Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football: Wikis

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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football
Georgia Tech Outline Interlocking logo.svg Georgia Tech.png
First season 1892
Athletic director Dan Radakovich
Head coach Paul Johnson
2nd year, 20–6–0  (.769)
Home stadium Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field
Stadium capacity 55,000
Stadium surface Grass
Location Atlanta, Georgia
Conference ACC
Division Coastal
All-time record 673–448–43 (.597)
Postseason bowl record 22–15–0
Claimed national titles 4 (1917, 1928, 1952, 1990)[1]
Conference titles 16
Heisman winners 0
Consensus All-Americans 21
Current uniform
ACC-Uniform-GAT.PNG
Colors White and Old Gold            
Fight song "Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech"
and "Up With the White & Gold"
Mascot Buzz
Marching band Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Marching Band
Website ramblinwreck.com - Football

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team represents the Georgia Institute of Technology in collegiate level football. While the team is officially designated as the Yellow Jackets, it is also appropriately referred to as the Ramblin' Wreck. The Yellow Jackets are a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The Georgia Institute of Technology has fielded a football team since 1892 and has an all-time record of 664–447–43 (a .575 winning percentage). The Jackets play in Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field in Atlanta, Georgia, which has a capacity of 55,000. The Jackets have won four Division I-A college football national championships and 15 conference titles. Their success led to Street and Smith to call them the 16th greatest football program of all time, which, to the delight of Tech fans, put them 2 spots ahead of hated rival University of Georgia.[2]

A number of successful collegiate and professional football players once played for Tech. The school has 48 first-team All-Americans and over 150 alumni who have played in the NFL. Among the most lauded and most notable players the school has produced are Keith Brooking, Joe Hamilton, Joe Guyon, Billy Shaw and Calvin Johnson. In addition to its players, Tech's football program has been noted for its coaches and its, in many cases bizarre traditions and game finishes. Among the team's former coaches are John Heisman, for whom the Heisman trophy is named, and Bobby Dodd, for whom the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award and the school's stadium are named. Heisman led the team to the highest-scoring game in American football history, and both Heisman and Dodd led Tech's football team to national championships. Dodd also led the Jackets on their longest winning streak against the University of Georgia, Tech's most time-endured rival.

Contents

History

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The beginnings: 1892–1903

The 1893 Georgia Tech football team

Tech began its football program with several students forming a loose-knit troop of footballers called the Blacksmiths. On November 5, 1892, Tech played its first football game against Mercer University. The team lost to Mercer 12–6 in Macon, GA. The Macon Telegraph reported, "The game, while not brilliant, was full of earnest and determined effort, and this sort of playing, is after all, the most enjoyable to watch."[3] Tech played two other games during their first season and lost both of them for a season record of 0–3. Discouraged by these results, the Blacksmiths sought a coach to improve their record. Leonard Wood, a local Atlantan, heard of Tech's football struggles and volunteered to player-coach the team.[4]

In 1893, Tech played against the University of Georgia for the first time. Tech defeated Georgia 28–6 for the school's first-ever victory. The angry Georgia fans threw stones and other debris at the Tech players during and after the game. The poor treatment of the Blacksmiths by the Georgia faithful gave birth to the rivalry now known as Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.[5][6] Over the span of 1892–1903, Tech only won 8 games, tied in 5, and lost 32.[7] A professional coach was desperately needed if Tech wished to build a truly competitive football program.

Heisman's legend: 1904–1919

The Tech football team noted a particular coach during their initial abysmal run. The first game of the 1903 season was a 73–0 destruction at the hands of John Heisman's Clemson; shortly after the season, Tech offered Heisman a coaching position. Heisman was hired by Tech for $2,250 a year and 30% of the home ticket sales. Heisman would not disappoint the Tech faithful as his first season was an 8–1–1 performance.[8] He would also muster a 5-game winning streak against the hated Georgia Bulldogs from 1904–1908 before incidents led up to the cutting of athletic ties with Georgia in 1919.[5]

The scoreboard

The most notable game of Heisman's career was the most lopsided victory in college football history. In 1916, Cumberland College ended their football program and attempted to cancel a scheduled game with Heisman's Jackets. Heisman, however, was seeking vengeance for a 22–0 baseball loss to Cumberland in the Spring of 1916, a game in which Heisman suspected Cumberland of hiring professional players to pose as Cumberland students. Heisman refused the game's cancellation and Cumberland mustered up a group of commonfolk to play Tech.[9] Tech won 222–0.[10] Neither team achieved a first down, as Cumberland either punted or turned the ball over before a first down and Tech scored on almost every play from scrimmage.[9] Jim Preas, Tech's kicker, kicked 16 point after tries, which is still a record for a single game.

