University of Georgia

1959 -63 Bulldogs
(Authentic Reproduction)




Perhaps believing that the addition of the red center stripe to Georgia's silver helmet had somehow jinxed the won-lost record, Butts removed the stripe, returning to the plain silver shell with one-inch gold "Eagle-style" player numerals in the rear of the helmet, as had been worn between 1952 and 1955. Long time Butts line coach J.B. "Ears" Whitworth who had failed as head man at Alabama, returned to Athens and was credited with bringing the team's talent together. Finally it seemed, the Georgia Bulldogs were back, the return to 10-1 glory and a decisive 14-0 win over Missouri in the Orange Bowl and it was sparked by '58's soph group. QB's Charlie Britt and Fran Tarkenton were the keys in Butts' as-usual advanced passing schemes. Tarkenton and end Jimmy Vickers were the All SEC honorees but HB Fred Brown, teamed with Bobby Walden, proved to be an effective duo also. 202-pound Pat Dye was a terror and he and Billy Roland formed a tough guard tandem with soph Pete Case holding the line at tackle. The SEC Champions finished with a number five poll ranking with Britt leaving for the Rams and finishing his pro term as a DB with the Vikings. 
Perhaps Coach Butts should have bowed out after his great 1959 season and the accolades that followed. The death of long-time line coach J.B. Whitworth in the off-season set a negative tone for 1960. The drop to 6-4 with three SEC losses still brought great play from  QB Tarkenton (All American and All SEC), All American/All SEC guard Pat Dye who went on to a storied coaching career at Auburn, and  HB Fred Brown (2nd team All SEC). HB Bobby Walden had an excellent NFL career as a punter that lasted fourteen years with the Vikings and Steelers. Brown had a few years at DB with the Bills while Tarkenton of course, became a Hall Of Fame QB with the Vikings and Giants. On December 23rd, Wally Butts resigned as head football coach to devote his full focus on his other position as Athletic Director. As former Bulldog All American Charlie Trippi stated about Butts, "He was truly a master at the passing game...we would hide the blackboard from Coach Butts because he would draw a new passing play every time he saw the board." The 140-86-9 record that Butts achieved made him one of the greats of his day and his Bulldogs set more passing records than any other college team. Butts and Alabama coach Bear Bryant were accused in a Saturday Evening Post article of rigging a game during the 1962 season. Though both were exonerated and received substantial financial settlements, tawdry details about Butts' personal life were revealed. He resigned to go into the private insurance business and although he was financially successful, his reputation never recovered from the scandal. He was elected to the College Football Hall Of Fame posthumously.  


The state-wide legend of Francis Tarkenton, star quarterback began when he led Athens H.S. to the Georgia state title. The son of a Pentecostal minister, he was the All American boy and an All American in leading the 1959 Georgia team to what remains a hallowed 10-1 season, the sparkplug for the squad from the day he set foot onto the campus. An Academic All American and the leader of the Fellowship Of Christian Athletes, he had story-book heroics, reflected in the '59 victory over Auburn that clinched the SEC crown, where he casually threw the winning thirteen-yard touchdown pass on a fourth down play with little time on the clock. His two TD throws accounted for the 14-0 Orange Bowl win over Missouri. Also a two-time All SEC selection, Tarkenton moved on to the NFL Vikings where he threw four TD passes in his very first game. After an eighteen-year career spent with the Vikings over two separate periods (1961-'66 and 1972-78) and the 1968-1971 seasons with the Giants, Tarkenton owned all of the NFL's significant passing records: 3686 completions; 47003   yards; 342 touchdown passes. Known for his elusive running ability, "Fran The Scram" rushed for 3674 yards and thirty-two TD's. He brought the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances and six division titles. He was named to the Pro Bowl nine times and twice was All Pro. Tarkenton is in both the College and Pro Football Halls Of Fame.

There was great  anticipation among the faithful, awaiting word on their new Bulldog coach for the 1961 season. Former Georgia tackle and respected Florida assistant Gene Ellerson was the favorite to fill Butts' coaching chair with former star player and Butts' assistant Charlie Trippi next in line but the job went to freshmen team coach Johnny Griffith. A high school star at Atlanta's Boy's H.S. Griffth was a member of the undefeated '46 Bulldog squad and had scored on a record-setting eighty-nine yard TD run against Furman. Many felt he was too young and inexperienced for the position but he was the university president's choice. Griffith's first team was keyed on the line by captain Pete Case who later played guard for the Eagles and Giants from 1962 through 1970, and soph QB Larry Rakestraw. Fine center Len Hauss injured his knee halfway through the season which contributed to the less than expected 3-7 mark for the new regime.

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