History of the Rivalry: South Carolina

When considering whether a team is a rival of the Georgia Bulldogs, you can look at a number of factors. Does the team reside in a state bordering Georgia? Have they played UGA for over a century? Have they kept the Dawgs out of national and/or conference title contention and vice versa? Were they coached by Steve Spurrier? While two schools fit that bill, today we’re going to focus on the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

The “rivalry”

The UGA vs. South Carolina rivalry prior to 1975 could be described as dubious at best. A rivalry tends to be competitive, and the first 80 years of this series were anything but: the Gamecocks won 4 of the 29 games they played against the Bulldogs over that span.

And while there wasn’t a sudden shift in the series beginning in 1975 (South Carolina has won 15 of the 44 since then), that year did mark the arrival of USC head coach Jim Carlen, who recruited arguably the greatest Gamecock in program history: running back George Rogers. Rogers, a Georgia native, got to Columbia in 1977 and quickly became a star, rushing for 1,006 yards as a sophomore, 1,681 yards as a junior and 1,781 as a senior.

That senior season in 1980 earned him a Heisman Trophy, but not before he encountered another stellar RB from Georgia.

A Tale of Two Heismans

When Georgia played South Carolina in 1980, something like a passing of the torch – let’s call it one torch lighting another – happened. George Rogers had run roughshod over the Gamecocks’ opponents for the last four years, and in his senior season, most expected him to do the same. But the Bulldog team that George Rogers, Jim Carlen, and the USC squad encountered turned out to be a team of destiny, led by Buck Belue and featuring a freshman phenom named Herschel Walker.

UGA won the day, with Herschel running for 219 yards, but Rogers finished with 168 of his own, a good enough showing to bolster the season that would win him South Carolina’s first and only Heisman Trophy. Herschel would, of course, go on to win his own Heisman two years later, and strangely enough, a very similar passing of the torch would happen that year in the Georgia-Auburn game…

And things were going so well…

From the post-Herschel 1980s into the mid 2000s, Georgia’s dominance remained in place, with the Dawgs going 13-7 from 1983 to 2004 (the series went dormant in 1990 and 1991, before South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992). The last Gamecock victory during that span came in 2001, Mark Richt’s first year as head coach of the Bulldogs. Following that loss, Richt would reel off five wins in a row, including one in 2002 that featured the play that introduced David Pollack to the nation.

But in 2005, South Carolina was in need of a new head coach after Lou Holtz’s retirement, and they hired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Stephen Orr Spurrier. It took Spurrier three years to get his first win in the Georgia vs. South Carolina series, but from that point forward, he became a menace to the Bulldogs. He went 5-4 against Georgia from 2007-2015, including three consecutive wins from ’10-’12 that concluded with UGA’s worst ever defeat against USC. He wasn’t as omnipotent as he had been at Florida, but the fact that he did this with the formerly lowly Gamecocks made it all the more frustrating.

But Spurrier retired in 2015, Kirby was hired in 2016, and things have returned to normalcy—other than… that one thing. South Carolina has entered a new era under second-year head coach Shane Beamer, who took the Gamecocks to a surprising 7-6 finish (with a bowl win) in his first year. They made some noise in the offseason through some splashy transfers, but South Carolina has a ways to go before they can catch up to Georgia. But given time, Beamer may yet reignite the Border War, and this year’s game may provide some sparks…

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The Jerry Tanner Show – Week 2, 2021: UAB

After a strong showing in Charlotte, the Dawgs return home to the first capacity crowd at Sanford Stadium since 2019. This might appear to be a win UGA could sleepwalk through, but the UAB Blazers are no pushover! … Even if we probably will push them over.

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Jerry Tanner is everyone you’ve ever met at a UGA tailgate, everyone who’s ever talked about Georgia football by your cubicle, and every message board poster who claims to have a cousin who cut Vince Dooley’s grass. He’s a UGA alumnus, he’s a college football fanatic with a Twitter addiction, and he’s definitely a real person and not a character played by Clarke Schwabe.

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Angela Alfano, champion of the sports industry

Angela Alfano (AB, ABJ ’10), senior director of corporate communications for Major League Soccer, is committed to empowering the next generation of sports executives.

For her personal, professional and philanthropic achievements, Angela ranked among UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2021. The program celebrates young alumni leading the pack in their industries and communities.

Angela being interviewed

Angela being interviewed after the John E. Drewry Young Alumni Awards ceremony at UGA.

Who is Angela Alfano?

Angela graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a master’s degree in Sports Industry Management and received undergraduate degrees in both public relations and political science from the University of Georgia. Angela started her sports communications career working as a student assistant in UGA’s Sports Information Department.

A strategic young executive, Angela has more than a decade of leadership and innovation in communications.

Since joining Major League Soccer in July of 2018, Angela has been instrumental in garnering positive publicity for the league outside the traditional scope of soccer. She showcases the business behind the brand, finding creative ways to highlight executives in the media and oversee strategies for the league.

UGA Sports Communications-Student Assistants Oct 2009

Angela Alfano (lower left) as a UGA sports communications student assistant in 2009.

