For the first time in Georgia football history, the Bulldogs left Jacksonville following their rivalry game against Florida to begin preparations for Tennessee.
The Bulldogs have not faced the Volunteers and Gators in consecutive contests since 1973, when Vince Dooley's 10th Georgia team upset No. 11 Tennessee 35-31 in Knoxville before falling to Florida 11-10 a week later. Dooley died peacefully this past Friday at the age of 90, which preceded Georgia's 42-20 thumping of the Gators for a 23rd consecutive regular-season triumph.
All the Dooley tributes you've read since? They're all accurate, as he was equal parts class and brilliance.
When I interviewed Dooley in August 2017 to discuss Georgia's anticipated trip to Notre Dame in the second game of that season, he was happy to reminisce about the 17-10 victory over the Fighting Irish in the Sugar Bowl that clinched the program's first Associated Press national championship to cap the 1980 season. Yet that walk down memory lane could not start until Dooley offered his admiration for Georgia's opening 2017 opponent, Appalachian State.
His brilliance often resulted in humor and some of the most entertaining answers I've been given, and here are five of my favorites from past interviews.
— On guiding Georgia to a 7-3 victory in the 1971 Gator Bowl over North Carolina, which was coached by Bill Dooley, his younger brother: "When you walk out there and see that it's your brother, you have more empathy than normal for the other coach. It was better him losing than me, though, because when you get down to it, it's competition."
— On the three seasons (2010-12) his son, Derek Dooley, spent as Tennessee's head coach: "We had a great experience going up there. Barbara has a whole wardrobe of orange. I emphasized the white part."
— On Georgia's November 2015 firing of Mark Richt: "It's kind of the sign of the times as far as coaches trying to be at one place for a long period of time. I'm one of the last of the Mohicans, and Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech probably is the last Mohican. Mark Richt lasting 15 years is almost like 25 years when I coached."
— On Georgia's December 2015 hiring of Kirby Smart: "If I was in the position of hiring the coach, he's the one I would have gone after. I know Kirby, and I particularly know his wife, Mary Beth Lycett, who was my favorite 3-point shooter."
— On the money today's college coaches make: "Derek ended up making more money in three years than I did in 25. Barbara likes to give all our children checks for Christmas, and I've told her, 'Don't send him a check. He ought to be sending me a check.' I think he still gets paid a little bit from Tennessee."
Eight of the past nine Georgia-Florida games have been decided by at least two touchdowns, with each side notching four decisive wins. The only one-possession contest in this stretch was the 24-17 triumph by the Bulldogs in 2019.
The first 51 Georgia-Tennessee showdowns never paired top-five teams, but this week's game at Sanford Stadium is now a 1-2 clash. Tennessee's 44-6 demolishing of Kentucky enabled the Vols to pull even with Ohio State at No. 2 in the Associated Press balloting behind the top-ranked Bulldogs.
"It's certainly going to be a big ballgame against a great football team, but we're going to enjoy this one tonight," Vols coach Josh Heupel said late Saturday. "I think it's important that you enjoy the journey. I told the players before the game to enjoy the 'Vol Walk' and enjoy running through the 'T.' They've built this type of energy because of the way they've worked and competed.
"You want to be on this kind of stage in front of an audience that's going to be captivated by these two football teams."
The only previous 1-2 pairing involving the Vols was No. 1 Tennessee's 23-16 topping of No. 2 Florida State in the BCS title game of the 1998 season.
Jalin Hyatt set a Tennessee single-season record against the Wildcats with his 14th touchdown reception. He accomplished the feat before November but wasn't celebrating.
"I'm not even trying to think about the accolades or whatever it is," Hyatt said. "We've got a big game next week, and we're worried about what we can do and how far we can take it."
Tennessee and Georgia are 1-2 nationally in total offense, with the Vols averaging 553.0 yards per game and the Bulldogs 530.1.
Kentucky has finished ahead of Tennessee in the SEC standings four times in the past five years, but that's not looking like the case this season with the Vols 4-0 in conference contests and the Wildcats 2-3.
"There are a bunch of schools in this league that aren't interested in going backwards," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "We're all interested in going forward, and they're having one heck of a year. They've scored a lot of points on everybody."
Some Tennessee notes after Saturday's slaughter: The 38-point margin by the Vols was their largest over a ranked SEC foe since the 45-3 thrashing of Florida in 1990. ... Tennessee has played before five sellout crowds at home for the first time since 2006. ... The Vols are the only team to score 40-plus points against Kentucky the past two seasons. ... Tennessee's five wins against AP-ranked teams are the most since the 1998 national championship team won six.
Following Saturday's 41-27 win at Auburn, third-year Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said: "Now we've beaten every West team since I've been here other than Bama. We need to get that one."
That last step tends to be the toughest when Nick Saban is involved.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org.