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About, Behind and Between the Hedges

As generations of Bulldogs would tell you, there’s no line of shrubbery as iconic to sports as the hedges of the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium. The Chinese privet bushes – Ligustrum sinense, taxonomically speaking – that frame Dooley Field have seen every Georgia home game since 1929. 

For the third time in UGA history, the hedges were removed this February. They’ll be revitalized off-site ahead of the 2024 football season, including a full soil replacement, irrigation, and drainage work. The hedges will be replanted with plants of the same lineage in time for the 2024 G-Day game. 

IN THE BEGINNING 

The hedges’ storied history began in 1926 at the Rose Bowl, when a UGA Athletic Department employee noticed the red rosebushes surrounding the field. Meanwhile, back in Athens, UGA’s president at the time, Steadman V. Sanford, had started construction on what he hoped would become the best college football stadium in the South. 

The employee suggested that rosebushes be planted around the field, and the idea was received well – with one caveat. Rosebushes wouldn’t thrive in Athens’s climate. Fast-growing, hardy Chinese privet given to the university by an Atlanta donor would be planted instead. 

In 1929, the university sent the governor’s son, who was a UGA student, and his ROTC instructor to Atlanta in a khaki-green military truck to pick up the bushes. The truck, owned by the ROTC department, was the only vehicle in the university fleet large enough for the job. As the legend has it, the truck’s headlights went out on the way back and the ROTC instructor crawled onto the hood of the truck to light the way, clinging on with one hand and holding a flashlight with the other while the governor’s son drove. 

Once the truck arrived at the stadium, workers planted the hedges overnight with hours to spare until the next day’s game against Yale. The 1929 Georgia-Yale game was the first one played in newly dedicated Sanford Stadium. It was the largest athletic event ever held in the South at that time, with 30,000 fans and the governors of nine southern states in attendance – a fitting crowd for Georgia’s first victory Between the Hedges. 

THE 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES 

Covering about 5,000 square feet around the playing field, the hedges take up a significant amount of sideline. This became an issue when Sanford Stadium was used to host soccer games for the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta. Soccer fields are about 25 percent larger than football fields, so the hedges and a concrete walkway had to be briefly removed to create extra space. 

Healthy clippings from the hedges were taken to nurseries in Georgia and Florida run by UGA alumni, propagated into full plants and replanted after the Games in a ceremony featuring Georgia football legends and state politicians. 

“They’re the sons and daughters of the original hedges,” said the late coach Vince Dooley. 

The hedges were removed for a second time in 2017 for the construction of a new locker room and scoreboard on the West endzone. Each bush was numbered so it could be replanted exactly where it had been dug up. 

WHAT’S GROWING ON 

Five feet tall and five feet wide, the hedges – and the chain-link fence they conceal – have also served to protect the safety of fans, athletes and coaches over the years. Dooley Field has been stormed by fans only once, after a victory against the University of Tennessee in 2000. The hedges’ crowd control success has led to the installation of similar plantings at other stadiums around the country.

Today, maintaining the hedges is a labor of love. Chinese privet, considered an invasive weed in other parts of the country, grows at a rate of about three feet per year. A dedicated maintenance team, including students from the university’s turf program, work tirelessly throughout the football season to trim the hedges into their signature boxy shape. Armed with gas-powered trimmers, weed eaters and hand-held clippers, the job takes about two hours each time. 

When the hedges return to grace the sidelines of Sanford Stadium this spring, they’ll have been a Georgia football tradition for 95 years – you could say they’re some of the Bulldogs’ oldest supporters. 

Away Game Guide: Orange Bowl

Headed to Miami to cheer on the Dawgs as they face off with Florida State in the Orange Bowl? Check out this travel guide for all the best places to stay, eat and sightsee for your weekend in the sunshine state. 

This guide includes recommendations from Akil Kalathil (BS ’14), a Miami-based UGA alumnus. 

Where to stay 

Just one mile from Hard Rock Stadium, the Stadium Hotel is perfect for fans looking to be in the center of the action. The hotel offers event shuttles and has plenty of opportunities for family fun, including a large outdoor pool, mini-golf, a basketball court and an on-site sports bar and grill. 

Hard Rock Stadium is a little outside of Miami’s city center, so the nearest beaches are in the North Beach and Sunny Isles areas. Travelers on a budget can get the resort experience at the Ramada Plaza Marco Polo Beach Resort, a family-friendly resort with direct access to Sunny Isles Beach. The newly renovated Waterside Hotel, another beachside option, is decorated in a colorful retro-chic style. Lounge in their sunny pool courtyard or grab a drink at their daily free happy hour. 

