University of Georgia – The History of the Sanford Stadium Hedges

It’s Saturday in Athens
Sanford Stadium has been the place to be for University of Georgia home football games for over 80 years. Having already discussed Georgia football traditions such as barking like a dog, holding up four fingers in honor of the fourth quarter and the team entrance anthem of Baba O’ Riley, we felt it appropriate to examine one of the most aesthetically pleasing characteristics of Sanford Stadium–the hedges.

The hedges add something special to Sanford Stadium.

Hedging Their Bet: UGA Officials Pick Hedges
According to Online Athens, Charlie E. Martin was the business manager for the athletic department at Georgia in 1929. Martin had attended the Rose Bowl Game, and as a result he had a desire to plant the hedges with roses. Horticulturalists at UGA were quick to inform Charlie Martin that roses would not flourish in Georgia. University officials decided to plant privet Ligustrum instead. The decision was made so close to the kickoff of the first game at Sanford Stadium that the hedges were brought in with trucks the day before the opener against Yale.

The Bulldogs Win Their First Game Between the Hedges
The University of Georgia’s unique privet hedges were first planted on October 12, 1929, reportedly only hours before the first Bulldog home football game at Sanford Stadium. The Dawgs won the first contest on their new home turf, defeating Yale by a count of 15-0. Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford was the president at Georgia at that time, and he made it his mission for UGA to house “the best football stadium in Dixie.”

The Hedges Inspired Vince Dooley to Garden
The hedges have been a hallowed part of Sanford Stadium for over eighty years. Legendary former Bulldog coach Vince Dooley was not interested in the gardening aspect of Sanford Stadium until well after his coaching days were over. Dooley attended horticulture classes at UGA and became friends with Georgia horticulturalists Michael Dirr and Allan Armitage. According to ESPN, gardening became a passion for Vince Dooley because, he said, “I don’t play golf.”

The Hedges at Sanford Stadium Had to be Trimmed for the 1996 Summer Olympics
When Atlanta, Georgia was picked to be the home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, men’s and women’s soccer required a venue worthy of gold medal majesty. Sanford Stadium certainly seemed like a perfect fit. However, because the required dimensions of a soccer field are longer than an American football field, the hedges around Sanford Stadium had to be removed

In preparation for this aesthetic dilemma, University of Georgia personal began to collect trimmings from the original hedges for three years prior to the Olympics. This process was kept quiet as the trimmings were nurtured and grown so that they would be prepared to replace the old hedges. Upon completion of the 1996 Olympics, the new Sanford Stadium hedges were brought in from R.A. Dudley Nurseries in Thomson, Georgia.

The Hedges Are Part of the Sanford Stadium Experience
The University of Georgia puts a lot of time and money into making sure that the hedges at Sanford Stadium are in pristine condition. As a result, trying to take a piece of the hedges as a souvenir is quite frowned upon. ESPN reports that, “The hedges are guarded by a state-of-the-art camera system. However, if one is fortunate enough to get by UGA’s security measures, back-up hedges are kept at a secret location.

A body can never be too careful around the University of Georgia hedges. Just ask former Georgia Bulldog tight end Aron White, who once got stuck in the famous hedges following a touchdown catch.



College Football Week 6 – Next Stop Rocky Top – (Georgia – Tennesee 2011)

Isiah Crowell Georgia Dawg FootballThe Georgia Bulldogs are coming off their best showing thus far in 2011, a 24-10 beat down of Mississippi State between the hedges. Georgia’s defense made life miserable for Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf with five sacks. On the other side of the ball, Georgia’s offense executed a textbook two minute drill going into halftime to keep the pressure on the visiting team.  As the Dawgs prepare to travel to Neyland Stadium in an attempt to vanquish the Volunteers under the Saturday night lights, there is reason to have faith that the regular season will end where it began for Georgia–in the Georgia Dome.

Crystal ball conjecture notwithstanding, Georgia must take things one step at a time. This week, UGA faces a Tennessee Volunteer team with an ultra talented sophomore                  quarterback in Tyler Bray. Bray currently sits at the front of the line in the SEC in terms of yards per game (332) and passing efficiency. The Dawgs will need to hit Bray early and often to ensure that the road trip to Knoxville is a successful one.

Unfortunately, getting pressure on the Vols signal caller has become more of a quandary for Georgia since Cornelius Washington found himself in trouble over the weekend and he will now miss both games in the State of Tennessee at minimum. What is wrong with Mr. Washington? He is a young man who is going to make mistakes. But, to get suspended for driving drunk at this point in the season (or at any other time) is especially selfish. The defensive captain of the Georgia Bulldogs should know better. Remember, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” (Clip is from one of my favorite films: Remember The Titans.)



The Vols are dealing with their own adversity as they continue to work at overcoming the 6’4″ hole left by the season-ending injury to Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter. Georgia’s secondary still has to worry about Tennessee’s other wide out, Da’Rick Rodgers who is more than capable of making the Dawgs pay for lapses on defense. He is a playmaker even when facing solid coverage. The bulls-eye on Rodgers will be even bigger in the mind of Bulldog Nation, as he spurned UGA during his recruitment and is now a focal point of the Vols offensive attack.



Neyland Stadium will be filled to capacity as bitter SEC rival Tennessee looks to bring Georgia’s momentum to a halt. The Dawgs must take the crowd out of the game early by executing on both sides of the football. Derek Dooley is still looking for a signature win in his second year as Tennessee head coach and Saturday night against his daddy’s favorite school is a great opportunity. Even so, Georgia should get an important win as long as they do not make many critical mistakes on the road. The Georgia Bulldogs are a team on a mission and the next chapter unfolds on Saturday night.

Georgia Football Memories – Herschel Walker and Bill Bates

herschel walker red pants

Dig the red pants! UGA vs. Tennessee, September 6, 1980

September 6, 1980. Herschel Walker introduces himself to Mr. Bill Bates and the rest of the Tennessee Volunteers.  I was a youngster, living in Dublin, Georgia.  To many people outside of Atlanta, especially those of us in small rural towns, Georgia football was everything.  I’ve lived in large cities (Chicago, Atlanta), travelled all over the world, and to this day, I just don’t think people who haven’t lived in a small town can truly understand friday night high school football or how deeply the love of college football is ingrained into the psyche of small town life.  In many communities across America football is everything.

Hershel Walker went to school in Johnson County, just a hop, jump, and skip from Dublin. Anyway, I don’t remember watching the game on television (perhaps it wasn’t televised)…what I remember is listening to Larry Munson announcing on the radio.  That 1980 season, I don’t know, it just seems now in hindsight that somebody somewhere (maybe even up there) decided this was Vince Dooley’s year.  So many important moments, but for most of us it started with the Tennessee game.  Down 15-2 at half-time (and by the way, the legendary Johnny Majors was still head coach at Tennessee, with a younger Phil Fulmer as an assistant coach by his side), Vince Dooley brought the young freshman into the game. What followed was stunning and a precursor to the career of the finest running back of the modern college era.