Heisman coached Tech all the way up until 1919. He had amassed 104 wins over 16 seasons, helped students construct Grant Field in 1913, and lead Tech to its first national title in 1917. However in 1919, he had divorced his wife and felt that he would embarrasss his wife socially if he remained in Atlanta.[11] Heisman moved to Pennsylvania leaving Tech's Yellow Jackets in the hands of William Alexander.[8]

Alexander continues the trend: 1920–1944

Alexander had attended Georgia Tech and after graduating as valedictorian of his class in 1912, taught mathematics at Tech and served as Heisman's assistant coach.[8] In 1920, he was given the job of head coaching Tech's football team. Alexander's first season saw Tech win an SIAA title and finish the season with a win over rival Auburn.[8][7] In 1927, Alexander instituted "the Plan." Tech and UGA had just renewed their annual rivalry game in 1925 after an eight-year hiatus. Georgia was highly rated to start the 1927 season and justified their rating throughout the season going 9–0 in their first 9 games. Alexander's plan was to minimize injuries by benching his starters early no matter the score of every game before the UGA finale. On December 3, 1927, UGA rolled into Atlanta on the cusp of a National Title. Tech's well rested starters shut out the Bulldogs 12–0 and ended any chance of UGA's first National Title.[7]

Alexander's 1928 team would be the very first Tech team to attend a bowl game. The team had amassed a perfect 9–0 record and was invited to the 1929 Rose Bowl to play California. Tech traveled by train to meet the awaiting Golden Bears. The game was a defensive struggle with the first points being scored after a Georgia Tech fumble. The loose ball was scooped up by California Center Roy Riegels and then accidentally returned in the wrong direction. Riegels returned the ball all the way to Georgia Tech's 3 yard line. After Riegels was finally tackled by his own team, the Bears opted to punt from the end zone. The punt was blocked and converted by Tech into a safety giving Tech a 2–0 lead. Cal would score a touchdown and point after but Tech would score another touchdown to finally win the game 8–7. This victory made Tech the 10–0 undefeated National Champions of 1928. It was Tech's second National Title in 11 years.[7][12] After the game, Jack "Stumpy" Thomason acquired a live bear cub. He brought the cub back to Atlanta, where it lived under the bleachers of Grant Field for several years before it moved along with Stumpy up to Pittsburgh.[13]

Coach Alexander found campus spirit to be particularly low following the Great Depression. His successful football program and the other athletic teams had very few student fans attending the games. He helped to establish a spirit organization known as the Yellow Jacket Club in 1930 to bolster student spirit.[14] The group would later become the Ramblin' Reck Club. Coach Alexander finally retired in 1944 after winning 134 games as head coach and taking Tech to the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl Classic, and Sugar Bowl. To this day, Alexander has the second most victories of any Tech football coach. The record for most coaching victories in Tech history is still held by Alexander's then coordinator and eventual successor Bobby Dodd.

The only retired jersey in Georgia Tech football history is #19.[15] The number belonged to Tech halfback Clint Castleberry. Castleberry played on the 1942 Tech team as a true freshman and was third place in the 1942 Heisman Trophy voting. After ending his freshman year at Tech, Castleberry elected to join the war effort and signed up for the Army Air Corps. While co-piloting a B-26 Marauder over Africa, Castleberry, his crew, and another B-26 disappeared and were never heard from again. Castleberry has been memorialized on Grant Field ever since his passing with a prominent #19 on display in the stadium.[15]

Dodd wins titles, sets records, & beats the Dogs: 1945–1966

Bobby Dodd in 1952

Bobby Dodd took over the Georgia Tech football program following Coach Alexander's retirement in 1944. Dodd's coaching philosophy revolved around player treatment and character development.[16] He did not believe in intense physical practices but rather precise and well executed practices. Dodd's philosophy translated to winning. He set the record for career wins at Tech at 165 career coaching wins including a 31-game winning streak from 1951–1952.[16] He also managed to capture two Southeastern Conference Titles and the 1952 National Title, which concluded a 12–0 perfect season and Sugar Bowl conquest of Ole Miss.[16]

Dodd also understood the deep-seated rivalry with the University of Georgia. His teams won 8 games in a row over the Bulldogs from 1946–1954 outscoring the Bulldogs 176–39 during the winning streak.[17] This 8–game winning streak against Georgia remains the longest winning streak by either team in the series. Dodd would finish his career with a 12–9 record against the Bulldogs.[17]