Lounge poolside in the sunny courtyard of the Waterfront Hotel. (Photo: Waterfront Hotel)

Where to eat 

Miami Gardens, the neighborhood around Hard Rock Stadium, is known for having an excellent Caribbean soul food scene. Experience the local flavors at a no-fuss diner like Arline’s Restaurant & Seafood or have a more upscale experience at Yarumba, which becomes lively on weekend nights with live music and Latin DJs. 

The Licking, another casual Caribbean comfort food spot, is beloved by music industry celebrities including DJ Khaled, Flo Rida, Diddy and Nas–even Kylie Jenner has been spotted there! 

The Licking’s flavorful, seafood-forward menu has made it popular with Hollywood A-listers. (Photo: The Licking)

For a quick carry-out meal or sweet treat, make sure to stop by Hammond’s Bakery, a family-owned joint for Jamaican patties and freshly baked Caribbean pastries. Their special includes six patties with four pieces of coco bread, a sweet and starchy bread made with coconut milk, or you can take home some of their delicious pastries and cakes. 

On game day 

If you’re traveling to Miami but don’t have tickets to the game itself, enjoy watching it with other alumni at the alumni game watch party at American Social Brickell. The restaurant’s extensive menu features everything from bar classics like pretzels and beer cheese to upscale steaks, seafood and craft cocktails. 

American Social’s waterfront patio bar overlooks the Miami River. (Photo: American Social)

Another excellent game day option is Moxies, a globally inspired upscale casual restaurant with plenty of TVs to keep up with the game. The restaurant’s menu is sure to please every appetite, with dishes in many different culinary styles and vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. 

Miami attractions

In addition to enjoying Miami’s natural beauty at the beach or taking a trip outside the city to see the Everglades, visitors to Miami have plenty of opportunities for action-packed fun and exploring the city’s arts and culture. 

Topgolf, a golf gaming and dining experience, is located near Hard Rock Stadium. Paddleboards and jet skis are also available for rent throughout Miami Beach and are an exciting way to experience the city’s famous beaches from the water. 

For a more laid-back experience, consider immersing yourself in history and the arts at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a waterfront Gilded Age mansion built in the Italian style. Surrounded by lush gardens, the beautifully preserved historic home also has a café and gift shop with items inspired by the mansion and grounds.  

Wander in the lush, peaceful gardens of the Vizcaya museum. (Photo: Vizcaya)

Visitors to the Ancient Spanish Monastery have a unique chance to encounter European history in the heart of Miami. The monastery, which was originally built in 1141, was disassembled and shipped from Spain to Miami after it was purchased by newspaper titan William Randolph Hearst in 1925. The cloisters and outer buildings were painstakingly rebuilt brick by brick and reopened in the 1960s as a museum, and today the monastery has become a popular tourist attraction and wedding venue. 

Not making the trip to Miami and looking to connect with Dawgs in your own area? Find your local UGA alumni chapter and cheer on the Dawgs with fellow alumni at a game-watching party near you.

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Celebrating a legacy of giving

This year’s Heritage Society Tailgate (on November 4 prior to the UGA vs. Missouri game) was a tremendous success. It is always a great time when our members gather for food, drink and game day fun. Check out the photo gallery from this year’s festivities. As always, it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog! 

Want to attend next year and celebrate your commitment to UGA? All it takes is becoming a member of the Heritage Society. Learn how you can help ensure UGA’s future, make a positive impact, cement your legacy and maybe even enjoy tax benefits. It’s easier than you might think! Contact the Office of Gift and Estate Planning for more information about joining the Heritage Society. As you can see from the photos, they’re a fun bunch. 

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Tasty Tailgating: Honeysuckle Gelato’s Apple Blondies

Not sure what to make with all the apples you picked this fall? Try warm apple blondies with vanilla gelato. Filled with homemade cinnamon apples and brown butter for extra richness, these decadent desserts are sure to please a tailgate crowd–and you can make them again in place of apple pie at Thanksgiving! 

This recipe was provided by Wes Jones (BBA ’03), one of the co-founders of Honeysuckle Gelato. The company has been serving up Southern-inspired gelato at locations throughout the Southeast since it was founded in 2011. 

