I say, “Bill Bates”, you say…

It is one of life’s great pleasures to know that no matter what else he has already accomplished and whatever else he may do in life, Bill Bates’ name will be forever linked with one glorious moment in Knoxville in 1980.

… That’s right, Bulldogs fans. You know it, too. It’s Herschel Walker coming at Bates, then through him, plowing his way to the end zone for a University of Georgia touchdown.

The occasion was the Sept. 6, 1980 season opener that became the coming-out party for Georgia freshman running back Walker, a future Heisman Trophy winner (1982), All-American and College Football Hall of Famer.

Bates, then a sophomore who would become a two-time All-Southeastern Conference safety at Tennessee, braced to make an open-field tackle of big No. 34 but was planted on the back of his No. 40 orange jersey.

The play took only a few seconds but has been replayed countless times, thanks in recent years with the aid of Web sites such as YouTube. An Internet search Friday for “Bill Bates” and “Herschel Walker” found 163,000 files.

That might equal the number of times Bates has been asked about a play that happened almost 29 years ago.

“Let’s talk about that game,” Bates volunteers. “Sure, Herschel did well, ran me over, whatever, scored a touchdown…”


Dude, take your immortality where you can get it.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

15 responses to “I say, “Bill Bates”, you say…

  1. dean

    What’s even more impressive about that play to me is BB is in perfect position to make the tackle. He squares up to ball carrier and hits him low. And all he got for his effort was a view of the Knoxville stars. Anybody else (sans maybe Bo Jackson) he probably makes the tackle or slows him down enough for the tackle to be made.


  2. baltimore dawg

    dean’s spot on: bates had very good technique on the play. he got run the hell over by the greatest rb in the history of the college game; there’s no shame in that. so i’m a little surprised by the sour grapes all these years hence. athlete’s pride, i guess.


  3. Never got why UT whipped out those unis for the ’07 SECCG.


  4. Mike In Valdosta

    Always awesome towatch. Look at the line of scrimmage, Walker was not the only Dawg dominating. The bigguns up front were every bit as dominating as #34.


  5. stick jackson

    The last article I read about this play told a story from Herschel’s first year in Dallas in which in one of his first practices he supposedly caught a short pass over the middle in a half-speed drill and Bates came flying up full-speed and just leveled him.

    The story goes that Herschel got up laughing, most of the team was standing there wondering what the heckl was going on — both why Bates did it and why Herschel wasn’t trying to fight him for such an unbelievably cheap shot — but the young SEC guys were laughing too, because they all knew the legend of that play, even in those dark days before YouTube and even wall-to-wall ESPN.


    • Will Q

      I remember that article. I thought that was pretty cool. There probably aren’t a lot of chances for closure for players that get the slobber knocked out of them.


  6. shane#1

    Bates was a hell of a baller and hit extremely hard for a man his size. He said that when he heard the crowd gasp he thought the lick he had put on the highly touted freshman brought the reaction from the crowd, then he got up and saw Herschel trotting out of the endzone. That goes to show you that even a perfectly timed and well delivered blow might not knock down a good running back. Are you listening, Mr Jones? Bates went on to become one of my favorite players with the Cowboys. Landry put Bates in for certain plays and let him free lance. I saw Bates once line up at DT. Talk about screwing up some blocking assignments!


  7. Robert

    I must say, I don’t miss those red britches.

    Nice try, Bill Bates. Good effort.


  8. kckd

    Well, he was right, they still had a chance to win the game. Actually, that play didn’t even give us the lead, just got us back in the game. HW later took a pitch to the outside to put us ahead.

    That said, HW and that play definitely changed the momentum of that game. No doubt about that.

    And no doubt that Bates got owned on that play. It’s great, because it’s not like HW ran over some no name guy who didn’t have game for the league.


  9. sUGArdaddy

    You don’t miss the red britches? My Lord, that is one of the all-time greatest looking UGA unis. Those red pants have history.

    -Rex’s “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” in Lexington in ’78.
    -Herschel’s Debut
    -Beating Danny Ford & Clemson in ’85

    Red on silver is as good as it gets. But white on siver looks like we’re wearing dirty white pants. I long to see the return of the red pants. By the way, if not for the dumbest play call in UGA history (QB sweep from our own 2-yard line, when you’re up by 4) in ’87, we’d have another sweet victory in those babies in Clemson.


    • Mike In Valdosta

      James Jackson (I think that was his name) was evidence as to how hard it was for UGA to recruit a QB during the Dooley years. Worse play call ever, and I watched Jasper against Auburn and this one at Death Valley. It still makes my skin crawl. That being said, I can’t stand the red pants. For that matter, I do not like messing with the unis at all. The west opelika game was pretty awesome, but to pull them out again and tell everybody about it nine and a half months later was not shrewd (with the benefit of hindsight ofcourse).


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  11. sUGArdaddy

    We will have to agree to disagree Mike. The red britches are a storied part of some great UGA lore and a beautiful uni. From a strictly contrasting standpoint, white and silver just don’t look as good as white and red. Look at Ohio St.’s home unis versus their road unis. Their white on gray looks like trash. Just one man’s opinion.


    • Mike In Valdosta

      I completely respect your opinion.
      My problem with the red pants, or black pants, or whatever is that I do not like burning the emotional fuse before kickoff with gimmicks like uni changes. The west opelika game was great because they changed right before kickoff. The tusky game was a let down in part due to the early announcement. Firing the team up on the plane ride back from Tempe was just a little too early in my opinion.

      If we do something special once a decade for a big game I can get behind it. But I prefer consistency, and I like the silver britches.

      #34 could have been wearing leopard skin britches and he would have looked great.

      Of all the things Donnan did, monkeying around with the unis, early and often, was quite disconcerting. Sometimes he acted as though we were the University of Nike.


  12. sUGArdaddy

    It was a huge mistake by Donnan. However, we all have to remember that Dooley did the same thing upon his arrival, scrapping the silver pants and inventing the helmet as we now know it. I totally agree about burning the fuse too early. We did the same thing in Tampa with the black pants. Warmed up in silver and changed in the locker room and Wisconsin never saw what hit them.

    The fun thing about the mid-80s was that no one ever knew if Ford and Dooley were going to break out the orange or red pants, repectively, for each other. It was always a surprise. I hope we never again anounce we’re going to wear a special uni. I’d still love for us to go back to an 80s style jersey w/ the stripes and all because I like the old school look.

    We don’t have to worry about Richt. He’s pretty traditional. And yes, #34 would have looked good in anything. Fun times.