Red britches, an overdue addition

Kyle Funderburk

When you think Georgia football uniforms, you think red helmets with the "power-G", red jerseys and "silver britches." That's been "the look" in Athens since 1980 when Vince Dooley reintroduced the silver pants after a 16-year stint with white pants.

But over time, as society has entered the viral age, another look has become synonymous with Georgia football's history; "red britches" with the road white jerseys. At long last, that style has returned to the Bulldogs' uniform rotation as a throwback to the 1980 National Championship season.

For a time, red pants were the forgotten piece of Georgia's uniform history, remembered only by those who watched them in an age before cable TV had a presence in majority of households and when Sanford Stadium sat less than 85,000-people. 

Thanks to YouTube and wider circulation of old photographs, the "red britches" were introduced to a new generation of Bulldog fans. This introduction was made special by the focal point of those videos and photos sporting the "red britches."

“He’s running all over people! Oh, you, Herschel Walker. My God Almighty, he ran right through two men. They had him dead-away inside the 9. Herschel Walker went 16 yards. He drove right over orange shirts, just driving and running with those big thighs. My God, a freshman!” - Larry Munson

In Herschel Walker's first-ever game as a Georgia Bulldog, the team wore red pants on the road in Knoxville. Walker put the nation on noticed by powering through Tennessee's defense with his red-clad thighs. The Bulldogs won the game and wouldn't look back, winning 11 more en route to a national title.

But at the time, wearing red pants on the road wasn't a big deal. By the season opener in 1980, that had become the norm. In 1978 and 1979, Georgia wore red pants in every road game. After the "silver britches" returned in Georgia's first home game in 1980, the red pants went on hiatus before returning in 1985. 

The last appearance of the red pants was in a loss to South Carolina in 1988. Perhaps coincidentally, Georgia's first and last road games with red pants were double-digit losses in Columbia. Vince Dooley was superstitious as a coach, so maybe it wasn't a coincidence that he decided to retire the look after that game. 

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The red pants were by no means seen as bad luck, however. In 15 games, the Bulldogs were victorious in 11. The most notable win was the 1980 season opener and Hershel's coming out party, but Georgia wore the red pants in several other notable games. 

In 1978, Georgia recovered from a 16-0 deficit to beat Kentucky 17-16 when Rex Robinson "kicked the whatchamacallit" out of the game-winning field goal. Earlier that year, the unranked Bulldogs beat an LSU team that was ranked No. 11 at the time. The red pants returned in 1985 with Georgia beating Clemson 20-13 on national television (a huge deal at the time). 

The generation of younger fans learning about the "red britches" today are fans who have grown up with alternate uniforms being the norm at most universities. besides the select 15 games from 1978-to-1988, Georgia has only dabbled in alternative styles, never fully committing to running alternate styles annually.

Requests for a uniform shakeup have grown over the years with red pants being second only to black jerseys as the alternate style fans want to see the most. But Georgia's strict adherence to tradition has kept such styles from being used on the field outside a small handful of games. 

But "red britches" on the road isn't a drastic turn from tradition, but rather a throwback to one of the more glorious eras of Georgia football history. It was during the 10 years with the red pants that Georgia became "running back U."

Willie McClendon, Georgia's second 1,000-yard rusher, was the first feature back to sport the red pants. Of course, Walker followed in 1980, and the pants were later worn by Lars Tate, Tim Worley, Keith Henderson and Rodney Hampton. This line of running back laid the foundation for Georgia to become "running back U."

It's not a stretch to say the upcoming return of the red pants is about 10-to-15 years overdue, if not longer. But, better late than never. The red pants are finally back this year as a throwback. Hopefully, they stick around this time.

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Comments (3)
No. 1-2
Kyle Funderburk
Kyle Funderburk

I've always wanted to see Georgia wear red pants (with white jerseys) again, so I'm excited for this year. I chose not to acknowledge the Nike Pro Combat uniforms for a reason.

Brooks Austin
Brooks Austin

Editor

These nostalgic pieces are always some of the best work we put out on this site. Great job.


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