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Rearview Mirror: Burdell’s Bracket, Year Two

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This year we’re going with a bracket of iconic Georgia Tech figures. Let’s get to business with the bracket and the First Four.

George Griffin and the Ramblin’ Reck.
Georgia Tech Archives/George C. Griffin Photograph Collection (http://history.library.gatech.edu/items/show/22545)

This started as a Power Ranking (thanks for the suggestion!), but that really didn’t seem fair, and since there’s still no sports, well, it seemed best to let the people decide. With that, we’re busting out the “poll” tool to run the second edition of From the Rumble Seat’s Burdell Brackets, this year featuring some of the greatest coaches, professors, presidents, and alumni Tech has ever produced. We’ll vote each week on Thursday mornings, but, to get us started, we’ll introduce the bracket and the First Four, in true March Madness fashioned, as this week’s Rearview Mirror.


Background:

If you want to read the long soliloquy about March Madness and specific sentimental connections to it, click here. Basically, I still really like basketball and brackets and voting, and we need something to do, so here we go: bracket, year two. I think this one is more compelling than the original building idea, since there’s very strong arguments for almost anyone in the field to be number one, be they an Institute President like Isaac Hopkins, who got the school off the ground, or an American president like Jimmy Carter, who, well, was American president Jimmy Carter. There’s pioneers, champions, and men who built Atlanta from the ground up. It’s a lot of names, sure, and perhaps a fair few that you haven’t heard of. But they’ve all contributed to Tech’s legacy some way, some how, and it’s up to you to decide who will come out on top.

Methodology:

I made a bracket in Excel. I then found a bunch of Tech-associated people and tried to find out how to sort them. Once it seemed like visionaries, professors and deans, alumni, and coaches seemed to be the breakdown of the people, I then re-seeded the top 68 according to that distinction. A little blurb about each person will appear in each article. With each round, it’ll be up to you to vote and get your favorite people of Tech to win, well, I guess bragging rights again? I don’t know? Have fun with it!

Bracket:

Here’s a PDF of the bracket:

Winner will be decided via polls embedded in the article and the rounds will be posted concurrent to the Big Dance. First Four up next.


First Four:

Coaches Region:

No. 16 Boyd Shymansky vs. No. 16 Sharon Perkins

You know, both of these two coaches left pretty indelible marks on their respective programs, but I think it’s worth mentioning that they both left in odd circumstances. Shymansky is probably the greatest to ever coach Tech volleyball, leading them to ACC crowns, yes, but also Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight appearances in his time on the Flats. He ultimately left for Marquette after a 20-win season, though one where Tech was not selected to the NCAA tournament, and he saw some success there before returning home to Iowa, where he was fired in wake of NCAA violations. Perkins, meanwhile, coached Tech through some of its best softball, qualifying for the NCAA tournament in six of seven seasons, making it to a Super Regional, and winning three conference titles. However, she seemingly ended her Tech career abruptly, too, and I was hesitant to put her on here because firings are always a bit controversial, especially at this level, and because all the odd details I could find were uncorroborated hearsay on message boards. But, she won a lot in her time on the Flats and I didn’t see anything from GTAA implying something was up and her teams make several appearances on their best-of-all-time-bracket to boot, so she’s into the First Four.

Poll

No. 16 Boyd Shymansky vs. No. 16 Sharon Perkins

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Boyd Shymansky (former Volleyball Head Coach)
    (30 votes)
  • 42%
    Sharon Perkins (former Softball Head Coach)
    (22 votes)
52 votes total Vote Now

Alumni Region:

No. 16 Mark Teixeira vs. No. 16 Matt Kuchar

Two big names in a star-studded region in the First Four? You better believe it. I could make a whole bracket of just sports alumni (note to self: do that next year), but these two make the cut for representing more than just football and being highly involved in the community and the school, even long after they’re no longer student athletes. Tex is active with Urban Creek Partners (who I just found out were my neighbors all of last summer) pursuing infill development on properties around the city, most notably at the confluence of Hollowell Parkway, MARTA, and the Proctor Creek Greenway just west of campus, besides his obvious great career in Major League Baseball. Meanwhile, Kuchar is one of the foremost Tech ambassadors with his lofty stature and consistent success on the PGA Tour, and his benevolence for all of Tech’s sports is apparent by his namesake tennis court at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex.

