Looking back at UGA greats

Published 8:10 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

The seventies were schizophrenic years for Georgia football.  A good season was followed by a lean year with stability and consistency in short supply.  These were the years of campus unrest with Vietnam protests all about and social disorder prevailing.  Things were different.

After five years of big wins and two championships, the Dooley era had a hiccup in 1969 and 1970. Then along came the artful sophomore, quarterback Andy Johnson spawning hopes and smiles to the Bulldog faithful, but next there were two off years, which had a lot of alumni jumping ship. Vince Dooley’s contract had one year left and the wolves were encroaching, but President Fred Davison put a stop to the carping and castigating by giving Dooley a new four-year contract in late summer.

The 1975 team responded by bringing serendipity to Athenstown. The Bulldogs went 5-1 in the SEC. An upset by Ole Miss in Oxford 28-13, kept Georgia from winning the league championship.

The mood in the Classic City flipped joyfully although there has seldom been a more depressing downer than on September 6, when Tony Dorsett and the Pittsburgh Panthers had some ‘Dog aficionados turning into “Doubting Tomases” by winning between the hedges 19-9, in the opening game. At halftime, the next week with Mississippi State wanting to keep the home team grumbling, there was little to cheer about with the visiting Bulldogs leading 6-0 on two field goals. The first lift in emotions for the home team came when Georgia took the second half kickoff and drove 76 yards in 10 plays to score and take the lead 7-6.

Soon thereafter, State was threatening to take the lead back, when defensive tackle Ronnie Swoopes blocked a State pass into the hands of Dicky Clark who returned the interception 71 yards to give Georgia a 14-6 lead.

Give Ronnie Swoopes an assist and give Dicky Clark a big play moment that helped turn around the Bulldogs’ season.After Clark’s interception return, which was one of the sparkling defensive plays of the season, the Bulldogs dominated the game, winning 28-6.  Interestingly, both Swoopes and Clark spent their careers in altruistic cause. Swoopes is a pastor in Oconee County and Clark is an executive for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Loran Smith is president of the Administrative Specialist football game program of the Bulldog Club.