Georgia Sports Blog FanShop

May 27, 2008

The SEC's Evolution over the past 15 years

We juss gotta git budder.

Mr. SEC recently looked at the power shifts in the SEC since 1993. Obviously, the Dawgs are one of the fastest rising programs over that period of time, and his article got me thinking about what a wildly different position we are now vs. just 15 years ago.

Think back to 1993:
The 1993 season opened with solid optimism. The Dawgs had just won 19 games over the prior two seasons, Eric Zeier was returning, and recruiting was moving along nicely. We had obviously taken two huge hits to the NFL in losing Garrison Hearst and Andre Hastings, and there were still concerns about Ray Goff's long term viability. However, the overall talent level looked reasonably strong.

Then the 1993 season just absolutely shat all over the program. The season started with a home opening loss to the Gamecocks as Brandon Bennett dove over the top with seconds remaining. Listen to the panic in Munson's voice. It's wrenching.

The Bulldogs were then demolished in Knoxville 38-6. Losses to Arkansas and Ole Miss followed a win vs. Texas Tech, and suddenly the Dawgs were 1-4 to open the season.

If there had been message boards and blogs in '93,
they would've all crashed from the weight of the anger.

After winning three in a row against Southern Miss, Kentucky and Vandy, the Dawgs had their guts ripped out during a monsoon in Jacksonville at the infamous "Time Out Florida" game. It was one of the worst moments in One Play Away Ray's career. The 1993 season ended at 5-6. It was the second time in Ray's first five years that we had no bowl plans for the holidays.

1994 was no great shakes either
Despite having a Heisman trophy candidate at QB, the Dawgs went 6-4-1. The loss of Zeier early in the season finale against Tech kept the guys with funny looking jackets from picking Georgia for post-season play. That entire season was a swift kick in the nuts.

The positives -- blowing out a wretched Clemson team, dropping a tie on an Auburn team that hadn't lost since 1992, and a second consecutive obliteration of Georgia Tech (48-10). The negatives included giving up 200+ yards rushing to a legally blind running back in a homecoming loss to Vanderbilt. The Gators dropping 52 on Georgia in the Swamp, and Ray Goff blowing the fourth quarter lead in Tuscaloosa by going uber conservative.

The season ended with Vince Dooley's disastrous decision to give Ray Goff one more year AND to publicly notify him of a need for "significant improvement." That two in one decision combined with the pending NCAA investigation served to cripple recruiting for two consecutive seasons.

I think it's hard for current students, recent grads and new fans to comprehend that today's Georgia program is not that far removed from going 22-22-1 from 1993 to 1996. That four year period was the darkest UGA had experienced since the 1950s and very early 1960s. If it weren't for the wildly good luck of having Georgia Tech hire Bill Lewis in 1992, things could've been much, much worse.

It was just 11 years ago that Georgia was teetering towards Gamecock and Ole Miss levels of futility. Yet, here we are today.

So it's with that trip down suck alley that I said, "God Bless Mark Richt."



C. Paul said...

Well replayed.

I was a Sr. in 1993 and was at many of the games that year (including my one and only trip to UT where I told my buddies how much Terrell Davis sucked because he got caught by a lineman on a sweep =)

I have a seven year old son who has no idea that 15 years ago we were "not" going to the BCS with regularity and one step above Ole Miss, Arky & Cocky-ness.

To sum, "God Bless Mark Richt".

Smitty said...

That picture of Goff gives me nightmares. Hard to believe he was our coach for 7 years.

Anonymous said...

I started UGA in 1993. It was wild sitting in the student section for my first home game- then we really hit the skids for a few years. We were more concerned with what band we had that night than the outcome of the game for a while.

I don't think the excitement came back until we beat Miss. St at home 48 to something in 1997. That team was good. Does anyone rememeber when we were worried about Donnan going to UNC after that year? Got to laugh at that now.

God Bless Mark Richt.

Anonymous said...

