Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The 2021 Orange Bowl and a 1965 Flashback

The announcement about the UGA Orange Bowl match-up with Michigan had hardly been announced a few minutes until One Old Dawg’s (Jerry Varnado’s) phone rang. It was our son informing him the last time we played Michigan was when the 1965 team Jerry played on at Georgia beat them.

Then Jerry was contacted by a local radio station who wanted to interview him about the upcoming Orange Bowl game.

So, we thought we’d rev up things here at One Old Dawg, too.

From the newspaper clipping’s One Old Dawg’s mama saved, Jesse Outlar’s AJC article on the game begins, “Georgia’s Cinderella Bulldogs used Bob Etter’s magic toe, Preston Ridlehuber’s crazy legs and fierce defense to shatter powerful Michigan, 15-7, Saturday afternoon, before 59,470 dazed fans.” And just to make sure we understood how powerful Michigan was, Outlar goes on to say, “Vince Dooley’s miracle men from Athens achieved a tremendous upset triumph over the defending Big Ten and Rose Bowl Champions almost on the heels of an opening success over defending national champion Alabama of the SEC.”

Georgia beating Michigan on October 2, 1965 was a huge deal.

In addition to Etter (Atlanta Falcons) and Ridlehuber (Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets), a host of other legendary Georgia Lettermen’s names show up in the article:

George Patton (All-American All SEC, Atlanta Falcons)

Jiggy Smaha (BC Lions, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Sharks)

Dickie Phillips

Kirby Moore

Lynn Hughes (All SEC, All American, New York Giants, Coaching positions Georgia and Vanderbilt)

Tommy Lawhorne

Glenn Creech

Bob Taylor

Marvin Hurst

Ron Jenkins

Dick Wells

Doug McFalls (All SEC, Chicago Bears)

Frank Richter (Denver Broncos)

Pat Hodgson (All SEC, Washington Redskins, Coach at San Diego Chargers, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets).


Coach Vince Dooley and members of 1964,65, 66 UGA teams
Coach Vince Dooley and a few of Jerry's teammates from his playing years at a letterman's event. Pete Dickens, Anthony Dennard, Jerry Varnado, Coach Vince Dooley, Joel Darden, Preston Ridlehuber, Jack Davis, Barry Wilson. (photo Beverly Varnado).

One Old Dawg writes, "My best memory of the game is one written here on One Old Dawg back in 2015:

'We were on a high, having beaten defending national champion Alabama two weeks prior to boarding the planes for our trip to Ann-Arbor to face Mighty Michigan. They were much bigger and highly favored, but we were quietly determined and confident we could take them down, just like we did Alabama.

I was reading an account of the game that stated Michigan outweighed us fifteen pounds per man. I don’t know what scale that writer was using but every player but one on their starting offensive outweighed me by at least twenty-five pounds, many of them by forty pounds.

My biggest hope was their All-American tailback, who was 6’ 2” and weighed 220 pounds, would not recover from his knee injury in time to play in the game. When he was in there, they liked to run the power sweep, which routes right over the defensive end position. He didn’t start the game, but he came in the middle of the first quarter. Sure enough, it was pro-set to my side, which meant the power sweep my way. The quarterback pitched the ball to that big tailback who was led by the fullback, a pulling guard, and the quarterback. That was over nine hundred pounds of human flesh about to attack my puny 185-pound frame. I felt like I was trapped in an old west cattle stampede. God bless Dickie Phillips or the late Jimmy Cooley.

One of them shot through the hole left by that pulling guard and cut down that tailback to stop the play before one person hit me. Whew! Close call, I thought I was about to meet my Maker.

We hung in there with those big guys and came home a 15-7 winner.’

As I mentioned before here on One Old Dawg, we returned to Athens that night and were greeted by more than ten thousand exuberant fans who had clogged the small airport and backed up traffic for the four mile stretch to downtown Athens. What a day! We felt we had set Georgia on a new course, which would raise us above the muck and mire of mediocracy to the higher echelons of college football. Time would prove we had done just that with an SEC championship the following year and a ranking of number four in the nation.

In any event we will be squaring off against the Wolverines again this coming Friday night to decide which of us will play the winner of the Alabama-Cincinnati game for the national championship; we’re all figuring that will be Alabama who beat us handily in the SEC Championship game. How do we deal with the disappointment of that loss and the future prospect of playing them again? Philippians 3:13-14 gives us a hint: “… one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” That loss was a dose of humility which we may have needed to push us to our full potential. So rather than bemoaning and regretting let’s takes Paul’s advice; forget and press on to the goal we started with, to make the playoffs and hopefully win a national championship.

