“It was just one of those plays that was meant to be.”

Great, great piece from Mark Schlabach about Herschel introducing himself to the world in Knoxville 35 years ago.  Bill Bates describes that moment thusly:

Bill Bates: We started blitzing, because we didn’t think (Walker) would be able to pick them up. We had a blitz from one of the sides. He cut back to the left, and our coaches always told us to break down for a tackle. So I broke down.

I looked into Herschel’s eyes and realized he wasn’t going to make a move. The next thing I knew, I had footprints on my chest and turned around and saw No. 34 running into the end zone for a touchdown. It was a big deal and something I’ll always remember.

“I looked into Herschel’s eyes and realized he wasn’t going to make a move.”  Talk about your “oh, shit” moment.

Best one-sentence summary you’ll ever read:

Donnie McMickens: That was the end of my running back career.

By the way, Bates’ son is a reserve linebacker for the Vols this season.

69 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

69 responses to ““It was just one of those plays that was meant to be.”

  1. I think I’ve read that Mr. Bates isn’t real thrilled to keep talking about said trucking.

    Don’t blame him.

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    • You know, he’s always been pretty classy when talking about it. You gotta give him props.

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    • Russ

      Probably depends on context. If you’re talking to him about his long, successful career and you mention this, he probably is amenable. If you call up out of the blue and say “tell me what it’s like to be run over by Herschel”, I’ll bet he’s less than thrilled.

      Seems like a decent chap otherwise.

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  2. mwo

    Bill Bates was a badass in college and the NFL. That makes Herschel’s run even better.

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  3. Also, I can tell you that many a junior high schooler in rural Alabama dreamed of playing like Herschel. We all tried to find the biggest thigh pads that we could because we were sure it made us look like him. It seemed like every day we would pull out the gym pads and tried emulate Herschel jumping over a goal line pile (this was a little before Bo over the top).

    The best part about Herschel as a Bama fan was 1) he wasn’t a Boog and 2) we didn’t play Georgia.

    Have a good day,

    BD

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  4. Bates has a good sense of humor about that play.

    I have good memories listening to Munson and cutting wood with my dad.

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    • paul

      I was listening to Munson and painting my brother’s house. Never forget it.

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    • Flukebucket

      I have heard that Bates once said he was not the only person Walker ever ran over he was just the first one. I remember being face down in the floor listening when Munson made that call. It was a few days later before I actually got to see it happen. Good times.

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    • Russ

      Great memories listening with my dad. We never did hear Munson say Herschel scored. I’m not sure he did.

      And I loved seeing it the next day on the Vince Dooley Show.

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  5. rpcpisme

    I was just telling a friend that it would be awesome if Chubb broke Herschel’s 100 yard game record by running over the Jr Bates and going on to score a TD.

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  6. IAmAChubbyMan

    Maybe one day we will be able to make some new memories. Not likely with Mark Richt around.

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    • Careful Brad

      Yep, not one memory in 15 years.

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      • IAmAChubbyMan

        Obviously none big enough that we are still talking about a play and a player from 35 years ago.

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        • Cousin Eddie

          Munson had a boot in Tenn that some people remember.

          BTW we will still be talking about that play and player 35 years from now, well some people will anyway.

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      • IAmAChubbyMan

        Actually, I stand corrected. You are right. We have lots of memories over the last 15 years:

        Poor clock management
        Brain farts
        Face plants
        Not spiking the ball
        “We were outcoached and outplayed”
        2004 Tennessee
        2005 West Virginia
        2006 Vanderbilt
        2006 Kentucky
        2007 South Carolina
        2007 Tennessee
        2008 Alabama
        2008 Florida
        2009
        2010
        2011 South Carolina
        2012 South Carolina
        2013 Vanderbilt
        2013 Auburn
        2014 South Carolina
        2014 Florida
        2015 Alabama

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        • Seriously, if you want to mope, at least confine it to the posts where it’s relevant. Your whining here has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

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          • IAmAChubbyMan

            Actually it is quite relevant to Careful Brad’s comment at 8:44AM

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            • Which was in response to you showing your ass at 8:28AM.

              If you want me to run you off, just say so. Otherwise, it would be appreciated if you would respect my wishes.

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            • Ole Dokes

              Fuck off chubby. Here we are reminiscing about something that was so big to so many of us in our youth & you go spewing your Dawg hate. I was listening with my daddy & brother to a console radio down in the basement. Never forget it or when we were all crying tears of joy after blowing up our living room after #24 took it to the house in Jacksonville. Damn good memories. Go pull for aubern chubby…

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        • Go Dawgs!

          I bet you’re a big hit at parties.

          I need to just quit coming to Georgia sites until things either improve or change.

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          • PTC DAWG

            I say he should find another team to follow..

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            • Macallanlover

              Just a whiny little brat that wants to make everyone as miserable as his little life has been. Fortunately I think UGA will have some real men in that locker room tomorrow that don’t just quit when they face adversity, or moan and groan for someone to wipe their little noses. Go Dawgs!!!

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    • At least he did not redshirt Chubb. LOL

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  7. Spike

    Recall the game like it was yesterday. I couldn’t get tickets so I listened to Munson on the radio that hot night in Knoxville. Thanks for the memories..

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  8. Great article. Took me back 35 years. Got chill bumps reading it.