Apple Blondies

Apple Pie Filling 

Ingredients 

6 medium Granny Smith Apples   

½ cup light brown sugar  

2 tsp cinnamon   

3 tbsp butter  

2 oz water  

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch   

1 1/2 cups roasted pecan pieces (optional)  

Directions 

  1. Core and slice apples into 1-inch pieces.  
  2. Melt butter and brown sugar in a thick bottomed pot over medium heat, then add the apples and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.  
  3. Whisk cornstarch and water into a slurry and pour in, and then cook an additional minute.  
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool. The apples should be cooked through, but still retain their shape. Stir in the pecans, if you choose to.   

Brown Butter Blondies

Ingredients 

¾ cup butter  

1 ¾ cup light brown sugar (not packed)  

¼ cup skim milk powder   

1 extra large egg   

2 cups all purpose flour   

½ tbsp baking powder  

½ tsp sea salt   

1 tsp vanilla extract 

Directions 

  1. In a thick bottomed pot, cook the butter over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, whisking frequently. Once it starts to foam and the color begins to darken, add the milk powder and stir rapidly for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.  
  2. Combine the butter and brown sugar with a whisk or stand mixer and allow to cool.  
  3. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.  
  4. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients, one half at a time, and use a spatula to combine.  
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Add the apple filling into small (4-6 ounce) ramekins, filling just over half of the container.  
  6. Take 1 ½ tbsp of the blondie mixture, flatten into a disc just smaller than the circumference of the ramekin and place on top of the apples. Bake at 375° for 9 minutes.   
  7. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then serve with a scoop of vanilla gelato on top. 
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Tasty Tailgating: A UGA Athletics Dietitian’s Seven-Layer Taco Dip

Nutrition is an essential part of athletic success. Within each UGA Athletics program, a dedicated team of nutritionists works with athletes to ensure that they have the knowledge and resources to fuel themselves for success–both in and outside of their sports. 

Maria Williams (BSFCS ’07, MS ’09) is a sports nutritionist with UGA Athletics and has worked with swimming and diving teams, baseball, men’s tennis and equestrian. Her seven-layer taco dip recipe is both delicious and nutritious–she substitutes low-fat Greek yogurt for sour cream to add protein and reduce fat.  

Read on to learn how to eat like an athlete. 

Seven-Layer Taco Dip 

Ingredients 

1 (15 oz) can refried beans  

1 ½ cups plain, low-fat Greek yogurt  

1 tbsp taco seasoning  

1 ½ cups guacamole (store-bought or homemade 

1 cup mild or medium salsa  

1 ¼ cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded  

1 ¼ cups iceberg lettuce, finely shredded  

Optional additional toppings:  

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered   

1/4 cup black olives, pitted & sliced  

2 scallions, diced  

¼ cup pickled jalapeno slices  

Instructions 

  1. Spread the bean layer in an 8×11 baking dish or similar medium sized (clear) dish.  
  2. Combine Greek yogurt and taco seasoning in a small bowl, then add the yogurt mixture as the second layer.  
  3. Spread the guacamole layer followed by the salsa layer.  
  4. Add the remaining layers over the salsa layer in the following order: cheese, shredded lettuce, grape tomatoes, black olives, jalapeno slices, and diced scallions.     
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later. Enjoy with any type of tortilla chips.  
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UGA giving challenge leaves Gators seeing double (Ls)

The University of Georgia and the University of Florida squared off twice this past week—once on the field in Jacksonville, and once in Beat Week 2023, a head-to-head giving challenge—and the Bulldogs came out on top in both. 

Beat Week is a week-long giving challenge where UGA and another university compete to see who can drive their supporters to make more gifts over the course of a week. UGA went head-to-head with Auburn University for the past three years—with the red and black winning each time—before taking on Florida.  

With a strong reputation in the fundraising world, UF was looking for a win, but the Bulldog faithful kept UGA in the lead throughout the week. Georgia’s Beat Week victory was nearly as resounding as the one in EverBank Stadium. 

UGA – 4,156 

UF – 3,339  

Donors of all stripes contributed to the win—alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university—and UGA staffers from all corners of campus worked for months to mount the effort that earned the university its fourth consecutive Beat Week win. 

Beat Week raised over $1.5 million to numerous areas at UGA, including scholarships, research, academic programming and much more. Kirby Smart’s Dawgs proved their No. 1 ranking on Saturday, but Bulldog Nation proved theirs all through the week. 

Thank you to everyone who made Beat Week a win! Go Dawgs! And Later, Gator! 

Mark Richt raises funds for Parkinson’s research

Led by former University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt, the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl raised more than $758,000 for Parkinson’s disease and Crohn’s disease research at UGA. The fundraiser, which featured a VIP bowling event, rallied over 1,330 donors to support UGA research. 