We don’t have wolverines in Georgia, so most of us have never seen one. They are defined as Mustelids, small to medium-sized mammals in the same family as skunks and weasels. Many call them skunk-bears, I guess because they look something like a small bear, but they are just skunks without a stripe on their back. On the other hand, the noble English Bulldog has been defined by someone “as a brawny little powerhouse whose characteristic crablike waddle exudes great strength, stability and vigor.” Which one would you put your money on? I’m going with the Bulldogs! Let’s get the job done again this time!

Goooo Dawgs, sick ‘em, woof, woof, woof.”

Jerry Varnado played defensive end at the University of Georgia on Vince Dooley’s first three teams. No, he did not wear a leather helmet, but he did play on the 1966 SEC championship team, which placed Georgia fourth in the nation. One Old Dawg went on to help coach the UGA football team while he was in law school, and after graduating, he practiced law for over a decade.

Later, after a series of tragedies, he gave his life to Jesus Christ. After much soul searching, he left his law practice and has now been faithfully preaching the gospel for over thirty years. Though semi-retired, he’s still at it every Sunday. 

Inducted into the Valdosta/Lowndes County Sports Hall of Fame, he is the recipient of the Athens Athletic Hall of Fame Fosky Henderson Award for community service. He is happy to say he was president of The Athens Touchdown Club when his beloved Bulldogs won the 1980 National Championship.

He is the proud father of four children, sweet Alden who is now with Jesus, Mari, Aaron, and Bethany, and he's the grandfather of two of the best grandkids ever, Walker and Sara Alden.


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Let's Do it Again

We wanted to let our One Old Dawg subscribers know about a video CBS sports will be playing sometime today. They reached out to us this week and asked permission to use a newspaper image from One Old Dawg that came from a stockpile his mother saved. We included it in the post, "Ganging up on Spurrier in 1966 and Heating up the Gator Fryer in 2016." 


The video includes a grainy snippet from the 1966 Georgia-Florida game in which Lynn Hughes intercepts a Steve Spurrier pass. 

So hopefully you can get to the video by following the link HERE on facebook

We're ready for a win today just like in '66 so as always, Go DAWGS!!!

Related: Ganging Up on Spurrier in 1966 and Heating up the Gator Fryer in 2016. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


For some reason, there was a glitch on our last post on email and the video did not attach. You can always click on the title of a post to get to the web version but in case you didn't know that, click HERE for the video from One Old Dawg.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

One Old Dawg with a message of encouragement

Because of the extraordinary circumstances we face in these days from the corona virus spread, One Old Dawg recorded a message of encouragement. It was initially for our church family, but we decided our One Old Dawg subscribers might also like to view it. 

We would like to extend our sympathy to the family of Georgia letterman, Kent Lawrence, who passed this week. One Old Dawg enjoyed his time spent with Kent Lawrence when they were teammates on the 1966 SEC championship team. He will be greatly missed and always remembered as a great player on the field and and an outstanding judge in the state court, a police chief in our community, and as an advocate for those who struggled with addiction.

God bless you all.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The House of Payne

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When One Old Dawg received the invitation to attend the Naming Event of the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility at UGA, we were especially excited. Jerry and Billy played together on the 1966 SEC Championship football team at Georgia. As One Old Dawg says, “I didn’t know Billy Payne would become famous, but I’m not surprised.” Even then, Billy showed such strength of character that those who knew him imagined he might reach any goal he set. Of course, perhaps beyond imagining would be the huge role he played in bringing the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, Georgia.
One of the presenters at the event was none other than legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus. When One Old Dawg met Nicklaus, he introduced himself by saying, “Mr. Nicklaus, you don’t know me from Adam’s housecat, but I sure have enjoyed watching you play golf through the years.” When asked if he minded posing for a picture, Nicklaus responded, “I’ve always wanted to have my picture taken with Adam’s housecat.”
We ran into one of One Old Dawg's former teammates, Georgia great, George Patton, here with One Old Dawg, and their former coach, Vince Dooley.

When One Old Dawg came to Georgia as a young recruit, the athletic department arranged for members of the Georgia Girls to show recruits around campus. Jerry’s escort for that weekend was Marianne Gordon, a young woman who later became television personality, Marianne Rogers. Meeting again here after many years.

 Mark Kubiak interviewed one Old Dawg for the SEC network on his memories of Billy Payne. The show will air in July on SEC. We’ll see if One Old Dawg makes the cut.

Here another legend at Georgia, 1943 Rose Bowl Champ, Charley Trippi and his wife, Peggy. Trippi played with Porter Payne, Billy’s father.

A tent was actually erected inside the Indoor Facility and provided a lovely backdrop for the event.


CBS announcer and Masters anchor for many years, Jim Nantz, was Master of Ceremonies. Also in attendance was long time sportscaster Verne Lundquist as well as golfers Bubba Watson and Kevin Kisner.