Time (and success) will continue to heal the Goff years, I hope. I still prefer to think of Ray as the unstoppable veer quarterback of my youth...when my Dawgly attachment to all things Georgia were in its formative stages.

Every traditional power has to go through the lean years. Nebraska, right now, is where we were 15 years ago. Time to move on.

Anonymous said...

I was a freshman in '93 and it really blew. I look around today and wonder about the students in school now. I'm not sure how well they'd handle the seasons we suffered through.

Amen on the God Bless Mark Richt.

You have to give Donnan a hat tip (or better) on the recovery. He got us back to 10 wins, started a bowl streak, pushed us over the hump with Tennessee and Florida, and stocked up some great talent for Richt.

Nice post!

Anonymous said...

I am currently a student at UGA, and I remember this period well. I started watching and loving Georgia football during this dark period. In fact, my first game was the 29-28 loss to Alabama on the road. Dad felt so bad that we lost that he bought tickets to the season finale against Tech. Never do I take for granted the the shape our program is in now. Not a day goes by when I don't reminisce the way things are, and appreciate the way things are now. Thanks to Ray Goff for giving his all to the university that he loves, and God Bless Coach Mark Richt.

S.A.W.B. said...

I was at the '94 UGA/GTU game, which if I recall correctly was the year that Yech finished 1-10. I was 16, and up with a friend of mine, his dad, and a friend of his dad's.

We spent the entire second half abusing the Yech sideline with 'when you're 1 and 10, you're Georgia Tech' whenever they'd play that god awful beer song.

On the way out of the stadium, some Yech 'Man' tried to pick a fight with us over some crack about Yech's band. Great initiation into the mind of the GTU'er.

I was a freshman in Donnan's first season in '96. I drove up early from Atlanta to get student tickets, and drove up early again to catch the season opener against Southern Miss. The foreshadowing should have kicked us all in the face...

Unknown said...

I wasn't a big Georgia fan until I went to school there and Ray Goff was a big reason for that. I remember being happy seeing Jim Donnan (with the stench of Barry Switzer's Oklahoma football program all over him) take the future AFC Pro Bowl defense to 8 win seasons after what Goff did to Georgia's football program. At least Donnan went bowling more often than not.

I know that schools at the time placed a lot of importance on keeping coaching "in the family" but the guy was just in way over his head. Even in his good seasons, I thought he could've done better with what he had. The sad part is that he was great at recruiting. He just couldn't do anything with what he had. Seemed to me like his biggest failing was that he put seniority over actual competency but you can't really blame him for that since that's what got him his head coaching job in the first place. There were way too many times when I asked myself, "Why isn't that guy the starter?"

Dark days indeed. My beloved SWC was falling apart, SMU was a ghost of it's previous self, and this formerly rabid college football fan who had just moved to Georgia was in a college football wilderness. I was looking forward to American Gladiators on Saturdays more than I was to college football. I'm glad those days are long gone.

"God Bless Mark Richt."

Anonymous said...

I was at the '94 homecoming loss to Vanderbilt. I thought that was the darkest day I had to personnaly witness until the gators and Darth Visor came to Athens in 1995. We were down 21-0 almost immediately. Most Dawg fans started leaving in the 3rd quarter. My dad and I stuck it out to the bitter end when Spurrier ran the double-reverse pass to make the final 52-17. I'm still not sure how we scored 17. For me, that will always be the darkest day. Thank the Good Lord for Mark Richt.

JasonC said...

For some reason, I always want to put the "Time Out Game" in '92. What happened in '92 against Florida? Was that when Harvey busted the long TD on the first or second play of the game? The Time Out Game was heart wrenching.

I know Terrell was injured most of the '93 season which left us thin at RB. I don't know how much of a difference having a healthy TD would have made, but I know not having him affected the team a lot. We went really pass happy to take advantage of Zeier. But losing Jack Swan, Mac Strong and not having TD, deflated our running game.

