Welcome to From the Rumble Seat’s PREMIUM premier weekly historical column. Throughout the season, each unit in this class will examine the head-to-head matchups of our opponents in the 2018 season. Since we’re undefeated on bye week - BORING - we’re gonna take a look into the distant and not-quite-so-distant past to see on who we need to focus our, um, fanaticism.
We dug back into the history books for this. It’s not scientific. Have some fun. Make some comments. Learn some stuff? Stay for the happy ending.
25) Atlanta Professional Sports
From a purely economic perspective, they almost destroyed Georgia Tech sports. In one fell swoop, there went Tech’s ticket buying base at a time the on-field product was really struggling. It’s poor timing. However, they do given us something to root for, something to hope for, and some other excuse to get out of the house and consume sports. Hooray.
24) Anyone that calls Tech “Georgia Tech University,” etc.
WRONG! Moving on!
23) The 11th Cavalry
Tech’s only loss at the hands of the cavalry was when Leonard Wood left the 1893 team at the end of the season to join the army, where he would eventually lead a successful brigade through the Spanish-American War, eventually rising all the way to the ranks of Military Governor of Cuba and Governor General of the Philippines. Tech hasn’t lost to a military team since, going 1-0-0 against the 5th Division of the Army and 3-0-1 against the 11th Cavalry during the Heisman years.
There was a time when Tulane was one of the most relevant teams on the schedule. We’ve played them fifty times, whereas we’ve played Ole Miss just four times. They were a stalwart yearly fixture on the Southeastern Conference schedule for decades during our time in the league. Since then? We’re 15-6, have played twice in the last thirty five years, both blowouts, and they aren’t really relevant at all in our day-to-day lives. But, man, for a while it was heated, annual, and a matchup not to be missed.
See Tulane, but add a mysterious disappearing cowbell rivalry trophy. We’ve played them twelve less times, but any time there’s a Big Ten-style rivalry trinket, it just means more. Plus, they’re from the SEC, so it really just means more. Tech, however, is 7-0-1 against the Commodores since we left the conference, but the results of the fiercer student head-to-head admissions battles are unknown. Vanderbilt, however, handed some Heisman and Alexander teams critical losses and ties in otherwise sublime seasons, making up for their relative pedestrian standing today.
20) Vanderbilt Women’s Tennis
Still not over the final four loss. This is what you get when you let the non-revenue sports guy write this. They’re smart and good. We’re smart and good. Give us a home-and-home and let’s pack the Ken Byers Tennis Complex. Since we won’t meet on the football field until who-knows-when, maybe bring out the cowbell to give it some daylight.
19) Non-Pop Warner Pittsburgh
Meh. Chris Blewitt was annoying, but he’s gone. Maybe this will get more spirited if they ever move back onto campus. Until then, every odd year it’s played in a not-exactly-full stadium. In the even ones, the stadium is totally empty.
I know, I know, there’s probably other teams that could be down this far, but other than mystery voodoo in otherwise regular seasons, what else can Tech peg on Virginia? We did, after all, upset them on the road in Charlottesville to upend their number one ranking in the national polls, but how did we lose? If anything, we got one of the most thrilling wins in our history on our way to our fourth national championship. Thanks, Hoos.
17) The Syracuse Men’s Basketball Team (and just the basketball team)
I couldn’t care less about their football team, who they say is in our conference yet we’ve only played three times ever, and only once since they’ve joined the Atlantic Coast Conference. However, their basketball team? Much easier to loath. The fact that a fan called in to complain that our student section followed their team around with an “airball” chant the rest of the game, coupled with Pastner’s cordial but unrepentant response, shows a thing or two about the Orange faithful. That Tech’s stellar marketing team jumped on the chance to tweak Boeheim’s squad the next year with opportunistic t-shirts with the same slogan only adds to it. McCamish is a tough place to play when it’s packed and lively. And if there was a little of that edge on the gridiron as well? That just adds a little spice to an opponent that they tell me is in our conference but haven’t seen since the Harlem Shake was a charting song.
Sure, their teams are generally annoying and they’re coached by a guy that seemingly has our number at every turn, but other than that, what has happened to put any fuel on this matchup? Tech’s first whiteout game? Oh boy. Take them for what they are - a gritty team to butt heads with every year, and by no means one to enjoy the company of - but that’s all they are, a bunch of ibises, circling in the gentle, hurricane force winds.
15) The Georgia State Legislature circa 1885
Wasn’t alive, still not over this. In terms of Georgia Tech vs. the state legislature, it wouldn’t be the last battle Tech had to get in the mud to slog through, but it was certainly the biggest and most daunting. The Jackets ultimately prevailed over the domineering will of the powers-that-be in Athens, and their strongest proponents would go on to become one of the South’s leading industrialists and the governor, respectively. And look at how far we’ve come sine.