Poll

No. 16 Mark Teixeira vs. No. 16 Matt Kuchar

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Mark Teixeira (Tech baseball great)
    (33 votes)
  • 44%
    Matt Kuchar (Tech golf great)
    (26 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now

Faculty and Administrators Region:

No. 9 Cherry Logan Emerson, Sr. vs. No. 9 William Henry Emerson

Not only is it an Emerson versus Emerson matchup, but a father versus son one, too. While their combined merits would put them close to the top seed in this region, they’re two different people, so they dropped down into the First Four as the first of the Cinderella seeds. The elder Emerson, William Henry, enrolled at the Naval Academy at 16 in 1876 and later earned a doctorate in chemistry at Johns Hopkins before becoming a teacher at The Citadel. According to Wikipedia, “when he joined the faculty at Georgia Tech, Emerson held the only American-earned scientific doctorate among the three other professors,” and would go on to become Tech’s first dean in 1910. He died at his faculty post in 1924, not before starting the secret society, ANAK, and is now immortalized in the form of a former laboratory building just up Freshman Hill from Callaway Plaza overlooking the corner of the football stadium. His son would go on to become the first notable chemist named Cherry Logan Emerson, despite being the second notable chemist in the family. He could have featured in the alumni region, as he earned his degrees from Tech in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering while chartering ANAK, being highly involved in ATO, and serving as the Editor in Chief of the Blueprint, but was most famous for being a Tech administrator, first as Dean of Engineering, then as the Vice President in charge of expansion, where, under his leadership, the campus doubled in size. He is immortalized in a building named in his honor just up the Ferst Drive hill overlooking Russ Chandler Stadium. His chemist son, Cherry Jr., went to Emory, where he endowed a chair in the name of his grandfather.

Poll

No. 9 Cherry Logan Emerson, Sr. vs. No. 9 William Henry Emerson

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Cherry Logan Emerson, Sr.
    (35 votes)
  • 33%
    William Henry Emerson
    (18 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now

Presidents and Visionaries Region:

No. 11 Gov. Nathaniel Edwin Harris vs. No. 11 Henry Grady

I was hesitant to put Grady on here, considering he never actually really had much influence or say at Tech, the actual school, at all. However, as the state’s most influential newsman, he more than anyone else, made smooth the rocky path of public opinion for the founding and development of a public school of technical education in the state of Georgia. It is said that his wit and sharp oratory were legendary. Both combine in a legendary quote fittingly about the need for Georgia public engineering education:

“I attended a funeral once...they buried him in the heart of a pine forest, and yet the pine coffin was imported from Cincinnati. They buried him within touch of an iron mine, and yet the nails in his coffin and the iron in the shovel that dug his grave were imported from Pittsburg. They buried him by the side of the best sheep-grazing country on the earth, and yet the wool in the coffin bands and the coffin bands themselves were brought from the North. The South didn’t furnish a thing on earth for that funeral but the corpse and the hole in the ground.”

Additionally, he is the only non-legislator to adjourn the Georgia Senate. However, his white supremacist views were bad, which definitely mars his otherwise compelling story. His counterpart Nathaniel Harris was a much more direct influence on the school. First as a legislator and powerful opinion shaper in the state government and later as governor, making him de facto highest authority of the school, he used his outsized voice in the halls of power to make things happen for Tech. Whether it was money, which, especially in the beginning, was precipitously tight, or dealing with coalitions far larger than the young school could handle on its own, Harris is easily deserving of the dormitory named in his honor, and probably a statue, despite his being a graduate of the school in Athens. His autobiography quote is seminal, “The founding of the Georgia School of Technology I regard as the most important event, of a public nature, that occurred in my life,” and his entire initial campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives was single issue: establish a technological college. His most powerful backers? John Hanson and Henry Grady. He would chair the committee that selected the site of Tech and laid out its foundations, part of some fascinating political maneuvering we don’t have time for right now. He was, interestingly, the last governor born outside the state of Georgia.

Poll

No. 11 Gov. Nathaniel Edwin Harris vs. No. 11 Henry Grady

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Gov. Nathaniel Edwin Harris
    (36 votes)
  • 30%
    Henry Grady
    (16 votes)
52 votes total Vote Now

Who ya got? Who got snubbed? Looking forward to seeing who the commentariat brings to the big one. We’ll see you on Thursday for the first half of the Opening Round.