I don't remember Goff being too conservative at the '94 Bama game. I remember that we had 2 awful coverage screw-ups that gave them easy TDs. I remember Hines Ward having an incredible game. And I remember with the game almost won, they called 1 of 2 plays that had worked all night- a little curl or in route to the TE. A former-LB-turned-TE that will remain nameless, dropped what should have given us a first down and the ability to run out the clock and secure the win. We had called that play at least 5 times that night and each time it worked until then.

As one of the anons said, every team goes through those dark years, just mention Mike Dubose to a Bama fan, look at Miami or FSU. I think even Ohio St had some lean years in the mid-late 90s.

Unlike Dante, I am not as sold on Goff's recruiting ability. He had a lot of busts during his tenure: Sterling Boyd, a couple of other RBs whose names I can't recall, Mike Freidenberg, etc.

JasonC said...

I just read the line under Goff's photo- hilarious! I can actually hear him say it just like that.

Anonymous said...

I remember the Ray Goff years well. I was in high school and we never missed a game. His last year was my freshman year at UGA and it was dismal to say the least.

But, everytime his name is brought up I feel so bad for him. He was damn near crucified and his kids, have payed the price over the years. Yet he still remains loyal to the University he loves.

God Bless Mark Richt.
And God Bless Ray Goff as well.

Hobnail_Boot said...

I didn't move to the South until I was 8 and wasn't brought up to cheer for any particular school, UGA or otherwise. I was as neutral as could be w/r/t UGA and Tech; I actually pulled for both to do well (a fact that now blows my mind).

It wasn't until I recieved my transfer acceptance to UGA (2 days after Richt was hired) that I really dove headfirst not only into fandom of the current on-field product but also the history of the program. It's amazing to me just how differently I view the '92-'00 period compared to how I did pre-Georgia fandom.

-I now get irrationally mad at any mention of Gino Toretta or Marshall Faulk.
-Names like Spurrier, Tanneyhill, Carter, and Hamilton have a whole new meaning to me.
-I now understand the 20-year frustration from '82-'02.
-My fall schedule now completely revolves around the Dawgs' schedule.

Yes, God bless Mark Richt and Glory, Glory.

S.A.W.B. said...

Regarding Senor Goff, I am privy to some things, thanks to my wife's previous employer, that I can't repeat here, lest it lead to legal proceedings.

That said, let's just say that Ol' Coach Ray, for the public face he puts up, is a grade-A assjack when it comes to inter-familial relations...

Anonymous said...

I finished UGA when Dooley left, never experienced the glory years of the early '80's. The Jan Kemp affair hurt us for years and years, really until the middle of the Donnan regime.

I'm not a Goff apologist and did my share of gameday cursing, but nobody else would take the job, not even Erk Russell. As Munson as stated many times, "the cupboard was bare", and you were following a legendary coach who would also be your boss (A.D. Vince Dooley).

It shows how good a coach Dooley was to finish no worse than 7-4 (admittedly average) his last years with the restrictions.

Our struggles under Goff are easily identified:
1) The Kemp affair hurt who we could recruit and our talent level. We had outstanding front line players, but we were not deep.
2) Much of that talent we could not get went to Tennessee and Auburn, both of which got stronger and deeper during that period.
3) A guy named Spurrier showed up at Florida and had a clue about how to recruit and coach offense. The rise of Florida and Florida State also took talent out of South Georgia we used to get, and eliminated a lot of the talent we also used to get from North Florida. As none other than Bear Bryant once stated, "Boys, if anybody ever figures it out (coaching college football) in Florida, we are all in trouble."

So Ray was playing against a stacked deck from the start. He tried to keep us afloat, but was not the man for the job. To his credit, I have never read or heard him criticize UGA since his dismissal.

mdr1013 said...

'94 was my freshman year at UGA. What a miserable time to be in Athens. My wife, an Alabama girl who I have converted into a die-hard Dawg, is 5 years younger than me and doesn't remember any of this stuff. I started taking her to games in '02, so she's only seen the good stuff! Its amazing how far we've come since the mid 90's. Just goes to show what the right man in the right job at the right time can do.

