On January 27, 1785, Georgia became the first state to charter a state-supported university. The university did not actually begin operations till 1802 with a few students, one instructor, who was also the university president, and no buildings. The main goal of the university in the first few years was to build classrooms and living quarters for the students. Ninety years passed without incident, then the students started playing football.
Georgia played their very first college football game on January 30, 1892. Georgia beat an out-manned Mercer College 50 to 0. Since they did so well in their first game, they all wanted to play another game, so they arranged to play Auburn a few weeks later. Auburn shut out Georgia 10 to 0. The Auburn Georgia game would be the beginning of the South's oldest football rivalry. Georgia finished their first season with 1-1 record outscoring their opponents 25 to 5.
In 1895, the University of Georgia hired Glen "Pop" Warner as its new football coach. Warner arrived in Athens in September 1895 only to find a total lack of sports facilities and staff. The school had no athletic facilities, playing field or stands. The only place for playing football was a bare field where rocks stuck out of the red clay. In 1895, the University of Georgia's entire student body consisted of just 248 students, and only 13 students showed up to play football. Warner's first team finished with a 3-4 record. That would be one of Pop Warner's few losing seasons. His 1896 team went 4-0, giving the University of Georgia its first undefeated season. But the facilities did not improve and there was little emphasis placed on sports at the University of Georgia, so Pop Warner moved on to the Carlisle Indian School to coach a player named Jim Thorpe.
Georgia has been playing Georgia Tech since 1893. They are such rivals that the Georgia Tech fight song includes the following words: ..."but if I had a son Sir, I'll tell you what he would do, he would Yell to Hell with Georgia, like his old man used to do"! Now that is a rivalry! Georgia leads that series 56 to 38 with 5 ties. The 100th game in the series will be played on November 26th, 2005.
Some historical trivia: Georgia played Cumberland once in their history in 1905 losing 39 to 0. Georgia Tech beat Cumberland 222 to 0 in 1916, which is the most lopsided score in the history of college football.
Although Georgia Tech is the biggest traditional rival of the Georgia Bulldogs, their biggest nemesis are the Florida Gators. The Florida game is always played in Jacksonville, Florida. Until 1989, Georgia dominated the series with 45 wins against 22 wins for Florida. Since that time Florida has won the game 13 out of 14 times to bring the all time record to 46-35-2. In 1992, close losses to Florida and Tennessee cost Georgia a National Championship. The only losses in 1997 were also to Florida and Tennessee, but the games were not close. Florida was the only loss in the 2002 season under current coach, Mark Richt.
In 2004, Georgia lost to Tennessee in Athens, ending one of the nation's longest home winning streaks at 17. It was the first loss to Tennessee since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, however, Tennessee defeated Georgia 9 consecutive times. I am sure Georgia fans consider Tennessee another nemesis along the lines of Florida.
Losing seasons are rare at Georgia. The last time Georgia had 2 consecutive losing seasons was back in 1963. Georgia has had only 4 losing seasons since then.
College football tradition is huge in Athens. Georgia has played over 1100 college football games, sporting a record of 683 wins, 372 losses with 54 ties. They have won 64% of their games, which ranks them 13th among the All Time Winningest Major Football Programs. Georgia has been named National Champions 5 times, most recently in 1980 when Vince Dooley led his Georgia team to a 12-0 season. They have had 2 Heisman Trophy winners, Herschel Walker in 1982 and Frank Sinkwich in 1942. The Bulldogs have won the Southeastern Conference Championship 11 times.
The glory days of Georgia Football were from 1980 to 1984. Georgia went 12-0 in 1980, 12-2 in 1981, 11-1 in 1982 and 10-1-1 in 1983. In 1982, Georgia just missed winning another National Championship losing 27 to 23 to eventual Champion Penn State in the Sugar Bowl.
Georgia has the potential of winning a National Championship again in 2005. Great coaching, recruiting and fan support will always keep Georgia at the top of the standings. A down year in Georgia is when they do not finish in the top 10. Expectations run high and the pressure is intense to win. The 2005 season kicks off with the Boise State Broncos visiting Athens on September 3rd. This should be a tough game for Georgia, but Georgia fans expect to win. We shall see!
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