill, You're telling your age there 'ol boy..........because I was there too, I guess I was about 11 yrs old when our beloved BULLDOGS upset Alabama and the "Bear" with the flea flicker.............and to think...... I was paying close attention, I mean I really was!............That had to be right up there for me.

Wrk
Wrk

First game I attended was Herschel's first home game, a 42-0 blowout of Texas A&M. Anyone else remember chanting "Dawg Food, Dawg Food!" when opposing team ran out onto field many years ago? Clemson '91, Tenn '00, at Auburn when UGA went after Auburn player, '04, '07 Ga/Fla, Auburn blackout '07, LSU last year were all great games to attend.

Reaganite
Reaganite

It's Saturday in Athens and that kindred spirit with a heart warming, raspy voice is saying -


””Glory, glory to ole’ Georgia. Heroes have graced the field before you. Men with hearts, bodies and minds for which the entire Bulldawg Nation can be justifiably proud. The tradition of unbridled excellence demonstrated by these individuals and many others spans more than a full century. And now a new breed of Bulldawg stands ready to take the field of Battle. To assume the reigns of the Georgia program. To continue that tradition. Understanding that there is no tradition more worthy of envy. No institution worthy of such loyalty as The University of Georgia. As we prepare for another meeting between the hedges let all the Bulldawg faithful rally behind the men who now wear the red and black with two words. Two simple words that express the sentiments of the entire Bulldawg Nation … GO DAWGS”

thracer
thracer

First time lofty and unrealistic pre-season expectations for a National Championship are dashed....


Oh wait, that happens every year.

DNorth
DNorth

First game was 1978 versus #4 Clemson and Steve Fuller ... Dogs won 12-0 and I saw Erk Russell head-butt one of the defensive players after they came off the field.  First win over Tech was that same year 29-28 and its still the best football game I've ever seen personally.

Maybe the most fun I ever had at a game was in 1979 ... we had LSU in Athens and won ... I was sitting in the middle of a bunch of LSU fans and we gave them the business the whole game.  One of them gave me his LSU cap at the end, saying he would never wear it again.

First Florida game was 1980 ... no more to say about that, nor will my first bowl game on January 1, 1981 need much discussion.

I was at the first night game with the new lights and saw them beat Clemson, and sat in a driving rain storm to see them beat UCLA with Rick Neuheisel at QB n 1983.

Great memories

DawginCO
DawginCO

Herschel running over Bill Bates.  It was the epitome of what the greatest RB in the history of college football history was all about.  The start of an amazing season.  A season where everything went right.  

Teaching350
Teaching350

The first time sitting on the Railroad Bridge and smoking a bowl.

Crux Dawg86
Crux Dawg86

There have been many since my 1st game in 1972 as an 8-year old (a 0-14 loss to UT).  My family has had season tickets since 1974 and I haven't missed many Between the Hedges since that time, but the Top 3 would have to be:

1)  Being in attendance on 1/1/81 at the Sugar Bowl for the 1980 NC game against Notre Dame.

2)  Being in attendance for "The Run" by Herschel against George Rogers and SC in 1980.

3)  My 1st GA/FL game in Jax in 1982 when Herschel and the Dawgs crushed the Gators 44-0 and going down on the field after game.

BCB
BCB

GO DAWGS!!!

WDE
WDE

1976 win over Bama 21-0 we were on the tracks at daylight !

DawginNY
DawginNY

'91 Clemson was payback for running up the score the year before and the coming out party for Eric Zeier and it was also the day the Braves clinched the division for the first time.  It was awesome when Larry England announced it, and both bands led the entire stadium in the Tomahawk Chop.


'00 Tennessee broke the Vols' streak against us and was the first time I range the chapel bell.  '01 in Neyland Stadium was pretty cool too.


'97 and '07 Florida for obvious reasons.


'02 and '07 Auburn, again for obvious reasons.  The first one was the only time I've ever cried after a win.


'98 LSU.  I was in college and had tickets but no money and sold them so I could afford to drive down there.  Stayed in N. Orleans with friends and got a ticket right before kickoff for $30.  LSU was #6, and I received several threats from the well-lubricated sea of gold around me.  Our offense couldn't move in the 4th quarter and it seemed like the entire quarter had been played on our side of the 50. LSU had trimmed our lead to 28-27.  With about 4 minutes left, on 3rd and long inside our own 20, Quincy Carter under heavy pressure completed a 20 yard out to Champ Bailey to maintain the possession.  We would pick up another couple of first downs and run out the clock.  Baton Rouge wasn't safe for a lone guy in red, so I drove back to New Orleans and Tulane students bought my drinks all night.