Dodd's tenure included Georgia Tech's withdrawal from the Southeastern Conference.[16] The initial spark for Dodd's withdrawal was a historic feud with Alabama Crimson Tide Coach Bear Bryant.[18] The feud began when Tech was visiting the Tide at Denny Stadium in 1961. After a Tech punt, Alabama fair-caught the ball. Chick Granning of Tech was playing coverage and relaxed after the signal for the fair catch. Darwin Holt of Alabama continued play and smashed his elbow into Granning's face causing severe fracturing in his face, a broken nose, and blood-filled sinuses. Granning was knocked unconscious and suffered a severe concussion, the result of which left him unable to play football ever again. Dodd sent Bryant a letter asking Bryant to suspend Holt after game film indicated Holt had intentionally injured Granning.[18] Bryant never suspended Holt. The lack of discipline infuriated Dodd and sparked Dodd's interest in withdrawing from the SEC.

Another issue of concern for Dodd was Alabama's and other SEC schools' over-recruitment of players.[18] Universities would recruit more players than they had roster space for. During the summer practice sessions, the teams in question would cut the players well after signing day thus preventing the cut players from finding new colleges to play for. Dodd appealed the SEC administration to punish the "tryout camps" of his fellow SEC members but the SEC did not. Finally, Dodd withdrew Georgia Tech from the SEC in 1963.[18] Tech would remain an independent like Notre Dame and Penn State (at the time) during the final four years of Dodd's coaching tenure. In 1967, Dodd passed the head coach position to his favorite coordinator, Bud Carson. Dodd simply retained his athletic director position, which he had acquired in 1950. He would not retire from athletic directing until 1976.

Coaching in Dodd's shadow: 1967–1986

Bud Carson was Tech's defensive coordinator in 1966. His job was to appease the massive Tech fan base Bobby Dodd had accumulated. Carson was not the charismatic leader like Dodd but rather a strategy man that enjoyed intense game planning. Carson's most notable achievements included recruiting Tech's first ever African American scholarship athlete and being the first Tech head coach to be fired.

Carson recruited Eddie McAshan to play quarterback in 1970.[19] After several Summer practices, McAshan won the starting quarterback job and became the first African American quarterback to start for a major Southeastern university.[19] This decision initially polarized Georgia Tech's fan base, but after winning his first 4 starts and leading Tech to a 9–3 season after three straight 4–6 seasons, McAshan won the hearts of the Tech faithful. McAshan's besting of UGA in the annual rivalry game made McAshan a fixture on campus. The following season, however, led to Carson's demise. In 1971, Tech went 6–6 and a fan base used to Bobby Dodd's 8 wins per season average forced Carson out. Carson went on to form the Steel Curtain Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

Bill Fulcher supplanted Bud Carson. Fulcher appeared to be the right choice but quit after two seasons, overwhelmed by the Tech fan base. Fulcher's tenure included a terrible feud with Eddie McAshan, which peaked before the 1972 UGA game. McAshan had requested additional tickets for the game so that his family could attend. Fulcher refused the ticket request and McAshan sat out of practice in protest.[19] Fulcher responded by suspending the quarterback for the UGA game and the upcoming Liberty Bowl. The story exploded on the national scene when Jesse Jackson attended the UGA game, allowing McAshan to sit with him outside of the stadium in protest.[19]

Pepper Rodgers was hired soon after Fulcher quit. Rodgers was hired away from the UCLA Bruins and like Carson and Fulcher, simply could not return Tech to its national prominence of Dodd's era. After six seasons, Rodgers had accumulated only 31 wins and barely a 50% winning percentage.[20] Rodgers attempted to reinvigorate Tech's program by joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1978. The Georgia Tech football program reached its lowest point in modern history after the hiring of Bill Curry. His first two Tech teams from 1980–1981 won only 2 games and lost 19. Curry's teams had gotten so bad, they could only get better.[21] He rebuilt the team, restored a winning mentality to the Georgia Tech fan base, and in 1985 Tech won 9 games.

Tech's 1984–1985 teams featured the "Black Watch" defense. The Black Watch defense was created by defensive coordinator Don Lindsey and featured linebackers Ted Roof and Jim Anderson and lineman Pat Swilling.[22][23] The elite defensive players were awarded black stripes down the center of their helmets and black GT emblems on the side of their helmets.[23] Curry's leadership and ability to build a winning program sparked interest from the Crimson Tide and Alabama hired Curry away from Tech in 1986. Tech sought out the talented Maryland Terrapins Coach Bobby Ross after Curry's departure.