“I am very grateful to Chick-fil-A, Coach Richt and the many generous donors who contributed to the university’s research efforts in these important areas over the past two weeks,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Private support is essential to the kinds of cutting-edge research our faculty are conducting on Parkinson’s and related diseases, and the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl helps our researchers looking for new treatments and cures.” 

Coach Mark Richt catches up with former player David Pollack at the 2023 Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl.

Richt announced the charity event at UGA head football coach Kirby Smart’s (BBA ’98) Monday press conference on Oct. 2. Donations poured in before, during and after the bowling event on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

During the bowling tournament, viewers tuned into the event’s livestream from home, watching Coach Richt and Bulldog greats such as Kirby Smart, David Pollack (M ’05) and Rennie Curran (BBA ’17) battle it out at Showtime Bowling Alley in Athens. Over the course of the tournament, donors gave $35,000.  

“My family and I want to sincerely thank the Bulldog Nation and all the donors who helped us take a bite out of Parkinson’s and Crohn’s,” Richt said. “I am so thankful to everyone who came out and supported in whatever way they could.” 

The fundraiser surpassed its initial goal of $750,000, and all proceeds will go to UGA’s Isakson Center for Neurological Disease Research. There, researchers such as Anumantha Kanthasamy, John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, are developing groundbreaking treatments for Parkinson’s disease and investigating its link to gut inflammation conditions such as Crohn’s disease.  

Coach Kirby Smart poses with Arthi Kanthasamy and Anumantha Kanthasamy, researchers in the UGA Isakson Center, at the 2023 Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl event.

“Giving at this level can have a monumental impact on the research we are doing here at the university,” Kanthasamy said. “We are so grateful to the donors and the Richt family for everything they have done to support the Isakson Center.” 

The fight against Parkinson’s and Crohn’s is deeply personal for the Richt family. Coach Richt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021, and his granddaughter Jadyn was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as an infant in 2015. Since then, the family has prioritized raising awareness and funds for research on potential causes and treatments for these conditions. 

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The War for the Oar: A History

Visitors to Tate Student Center over the years may have noticed an unusual display in the third-floor concourse: a 12-foot-tall carved wooden oar. 

The oversized oar, known as the Okefenokee Oar, has been a part of the Georgia-Florida football rivalry since 2009, when the University of Georgia and University of Florida student government associations partnered to create a rivalry trophy. 

The Okefenokee Oar joins the ranks of unique rivalry trophies exchanged throughout the SEC, such as The Golden Boot (Arkansas-LSU), the Golden Egg (Ole Miss-Mississippi State) and the Governor’s Cup (UGA-Georgia Tech).  

The OARigin Story 

Why an oar was chosen, and how it came to be, remains shrouded in mystery. It was funded by an anonymous donor at the University of Florida and carved from a 1,000-year-old oak tree from its namesake Okefenokee Swamp. Ownership of the swamp, which sits along the Georgia-Florida border, was historically disputed between settlers from both states.  

The Oar is engraved with the schools’ mascots and state seals on either side, with scores from every Georgia-Florida game since 2009 engraved on the handle. An article from the UF sports news website Gator Country reports that the Oar has room for scores for the next 150 years. 

After each game, the winning school displays the Oar in their student center until the next year’s match-up. When displayed at UGA, where it’s been since 2021, the side with the Bulldog design faces outward and the Gator is hidden on the reverse. 

For the Oar’s first few years of existence, it had little notoriety. Rivalry committees from both schools worked to get the word out about the new trophy by creating the hashtag #WarForTheOar and students exchanged it after the game in unofficial ceremonies around the stadium.  

Becoming OARfficial

The Oar was officially recognized through a joint resolution by both schools’ student government associations in 2011. The Oar came to the UGA campus for the first time that same year after the Bulldogs’ 24-20 victory against the Gators. It was displayed in a custom-built case in the Tate Student Center in an effort led by the UGA Student Government Association president at the time, Mallory Davis (AB ’13). 

“We’re really trying to build it into this huge tradition because we haven’t had it yet,” Mallory said in a Red and Black article in 2011. 

And a huge tradition it has become. Although still not officially recognized by UGA Athletics as the game trophy, the Oar has been featured on ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasts, helping it rise to fame among fans from both teams. 

The Oar is transported to Jacksonville, Florida, each year by the victors of the last season’s game. The winning team is then responsible for bringing it back to their campus. When Georgia wins it, the UGA Student Government Association generally arranges for the Oar to travel home on the bus with the Redcoat Band.  

