Winfield has told his blogging story before on From the Rumble Seat. Today, I I'd like to share a brief history of our Georgia Tech blogging lineage.
Personally, I never really thought about sports blogging or really wondered about the value of having an intelligent, uncensored public forum to discuss Georgia Tech sports. The Hive and other forums were okay but sometimes the discussion was lost in the mass. Imagine having a discussion with 1,000 people about the difference in Tashard Choice versus P.J. Daniels' running styles. After the 50th or so comment, the discussion is completely unrelated to the original topic and commenters are discussing bar-b-que sauce recipes. There is definitely a need for GT Sports forums but they are not always my cup of tea.
Then, I started reading Ramblin' Racket. Commenter Ramblin' Jeff founded the blog on blogspot and then transitioned over to SBN to form Ramblin' Racket with his buddy Bryan in 2006. This is Ramblin' Racket's story told as only cached internet sources can tell it...
I was born and raised a Tech Man, as four of my uncles (three on one side, one on the other), my sister, her husband and my cousin all attended GT before me. I started blogging early this summer partly to avoid going crazy over the off-season, but mainly to add another GT voice to the Internet. Also, I wanted an outlet to vent my opinions about Tech athletics, traditions, etc.
Ramblin' Racket definitely became a voice for Georgia Tech on the internet particularly when Jeff preseason ranked the Yellow Jackets #7 in Mgoblog's 2006 Preseason Blogpoll. Brian of Mgoblog says this about Jeff's preseason ranking:
The CK Award for oustanding bias in the name of making the poll look silly has several strong contenders, but none could best new SBNation GT blog Ramblin' Racket's LSD-inspired placement of Georgia Tech at #7. What part of "Chan Gailey always finishes 7-5" equals "#7"?
Jeff counters with some pretty good points in his pregame build up discussion with Notre Dame blog Rakes of Mallow:
Reports from practice and quotes from the coaches indicate Reggie is improving and maturing, but that's the same thing we've heard every year. I hope he really comes of age this year, but a continuation of what we've seen would not surprise me. A real collapse, however, would.
I would argue that at certain points in the 2006 season, GT probably was as good as #7. We should've beaten Notre Dame. We walked all over Bud Foster in Blacksburg. The Clemson game was really the only Chantastic Moment until the last three games of the season. Jeff explains his respect for Georgia Tech's 2006 offense in a Q/A with Section Six (now Backing the Pack):
Patrick Nix (GT's offensive coordinator) is running the whole offense for the first time this year, with Chan Gailey handing over the reigns. Nix is way more willing than Gailey was to design schemes for his players, rather than expect the players to adapt to his system... that works in the NFL, but not in college where players have no more than four years in the system. And Nix's schemes are working pretty well so far.
Jeff continues discussing the offense as Section Six questions our depth at wide receiver:
...except that with a player like Calvin, a solid number two is all you need to avoid "depth problems." Honestly, yes we have a bit of a depth problem, but not a lot. The other receivers suffer because CJ is so good and we're so quick to throw to him (except against Clemson). Last weekend in the Miami game, we threw a few passes to our fullback and tight end, which adds a solid wrinkle to the offense and takes a little attention away from the WRs. For YEARS I have complained about the Jackets never throwing to tight ends. (I also wish we'd run the fullback occasionally, but that's basically irrelevant.)
Football season ended with a relatively disappointing finish in 2006. And sadly, Jeff's blogging ventures are mostly lost in the sands of internet time as Ramblin' Racket has since been wasted by SBN. The only remnants are random snippets about the 2007 NCAA Tournament game against UNLV before the 2007 football started up again:
No one has ever called Mario West a great Point Guard, but as a senior he ought to be able to lead Georgia Tech's offense more competently than we're seeing right now, with Javaris Crittenton out. All due credit to the Runnin' Rebels, but they're no Louisville and GT is no Stanford. WTF is going on here?