Old gold gets new shine: 1987–1991

Bobby Ross came from Maryland after winning three ACC titles over four years. Ross' first season at Tech experienced a severe talent vacuum after Curry's departure. The team only won 2 games and Ross contemplated ending his coaching career after a humbling loss to Wake Forest in 1987. Ross decided to remain at Tech and continued to rebuild Tech's program. The turning point came in 1989 with the recruitment of Shawn Jones and several other key freshman. After two seasons and only 5 total wins, Jones helped the Jackets rebound at the end of the 1989 season.[24]

In Jones' sophomore season, Tech powered through their schedule and won the ACC. The four game unbeaten streak in 1989 extended all the way through 1990 and into the 1991 Citrus Bowl. Tech demolished Nebraska 45–21 in the 1991 Citrus Bowl, finishing the season 11–0–1, and earning a share of the 1990 National Title with the Colorado Buffaloes.[25][26]

Tech's winning streak ended against Penn State in the 1991 season opener. Ross and Jones never replicated that 1990 season but managed to win 8 games in 1991 making Shawn Jones one of the most heralded quarterbacks in Tech history. Ross was offered a head coach position after the 1991 season for the San Diego Chargers, which he took.[27] Bill Lewis was hired soon after Ross' departure.

Controversies and Heisman contention: 1992–2001

Bill Lewis was hired from East Carolina. He had turned the Pirates into a winning team at a school with little football tradition. The Tech faithful hoped that he could continue the winning tradition of Tech that Bobby Ross has kick-started. They were wrong. Bill Lewis' first season at Tech in 1992 saw a team two years removed from a National Title only win 5 games. Preseason All-American Shawn Jones suffered from nagging injuries, leaving Tech's offense inept. After Jones' fourth year ran out, redshirt freshman Donnie Davis stepped in to fill his shoes in 1993. Davis did no better than Jones under Lewis. Davis only won 5 games for Tech.

During the Summer of '94, Davis was injured so Lewis recruited junior college transfer Tom Luginbill. Luginbill was a proficient passer at Palomar College. Luginbill's first two games in 1994 showed promise as Tech almost upset Arizona who was projected as the #1 team in the nation by Sports Illustrated and demolished Western Carolina. After Western Carolina, Luginbill and Tech struggled. Tech lost its next 6 games before Lewis was terminated midseason. Defensive coordinator George O'Leary took immediate control of Tech and after his interim session in 1994, he was appointed head coach in 1995. O'Leary's first season saw Senior Donnie Davis return as starter and Tech won 6 games. O'Leary's second season saw the emergence of Joe Hamilton as starter when Brandon Shaw struggled in his first two starts. Hamilton would eventually lead the Jackets back to bowl contention and Tech attended its first bowl in six years, the 1997 Carquest Bowl.

Hamilton's prowess as a runner and passer thrilled the Georgia Tech fans. Offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen utilized a complex offense with Hamilton that featured option football mixed in with complex timing routes. Hamilton racked up yardage, touchdowns, and wins for Tech. In 1998, Hamilton and Tech's high powered offense won 10 games and a season ending victory over Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. Hamilton's senior year put him on the national stage. He was a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy against rushing phenomenon Ron Dayne. Hamilton passed for over 3000 yards and rushed for over 700 yards.[28] But while Hamilton dazzled, the Georgia Tech defense was a liability (they allowed around 28 points per game), and may have ultimately cost Hamilton the 1999 Heisman Trophy. In a late-season, nationally-televised game against Wake Forest, Tech gave up 26 points and Hamilton threw two interceptions and no touchdowns. As an indirect result, Dayne went on to win the Heisman (Joe was runner-up). Hamilton's Georgia Tech career ended on a sour note in the 2000 Gator Bowl against the Miami, where the Jackets lost 28–13.[29] The following season, redshirt junior George Godsey, a more traditional pocket passer, succeeded Hamilton at the helm of Tech's powerful offense. The drop-off was minimal—Godsey continued where Hamilton left off, winning 9 games in 2000 and 8 games in 2001. In 2000, Godsey also led Tech to their third straight victory over the archival Georgia Bulldogs.[30]

The end of the 2001 season saw George O'Leary entertain a coaching offer from Notre Dame after Bob Davie announced resignation as Irish head coach. O'Leary was eventually awarded the position, but it was revoked shortly thereafter when Notre Dame discovered that O'Leary had fabricated several aspects of his resume. He claimed to have played three years for the University of New Hampshire and to have attained a Master's degree from New York University; in actuality, he had attended NYU but did not graduate, and he never played a down of New Hampshire football.[31][32] Following O'Leary's departure, Mac McWhorter was named interim head coach for Georgia Tech's bowl game, a victory over Stanford in the 2002 Seattle Bowl. The following spring, Chan Gailey was hired to replace O'Leary as Georgia Tech's head coach.