    By the way, my sources tell me Cojones was kidnapped by a gang of crazed Bama fans and is being held in a dank basement, stripped naked with jumper cables clamped to his testicles. Hang in there buddy, we’re coming for you.

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  9. Hogbody Spradlin

    Bill Bates runs hot and cold in his recollections. I’ve seen quotes by him griping that the Herschel run is all he’s remembered for, and quotes sort of acknowledging that he’s cemented into lore.

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  10. 81Dog

    I was in Knoxville that night, and saw every play of that season in person. From down 15-0 to winning that game was one of the most emotional roller coaster swings I’ve ever seen, and that season had more than a couple of them.

    I will say this, in addition: that stadium, after an early UT safety, was the loudest place I had ever been, or have been since then. And also, once the final gun went off and we had won (on a last minute fumble recovery at our own 2 as UT was driving for the inevitable winning score. Thank you Nate Taylor and Pat McShea), you’ve never seen 90,000 plus hillbillies vacate a stadium so quickly. The 10,000 UGA fans who were there didn’t want to leave.

    The only RB I’ve ever seen who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Herschel was Tony Dorsett. There have been lots of good ones, some great ones, but nobody got the ball 30 plus times a game for 3 solid years and just kept punishing opponents like Herschel. If you saw him play, you know. If you never saw him play, it sounds crazy, but he really was that dominant and that good.

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    • Mayor

      Tony Dorsett got the ball a lot, too. But he was a different type of runner from Herschel. Dorsett could really make people miss and defenders hardly ever got a solid, hard hit on him.

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  11. Biggus Rickus

    I was only 5, so I missed all of this. My first memory was a more painful one, Marino’s pass in next season’s Sugar Bowl. Still, we wore out those old cassettes with Munson’s ’80 calls when I was a kid, so it feels like I was there to see it.

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    • Athens Dog

      That pass cured me of betting on college football…….or on any sports for that matter Happened right in front of me. Damn painful

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      • doiknowu

        You must have been sitting right next to me. You know, if Kelly had been one inch taller he’d have tipped that ball away. How many fourth down conversions did Pitt have on that drive? Three? You’d have thought Willie was coaching the defense.

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        • mwo

          4th and goal from about the 30-right? I had a mostly empty fifth of Jack Daniels I considered throwing at the ball. The pass was right in front of us and seems like it hung in the air forever. I still hate Dan Marino and John Brown.

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        • 81Dog

          I was right there in that section, also. The ball seemed to hang in the air for hours. It felt like I had time to run out there and knock it down. I was probably closer to John Brown, the Pitt TE, than Kelly was. To add insult to injury, the pretty blonde ZTA I had been earnestly chatting with all game was whisked away by her two cranky friends, all of them in tears, 2 seconds after the clock hit zero. It’s hard to say that loss hurt worse than any other one I recall, because they all hurt, but I still remember it all these years later.

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  12. Athens Dog

    I was there…………..back when i went to away games. Was a great night

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  13. Scorpio Jones, III

    If you hear Munson’s call, you ARE there, all you have to do is re-cue the tape and hit play, and there you are, there he is and here we go.

    My God, Larry, you’d a had us in tears Saturday, and it might not have hurt quite so bad if I coulda had you telling the story.

    Do they use live bait up there?

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  14. bad byron

    A relative in Knoxville got 2 of us tickets…the year after we graduated. We drank all day in the sun and headed to the stadium, surprised to find our seats on the 45 with the older, orange socialites. Ruined their evening completely. My buddy had on red plaid pants and was so obnoxious, I’m sure those people around us never forgave the ticket owner. If we had been in a less civilized section of the stadium, we surely would have been killed.

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  15. Russ

    I hope Nick puts a “Chubbing” on Bates’ son tomorrow.

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  16. Mayor

    I feel compelled to say this: Have we fallen so low that we now have to reminisce about something from 35 years ago to be able to come up with something positive to say about Georgia football? Damn. It was a great run but it was 35 years ago!!!

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    • Biggus Rickus

      The hobnail boot would also be relevant and more recent.

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      • Mayor

        Agree. I think the problem is that just about all of the really big plays in Georgia football the past few years went against us not for us, e.g. the tipped pass and clock running out at the end of the 2012 SECCG, the 2013 Auburn game tipped pass to an Auburn receiver to lose the game, etc. How about a recent great play FOR Georgia: like when Gurley elevated for that TD against Tech to win the game in OT. Or any of the long runs where Chubb broke out of a gaggle of tacklers for a TD from last year?

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  17. At the bottom of this article Bates describes one of those practice encounters in big D and how Herschel was a great sport about it.

    Some of the younger folks may not realize this but Bates had a reputation as one of the best open field tacklers in the NFL. So much that they pretty much created a special teams roster spot in the pro bowl for him.

    http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080709/COL0504/807090334/1177/SPORTS

    Bates and Walker later became teammates with the Cowboys, and Bates will never forget their first shared day of practice.

    “We were out there, kind of just walking through stuff in helmets in shorts with no pads,” Bates says. “So I’m lined up at safety and the ball is handed off to Herschel and here he comes through the line about half speed and this time I have the running start. Well, I just jacked him, hit him as hard as I could and knocked him down. The coaches were running up, blowing their whistles to beat the band.

    “I told them, you gotta understand, guys, there’s some history here.”

    And Walker, what did he do?

    “Herschel was on the ground just dying laughing,” Bates says. “He understood. Herschel’s a great guy.”

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