14) Notre Dame
Rudy was offsides. We still would’ve lost that game. It took twelve tries to get our first win over Notre Dame, starting from the beginning of the Alexander era. Conveniently, the only year we didn’t play them from 1922-1929, we won the national championship. All-time, we have a paltry .147 winning percentage against them, though we have topped them in the Gator Bowl recently and spoiled undefeated seasons a couple times in years past. The trend of 2-3-0 since George O’Leary became coach is quite a bit more heartening than the 1-5 mark from Pepper Rodgers or the 0-4 sported by Bud Carson.
13) North Carolina
Paper classes. 2014. 1990. A sense of basketball entitlement that somehow spills over into a football program that hasn’t so much as sniffed a conference title since 1980. They have a losing record all-time in bowl games, but Tech somehow seemingly always has some sort of trouble with them. Whether it’s shootouts at home or 13-13 ties in Chapel Hill, it’s never too certain what the outcome will be. And you can be certain there’d be no Coloradan claim to the 1990 title if that game at Keenan Memorial Stadium, a stadium lined by hedges, for the record, hadn’t come down to a game-tying Scott Sisson kick in the first place. Maybe they’ll sell out the Tech game in two weeks, if only because they lopped 12,000 seats out of their stadium by replacing the bleachers with individual seating.
12) John Heisman’s sense of duty
First off, why’d Heisman’s ex-wife have to choose to stay in Atlanta? Second off, it’s impressive he stuck to his morals so firmly, but also sad. Alas, at the height of Heisman’s power, he left Tech. Arguably the greatest coach in all of football history, and certainly the most influential in school history, my regrets to Coach Dodd, and he left quietly for Pennsylvania when he probably could’ve tacked a couple more titles onto his legacy at Tech and set us up for, to borrow a phrase from a wise Floridian, on a pathway to more success. Major keys.
They broke into their own stadium and painted the Ramblin’ Reck orange. If that’s not lowbrow and dirty, I don’t know what is. That’s a real champions of life move right there (can I still make that reference? Oh well, it’s out there). Rocky top, you’ll always be, oh, so classy.
10) Florida State
Do I wish we still played them every year? You bet. Two of the defining plays of the modern era of Tech football are dubbed the miracle on __________ because of our mindblowing game-ending plays against them. Sure, we lost twelve straight games to the Seminoles when they first joined the conference, but since then we have a winning record against them. Would it have been nice to win both of those conference championship games? Yep. Did we? Nope. But if they visit Atlanta any more often than they do, we’re going to run out of streets to name after plays that will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame and played on repeat forever. Speaking of, it’s right up some street from here. I believe it’s called Techwood Drive. Ever heard of it?
I said it last week, but it blows my mind that we don’t loath them as much as we should.
“Remember when Duke football was not too swell? Yeah, those were good years on the Flats. As an aside, I personally think that’s a big reason why Tech fans may not see Duke as a true rival. They circle it as a win on the schedule every year, but the past four years, that hasn’t been true at all. We’ve played them eighty five years in a row, for goodness’ sake. We can’t say that about Clemson. We certainly can’t say that about Virginia Tech, let alone Florida State. And we all should have long accepted that Auburn, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt are never going to be regular fixtures on our schedule. So what to do about that? How do we learn to have that same passion for, say, Auburn, about the games we do play every year? We should have a grudge against Duke for taking away another shot at glory in 2014, or North Carolina that same year. We have almost a century of huge, title implication games against Pittsburgh. And anyone with a conscience can vilify Miami. We play Duke tomorrow afternoon for the 86th time in our history and the 86th year in a row.”
8) Pop Warner’s Pittsburgh
See: aforementioned games with title implications against Pittsburgh. There have been several. And that Sugar Bowl, but that was well after Warner retired. But you get the point.
7) Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
With the exception of Miami’s once-in-more-than-a-decade trip to the conference championship and Duke’s trip in 2013, either VPISU or Tech has represented the Coastal in every ACC Championship. The games mean a lot, year in and year out. The Techmo Bowl is good fun, no matter what.
6) The Number 5
That and the clipping call on Rocket Ismail. Tech, for it’s part, did everything in its power to not lose in 1990. But, in the end, we still won the title. It’s a miracle Justin Thomas was able to redeem the number at all. So that’s nice.
Here me out. This is a history column, and Alabama has probably done the most of any school not named the Georgia Institute of Technology to influence the long-term destiny of the Institute. Yes, even more than the school out east. This is because one hit, Darwin Holt’s blatantly late hit on Chick Graning’s fair catch was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sure, there were other issues driving Dodd to take Tech out of the SEC, but this one charted the league and the Institute firmly on separate courses. It took years in the wilderness of independence, trying to become the “Notre Dame of the South,” before Tech was back to respectability. And that’s sad. And that trip to a watery grave was, in the end, ultimately Alabama’s doing.