Great upsets, upsetting losses, and a termination: 2002–2007

Chan Gailey in 2006.
Photo by Jamie Howell

Chan Gailey came to Georgia Tech in 2002 after head coaching stints with the Dallas Cowboys, Samford Bulldogs, and Troy Trojans. Gailey's first team in 2002 managed to win seven games under the quarterbacking of A.J. Suggs. The most notable game of the 2002 season was an upset of National Title Contender North Carolina State. Georgia Tech rallied in the fourth quarter to upset N.C. State and end Philip Rivers's Heisman Trophy hopes. In 2003, eleven Georgia Tech players were found academically ineligible.[33] Despite the academic losses and the playing of true freshman Reggie Ball, Gailey would lead Tech to a seven-win season and humiliation of Tulsa in the Humanitarian Bowl. P.J. Daniels racked up over 300 yards rushing in the effort.

2004 and 2005 saw Georgia Tech improve talent and skillwise but Tech won seven games again. Star Calvin Johnson arrived as a true freshman in 2004. His performance against Clemson in 2004 helped cement Johnson's place in the annals of all-time Tech greats. Two off-the-field problems affected the Yellow Jackets' 2005 season. First, Reuben Houston, a starting cornerback, was arrested for possession of over one hundred pounds of marijuana. Reuben was dismissed from the football team immediately following this arrest but a later court order forced Coach Gailey to allow Houston to return to the team. Houston would see little playing time following the court order.[34][35]

At the end of the 2005 season, an NCAA investigation found that eleven ineligible players had played for the Yellow Jackets between the 1998 and 2005 seasons.[36] These players played while not making progress towards graduation on the NCAA-approved schedule. The football victories for that season were revoked, and Georgia Tech was put on two years of NCAA probation. Twelve football scholarships were stricken from Georgia Tech's allotment for the 2006 and 2007 freshman classes.[37] The Georgia Tech Athletic Department appealed this decision by the NCAA, and the records were restored but scholarship reductions and probation remained.[38]

Gailey's most successful year at Georgia Tech was in 2006 with nine victories and the ACC Coastal Division championship. The Yellow Jackets football team reached its first New Year's Bowl since the 1999 Gator Bowl and played the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Gator Bowl. Tashard Choice lead the ACC in rushing yards and Calvin Johnson lead the ACC in receptions and receiving yardage. On the morning of Monday, November 26, 2007, Gailey was fired from the Yellow Jackets, two days after another heartbreaking loss to the University of Georgia.[39] The Yellow Jackets' Athletic Department chose Paul Johnson, current Navy and former Georgia Southern head coach, as Gailey's replacement for the Head Coach on December 7, 2007.[40]

Paul Johnson era: 2008–Present

On Friday, December 7, 2007, less than two weeks after Georgia Tech announced the firing of Chan Gailey, Paul Johnson was announced as the new Georgia Tech head football coach.[40] Johnson was hired under a seven year contract worth more than $11 million. Johnson immediately began installing his unique flexbone option offense at Georgia Tech.[41] By the regular season's end, Johnson had led the Yellow Jackets to a 9–3 record including an ACC Coastal Division Co-Championship and a 45–42 win in Athens, GA over arch-rival UGA, Tech's first win against the Bulldogs since 2000.[42] In recognition of his accomplishments in his first season, Johnson was named 2008 ACC Coach of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association[43] as well as the CBSSports.com coach of the year.[44] Several weeks after Johnson's defeat of rival Georgia, Georgia Tech rewarded Johnson with a new contract worth $17.7 million, a 53% raise that made him the second highest paid coach in the ACC before he had even completed his first year in the conference.[45] In 2009, Johnson led the Yellow Jackets to their first win over Florida State in Tallahassee in school history, a 49-44 shootout that featured over 1000 total yards between the two teams. One week later, Johnson defeated #4 Virginia Tech 28-23 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The win broke an 0-17 losing streak to top five opponents at Grant Field in the past 47 years. On October 24, 2009, Johnson led the Yellow Jackets to their first win against the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, VA since 1990. At Duke University Johnson and his team clinched the ACC Coastal Division for the first time since 2006. Still, Johnson and company could not win their second game in a row over hated Georgia as the Bulldogs upset Tech 30-24 in the final home game of the season in 2009. On December 5 the Jackets defeated the Clemson Tigers to make them ACC champions. The Yellow Jackets went on to lose to Iowa in the Orange Bowl, 24-14.