Fast Eddie
Fast Eddie

There are a lot of good memories for sure...one that stands out as to me is the 1997 Florida game. Walking out of the stadium that night was especially sweet after the 7 year drought.

MatthewATL
MatthewATL

So, when the Dawgs play Alabama next year, Black jerseys or nah?

PanhandleDawg
PanhandleDawg

Graduated from UGA in '75 and have seen many incredible Bulldog moments. Last year's LSU win was my favorite. Why? Became a newlywed at age 60 and moved to the Florida panhandle last year. My new bride is a lifelong Saints fan but had no college favorite. Last year's LSU game was her first UGA game. From the moment she walked into Sanford stadium she was in awe. She stood and screamed the whole game. It was a great experience for both of us. Now, I'm proud to say my wife is a "DAWG"! We'll be back for Auburn this year and can't wait to watch the Dawgs get some payback!

Arx
Arx

Discovered football and the Falcons in '68... the Dawgs came with the college game in '76. Since then, UGA has rescued my pigskin soul so many times... each win is memorable, each TD worthy of trophy, each Saturday like day one. GOOOO DAWGS! 

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

Beating LSU in - was it 85 or 86? - at night and the stadium was vibrating. I was just 9 or 10. But the Butler 60 yarder against Clemson hooked me. Since then, Garrison Hearst doing the Heisman pose, the 07 Auburn Blackout, the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii and last years LSU game were the best recent memories

HistoryofMatt
HistoryofMatt

My very first Georgia Bowl game on my own dime was the 2008 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. I'll remember that until the day I die.


That whole 2007 season, and the reality that the Dawgs were probably the closest they've ever been and may ever get to the National Title under Richt, was full of memory.


If only Soft Willy's defense could've stopped the South Carolina fourth quarter runs EVERYONE knew was coming. If only Tripp Stonehands Chandler caught the for-sure pass from Stafford in the endzone, that hit him right in the hands. Sigh.


But 2007 had so many GREAT moments, too. The Blackout against Auburn. I'll never forget sitting in the student section for that. We jumped up and down on our bleacher seats so long and hard when the Dawgs ran out of the tunnel wearing black, we BROKE the bleacher seat! The whole bleacher section came un-moored from the concrete. I then got snuck into the East Endzone VIP section by a friend working security and met former Bulldog (and NY Giant) great Rodney Hampton.


Then there was the awesomeness of the Gator Stomp. I wish I could say I was there, but I wasn't. Yet, the look on Urban's face, and Timmy's tears, made the next year's butt-kicking slightly less painful.


And of course, then there was sitting in the Super Dome and watching the Dawgs destroy Colt Brennan & Hawaii after listening to morons like Lisping Lou & his buddy Mark over on ESPN pick Hawaii.


God, though... we were so close. LSU was in no way better than us last year. Losing to that South Carolina team, and then watching as Soft Willy's soft zones got blown up by Erik Ainge in Tennessee... if it weren't for Willie Martinez, we'd have a Crystal Football in Athens.


It sucks that my best memories of Georgia football occurred in yet another "almost" year. That seems to be a recurring theme for sports played in this state. The Braves were "almost" a great dynasty. The Falcons "almost" made a Super Bowl in 2012. The Dawgs "almost" made a BCS Title Game in 2007 and 2012.


Sigh. Oh well. Now I'm leaving for Seattle, most likely forever. I won't have anymore "live" memories of the Dawgs, unless they do make the National Title Game (I'd like to see someone keep me from wherever that may be).

paulmacon
paulmacon

Well, that and watching Butler beat Clemson with a last second 60 yarder during my senior year.


paulmacon
paulmacon

My lifetime highlight was being the first to post FIRST on one of bills Blawgs!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Speaking of which, my first quarter in Athens was spent in awe!

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@RED DOG 77 Yeah, I was 12 and in 7th grade at the time of the flea-flicker game. Still a vivid memory!

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@Wrk I not only remember the "Dawg food" chant ... I still do it!

DawginNY
DawginNY

@Fast Eddie But not being able to rush the field after the Jax police had let Florida fans do it so many times sucked. 

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@MatthewATL For Alabama? Not such a good idea. I'd rather have the black jerseys eased back in by using them in some traditional sense, either for home games against Auburn or the final home game of every season when it's not Tech.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Panhandle,

That is a wonderful story.

Best wishes to you and your bride for a rewarding life together.

Just get her to drop the Ain'ts fandom!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Remember the Bird Dawg Country logos in '80?

Falcons should have won super bowl the same year we RULED college football.