Say the words “Between The Hedges” and most Southeastern Conference (SEC) football fans immediately know you’re talking about Georgia’s Sanford Stadium.
While six other SEC schools now feature hedges of some type around at least part of their playing surfaces, none are as deeply rooted in Southern football tradition as the privet hedges that completely encircle Sanford Stadium’s field.
The idea to put hedges around the field is credited to Charles Martin, a one-time business manager of the Georgia athletics department who claimed to have received inspiration for the idea on a visit to the Rose Bowl. Martin is said to have seen the hedge of roses in that famous stadium, but since roses were not a suitable choice for the Southern climate, privet hedges were used instead.
The hedges have been in place since the stadium was built in 1928-1929 and hosted its first game, a 15-0 win over then-powerhouse Yale on Oct. 29, 1929. A capacity crowd of 30,000 watched that first game as a sophomore end from Macon, Ga., Vernon “Catfish” Smith, scored all 15 of Georgia’s points in the upset victory.
The stadium’s seating capacity is currently 92,746, making it the fifth largest on-campus stadium in the SEC and 10thlargest in the country.
Sanford Stadium is named for Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, who arrived at the University of Georgia as an English professor in 1903 and went on to be a revered administrator and major proponent of Bulldog athletics. Sanford later became faculty representative to the athletics committee and would eventually become University of Georgia president and chancellor of the entire University System of Georgia. From 1892-1911, the Bulldogs played their home games at Herty Field, but the football venue was moved to a more central location on campus and named Sanford Field in 1911. Numerous expansions at that site over the subsequent decades have given us Sanford Stadium as we know and love it today.
Georgia’s deceased UGA mascots are entombed in a mausoleum in the southwest corner of the stadium.
- First night game, Georgia 7, Kentucky 7 – Oct. 25, 1940.
- Vince Dooley’s first game, Georgia 19, Clemson 7 – Oct. 10, 1964
- Herschel Walker’s first home game, Georgia 42, Texas A&M 0 – Sept. 13, 1980.
- Herschel Walker’s last home game, Georgia 38, Georgia Tech 18 – Nov. 27, 1982.
- Kevin Butler’s last-second, 60-yard field goal, Georgia 26, Clemson 23 – Sept. 22, 1984.
- Vince Dooley’s last game, Georgia 24, Georgia Tech 3 – Nov. 26, 1988
Vince Dooley is the winningest coach in Sanford Stadium history with an 111-27-2 record (.800 winning percentage) from 1964-1988.
Mark Richt was 80-16 (.833) from 2001-2015, Wally Butts was 65-24-4 (.765) from 1939-1960, Jim Donnan was 22-8 (.733) from 1996-2000 and Ray Goff was 29-13 (.690) from 1989-1995.
340-106-9 (.747) H&A
Photos courtesy University of Georgia Athletics.