Home stadium

Grant Field and the east stands around 1912

The Yellow Jackets play their home games at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon his hiring in 1904, John Heisman insisted that the Institute acquire its own football field. Grant Field was constructed to appease Heisman as well as bring a true home field advantage to Tech football.[46]

From 1893–1912, the team used area parks such as Brisbane Park, Ponce de Leon Park, and Piedmont Park as the home field.[47] Georgia Tech took out a seven-year lease on what is now the southern end of Grant Field, although the land was not adequate for sports, due to its unleveled, rocky nature. In 1905, Heisman had 300 convict laborers clear rocks, remove tree stumps, and level out the field for play; Tech students then built a grandstand on the property. The land was purchased by 1913, and John W. Grant donated $15,000 towards the construction of the field's first permanent stands; the field was named Grant Field in honor of the donor's deceased son, Hugh Inman Grant.[8][47]

The stadium now sits amongst a unique urban skyline and is the oldest Division I-A football stadium. In fact, the only Division I stadiums older are Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Stadium.[48] Grant Field was natural grass until 1971. The astroturf was replaced by grass in 1995.[46] The stadium officially holds 55,000 but has held up to 56,412 in 2005[49] and 56,680 in 2006.[50]

Logos and uniforms

Georgia Tech's uniform combinations


Rivalries

  • Georgia – Georgia Tech's fight songs and cheers are tailored to belittle the University of Georgia Bulldogs, and the perennial catch-phrase for Georgia Tech fans for many decades has been "To Hell with Georgia". Georgia Tech and the Univ. of Ga. have played each other in football over 100 times (and hundreds more times in basketball, baseball, track & field, tennis, etc.) and this rivalry has become known as Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. The annual football game is by far the most important game on the schedule for most Georgia Tech sports fans. The winner of this game takes home the Georgia State Governor's Cup.
  • Auburn – The Yellow Jackets have played the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (A.P.I.) or Auburn University Tigers more than 80 times in football, and the series of football games between the two is the second-oldest in the Southeast. Auburn Univ. or A.P.I. is by far Georgia Tech's second-most-often played opponent in football.[51] The rivalry is also intense in basketball, baseball, etc. For many years, the rivalry between Georgia Tech and A.P.I. in football became so heated that the annual games were not played in Atlanta or Auburn, but rather at the neutral site of a stadium in Columbus, Georgia, very close to the boundary between the two states.
This rivalry lost some luster when the Georgia Tech Athletics discarded its membership in the Southeastern Conference in 1963 to become an independent institute and also to focus more on the academics of technology, where it belonged. However, the Yellow Jackets continued their annual series of football games with the Auburn Tigers through 1987, and with the University of Georgia though the present day. Georgia Tech and Auburn play football games in occasional years, and games in other sports regularly. Even though the Yellow Jackets have joined the Atlantic Coast Conference for all sports in recent decades, from a historical perspective, the Auburn Tigers are Georgia Tech's second-highest sports rivalry, behind only the Georgia Bulldogs.[51]
  • Clemson Tigers The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Clemson Tigers have the fourth-most-played series in Georgia Tech football history. Clemson is Tech's closest opponent, geographically, in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Also, in the ACC's new two-division arrangement, each team has one football opponent in the opposite division which has been selected as the two teams' official cross-division rival that they play every year. The Yellow Jackets and the Clemson Tigers are one of these six pairs.[52] In addition to their geographical closeness, the Georgia Tech - Clemson pairing is also a logical one because of both schools' long history in engineering, technology, and science education. Recently, the game has become known for last minute, extremely close finishes.
In 1977 (before the Yellow Jackets had even joined the ACC), this football series was being considerated for termination by the Administration of Georgia Tech. Clemson football fans, in an effort to show their economic impact on the Atlanta, Ga., area, brought with them to Atlants large stockpiles of two dollar bills that were stamped with Clemson Tiger Paws.[53] The President and other administrators of Georgia Tech found this to be offensive to Georgia Tech and disrespectful to the Government of the United States.
  • Notre Dame – The Georgia Tech-Notre Dame Fighting Irish football rivalry is probably better known for its outbursts of atrocious off-the-field misbehavior, instead of the actual games. Georgia Tech fans rudely pelted the Notre Dame players, coaches, and visiting fans with fish and liquor bottles during the games played at Bobby Dodd Stadium during the 1960s and 1970s.[54] The football game in 1975 was made notorious nationwide in the movie Rudy, in which the Notre Dame player Rudy Ruettiger tackles the Georgia Tech quarterback Rudy Allen. The Tech-Notre Dame football series is also the most-played series of games by two teams from across the Mason-Dixon line.[55][56]

