1977, Kentucky spanks Georgia, Lewis Grizzard boards the wrong bus and a memorable Prince Charles banner
In 1977, Kentucky had a very up football year, eventually notching a 10-1 record. After winning the 1976 SEC championship, Georgia’s 1977 year was less than up. The Dawgs finished 5-6, Vince Dooley’s only losing season.
This writer was a UGA sophomore attending that game. Lewis Grizzard attended too, with a rather remarkable series of experiences. What day in Lewis Grizzard’s life did not include a remarkable series of experiences?
On Oct. 22, 1977 the No. 8 Wildcats (5-1) came to Athens to face the unranked 4-2 Bulldogs.
Down only 10-0 at the half, it was as though Georgia fans knew the second half would be worse. Recall that the 1977 legal age was 18.
UGA students throughout history always honor the legal adult beverage consumption age.
Georgia students and fans had perhaps enjoyed some adult beverages by halftime. The revered James Brown performed “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs,” as he had at several previous Sanford games. Yet this time the performance was met with a smattering of boos.
Whether the smatterers were angry that UGA was behind, or they had simply overserved themselves, or they were actually tired of seeing James Brown we do not know.
Sanford Stadium also had a most unusual visitor that day. Maybe a lot of visitors. You could call that visitor the Lord of the Isles, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew and/or Duke of Rothesay. You would be correct every time. The visitor was all those rolled into one.
That visitor was also met with a smattering of boos. We need not list again possible motives for those boos.
The highlight of the day was a completely unexpected event that “unfolded” from atop the Sanford Stadium rather late during halftime after UGA fans stopped booing internationally famous people.
From that bridge unfurled several bed sheets sewn together to make one jimongo banner with spray-painted letters that read:
“Prince Charles Does it Doggy Style!!!”
Sanford Stadium capacity in 1977 was 59,200. As with any monumental moment in world history, perhaps 71,253 people claim to have seen that 1977 banner. Maybe that includes 12,053 watching from the railroad tracks behind the other end zone. No one of those 71,253 will confess to booing that banner. In fact there was quite a roar from the crowd. This writer was one of the roarers.
People inside the stadium and on the tracks insist they got a photo of the banner they can no longer find after fumbling for relics people once carried called cameras.
Since 1977, no one has publicly identified the banner maker.
Prince Charles did not know what words on the banner meant, and some flunky who drew the short straw had to explain it to him. He was not amused.
Do a search for “vince dooley prince charles” to see Vince explaining some clipboard diagram to the Lord Earl Baron Duke. Vince might have diagramed a bootleg left. Vince might have drawn the short straw, thus making him diagram something else.
Prince Andrew was 17 in 1977. He likely knew what the banner meant and would likely have been amused. No time for that here, as Andy never made it to Sanford, for which UGA coeds and their Daddies should be grateful.
Fast forward to February 11, 2020. This writer talked to a North Georgia civic group at a noon lunch meeting about UGA’s great humorist Lewis Grizzard.
The guy who invited this writer to speak burst into the room at 11:45 a.m., followed by his friend who was and still is a Judge. The Judge asked, “If you are Peter Stoddard, have I got some news for you!”
In a 2019 book this writer wrote and published about Lewis, there is a chapter on the guy who went with Lewis to the 1977 Kentucky game. The chapter speculated that Lewis had something to do with the banner.
Over the 2019 holidays, the Judge reuned with his large family, including his younger brother, a successful Augusta Georgia area timberman. As the Judge read bits of the Grizzard book aloud, the timberman brother sheepishly said, to paraphrase, “I thought people forgot about that banner I made and dropped from the bridge.”
That discovery altered this writer’s Grizzard talk in February 2020. The Judge said to tell the story despite a large number of proper ladies in the civic group meeting. There were some blushing proper ladies after the talk.
Within an hour after the meeting, the Augusta area timberman told his story and agreed that it was OK to share his name. Yet we agreed to “trickle out” the news.
Fast forward again to October 2020, when another version of the story emerged. This version was almost identical to the first, and the teller was Dean of the School of Business at a University of Georgia System campus, though not the one in Athens.
The story in a nutshell. Bed sheets were sewn together by UGA undergrad roommates. Red letters were spray painted on the sheets. Culprits dragged the folded banner, a battered sofa and coolers of adult refreshments to the bridge. At halftime culprits unfurled the banner. It hung there from either 5 to 20 minutes before unsmiling law enforcement occifers snatched it. The culprits pretended to know nothing about it. They did not take a photo of the banner, it was not returned to them and they got in no trouble whatsoever.