Anonymous said...

Another thing to be happy about is that the coaching landscape in the SEC was much less impressive. Its so much harder to win in the SEC now.

Coaches then: Johnny Majors & Phil Fulmer
Coach now: Fulmer
Verdict: Push because of same coach.

South Cack:
Coaches then: Sparky Woods & Brad Scott
Coach now: Spurrier
Verdict: New era wins in a landslide, but Brad Scott probably would have had better success had he gone somewhere else, he was a real good O.C.

Coach then: Bill Curry
Coach now: Rich Brooks
Verdict: I really, really dislike Bill Curry. It is nearly impossible for him to go through one college broadcast without mentioning that he was Johnny Unitas' center, that Bobby Dodd was the finest man he ever met and that Georgia is horrible in every way. Still, I feel confident in my pick of Brooks as a better coach.

Coach then: Spurrier
Coach now: Meyer
Verdict: They both have a nat'l championship, but Spurrier changed the way you played offense in the SEC. I have to go with the OBC.

Coaches then: Gerry DiNardo & Rod Dowhower
Coach now: Bobby Johnson
Verdict: New era as Vandy has players drafted and seem to be getting better.

Coach then: Gene Stallings
Coach now: Nick Saban
Verdict: This one shouldn't be the slam dunk your average Bama fan wants it to be. Stallings won a NC and much of the Saban lore is hype. I give it to Saban but its closer than the experts think.

Coach then: Terry Bowden
Coach now: Tommy Tubberville
Verdict: They both have undefeated season with little to show for it. But it think Tubbs has less ''help'' than Bowden in terms of off the field benefits. Winner is Tubbs.

Coaches then: Curley Hallman and Gerry Dinardo
Coach now: Les Miles
Verdict: The Mad Hatter has a NC and I already said the coach at Vandy was better than a former coach.

Coach then: Jackie Sherrill
Coach now: Sylvestor Croom
Verdict: Sherrill was a pretty decent coach, but he did things 'his' way which the NCAA didn't exactly smile on. I give the nod to Sherrill, but give Croom some time and get away from the sanctions and he could eventually be better.

Ole Miss:
Coaches then: Billy Brewer, Joe Lee Dunn, and Tubberville
Coach now: Bobby Petrino
Verdict: Being a Falcons fan makes this difficult because I want to bury Petrino. I give it to coach then, but only because of Tubbs. Then again, Auburn officials did try to hire this guy and fire Tubbs.

Coach then: Danny Ford
Coach now: Houston Nutt
Verdict: One of the hardest questions to ask after what is the meaning of life, is the question is Houston Nutt a good head coach? He won the west a few times, beat LSU last year, and had good success. But he was run out of time, loses games he shouldn't, and Arkansas is never really a national player. My gut says give it to Ford.

So anytime an old coach wins, he's either still in the league or the guy he's going against has an incomplete resume.

JasonC said...


Nutt is at Ole Miss now and Petrino is at Ark.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha! I got a phone call half way through my post and I think my brain was still thinking about that. Either that or my brain is still celebrating Memorial Day.

I'm an idiot.

Dang - PWD can make a lucid post at 4:30am and I make a dumb a$$ mistake like that. That's why he's got the 4,000,000 hits! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

God Bless Mark Richt, indeed.

having lived through, as a student, the mediocre 74 season (newly installed veer offense, a loss to Miami of freaking Ohio in the god awful Tangerine Bowl), the birth of the Junkyard Dogs, the Underdogs to Wonderdogs, the Herschel era, Jan Kemp, and the 90s, I can only say to you younger folks one thing about the current era: enjoy while it lasts, savor every win, because sooner or later (hopefully much later) it will come to an end.