Only time will tell how the mystery and excitement surrounding the Oar will continue to develop, but what we do know is this: the Bulldogs and Gators will face off again this year on October 28–reigniting the War for the Oar once again. 

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Tasty Tailgating: Virginia Willis’s Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick

Game days lend themselves hand-held food–something you can hold and eat with one hand while you cheer and wave your pom-pom with the other. Virginia Willis (AB ’88), a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, chef and on-air personality, knows this simple fact. 

Her crispy oven-fried chicken-on-a-stick with Vidalia-honey mustard dipping sauce, then, is a delicious and convenient addition to any tailgate. It’s also lower-calorie because it’s baked in the oven rather than deep-fried. 

Plus, as she says, “Who doesn’t like food on a stick?” 

Oven-Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick with Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce  

Makes 16 to serve 8  

Ingredients 

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt 

2 teaspoons paprika
 

1 teaspoon onion powder
  

1 teaspoon garlic powder  

1 cup low-fat buttermilk  

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (1½ pounds)  

2 cups panko bread crumbs  

2 tablespoons canola oil
  

2 large egg whites  

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard   

Freshly ground black pepper  

Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, for serving (recipe follows)  

Instructions 

  1. In a large bowl, combine the salt, 1 teaspoon of the paprika, ½ teaspoon of the onion powder, and ½ teaspoon of the garlic powder. Add the buttermilk and whisk until the salt is completely dissolved and the spices are dispersed in the liquid.  
  2. Cut the chicken lengthwise into about 1-inch-wide strips. Add to the marinade and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Do not marinate any longer or the chicken will be too salty. If you can’t cook it right at the 30-minute mark, remove the chicken from the marinade and refrigerate until ready to continue.)  
  3. In a large shallow dish (a 9 by 13-inch baking dish works well), combine the bread crumbs, the remaining 1 teaspoon paprika,
 the remaining ½ teaspoon of onion powder, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of the garlic powder. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil and toss well to coat. Whisk together the egg whites and mustard in a second large shallow dish. Season both mixtures with pepper. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then set an ovenproof rack on it. Coat the rack with nonstick cooking spray.  
  5. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off any excess,
 and thread onto sixteen 12-inch bamboo skewers, dividing the meat evenly, about 1 strip per skewer. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, coating both sides. Place in the bread crumb mixture one skewer at a time, sprinkle with crumbs to cover, and press so the coating adheres to both sides. Gently shake off any excess crumbs and place the skewers on the prepared rack.  
  6. Bake the chicken, turning halfway through, until golden brown and the juices run clear, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.  

Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce  

Makes 2¼ cups  

Ingredients 

¼ cup apple cider vinegar 

1 Vidalia onion, peeled and quartered  

1 garlic clove  

1/3 cup honey  

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard  

½ cup canola oil  

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  

Instructions 

  1. Put the vinegar, onion, garlic, honey, and mustard in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until smooth.  
  2. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow steady stream until thick and emulsified.  
  3. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  

Oven-Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick  

Calories 204 
Fat 6 g 
Carbs 16 g Fiber .7 g Protein 20 g  

Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (per tablespoon)   

Calories 42
 Fat 3 g 
Carbs 4 g 
Fiber .1 g
 Protein .1 g 

Tasty Tailgating: Ivy Odom’s Bulldog Candy

If you’ve spent a lifetime in pursuit of the perfect game day bite, look no further: Ivy Odom’s spicy-sweet Bulldog Candy over a dollop of pimento cheese on a buttery cracker is unbeatable.

Ivy Odom (BSFCS ’15, AB ’15) is a senior lifestyle producer for Dotdash Meredith Food Studios and a member of the 2023 class of UGA 40 Under 40 honorees. You might recognize her from her Emmy-nominated lifestyle television program, the Southern Living show.

After completing her undergraduate degrees at UGA, Ivy graduated first in her culinary school program at L’Academie de Cuisine and completed an apprenticeship at an Atlanta fine dining restaurant. She started in the Time, Inc. test kitchen before taking on her current role at Dotdash Meredith and is an expert in all things Southern and delicious.

Bulldog Candy

Makes 1 cup

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

12 oz. jalapeños, thinly sliced (about 2 ½ cups sliced)

1 fresno chile, chopped

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

½ tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high, stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until jalapeños have turned dark in color, and all sugar has turned into a very thick syrup, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a glass jar and let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
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