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June 28, 2006

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By: Ben Munro

UGA apparently planned to scrap football 100 years ago
It appears that Georgia football celebrates an interesting anniversary of sorts this month.
Check the “Looking Back” page of this paper last week (June 22) and you’ll see a state-wide story published 100 years ago that said the higher-ups of the University of Georgia had actually planned to jettison the Bulldog football program after the 1906 season:
“The trustees of the University of Georgia at their meeting in Athens the past week declared that, after this year, there shall be no more football games played by the students of the university.”
Done, just like that.
It’s safe to say 100 years and 92,000 Sanford Stadium seats later that the trustees’ vision didn’t turn out as planned.
In fact, the Bulldogs were right back on the field in 1907, opening the season with a rousing 57-0 tar-and-feather job of bitter in-state foe Dahlonega. W.S. Whitney (not an author) was the ‘Dawgs head coach then.
This all seems rather laughable in a context of today, but in the summer of ‘06, the ‘Dawgs were on their death bed for whatever reason.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only time Bulldog football had a stay of execution back in its formative years.
Nine years prior, in 1897, the death of Bulldog Vonalbade Gammon due to injuries in a game against Virginia brought an end to football in the state until his mother, Rosalind Gammon lobbied for Georgia lawmakers to reconsider.
Now, Georgia football is an 114-year institution today. Thank Mrs. Gammon.
Not to rip off “It’s A Wonderful Life,” but what would it be like if the bans had held and there were no Bulldog football to speak of this fall?
What would we do with our time?
Let’s see, president Michael Adams would be paranoid about Milledge Avenue parties spiraling out of hand — not the city of Jacksonville imploding when Georgia and Florida meet.
His life would be a lot more boring.
So would Uga’s. After all, he’d be just another unemployed English Bulldog.
Of course, this whole landscape of UGA would have changed — literally.
Sanford Stadium blueprints would have never seen the light of day and that prime real estate in the heart of campus would be a venue devoted to studying microscopic cells, not defenses.
The culture would probably also seem a lot more normal around here, too.
After all, barking aloud as an adult would get you committed to an institution rather than the customary high-five.
Then, of course, all those legions of Bulldog heroes that have been barked about for years would have gotten swiped up by rival factions and worshiped by someone else.
Larry Munson would be turning his vintage quirky phrases to celebrate, say, Auburn’s greatest touchdowns: “Run, Cadillac, run!” Streets at Clemson would bear the name of Herschel Walker and David Pollack would have performed his famed 2002 mid-air fumble, interception, touchdown, magic trick as a Florida Gator probably.
When the trustees meet this year — 100 years later — I don’t think scrapping the football program will make it on to the agenda.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Commerce News and The Madison County Journal.

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