I've seen ups and downs and SEC titles, national titles, and losing seasons since the early 70s. All Coach Richt needs is a national title to claim his place at the coaching legend table, but what he's done so far is impressive and we should all be glad we have him, whether he wins a NC or not.

We thought, back in the Herschel era, that it would last forever. It didnt. Alabama fans thought the Bear's era would last forever, Florida fans thought Spurrier's era would last forever. They didnt. GTU fans just felt like the Chan Gailey era would last forever, but it didnt, either.

I have no desire to stir up any controversy about the Ray Goff era, but my own suspicion about what doomed Ray the most was always this: it took him too damn long to find a defensive coordinator who could do his job like Wayne McDuffie could do the OC's job. To a certain extent, this failure would plague Jim Donnan, as well.

Had either of those guys had an Erk or a Brian Van Gorder, or (dare I suggest, based on his performance) a Willie Martinez, I suspect their tenures would have been more successful. Dont get me wrong, I'm thrilled to have Coach Richt, and the struggles that precceded him have made me appreciate the success he's had even more.

Let's all hope Coach Richt decides to hang around another 15 or 20 years, but whether it's 1 year or 30, we should all appreciate how good we have it right now. Beats checking hotels in Shreveport, doesnt it?

Anonymous said...

I was at the homecoming loss to Vandy. The thing that sticks out in my mind was all the fights after the game - fights BETWEEN UGA FANS! I've never seen such a fan base divided. Those who where for Goof were fighting those that wanted to see him go. It was nearly a riot in the parking lots.

Another thing that stands out from that game is the trash that was thrown from the stands. I remember being near a recruit that was at the game and hearing him say to his parents "no way I'm coming here".

I knew many people that didn't buy tickets the next year to protest Goof getting another year. That's what was really the final straw; the money dried up.

After reading Terrell Davis's book, I can understand s.a.w.b. is saying.

Anonymous said...

That's the first time I've seen Bennett's dive since being there in person when it happened. That was one of many kick in the groin losses under Ray. That's why I'm thankful for what we have going right now.

Anonymous said...

I must protest anonymous at 3:55 pm. I too was there, my memory is not the same, and I was actually sober (no brown liqour) for the game, as I had to hit a Yankee wedding later that night.

There were a few cups (man I loved those old Poss plastic cups) thrown, some serious booing, and the always everpresent "Fire Ray Goof" banner pulled by airplane across the stadium. For those that did not attend in those days, there were always cups flying in the student section, usually after a touchdown or defensive stand.

The fights were lower level turf wars between sauced fraternity men, not those for and against Goff. Most people left disgustedly in the second half with Vandy pounding the ball up the gut each possession. I saw nothing close to a riot. Most just quietly left shaking our downtrodden heads.

He is dead on that this was the last straw with many people, a sizeable percentage did not renew season tickets the next year in protest.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to imagine how bad Georgia Tech and Clemson must have sucked, both going oh-for-Georgia during those years.

Tommy said...

My earliest childhood memories were the early '80s and that all but cemented my going to Georgia. When I was 18, the idea of living on campus and being able to attend every single home game was a benefit that towered over anything offered by any other college not named Harvard.

So imagine the collective wet blanket that was my four years in Athens: 1993-1996, especially when your most indelible reference point was 1980-1982. It's enough to make me want to demand a refund.

And then, the first year after graduation, we beat frickin' Florida. It was like somebody shut the spigot off the second I walked on campus and turned it back on just as soon as I left.

Anonymous said...

dude, that is an absolutely upsetting reminder of the not-so-good old days.

Unknown said...


I may have you beat. I moved to Athens in HS. The first major football game I ever saw in a big stadium was UGA vs. Baylor in '89. Ray's first year.

My first year in college was '90. We went 4-7.

In '91, I missed the Clemson Night Game Extravaganza. We beat AU and LSU both in years that they sucked, and I didn't go to the Tech game when we beat the defending champs. So I had no real appreciation that things could get "off the chain" for home games...and I hadn't seen us win a good road game yet.

