As you may have noticed around the network lately, we at SB Nation have been asked to identify our favorite highlight(s). Upon being presented with the question, I immediately answered, "Well, duh!"
Asking a Georgia Bulldogs fan to name his favorite highlight and expecting anything other than the obvious answer is like asking an NBA fan to identify the best professional basketball player ever and expecting him to name someone other than Michael Jordan. It ain’t happening, and it ain’t happening because it shouldn’t happen. Sometimes, the conventional wisdom becomes the conventional wisdom by being true. This is one of those times, so here goes:
How do I love this highlight? Let me count the ways:
- It provides perhaps the best example of what became a hallmark of the rock-ribbed Red and Black teams of my youth; namely, the tendency to keep games close to make late heroics possible, leading ultimately to a dramatic win in the fourth quarter. Usually, it was a big stop rather than a big score, but the ability to come through in the final 15 minutes was a defining attribute of the best Georgia teams, and seeing it happen on the biggest stage provides a worthwhile reminder of what the Bulldogs can be if they once again can summon their best when the game is on the line.
- It provides the most memorable play-call ever by the most quotable play-by-play man in college football history . . . and that’s before you even get to the part about breaking the chair.
- It reminds us what football used to look like. Georgia in silver britches, Florida in orange shirts, everyone in tearaway jerseys. Vince Dooley in polyester pants, short sleeves, and a necktie, looking for all the world like a junior high science teacher on the sidelines. The drunk guy in the red pants in the end zone, whose presence alone makes it clear that there would, in fact, be some property destroyed that night. In the midst of conference realignment, playoff mania, and the steady watering down of the schedule, it’s refreshing to be reminded with such vivid images of what it was that made you love the sport so much in the first place.
- The play has had books written about it because it accomplished so much. It preserved an undefeated season, made possible runs to the SEC and national championships, vaulted the ‘Dawgs into the No. 1 spot in the polls, and secured the third of six straight victories over the rival Florida Gators, a streak that has come to mean more in the intervening decades. It means something to them, too, though they would deny it today; one year, in Jacksonville, a drunk Florida fan told me, “Buck to Lindsay is a scar on my heart,” and so it is for them all. It’s a reminder of how we used to dominate them, and of how we will dominate them again, which is why they can be philosophical about the Goal Line Stalker against someone else but blind sputtering mad even about the rare latter-day loss to us.
- It was a 93-yard touchdown pass that was never designed to be a 93-yard touchdown pass; the goal was for Buck Belue to find Lindsay Scott for a drive-sustaining first down, to keep hope alive. It was a smart play call that exceeded expectations, not a Doug Flutie-style desperation heave into the ether that just got lucky. Also, not for nothing, but that prudent aerial assault was set up in the traditional way: Herschel Walker rushed for 238 yards on 37 attempts that day, picking up a season-high eleven first downs, breaking off six scampers of more than ten yards (including a 72-yard gallop), and scoring a touchdown.
- Five days before that immortal event, I turned twelve. Happy birthday to me.
Accordingly, I continue to hold up Belue’s pass to Scott as the greatest highlight in Georgia football history, but I concede reasonable Bulldog fans may disagree. Did I get the call right, or does another great moment enjoy pride of place even over Buck to Lindsay? Let us know in the comments below.