AN INTERVIEW WITH A MAN WHO GRADUATED FROM TECH AND GEORGIA: HE HATES HIMSELF THIS WEEK, BUT AT LEAST HE IS HIS OWN BOSS
My uncle, Jeff Hollis (who I call Uncle Bo), went to Georgia Tech as an undergraduate from 1975-1979. He then went to law school at Georgia from 1980-1982. His father, Jeff Hollis, played football at Georgia until an injury ended his playing career. His uncle, Howell T. Hollis was a three-year letterman at Georgia and later became an assistant athletic director and started the varsity golf program, leading the golf team to 13 SEC Championships in 25 seasons. Uncle Bo grew up a big Dawgs fan and is a season ticket holder.
I have enjoyed Thanksgiving with Uncle Bo almost every year of my life. This year we have once again had a feast fit for kings. In an effort to keep up with the high standards of blogging exemplified by the roundtable discussions among Kyle King, Doug Gillett, Paul Westerdawg and Nathan of Golden Tornado, I thought it would be fun to interview Uncle Bo, a graduate of both schools, to gain a unique perspective on the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry.
Hamp: Uncle Bo, having been born and bred into the Bulldog nation, why did you choose Tech for your undergraduate studies?
Uncle Bo: I was always interested in engineering and wanted a technical undergraduate background. Also, I had the opportunity to start school at Tech a year early when I was 16 years old in 1975.
Hamp: While growing up in Atlanta, how many family connections did you have to the University of Georgia?
Uncle Bo: My father, grandfather great grandfather, and great great grandfather, two of my father’s brothers, my sister and my brother-in-law all graduated from Georgia. Interestingly, my father was majoring in engineering at Georgia when the state moved all of the engineering majors to Georgia Tech. He had to choose whether to change majors or transfer to Tech. He stayed in Athens.
Hamp: Any family connections to Tech?
Uncle Bo: My father’s first cousin and his children went to Tech.
Hamp: Which team did you follow while growing up?
Uncle Bo: I was definitely a Georgia fan.
Hamp: What did you think about Tech football while growing up?
Uncle Bo: I didn’t.
Hamp: So when you enrolled at Tech, what was it like during that first football season in 1975, with Pepper Rogers coaching the Jackets.
Uncle Bo: First, I was more concerned about staying in school. Regarding football, Tech was not in a conference then so the main goal was to be as highly ranked as possible and get a bowl berth. There were much fewer bowls back then. I definitely pulled for Tech that first year and I also pulled for Georgia in all of their games except when they played Tech.
Hamp: Throughout your four years on North Avenue, Tech was 24-20-1. How do you recall those years?
Uncle Bo: Every year we had great expectations, but every year we would lose at least one game we shouldn’t like Wake Forest or Miami (before they were good.) We had Eddie Lee Ivery, Drew Hill and a few other future NFL players but we never had a great season while I was there.
Hamp: How would you describe the academics at Tech?
Uncle Bo: Challenging. I thought I was one of the smartest kids coming out of high school, but I found myself in the middle of the pack. It was rigorous.
Hamp: Despite the difficult course load, how did Tech men blow off steam?
Uncle Bo: Atlanta was a big playground. The drinking age was 18. We always knew were a happy hour was going on or where to find drink specials. Also, my fraternity brothers (Phi Sigma Kappa) could always be counted on for some adventure or another.
Hamp: Where could a Tech man find members of the fairer sex to, shall we say, study with?
Uncle Bo: With an 8 to 1 male:female ratio on campus, most would be found off campus. However, we did have a few really beautiful girls on campus, one of whom was Miss Georgia at the time. Still, being mathematically inclined, we understood the statistical odds were better at places like Agnes Scott. We also made many road trips to Athens because we had high school friends at Georgia. When my Athens friends wanted to road trip, we went to Clemson, where there was some outrageous partying taking place.
Hamp: Back to football, while at Tech, what was your feeling during the week of the Georgia game?
Uncle Bo: It was a big game and a rivalry, but with the game being during Thanksgiving break, it was not as big of a week around campus as Homecoming week.
Hamp: Was there much animosity towards UGA among your fellow students at Tech?
Uncle Bo: Not that much. It seemed like a clean rivalry at that time. We had much more animosity toward Notre Dame. We also did not care much for Auburn since many engineering students went to Auburn because they were intimidated by the curriculum at Tech. Back then, Tech played Auburn every year.
