Like Father, Not Like Son
The most notable instances when the son of a Bulldog returned “home” to face UGA
By Patrick Garbin—Twitter @PatrickGarbin
Perhaps my favorite part of the interview I conducted with former Georgia punter Jim Broadway was him recalling when his son—a punter for Ole Miss at the time—punted against the Bulldogs five years ago in the very same place the father had played, Sanford Stadium. How cool would that be?
“It was pretty cool,” according to Broadway, Sr. Broadway’s recollection got me pondering of similar instances in Georgia football history and, from what I determined, it’s a rarity (yet enough to have a top five). Accordingly, here are my most notable instances of when the son of a former Bulldog player returned “home,” so to speak, and played against Georgia in Sanford Stadium:
4) Jim Broadway, Jr., Ole Miss (JIM BROADWAY): When Ole Miss’ Jim Broadway, Jr. trotted onto the field at Sanford Stadium for one of his eight punts against the Bulldogs in 2012, the stadium’s PA announcer quipped, “Jim Broadway punts for Georgia … uh Ole Miss … uh flashback.” It had been 30 years since Jim Broadway, Sr. had last punted for the Bulldogs on the same field. A standout punter from Roswell High School a few years before, the youngest Broadway had arrived in Athens the most unconventional way—first attending school at Miami of Ohio before Mississippi. Nevertheless, he was one of the Rebels’ few bright spots in a 37-10 Georgia win, averaging 45.6 yards per punt and a 43.5-net average. Broadway, Jr., who grew up attending Georgia games in Athens, stated afterwards, “I felt like it was home out there”—and fittingly, his punting performance would be his best outing of a 17-game collegiate career with the Redhawks and Rebels.
3) Reggie Richardson, South Carolina (GENE WASHINGTON): Born when father Gene Washington’s Georgia career was just starting to develop to where he would twice earn All-SEC recognition (1974, 1976) as a lightning-fast receiver and kick returner, Reggie Richardson entered South Carolina in 1992 as a running back before being moved to where his dad starred in high school, defensive back. The native of Florence, South Carolina, appeared at Sanford Stadium during the 1993 season opener as a reserve, making two tackles in the Gamecocks’ 23-21 upset over the 14th-ranked Bulldogs. After Richardson started for the Gamecocks as their leading interceptor and kickoff returner for the program’s first bowl-winning team in 1994, he tore ligaments in his knee prior to his senior season, denying him a follow-up return to play in Athens.
2) Vern Smith, California (VERNON “CATFISH” SMITH): In the stadium his father, Vernon “Catfish” Smith, an All-American end at Georgia and College Football Hall of Famer, helped dedicate by being responsible for all of the Bulldogs’ points in a 15-0 win over Yale in 1929, Vernon Jr. (Vern) appeared in Athens 47 years later as a member—of all teams—the California Golden Bears. “Dad tried to get me to go to Georgia,” Vern said just prior to the 1976 season opener between the Bulldogs and Cal Bears. “I went to high school in Hawaii, and now he lives in San Diego.” To top it off, having previously lived in Gainesville, Fla., as well, Vern was a Florida Gators fan. Still, loving the ocean and wanting to remain close to his girlfriend, he remained on the West Coast attending Mesa Junior College before transferring to Cal-Berkeley. With father “Catfish” in the stands, where he reportedly was “rooting for California, though he remains an avid Georgia fan,” Vern, a senior defensive back, tallied four tackles, returned two kickoffs for 40 yards and two punts for six yards, in the Bulldogs’ 36-24 comeback win over the 15th-ranked Bears.
1) Pete Cavan, Alabama (JIM CAVAN): Since it’s twofold in a way, my most notable father-son instance features Jim Cavan, a halfback at Georgia (1936-1937) who went on to become one of the state’s most successful high school football coaches before retiring from the R.E. Lee Institute in Thomaston, Ga., following the 1975 season. Jim’s retirement came just in time to experience the 1976 Georgia-Alabama game, when not only was his son, Pete, featured as a starting halfback for the Crimson Tide, but his older son, Mike—a standout quarterback for the Bulldogs from 1968-1970—was standing on the other sideline as a young Georgia assistant coach. In what remains arguably Georgia’s greatest defensive performance in Sanford Stadium considering the opponent, the seven-point-favored Crimson Tide which entered averaging 300 rushing yards per game, the Bulldogs limited the visitor to 49 net rushing yards on 45 rushes in a monumental 21-0 upset victory for Georgia. Although he led Alabama in rushing, Pete was limited—especially on this play—to 21 yards on four carries:
HM) Couple of Descendants of Dog Coaches: Although not directly involving a Georgia player and his opposing son, for the 1987 season opener, Vince Dooley’s Dogs were what the head coach recognized as taking “a venture into the unknown” as Georgia hosted Virginia for only the second time in a half-century. Yet, an opposing Cavalier player was very well known to Dooley. Youngest child, Derek Dooley, a redshirt freshman receiver for Virginia, while enduring a dislocated index finger, saw the field for a couple of plays on special teams as the Bulldogs defeated the Cavaliers, 30-22. The next season on Homecoming of 1988, Harry Mehre III of Atlanta had a homecoming of sorts when he played at Sanford Stadium as a senior receiver for William & Mary. Mehre not only had grown up a Georgia fan, but his grandfather was Harry Mehre, the Bulldogs’ head coach from 1928-1937. Hampered with a slight injury, Mehre III, who would earn I-AA All-American recognition, caught three passes for 49 yards in a 59-24 win by Georgia. Notably, another member of the Tribe had returned to Athens for the game. Passing for 308 yards while responsible for three touchdowns in defeat, quarterback Craig Argo had attended Cedar Shoals High School.
I don’t believe there are many others, but can anyone think of another instance when the son of a former Bulldog player returned “home” to Sanford Stadium as an opposing player?