Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia has seen quite a bit of history since it opened for business in 1929. Heisman Trophy winning players Herschel Walker and Frank Sinkwich played there, and coaches Vince Dooley and Wally Butts coached there. They even have some dog as a mascot that once tried to take a bite out of an Auburn player.
For me though, the most notable aspect of Sanford Stadium and Georgia football in general are the hedges that surround the playing field at Sanford. There is a problem with the hedges though, whether Georgia will admit it or not. In 1996, the original hedges (that had been there since 1929) were removed and replaced with new, shorter hedges. Much like the manner in which the current Yankee Stadium is not Yankee Stadium, the folks at UGA will tell you the hedges are still the hedges. They can say whatever they want, but the hedges at Georgia ceased to exist after the summer of 1996. Reproductions are never worth nor mean as much as the originals.
But after extensive research, I've discovered the reason for the elimination of the hedges at Sanford Stadium.
(Note: The reason why this game was played at Georgia was because of the construction at the stadium in Jacksonville to accommodate the new Jacksonville Jaguars)
The set-up: With around one minute and ten seconds remaining in the game and Florida leading 45-17, Spurrier who had never been shy of showing his hatred for a team, had an idea. As Michael Dirocco of the Florida Times-Union reports, then-Gators assistant coach Lawson Holland had told Spurrier before the game, that no visiting team had ever scored 50 points, on Georgia, at Georgia.
"Either on the bus ride over there or in pre-game, we were sitting around, and he said, 'Coach, no one has ever scored 50 here.'" Spurrier remembered. "Back in those days, we were scoring 50, oh gosh, one out of every two or three games almost. It was one of the best offenses in the nation.
Michael Dirocco writes:
Those Gators had Danny Wuerffel, Chris Doering, Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony, Elijah Williams and Fred Taylor on offense. The Bulldogs had, well, they had coach Ray Goff. So the score quickly got out of hand
The play: Backup quarterback Eric Kresser threw a 10 yard screen pass, or maybe it was flea-flicker, to red-shirt freshman wide receiver Travis McGriff, who scampered in for the historic touchdown. Sadly though, as Spurrier remembers it, there weren't that many fans left:
"It wasn't that big of a deal at the time because Georgia people had already left the stadium," [Spurrier] said. "I guess there might have been a couple thousand Georgia people in there. Most of them didn't even see it."
The 52 points scored by the Florida Gators that day, still stands as the record for the most points scored at Sanford Stadium by a visiting team.
The aftermath: The fans who remained inside the stadium say it all:
The remaining Georgia fans......booed Spurrier and tried to spit on him as he left the field.
That's alright though, it is said that some Gators fans once threw some urine on the wife of Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer, so I'd say some spit (while still classless) isn't nearly as bad urine.
When Spurrier made his first return to Sanford Stadium as head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2005, the fans were thinking big:
"I have run into guys that I fish with that have been licking their chops, and they've been talking about it. Said Bulldogs legendary radio announcer Larry Munson. "The two guys I fish with, they were hoping we get 60."
Paul Fangman, who is an important member of the Bulldog Club of Jacksonville was in the stands that day in 1995 and had this to say:
A goose egg would be a nice redeeming turn of events to fully rid ourselves of that '95 night that now seems so long ago.
Georgia would go on to win the game 17-15. So that counts for something right?
Nah. Not to us anyway. We know the real reason why the St. Johns River flows north.