In 2007, I really started following Ramblin' Racket. The accident had happened in June and there wasn't really a good media source that could rapidly update Georgia Tech fans on the repair job going on in Lawrenceville and Austell. For example, I'd say, "We are almost complete with the repairs and still in need of donations because we used up a majority of our wedding money..." and the AJC would print the next morning, "No more donations needed as the costs of the repairs are covered!" I decided to e-mail updates instead to Jeff and he'd post random bits of info to keep the GT fans up to date in a less formal but more frank fashion.
Jeff's blogging attitude was definitely reflected in his brazen 2007 preseason ranking of Georgia Tech at #10. Dog fans simply called Jeff "an unabashed homer." Brian of MgoBlog again sent some scathing anti-Chan remarks Jeff's way:
The CK Award for preseason ballot #1 goes to Ramblin' Racket for ranking Georgia Tech #10. I have a long memory for this: Ramblin' Racket won this last year for ranking the Jackets #8. What part of "Chan Gailey Equilibrium" does RR not understand?
Jeff kept testing Brian's patience. After Georgia Tech blasted Notre Dame, Jeff pushed the Jackets to #5 in the country. Brian foreshadowed GT's eventual fall:
The CK Award... Ramblin' Racket returns to wrest the CK Award away from Bruins Nation after a one-week hiatus. Last year any blogger with the hubris to rank high in this category saw his team immediately struck down... GT #5 deserves some smiting, oh yes.
Georgia Tech looked dominating defensively against Notre Dame. The only thing I remember offensively from that game was thinking Taylor Bennett looked incredibly inaccurate despite Tashard Choice's destruction of the Irish rush D. Bennett never really settled down.
When Boston College came to Atlanta, Jeff and Eagle in Atlanta exchanged some kind words. Jeff exuded confidence in the exchange, which most Tech fans reciprocated. We all kinda thought this Matt Ryan character would fall to the inevitable pressure of Bobby Dodd Stadium. Brady Quinn could barely handle the zone blitz in 2006 so how could some goofy BC QB handle it? Jeff describes the GT fan expectations to ATL Eagle:
I've never had a problem with Chan, and I've been trying to "give him time" because his recruiting has improved every year since he came to GT. Also, I try not to be too impetuous by calling for a coach's firing if he gets you to a bowl every year... that said, if he loses to Georgia again he may very well be gone. I think Reggie Ball was used as a scapegoat enough the past several years to take some heat off of Chan, but with the team we have this year, there should be no excuses for underperformance.
I do think this is GT's best chance in a while (despite having Calvin Johnson last year) for a championship. The biggest hurdles on Tech's schedule are this weekend against BC, then Clemson, Georgia, and maaaybe VPI if Tyrod Taylor can make a big splash replacing Sean Glennon at QB. All four of those games will be at Bobby Dodd Stadium, so if Tech doesn't at least go to Jacksonville, I think the team hasn't reached its potential.
After the game, Jeff dubbed Matt Ryan the Truth. This is kinda where the skeleton of a 5,000 pound mink whale in the GT blogging world ceases to produce meat. As mentioned earlier, all that really remains of the Ramblin' Racket commentary is the 2% milk-version on rival blogs. Jeff's still-hilarious online store somehow survived the Ramblin' Racket rapture and features t-shirt designs like "Real Men Don't Bark", "Phil Wheel is the Real Deal", and "Durant holds my balls". Jeff's blogging ventures were partially revived on GT Sports Blog in 2008 but ultimately he ended up passing the torch to Winfield:
TheLegacyx4 is definitely the best place right now for your GT blog needs. The language is a bit saltier than around here (but not extreme), so if you're reading with your nine-year-old or something, be aware.
So cheers to Ramblin' Racket, Jeff, and Bryan. Thanks for inspiring Winfield and myself. And in honor of your past blogging efforts, we have decided to award Ramblin' Jeff with an honorary Blogtorate (editor status) so he can post commentary if he ever feels the need to in the future.