Traditions

The Ramblin' Wreck during a football game.
  • Colors – Georgia Tech football features old gold and white uniforms with old gold helmets. Navy blue and black have been used as alternate jerseys. In 2006, Georgia Tech featured a throwback jersey based on Bud Carson-era uniforms. The jerseys were mustard gold and the helmets were white.
  • Songs – The fight songs for Georgia Tech are "Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech" and "Up With the White and Gold". If Georgia Tech scores a touchdown, then both songs are played. If Georgia Tech only kicks a field goal, "Ramblin' Wreck" is played. For some big plays, a shortened version of either song is played.
  • Nicknames – Georgia Tech football teams have had several nicknames over the years including the "Blacksmiths", the "Engineers", the "Golden Tornado", or just the "Techs". Officially, the teams are called the "Yellow Jackets" or the "Ramblin' Wreck".
  • Mascots – The "Ramblin' Wreck" and the yellow jacket "Buzz" are the mascots of Georgia Tech football. The "Ramblin' Wreck" is a 1930 Ford Model A Sports Coupe, and it has led the football team on to Grant Field every game since September 30, 1961.[57] "Buzz" began pacing the sidelines of Grant Field as a mischievous anthropomorphized yellow jacket during the 1970s.[58] "Buzz" was ranked the number three top mascot in all of college football by "America's Best" and the "Top Ten" Web site.[59]
  • Yellow Jacket Alley – "Yellow Jacket Alley" is an event staged before every game. It is a players' walk in which the team and coaches walk from the buses to the stadium, and the fans surround and cheer the walking players.[60]
  • Steam Whistle – An industrial steam whistle has been present on Georgia Tech's campus ever since the early industrial shop years. It typically was blown for the change of classes at five minutes before the hour. On football game days, the whistle is blown after every Yellow Jackets' score, and again after every Yellow Jackets' victory.[61]
  • Student Section – The student sections for the Yellow Jackets' home football games are primarily located in the North and South End Zones of Grant Field. Flash card displays have been performed by the student section every football season since 1957. A semi-official student cheering section called the "Swarm" is located in the North End Zone adjacent to the marching band. The Swarm began in 1996.[62]
  • Marching Band - Even though Georgia Tech is a high-ranking Institute of Technology, and not a college of the arts and humanities, it still fields a marching band at all home football games, and at most on-the-road games and Bowl Games. Among other songs, the Yellow Jacket Marching Band always plays the Georgia Tech fight songs and the Alma Mater, and in addition, it plays "Here Comes the King" at the completion of the third quarter.

Team achievements

Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket football has been ranked as the 18th most prestigious college football program in American history by ESPN [63] U.

National championships

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl
1917 John Heisman National Championship Foundation, Helms Athletic Foundation, Houlgate 9-0 --
1928 William Alexander National Championship Foundation, Helms Athletic Foundation, Houlgate 10-0 Won Rose
1952 Bobby Dodd Berryman, INS, Poling 12-0 Won Sugar
1990 Bobby Ross Coaches 11-0-1 Won Citrus
Total national championships: 4

Conference titles

  • SIAA – 1916, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1921 – Head Coaches John Heisman and William Alexander coached the Georgia Tech football team to five conference titles during Tech's 26-year span in the SIAA.
  • Southern Conference – 1922, 1927, 1928 – Head Coach William Alexander coached Georgia Tech football teams to three Southern Conference titles during Georgia Tech's ten-year membership in the Southern Conference.
  • Southeastern Conference – 1939, 1943, 1944, 1951, 1952 – Head Coach Alexander and Head Coach Dodd lead Georgia Tech football teams to five SEC titles during Tech's 30-year membership in the SEC.[64]
  • Atlantic Coast Conference – 1990, 1998 (shared), 2009 – Head Coach's Bobby Ross and George O'Leary's most notable performances included one ACC football championship apiece during Georgia Tech's soon-to-be 29-year membership in the ACC, and Paul Johnson won a championship near the end of his second year as the Head Coach.

ACC Division titles

  • ACC Coastal Division – 2006, 2008 (shared), 2009 – Led by wide receiver Calvin Johnson, senior quarterback Reggie Ball, and running back Tashard Choice, the Yellow Jackets won their first Coastal Division Championship in 2006, just one year after the ACC introduced its system of two divisions. In 2008, Paul Johnson's first year as the Head Coach, the Yellow Jackets won a share of the Coastal Division Championship, tied with the Virginia Tech Hokies, but the Yellow Jackets did not advance to the ACC Championship Game because of an earlier loss to the Hokies in a head-to-head regular-season game.

