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Georgia's National Championship: Still Sweet, 30 Years Later

Wouldn’t you like to be known as a member of one the best football teams in the nation? Well, the unstoppable 1980 UGA Bulldogs are!

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A lot has happened since the memorable day on November 15, 1980, when the Bulldogs beat Auburn to clinch the SEC Championship. Nobody expected them to win any championship after their 6-5 season, which included an embarrassing 31-0 loss to Virginia. They weren’t even invited to a post-season bowl game.

Legendary coach Vince Dooley led the undefeated 1980 Bulldogs to win the National Football Championship. The Dawgs finished with a perfect season, including a 17-10 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Sugar Bowl to win the National Championship. At 12-0, Georgia finished as the only team with no losses and no ties.

Coach Dooley had the help of a team of great athletes. Many thought the Dawgs just got lucky, but they really had a very determined team that never quit. Freshman sensation Herschel Walker wasn’t even supposed to play in the first game against Tennessee. Without his help, UGA never could have won that game, and that was just the beginning.

Walker proved that he was determined time after time by doing his best and never giving up. One of the most memorable moments of the season was when Herschel demanded the team doctor to put his dislocated shoulder back in so he could return to the Sugar Bowl.

Coach Dooley also had a “dynamic duo” with WR Lindsay Scott and QB Buck Belue. Their memorable play was a 92-yard TD pass from Belue to Scott with one minute, four seconds left on the clock to give the Dawgs a 26-21 win over the Florida Gators, leading the way to the national championship. It was one of college football’s most memorable plays of the year, with the help of sports announcer and voice of the Dawgs, Larry Munson.

For Scott, the thrill is still exciting every time he sees or hears the play. “You still get the goose bumps and you love the reaction from the crowd.” says Scott.

Defensive back Daryll “DJ” Jones, another member of UGA’s most successful freshman recruiting class, returned to Auburn 30 years later but as a sportscaster. I assumed it would be like déjà vu for him, but it turned out a little different because Auburn QB Cam Newton dominated (showing why he is in the run for the Heisman). Even though Georgia wasn’t victorious this time, Jones still treasures his days as a Dawg. I got the opportunity to speak with Mr. Jones. I was seeking some advice as a young athlete. “Just get out and have fun!” he says.

UGA’s 1980 National Championship football team is the story of an incredible football season and the players who made it possible. The players all wear championship rings and have bragging rights because they’ve played between the hedges. They are still involved in sports in some way. To all of you who bleed red & black (or even just like Georgia), I know the day of the 30th anniversary will bring back great memories.