Hamp: Now switching to your Georgia sweater, when you decided to apply to law school, was Georgia your first choice?
Uncle Bo: Yes, I wanted to practice in Georgia, so I wanted to attend law school in Athens.
Hamp: How would you compare the challenge of law school to your Tech curriculum?
Uncle Bo: Tech was more intellectually difficult, but law school was a challenge to process a tremendous volume of information that was not inherently difficult to understand. I was not at the top of my class at either institution, but I was proud to graduate from both.
Hamp: Did the endless stream of beautiful women at Georgia, in any way, hinder your ability to study law?
Uncle Bo: They were very motivational. Having come from Tech, where I had developed a highly-tuned radar to detect the few beautiful women, the atmosphere in Athens immediately overwhelmed it.
Hamp: You started law school when Herschel Walker was a freshman, did you have any trouble wearing the Red and Black?
Uncle Bo: Once I got to Athens, I was a 100% Georgia fan. I still pulled for Tech in their other games, but I pulled for Georgia against Tech during those three years. The Dawgs were unbeaten at home during my three years in Law School. I remember the first home game when I was a first year law student. I was walking through campus on my way to the game and poked my head into the Law Library and noticed many of my new classmates hunkered down for a Saturday spent studying. It was then that I realized that I would not finish at the top of my class in Athens either.
Hamp: While you were in law school, Georgia was 33-3, how would you describe the atmosphere in Athens during the Herschel years?
Uncle Bo: It was a truly amazing time to be there. It was a privilege to be there during those years because of football but also because of the great things going on in the music scene with bands like REM, Pylon, and Love Tractor. I felt lucky to be in Athens during that exciting time.
Hamp: Did you notice much animosity towards Tech from students at Georgia?
Uncle Bo: Not really. I had a Tech sticker on my car and never heard anything about it. The big rivalries were Florida, Clemson and Auburn during those years because they had some really great teams as well. I probably had the most interesting day of all Georgia fans during the 1980 Georgia-Florida game (the Run Lindsay miracle.) This was my first year in law school and I was unable to go to Jacksonville. So I went to Atlanta for the Tech-Notre Dame game. I picked up a free ticket at my fraternity house and watched the first half in which Tech dominated even though they only led 3-0. At halftime, I went back to the fraternity house to watch the first quarter of the Georgia-Florida game. Then I went back to Grant Field to see the Jackets tie the Number 1 team in the land. Then I got back to the fraternity house to see the fourth quarter of the Georgia game. I was the only person in the house pulling for Georgia. As you know, it was not looking good there for awhile. When Lindsay scored that touchdown, I jumped so high that I am pretty sure I hit the ceiling. And I have a nonexistent vertical leap. It was a near perfect day for a Georgia and Georgia Tech fan.
Hamp: In the 23 years since you left Athens, how have you approached the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry?
Uncle Bo: Since I am a fan of both teams, in this game, I normally pull for the team that has the most to gain from a win. I remember pulling for Tech a few times in the 90’s just so Ray Goff would finally get replaced. I always enjoy the game.
Hamp: It appears that Tech has the most to gain from a win this Saturday.
For the record, can you reveal who you will be pulling for this year?
Uncle Bo: Tech has a better bowl berth on the line, but they can’t finish with a truly special season. If Georgia can win three more games this year, it will be remembered as a truly special season. For that reason, I have to say that I am pulling for Georgia this year.
I wish to thank Uncle Bo for taking some time away from the excessive gluttony of this day to sit for this interview. I also wish to add a few notes regarding Uncle Bo and Georgia football. I was in high school when Bo was in law school at Georgia. On several occasions during football season, a few friends and I would road trip to Athens on Saturdays to see Herschel play. We would crash at Uncle Bo’s apartment after a night of underage drinking up and down Lumpkin Street. Back then, teenagers could buy booze at Bubbers Liquor Store on Broad Street and amble in and out of band parties on Lumpkin Street. It was a bit different than a typical Saturday night in Douglas, Georgia. I also went to Jacksonville with Uncle Bo in 1982 for my first trip to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. We got to see Herschel run all over Florida in a 44-0 blowout. These days, Bo and I have season tickets side-by-side, so we get to enjoy Georgia home games together just like the old days.