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Sports Then and Now



2012 Heisman Trophy – Johnny Football Becomes Johnny Heisman 0

Posted on December 09, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Freshman Johnny Manziel claimed the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

The selection of Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel as the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner showed us quite a lot about the evolution of college football.

Freshman Rising – Some may not realize that it was just 40 years ago when freshmen were first allowed to compete on varsity teams. Prior to that, all freshmen competed on what were then known as “freshmen teams” to get accustomed to college life and college athletics. They then had three years of varsity eligibility. Of course, once freshmen were given varsity eligibility in 1972 it started the trend of “redshirting” which has some of the same benefits of the old system in allowing the new student-athlete to get accustomed to college, but does not include the freshman team competition that utilized a year of eligibility. Johnny Manziel is a beneficiary of the redshirt program as he did not walk right off a high school campus this past spring and suddenly develop into the Heisman Trophy winner. Instead, he had a year of seasoning at Texas A&M before being thrust into the spotlight.

Still, that he was able to post such strong numbers playing in the toughest conference in college football as a freshman is a testament to his abilities and the ability of the new coaching staff that came to College Station this season to put him in immediate position to succeed. Read the rest of this entry →

College Classic Rewind: Walker’s 4TDs Carry Dawgs To Win Over Gators 20

Posted on October 26, 2011 by A.J. Foss

In 1980, the greatest moment in the rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators occurred when Georgia quarterback Buck Belue connected with Lindsay Scott on a 93-yard touchdown pass in the final minutes to give the Bulldogs a 26-21 victory over the Gators and helped propelled Georgia to the national championship.

One year later, Florida looked for a shot at redemption as they met the defending national champions in Jacksonville.

The Gators entered the game with a 5-3 overall record and 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida was led by third-year head coach Charley Pell, who had turned around the Gators following a 0-10-1 season in 1979 to a 8-4 season in 1980 and a win in the Tangerine Bowl.

While Florida is trying to become a consistent winning power, Georgia was in the hunt for a second straight national championship despite an early season loss to Clemson.

The Dawgs were the #4 team in the country with a 7-1 record on a team that featured only nine returning starters from the 1980 championship team.

However, three of the returning starters were the two heroes from the 1980 Florida game in Belue and Scott, and superstar running back Herschel Walker.

Though the first eight games of the 1981 season, the sophomore had gained 1,309 yards on 265 yards and scored 11 touchdowns as he rushed for more than 100 yards in every game to this point.

In the Dawgs’ showdown with the Gators, Walker put together one of his finest performances as a Georgia Bulldog.

Florida got the ball to start the game and drive from their own 24-yard-line to the Georgia 20-yard-line until Peace was sacked twice, knocking the Gators out of field goal range.

The Gators drove to the red zone again in the second quarter but Peace was intercepted by Tim Bobo at the Dawgs’ two-yard-line, to kill another scoring opportunity for Florida. Read the rest of this entry →

30 Years Ago: Herschel Walker Leads Georgia to National Title 3

Posted on January 01, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Freshman Herschel Walker rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns to lead Georgia to victory over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.

It is hard to believe that it has been more than 30 years since we were introduced to perhaps the best college football player of all-time. During his three seasons at the University of Georgia, Herschel Walker was in a class by himself as the prototype running back in college football.

As a freshman during the 1980 season, Walker burst on the scene with 1,616 yards rushing (5.9 yards per carry) to lead a Georgia team that had been 6-5 the previous season to a perfect 12-0 record and the first national championship for the school since 1942.

In the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1981, Walker rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs held off Notre Dame 17-10 to claim the national title. Other notable members of head coach Vince Dooley’s squad included quarterback Buck Belue, future NFL wide receiver Lindsay Scott and freshman defensive back Terry Hoage (who blocked a key kick early in the contest).

Over the following two seasons, Walker rushed for more than 3,600 yards as Georgia lost just one regular season game and won 18 straight SEC games to claim three straight league titles.

They went undefeated during the 1982 regular season as Walker was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy. The Bulldogs lost a chance at the national title with a 27-23 loss to Penn State in what would be Walker’s final collegiate performance.

Surprisingly, it would be 20 years before Georgia would claim another SEC Championship and they have yet to win another national championship.

Walker left following his junior season for the USFL and rushed for 5,562 yards in three seasons in the league. In 1985, he set the all-time professional football record for rushing yards in a season with 2,411 yards in 18 games. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hoyt Wilhem: Knuckleball Workhorse
      April 7, 2014 | 8:51 pm

      The April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was 29-years-old when he made his major league debut, but still managed to pitch for 21 years and become the first pitcher in MLB history to appear in more than 1,000 games.

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