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Loran - Smith

Orange Bowl, Spring Practice
By Loran Smith
By Loran Smith


The Georgia football team, following another head turning successful season, will start winter workouts momentarily. A few days to regroup and begin classes will segue into winter workouts.

Interestingly, it has always been that way, but for different reasons. Players buy in to today’s routine because it is significant toward their ultimate goal—to play in the National Football League. There are at least two vignettes from the past, with which I am familiar, that might bring pause to your day—the 1939 and 1942 Orange bowls. In 1939, Oklahoma was heavily shmoozed by Orange Bowl officials to come play in Miami. The Sooners were heavily favored over Tennessee, their opponent.

There was no television in those days, but this turned out to be one of the most hyped games in Orange Bowl history. It has long been said that it was the game that “made” the Orange Bowl.

Tennessee was a team which had outstanding speed, which it utilized to upset Oklahoma. Tennessee’s players were not as big as the Sooners, but they had more speed. The Volunteers won 17-0.

Orange Bowl officials were giddy afterwards, not so much that they had personal affection for Gen. Robert Neyland’s boys, they knew that the headlines would be healthy for their game.

Neyland was an old school, jawto- jaw proponent. Obviously, he was pleased with the final score, his team shutting out Tennessee, but when he showed up in the victorious locker room, he was a man of few words.

“I am damn well pleased with the result,” he told his cheering team, but then added, “Be ready to report for spring practice, Jan. 15.” There is no documentation as to what the players said privately, but common sense would suggest they didn’t like the General’s directive.

Two years later, Georgia played in Miami, the Bulldog’s first bowl game, defeating Texas Christian, 40-26. The game was pretty much over at the half, with tailback Frank Sinkwich having the best day, at least statistically.

He set the Orange Bowl record for total offense with 365 yards, a record that stood for decades. He became the toast of the town. When classes for the winter quarter began, Sinkwich showed up at the dormitory and saw a note on the bulletin board.

“Spring practice starts in two weeks.”

“Not me,” Sinkwich said. So he quit, which caused consternation throughout the dorm and athletic facilities. To say nothing about the Athens community which went into depression. Sinkwich later recanted and went on to win the Heisman trophy. It was traditional in that era to practice the entire school year. Scrimmaging began when the team reported in August and continued until the spring quarter ended in May.

Today’s players want to become bigger, stronger, and faster, which they continued from page

can do in this “NFL or bust” era. Player development has become a recruiting advantage, and Georgia has one of the best in all of college football.

If you make it into the NFL and spend considerable time in the professional ranks, you can, with wise and frugal decisions, accumulate enough money to live happily ever after and enjoy unlimited perks and benefits.

The lifestyle and opportunity that is out there for professional athletes is remarkable, but there is one thing missing in all this. If an athlete doesn’t take the time to enjoy the campus experience, he misses out on something special.

That should be part of the reason to sign up to play this grand old game.

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