President of UGA, Jere Morehead, Athletic Director, Greg McGarity, and Georgia Football Coach Kirby Smart all gave fitting tributes.

Former U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and the first woman member at Augusta National under Payne’s tenure as Chairman, sent her lovely message via video.  

Former Coach, Vince Dooly, also offered a moving testimonial.

Former Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor, Andrew Young, covered the challenges in bringing the Olympics to Atlanta. He and Billy Payne traveled to over 100 countries, a black man, and a white man with such love for each other, it gave the world a new picture of the American South. Young praised Payne and credited the hand of God  for their successes. One Old Dawg and his wife pose with Ambassador Young.

Following the accolades of Augusta National Golf Club chairman, Fred Ridley and golfer, Jack Nicklaus, the Payne children, Elizabeth Sikes and Porter Payne, introduced their father.

Finally, Billy Payne spoke, the former chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, the man in the forefront of bringing the Olympics to Atlanta, and later president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. Loran Smith wrote in the program for the evening, “If Billy Payne is anything, he is far-sighted and audacious as the winning of the centennial Olympic bid underscores. Who could have fathomed that the games could take place in the state capital of Georgia-except William Porter Payne, the stout-hearted dreamer?”

Billy Payne and Jerry Varnado

The Naming Event was a much deserved honor for Billy Payne and it was a joy for all of us in attendance.

Other  Old Dawgs present  that evening:

Jerry Varnado, Harold Tarrer, Nelson Bowers

Jerry Varnado, Steve Greer, Charley Whittemore
Jerry Varnado, Rusty Epperson, Ed Allen

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

One Old Dawg hunkering down

If you have trouble viewing images in this post, please go to the One Old Dawg site HERE.

University of Georgia football fans have a little over a week until kickoff in Sanford Stadium. Like most of our readers, One Old Dawg has high hopes for this season and is already sporting red and black on a regular basis.

Concluding with last year, on the fiftieth anniversaries of the 1964, 1965, and 1966 University of Georgia football seasons, One Old Dawg remembered his playing years on Vince Dooley’s first three teams with his “mostly true Bulldog lore.”

Though those anniversary seasons are now behind us, we wanted to keep readers informed of news items relevant to those playing years.

First, in an interview with Steve Spurrier, we discovered a video we didn’t know existed. We have stills of this hanging on our den wall of number eighty-eight, One Old Dawg, sacking Spurrier.

Spurrier admits that in his senior year at Florida in 1966, “(UGA) knocked us out . . . Now they completely outplayed us, wasn’t any flukes or anything like that.”

Scroll down mid way through the interview to see the video HERE .
HERE are One Old Dawg’s remembrances of the game.

HERE are more highlights from that game.

Also, in a recent Loran Smith article about the Athens Touchdown Club in The Athens Banner Herald, Smith comments on the 1965 Bulldog team. He remembers comments made to the club in the 1970’s by Michigan head coach, Bo Schembechler. “Bo was a big hit with the membership, reminding the members that if he had been coaching the Wolverines in 1965 that ‘things would have been different.’ He was referring to Vince’s light-in the-pants but overachieving Bulldogs, upsetting defending Rose Bowl champion Michigan at Ann Arbor, 15-7.”

If you missed One Old Dawg’s remembrance of that game, they are HERE.

And speaking of the Athens Touchdown Club, One Old Dawg attended their meeting this past Monday night.  He has this to say: “I was really blown away when Coach Smart told the group at the Athens Touchdown Club how glad he was that the athletic department had purchased technology that tracks the players movements during practice (really!) He gave us statistics comparing a practice from last year to the comparable practice this year. This year we had nearly twice as many players exceed nineteen miles per hour and over fifty percent more exceed twenty miles per hour. Is that incredible or what? Not how fast they ran, but the fact they can measure players’ speed while practicing.

 “In my day, the only way coaches could tell how fast we were running is whether we outran the guy we were chasing or who was chasing us! Coach also said he had never seen more intense competition on Special Teams than this fall.

“Then Coach talked about how several seniors were stepping up to take leadership roles and I’m getting excited because I know how important it is for the players to understand the concept of TEAM and their role in leadership. I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes 4:12: 'Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.'
“Think about it! Last year we were 7-5 in the regular season. We lost two games by one point and another by three. Speed, inspired Special Teams, and team leadership can turn those close losses into wins.

“We have a stable full of classy running backs and our line is improved on both sides of the ball. We have twenty-six seniors and twenty-eight juniors on the roster. I know I’m easy to encourage, but I think we have decent reasons to hope for 9-3 or 10-2; maybe better. So, get out your red and black and hunker down, kickoff in ten days.  Gooo . . . Dawgs, Sic ‘em!”

We’ll continue to post occasional updates here throughout the season in which One Old Dawg will ponder current UGA football events and remind us again of his “mostly true bulldog lore.”

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