Yet the business school dean did not recognize the timberman’s name. He agreed, that’s OK if he wants to claim the banner all these years later. The bridge was packed that day, and he might have sat next to us. The dean also did not mind being named as the culprit. He said, to paraphrase, “Is UGA going to fire the Dean of a Business School for a 1977 infraction beloved by many?”
Still, we agreed to “trickle out” the answer to a 40+-year-old legendary mystery.
Back to Lewis Grizzard.
Lewis’ frequent tailgating buddy and driver from Atlanta was Dorsey Hill, whom Lewis described in his columns as the World’s Greatest Georgia Bulldog fan. Dorsey was Lewis’ fraternity brother, whose claim to fame among several was talking 1964 brothers into not blackballing skinny geeky 18-year-old hayseed Lewis from tiny Moreland, Georgia.
(That is this writer’s observation, not Dorsey’s claim.)
A week before the Kentucky game, Lewis called Dorsey with a great idea. “Let’s get on a bus at the Marriott and ride that to and from the game. That way we can consume a whole lot more adult beverages.”
Dorsey protested that their season parking spot was 5 minutes from Sanford, Dorsey would stay sober enough to drive, and for so many other reasons Lewis’ idea was a sorry one.
Lewis, being stubborn as a mule, Dorsey agreed to the bus.
One problem that led to several problems. Upon arrival at the Marriott, there was only one bus in the parking lot. The Wildcat blue color code for the Kentucky Wildcats logo is Pantone: PMS 286. The bus was PMS 286 as were the colors of every passenger who boarded that bus except Dorsey and Lewis.
If it is not clear, Lewis bought tickets on the Kentucky fan bus to and from Athens.
As they consumed adult beverages Lewis said loud enough for others to hear, to paraphrase, “The people are too friendly. Kentucky is so rarely good at football their fans do not know how to talk trash SEC style.”
Dorsey told Lewis to either keep his voice down or keep his mouth shut. Lewis Grizzard was never good at either. Large groups would eventually pay Lewis $25,000 to open his mouth and talk loud for two hours.
Kentucky shut out the Dawgs 33-0. That seems almost secondary now.
While with their regular tailgating friends, Dorsey and Lewis continued adult beverages from a cooler in the parking space where Dorsey’s car could have been.
Dorsey then told Lewis it was time to board the bus. Lewis told Dorsey to have the bus wait. Readers can see where this was going.
Dorsey practically had to hogtie and drag Lewis with their coolers to catch the bus, lest they have to walk back to Atlanta.
Aboard the bus Lewis demanded that the driver stop at the Athens Varsity before leaving town. By this time the driver and many had tired of Lewis.
The driver said something to Dorsey like, “If I hear one more peep out of your overserved friend I will dump both of you at the side of Highway 78. Kentucky patrons will drink whatever adult beverages you have not over consumed, and you will have to pay a heavy ransom to get your coolers back if no one kills you both walking back to the Marriott.”
Dorsey succeeded in muzzling Lewis at least well enough that they did not get their arses kicked.
The punchlines are like so many Lewis wrote in his Dorsey Hill columns. Lewis’ Kentucky game report told a very different version of the Saturday reality:
Dorsey Hill …
… screwed up and got tickets on a Kentucky fans bus.
… talked too loud about Kentucky’s sorry football past.
… got way too overserved.
… almost made us miss the bus back to Atlanta.
… demanded that the bus driver stop at The Varsity.
… almost got our arses kicked.
“If it was not for Lewis Grizzard’s bravery, heroism and self-control, Dorsey Hill might not be alive today.”
Kentucky and Georgia first played football on Oct 21, 1939. The Wildcats beat the Bulldogs 13-6 in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1938, an overserved Lewis Grizzard might or might not have demanded that some bus driver stop at The Varsity, saying:
“And don’t try to tell me there ain’t no Varsity in Louisville by Gawd Kentucky. After this loss I need a heaping plate of Chili Dawgs to make me bark all night.”
Georgia has beaten Kentucky 60 times, lost 12 times and tied twice. Georgia has won the past 11 games. This 2021 undefeated Kentucky team might be their best ever. Many Georgia fans would love to see Kentucky be the best SEC East opponent that routinely beats the Gators, Vols and Cocks. Just as long as the Wildcats lose to the Dawgs.
This writer’s prediction: UGA wins 42-9.