What led Angela to Major League Soccer?

Prior to her work at Major League Soccer, Angela spent two years at Tough Mudder’s NYC headquarters in the communications department and six years working in public relations for professional football – both at the National Football League (NFL) headquarters and the Washington Football Team.

Angela oversaw corporate communications for the Washington Football Team where she promoted the team’s community relations and publicized player, coach and ownership initiatives off the field. She also oversaw media credentialing, press box staff supervision and event media coverage recaps for the team.

Angela then moved onto the NFL, where she elevated league initiatives, such as Breast Cancer Awareness, Salute to Service and PLAY 60. She led more than 20 press conferences annually at the Super Bowl and developed public relations campaigns for major league events, such as NFL Kickoff and Draft.

Angela at an MLS All Star Game

Angela working at an MLS All Star Game.

How have Angela’s efforts been recognized?

Angela was honored by PRSA Chicago with a Chicago Skyline Award for “Establishing a New Identity for the NFL Draft” and as one of PR News’ “Rising Stars 30 and Under.” In 2019, she received Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award and currently serves on UGA’s AdPR Executive Advisory Council. Angela was also honored as one of Sigma Kappa’s National Headquarters 35 Under 35.

Watch Grady College salute Angela Alfano: 

Where is Angela now?

Angela currently resides in New York with her husband Michael and dog, Lohi.

Angela dedicates her free time to the next generation of young sports PR executives. She serves as a supportive and accessible mentor to women and men in sports businesses. Passionate about championing a new wave of leadership in the industry, Angela and her husband, Michael O’ Brien, created the “Alfano and O’Brien Sports Communication Award”— an endowment through the Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications to help students pursuing a career in the sports industry.

History of the Rivalry: Clemson

Which of UGA’s rivals is closest to the Classic City? It’s not South Carolina, it’s not Tennessee, it’s not even Georgia Tech. If you drew a straight line from the center of Athens to the center of the next closest rival city, it would land 58.89 miles away in Clemson, South Carolina.

Clemson is unusual among UGA rivals in that we haven’t played them annually since 1987, but the history, the proximity, both schools’ status as college football bluebloods and the slew of unforgettable gridiron moments between the Tigers and Bulldogs makes this a rivalry nonetheless.

The early years

The first contest between UGA and Clemson happened in 1897, when “Clemson” was short for “Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina.” The two schools played annually from 1897 – 1916, meeting in Athens, Clemson, Augusta and even once in Anderson, South Carolina. By the end of that stretch, the Bulldogs narrowly lead the series 10-9-1. Afterwards, the neighboring teams only played intermittently over the next 46 years, but the Bulldogs dominated this run, going 10-1-1.

By this time, UGA was becoming a football powerhouse and the record had begun to reflect that. Even when the UGA-Clemson series became an annual affair once again in 1962, the Dawgs were the dominant team. But Clemson was on the upswing, having expanded to become a co-educational, civilian college in 1955 and then changing its name in 1964 to Clemson University—a change that reflected the growth of the college and, indirectly, its athletic programs.

From here, things began to change: slowly at first, but when Danny Ford became Clemson’s head coach in 1978, this rivalry went from regional contest to national spotlight.

“Worse than bonkers”

Danny Ford and Vince Dooley brought their programs to national prominence right around the same time—the late 70s into the 80s. It could be argued that Dooley got there a little sooner, but it was in this period that the Georgia-Clemson games started carrying national title implications.

In 1978, eighth-ranked Clemson walked face-first into a shutout courtesy of Erk Russell’s defense, a loss that would be the only one Clemson endured that season, shutting them out of national title consideration.

In 1981, UGA was riding high after winning a national title the year before and opening the season with wins over Tennessee and California. But Clemson’s defense kept Herschel Walker (and every other Bulldog) out of the endzone, ultimately costing Georgia a shot at back-to-back titles and giving the Tigers a win that set them on the path to a national championship.

These types of contests typified the series at that time, but the moment most UGA fans would identify with UGA-Clemson at this time (and perhaps all time) came off of Kevin Butler’s toe in 1984.

The modern day

Since 1987, the rivalry has returned to its intermittent status: a series of home-and-homes with four or five or 10 years between them. It’s sad to see a contest with such history fade, particularly when the programs involved field nationally relevant teams, but the Tigers and Bulldogs make up for lost time on the occasions they do get together.

There was the time that the 2002 Bulldog squad that would go on to win UGA’s first SEC championship in 20 years was on the ropes against Clemson until DJ Shockley came in for the fourth quarter and sparked a Georgia comeback.

Or the time the rivalry returned after 10 years away and Tajh Boyd narrowly outdueled Aaron Murray for the win in 2013—a game that saw Todd Gurley run for 154 yards on 12 carries despite the loss, presaging his single-handed immolation of the Tigers the following year (198 yards on 15 carries, 100 return yards, 4 total touchdowns).

And now we renew the rivalry once again. It’s been seven years since we played and once again, the contest could either be a launching pad or a stumbling block. Either way, it figures to follow the recent trend of the series: should be a hell of a game.

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