ATHENS — Javon Bullard’s crushing hit on Marvin Harrison Jr. in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has inspired a special cookie-dough dessert.
Thanks to the intermediation of a former Georgia football student-manager, you can purchase a sweet concoction known as “Bullard’s Buckeye Crunch” for a limited time at the Alumni Cookie Dough store in Athens. Made of a mixture of brownie-batter cookie dough, “candied buckeyes” (which are basically crushed peanut-butter cups) and Oreos, the ice-cream-style treat is an edible commemoration of the critical – and somewhat controversial – play made by the Georgia defensive back on Ohio State’s star receiver in the Peach Bowl.
That the recently invented flavor happens to be delicious is a happy accident.
“It is absolutely heavenly,” said Jennifer Dollander, who owns and operates Alumni Cookie Dough along with her husband, Mike.
“We backed into the flavor,” Mike Dollander said. “We didn’t know if it was going to be a great flavor or just a good one. Turns out that everybody who’s tried it loves it.”
Mike Dollander actually thought of Bullard’s hit on Harrison and came up with the name Bullard Buckeye Crunch as soon as the prospect of brokering a Name, Image and Likeness deal was broached to him by a local upstart marketing group. Cannon Gaines, CEO of Gaines Group Activations, is a former manager for the Georgia football team and recent UGA graduate.
He’s also a family friend of the Dollanders.
“(Gaines’) dad and I went to school together in Evans, Georgia,” Mike Dollander said. “So, when Cannon said he and Javon had partnered and was curious if we’d be interested in doing something, ‘Bullard Buckeye Crunch’ immediately popped in my mind. Obviously, Javon’s star has really risen after the two defensive MVPs, and we feel like we were really lucky to work with him in our first NIL deal.”
Georgia and Ohio State fans won’t soon forget the hit Bullard made on Harrison in the third quarter of the Bulldogs’ College Football Playoff semifinal victory Dec. 31. Ohio State was looking to extend its lead when quarterback C.J. Stroud, under heavy pressure, delivered a high-arcing floater to Harrison in the back of the end zone. Bullard, coming from Harrison’s right, ran full speed to catch up to the throw and arrived precisely when the ball reached Harrison. A violent collision ensued.
Bullard’s hit on Harrison not only knocked the ball loose but it also knocked out Harrison. He left the game with a concussion and did not return. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes had to settle for a field goal in a contest the Bulldogs eventually came back and won 42-41 to advance to the College Football Playoff Championship game.
Nine days later, Georgia would win its second consecutive national title with a 65-7 victory over TCU. Bullard was named defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl and the CFP title game.
Now a junior, Bullard’s back to lead the Bulldogs’ defense in 2023.
“I’m still the same person,” Bullard said on the first day of spring football practice. “I’m still eating off the floor. Coach (Kirby) Smart preaches that, that nobody has entitlement to anything. So, I’ve still got the same mindset I had last year, staying hungry and not being complacent.”
As one might expect, Bullard’s hit on Harrison was not well-received in Ohio. Buckeyes coach Ryan Day complained then and for weeks afterward that it should have been ruled a targeting foul. It was initially flagged as targeting but was overturned by video review. Slow-motion replay revealed Bullard struck Harrison shoulder-to-shoulder, did not launch, did not lead with the crown of his helmet or make contact with his helmet or any part of Harrison’s head.
Later, Bullard signed a photo of the play that was sold by a memorabilia company called More Than Sports with the inscription, “Night Night.” The company eventually pulled the photo from the market and issued a public apology for the “insensitive and inappropriate” nature. Bullard also apologized for the photo, saying it was something he “probably should never have done.”
But Bullard told the Athens Banner-Herald he liked the idea of a cookie-dough ice cream commemorating his hit. “It’s pretty funny,” he said, “and I feel like it’s good for advertising.”
Alumni Cookie Dough thinks it’s good marketing as well. The company has two Atlanta locations (East Cobb and Milton) with more coming this summer in Acworth and Augusta. But Bullard’s Buckeye Crunch is available only in Athens for this limited time. Patrons can enter a drawing for a football signed by Bullard that will be given away at the store on April 16, the day after the promotion ends.
“It came with a price we thought was a really good deal for us, I think Javon was really happy with it and Cannon’s goal is to work with a lot of smaller businesses, specifically in the Athens area,” Mike Dollander said. “We don’t have those deep pockets some of those big outfits have to do things like this.”
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