Yes, the event I reference happened in 1896. Yes, you should still be mad about it. Yes, Tech should still play Auburn more than once every blue moon. Perhaps I’m blinded by still catching all the Tech-Auburn baseball games, we swim there all the time, and even made it to a tennis match recently, but I’m still not over the fact that Auburn greased some railroad tracks and we had to walk miles through the Alabama countryside to get whipped. And, yeah, it happened 102 years before I was born, and, yeah, we’ve met twice on the gridiron in my lifetime, but, dang it, we’ve played them 91 times since 1892, our second most-played opponent ever. They were our Thanksgiving weekend rivalry game before the school in Athens. They play in a mysterious stadium full of voodoo and eagles and tacky orange with an unoriginal mascot and ruined Heisman’s last great season.
Interestingly, a few days ago, I heard someone suggest we take Clemson off of our annual schedule. Our schedule is hard, was the logic. No kidding. Sure, it’s fun to thrash subpar schools like Alcorn State, Bowling Green and Louisville, but what’s the point of living without a challenge? The Clemson faithful flooded Atlanta with two dollar bills to remind the Tech Athletic Association just how seriously people took this rivalry the last time they took it off the annual schedule. We hired away the perhaps the greatest football coach to ever live from these guys. One of the most improbable comebacks in football history took place one early-aughts day in Death Valley. No matter the sport, both Clemson and Tech fans alike turn out to fill the stadium when these two teams meet. Their heritage isn’t quite as different from ours as you might think. Sure, things have changed a lot over the years, but the yearly fixture on the schedule hasn’t. And shouldn’t. Circle this game. It is often something remarkable.
2) The School in Athens
You know why this is here. Perhaps not why it isn’t number one, yeah, but it doesn’t take words from me to know why the school out east is near the top of the list. They chased us out of town literally armed to the teeth with pitchforks and torches the first time we visited. That’t not hospitality. The Athenians called us yellow-bellied cowards for operating the most advanced and prestigious military institution in the southeast during the heights of the Great War. Somehow, Tech is demeaned as both a trade school and a bastion of nerds, often in the same breath. The administration stole our commerce school as a direct attack on Tech, both to cripple it financially and to strip it of a whole four classes of athletes. In Tech’s first breaths, the Athenians tried to use the state government as a weapon. It’s a potpourri of vile shenanigans. Don’t even start on the unoriginality of their mascot, stadium, hedges, logo, colors, band, and fight song.
“Conveniently, the school in Athens had ripped off Notre Dame’s offense, already possessing Yale’s stadium design and mascot, marching band uniforms from the British, a fight song from the Union Army, hedges from literally everywhere, and, later on, a logo sourced from a bunch of Wisconsinite meatpackers. It makes sense their schemes weren’t any more original than putting both peanut butter and jelly on a sandwich.”
It is inarguable that any Tech fellow’s favorite thing to rag on is Tech itself. Don’t believe me? Check out the sub-reddit dedicated to it. No matter what your opinion is on everything from midterms to finals, labs to Blue Books, from Parking and Transportation Services (Blue Route is the best route don’t @ me) to Tech Dining, whether you think the Hill is “out to get” whatever it is you’re passionate about - Athletics, Greek Life, autonomous student government, or Lettuce Club - or that the ratio just has your social life rigged against you, or you’re still mad about the hiring and/or administration and/or departure of [insert, say, head coaches George O’Leary and Bud Carson, athletic director Mike Bobinski, Institute presidents James Boyd, Joseph Petit, or Arthur Hansen], you name it, and you’ll probably be able to get riled up about it. Seriously. There’s a reason Tech students call graduating getting out. Georgia Tech is amazing, but it can be trying at times, to say the least.
At the end of the day, though, it’s also called “Ma Tech” for a reason.
We are fans of the Georgia Institute of Technology precisely because it is so special to us. It is a unique institute, at the cutting edge of technology, innovation, and education, yet we’re tied together through so much more than griping about things we hate. Sure, construction is annoying, but there’s a reason even seeing the T-E-C-H atop Tech Tower, the Campanile on a sunny day, or the view from the roof of the CULC can make you feel like you’ve been chopping onions. It’s ours. It’s what’s special to us. It’s home. We are a family, one that bleeds old gold. No matter how hard a test might get you down, there’s always the other hand, the things that make Tech special, to pick you up. Who cares what anyone else on the list does? We’re Georgia Tech. We do amazing things on and off the field. We create the next.
And, besides the rivalry talk, who are our best friends? Personally, I think Northwestern and Georgia Tech would get along swell if the two entire schools had to, like, become friends or something. Cumberland sure gave Heisman a chance to get that first national title. But, always, no matter who you are, a Tech man’s trustiest icon, except maybe the “Best Friend to Tech Men,” is this guy right here, preferably riding this.
With the appearance of the historical matchup preview, that means it’s after Friday at 10:00 AM. The bye week rolls on. Toe meets leather in about five days. As always, go Jackets!