In '92, we lost to UF and beat our heads in against UT. I missed the AU game and the Citrus Bowl. I still hadn't seen a GREAT home or away WIN.

The closest I had come was the '90 Bama game. But MANY fans had given up before Preston Jones came off the bench to lead the 4th quarter come back. It was a really odd feeling after that game. Fun, but Bama was 0-2 heading into it, and we were inches away from being 0-2 ourselves.

I'm with the other guy on the thread who said he didn't really see a crazy big win at home against a team that scared anyone until '95 against South Carolina when Edwards ran buck friggin wild....or MSU in '97 when we put up 47=0 spot.

And the very fact that those teams made us nervous back then tells you everything you want to know.

The first MASSIVE home WIN that I saw (again...because I missed Clemson in '91) was the 2000 Tennessee game.

Saw some crazy road wins that were a blast that kept me coming back to the stadium. Like '92 SC and '96 Auburn. But, It wasn't until the UF '97 game that i really saw something that said...WOW....that was fun AND we won AND we beat someone really good.

Can you believe that?

I've been to 180+ games in 19 or so years. And it took over 10 years to really see that first monster home win.


Unknown said...

btw - i only missed that big clemson game in '91 because of a death in the family.

I HATE Clemson. Having lived in SC three times, I'd never intentionally miss playing those douche bags.

dawgnotdog said...

My favorite moment of the Brandon Bennett game was Goof running the ball to force the Cocks to use their timeouts, and then refusing to throw the ball on third down when a first down could have sealed it....trying to run the clock out ya know.

Well then, on fourth down, the clock running, and SC out of timeouts, Ray runs the punt team out on the field and snaps the ball with about 18 on the play clock.

They score with 2 seconds do the math.

Anonymous said...

The fights after the Vandy game were in the parking lots not in the stadium. I remember the campus police couldn't control them and they had to call the Athen-Clarke County for reinforcements. One of the fights started as a shouting match between fans about Goff and then spilled onto the hood of my car as I was trying to leave.

Anonymous said...

For some odd reason, CST decided to run the 2003 UGA-UT game at 8:00PM tonight. It was like they read this thread this morning and said, "Hey, Dawgfans...this should make you feel better."

It did. Thanks, CST.

ChicagoDawg said...

The '91 Clemson game was a great game indeed....Saturday night ESPN deal, which came after the Braves clinched their first Division title that afternoon in the worst-to-first season....all tailgate raido's were blaring Skip, Pete & was great day with great weather....unfortunately, by gametime I was seeing 33 UGA players and 33 CU players on the field (courtesy of Jim B), which made for an interesting first half....the greatest away victory that I personally attended was hands down the "Hobnail Boot" game, followed by the "Man Enough" game in T-Town

JasonC said...

'91 Clemson game was an electric atmosphere. I can remember people doing the Tomahawk Chop several times in honor of the Braves victory.
But my favorite (game in person) is the @$$ stomping we put on LSU in '04. I can't ever recall such an authoritative victory over a good opponent.

C. Paul said...

The 1991 Clemp-scum game was one of the greatest sports days ever and what followed on the AJC was one of the best sports pages ever.

UGA wins
Braves win division
GT loses

I had the framed copy for a while before I realized that a) we should be Clemp-scum, b) the Braves win the division all the time and c) Tech lies, cheats and loses with great regularity.

Go Dawgs!!

Dubbayoo said...

The '93 season brings back memories of George Lombard. He could have stepped in to replace Garrison at least a little. I was shocked that he didn't go back to football after bouncing around the minors for so long.

They also signed Rod Perrymond, who came close to breaking Herschel's high school TD record. He ended up transferring to Morris Brown after getting his ass whupped so bad in a hazing incident he had to be hospitalized.

Anonymous said...

Goof recruited my brother his first year on the job. After he left our house my mom said "something about that man I don't like."
Never dismiss a woman's intuition.

Copyright 2009 Georgia Sports Blog. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan