Home of the Georgia Bulldogs
Experience the Park Sanford Stadium Fan Guide
The recent return of Georgia football to national prominence has brought plenty of attention to the Bulldogs and their Athens home. But truth be told, the Dogs feature a long and storied history of gridiron excellence, with traditions that run deep through generations of families who live and die with the Red and Black.
Simply put, Georgia football is a way of life, a culture all its own that has been cultivated for decades and passed down from father and mother to son and daughter. To many fans, Saturdays in the fall are off limits; there are countless stories of weddings, births and family events being planned so as not to conflict with Georgia games. From the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northern part of the state to the Atlantic shore in the southeast corner, Georgia car magnets, flags and tags are displayed with pride as game day approaches.
On the field, the Dogs have given fans plenty of reason to cheer, winning 64.7 percent of their games (713-381-34 going into the 2008 season) since the program was launched in 1892. During that time, the Dogs have won 12 Southeastern Conference championships, including the magical 1980 season, when Georgia went 12-0, beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl and won the consensus national championship. In 1942, several polls voted the Dogs No. 1 at season’s end following Georgia’s victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl to cap an 11-1 season. In all, Georgia has appeared in 43 bowl games, winning 24, and ranks sixth all-time in bowl appearances and victories.
Two Heisman Trophy winners have donned the Georgia uniform – Frank Sinkwich (1942) and Herschel Walker (1982) – and 66 Georgia players have been named All-Americans. Twenty-three of those were consensus All-American picks, and three – Sinkwich, Walker and David Pollack – earned consensus All-American honors in multiple seasons. Eleven Dogs have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The place where those greats played their home games, Sanford Stadium, is one of the more hallowed venues in all of college sports. Named for Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford – a supporter of Georgia athletics in the early days of the 20th century – Sanford Stadium is the sixth-largest on-campus stadium in the NCAA with a seating capacity of 92,746.
Sanford Stadium opened on Oct. 12, 1929, to an overflow crowd of more than 30,000 that watched the Dogs beat Yale 15-0. On that day, the Dogs already were “Between the Hedges” – English privet hedges that circle the field and sidelines already were in place. “Between the Hedges” has become a signature statement for the stadium and for Georgia football. The hedges temporarily were removed during the 1996 Olympics, when the stadium played host to men’s and women’s soccer.
Like the program it hosts, Sanford Stadium has expanded through the years. Lights were added in 1940; six years later, 6,000 additional seats were constructed. In 1967, the upper deck was constructed, boosting capacity by 19,000 seats to 59,000. Further expansion in 1991, 1994 and 2003, and the addition of luxury suites in 2005, brought the stadium to its current capacity.
Arguably, the game Dogs’ fans look forward to most doesn’t occur in Athens, however. The annual Georgia-Florida game, played at a neutral site in Jacksonville – draws tens of thousands of fans who set up RVs and campers around the game site and spend the week reveling and partying, with no hope of getting tickets to actually watch the game inside the stadium. The Southeast Georgia islands around Brunswick – one hour north of Jacksonville – are inundated by red-clad fans for several days before kickoff. The game, dubbed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” is one of college football’s great rivalries, even if Florida has dominated the series in recent years, winning all but three times since 1990.
The Georgia-Florida setting provided the backdrop to the most famous play in Georgia history. Undefeated entering the game and ranked No. 2 in the nation, the Dogs trailed Florida 21-20 with under a minute left and faced third down from their own 8-yard line. But quarterback Buck Belue found wide receiver Lindsay Scott open at the Georgia 25. Scott hauled in the pass, sprinted to the left sideline and raced 92 yards for a touchdown that kept Georgia on the path to the national championship. Legendary Georgia play-by-play man Larry Munson’s call of the play is one of the most famous calls in the history of collegiate sports; many Georgia fans have the call on tape and to this day play it while tailgating before games.
The most recognizable symbol of Georgia football sits low to the ground and moves on four legs. Uga, a line of white English bulldogs, has served as the Bulldogs’ mascot since Uga I made his debut in 1956. Owned by Sonny Seiler of Savannah, Uga is present at all home games, many road games, and at university functions throughout the year. During games, Uga can be found on the sidelines, wearing a Georgia jersey made from the same material as the players’ game jerseys. When Herschel Walker picked up his Heisman Trophy following the 1982 season, Uga IV was present at the Downtown Athletic Club, dressed to the nines in a tux.
Six Bulldogs have served as the team’s mascot: Uga I through Uga VI, who died in June, 2008. The first six Uga bulldogs are interred in a mausoleum near the main entrance to Sanford Stadium. Uga VII was unveiled at Georgia’s 2008 season opener. While Uga VI features the most wins of any of his predecessors, it’s Uga V who thrust the mascot into the national spotlight in the 1990s. Uga V was featured in the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, and famously tried to bite Auburn wide receiver Robert Baker during a game at Auburn in 1996.