Bowl history

Georgia Tech has appeared in 37 bowl games not including the 2009 Orange Bowl scheduled for January 5, 2010.[65] Georgia Tech ranks eighth in all time bowl wins with 22.[66] Georgia Tech's first four bowl game appearances, the Rose Bowl (1929), Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Sugar Bowl, marked the first time a team had competed in all four of the Major Bowl Games.[67]

Individual achievements

Heisman Trophy finalists

Georgia Tech has had several players receive votes in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Eddie Prokop finished fifth in the 1943 Heisman voting,[68] Lenny Snow finished 14th in the 1966 voting,[69] Eddie Lee Ivery finished 8th in the 1978 voting,[70] and Calvin Johnson finished 10th in the 2006 voting.[71] Billy Lothridge is the only Tech player to receive votes in multiple years. He was 8th in 1962 and runner-up in 1963.[69] Clint Castleberry was the only freshman in the history of the Heisman to finish as high as third until Herschel Walker's third place finish in 1980.[72] Castleberry and Walker, however, were both surpassed in 2004 by true freshman Adrian Peterson's Heisman runner-up season. Joe Hamilton tied Lothridge's runner-up status in 1999.[73]

All-Americans

Georgia Tech has fielded 50 First Team All-Americans. The first All-Americans at Tech were Walker Carpenter and Everett Strupper in 1917 while the most recent were Durant Brooks in 2007[74], Michael Johnson in 2008, and Derrick Morgan in 2009.

Position award winners

Three Georgia Tech players have been awarded the highest collegiate award possible for their position. Joe Hamilton won the Davey O'Brien Award after his senior season in 1999, Calvin Johnson won the Fred Biletnikoff Award after his junior season in 2006, and Durant Brooks won the Ray Guy Award in 2007. Hamilton and Johnson were the only Tech players to be named ACC Player of the Year until Jonathan Dwyer received the honor in 2008.[75]

Name Award Year
Joe Hamilton O'Brien 1999
Calvin Johnson Biletnikoff 2006
Durant Brooks Ray Guy 2007

Post-collegiate accolades

Georgia Tech has had three coaches and twelve players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana.[76][77] Coaches Heisman, Alexander, and Dodd were inducted in the 1954, 1951, and 1993 classes respectively.

Name Position Played Inducted
Maxie Baughn C 1957-1959 1988
Ray Beck G 1948-1951 1997
Bobby Davis T 1944-1947 1978
Bill Fincher E, T 1916-1920 1974
Buck Flowers OG 1916-1920 1955
Joe Guyon HB, T 1912-1918 1971
George Morris C 1950-1952 1981
Larry Morris C 1951-1954 1992
Pat Swilling DE 1982-1985 2009
Peter Pund C 1926-1928 1963
Randy Rhino S 1972-1974 2002
Everett Strupper HB 1915-1917 1972

Georgia Tech has over 150 alumni that have played in the National Football League.[78] Tech has had eight players selected in the first round of the NFL draft since its inception in 1937.[79] The first Georgia Tech player ever to be drafted was Middleton Fitzsimmons in 1937. He was drafted 2nd in the 10th round by the Chicago Bears.[80] The first Tech player selected in the first round was Eddie Prokop in 1945 and the most recent first round Yellow Jacket was Calvin Johnson in 2007.[79]

Name Position Year Overall Pick Team
Calvin Johnson WR 2007 2nd Detroit Lions
Keith Brooking LB 1998 12th Atlanta Falcons
Marco Coleman DE 1992 12th Miami Dolphins
Eddie Lee Ivery RB 1979 15th Green Bay Packers
Kent Hill OG 1979 26th L.A. Rams
Rufus Guthrie OG 1963 10th L.A. Rams
Larry Morris LB 1955 7th L.A. Rams
Eddie Prokop QB 1945 4th Boston Yanks

Two Yellow Jackets have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[81] Joe Guyon played professional football from 1920-1927. Guyon was a collegiate teammate of Jim Thorpe at Carlisle Indian Industrial School before transferring to Georgia Tech. His playing career began with the Canton Bulldogs and finished with the New York Giants. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the class of 1966.[82] Billy Shaw played professional football for the Buffalo Bills from 1961-1969. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the class of 1999.[83]

Name Position Played Inducted
Joe Guyon HB, T 1920-1927 1966
Billy Shaw OG 1961-1969 1999

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