clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Burdell’s Bracket: First Round, Part I

New, 9 comments

Now we get to the fun rounds...

It’s Billy Curry AND Bobby Dodd - two for the price of one! Thanks, archives!
Georgia Tech Archives, Georgia Tech Photograph Collection (http://history.library.gatech.edu/items/show/6126)

It’s time to let the people decide - 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, so check back here next week for the rest of the first round.


Welcome back to the bracket, here’s the bracket for a refresher:

First Round:

Coaches Region:

No. 1 John Heisman vs. No. 16 Bond Shymansky

First up, we have a man that needs no introduction versus a man who probably needs a fair bit of introduction. John Heisman, simply put, is probably the reason Georgia Tech athletics exist, at least at the level they do today. He may not be the clear-cut greatest coach of all time in his sport, but he has an argument at it, at least, and, thanks to the award in his namesake, probably the loudest legacy today. At Tech, he served as athletic director, as well as coach of the baseball, basketball, and football teams. He won conference titles in the former and latter, and was the coach of the 1916 222-0 Cumberland win and the 1917 national championship. His 1916 retroactive title is unclaimed by the school today.

Meanwhile, 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.

Poll

No. 1 John Heisman vs. No. 16 Bond Shymansky

This poll is closed

  • 100%
    John Heisman
    (67 votes)
  • 0%
    Bond Shymansky
    (0 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now

No. 8 Bobby Cremins vs. No. 9 Jim Morris

As for the former, well, most of you probably already know the name Bobby Cremins. Whether you remember the glory days of his coaching career, which spanned two decades and included the famous 1990 Final Four run, the years of Lethal Weapon 3, or the 1992 “Holy Mackerel” game, or you’ve got newer memories of watching basketball games on the “Cremins Court,” Tech’s winningest basketball coach earned this spot with nine straight NCAA tournament appearances, his role as coach during all of Tech’s ACC titles, and his legacy of success on the Flats.

Though Jim Morris’ wildly successful time on the Flats - including 9 straight NCAA appearances and team of his recruits getting runners-up in the CWS the year after he left under new coach and fellow bracket-member Danny Hall, getting named ACC Coach of the Year three times, and four straight ACC titles - dates back more than a quarter century, college baseball fans certainly remember his time until 2018 as the salty skipper of the division rival Miami Hurricanes. Another Tech success story, Morris would eventually leave for the ‘Canes, but, in more than a decade on the Flats, had earned enough accolades to comfortably have been the greatest Tech baseball coach upon his departure.

Poll

No. 8 Bobby Cremins vs. No. 9 Jim Morris

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Bobby Cremins
    (56 votes)
  • 13%
    Jim Morris
    (9 votes)
65 votes total Vote Now

No. 5 Bruce Heppler vs. No. 12 Paul Johnson

I think it is no small stretch to say Heppler has had the most sustained success of any Tech coach. With his 13 ACC championships, his legions of young men who turn pro, and his five national runner-up finishes, no Tech coach has ever had a run that comes close to that, and he very likely could have finally won that elusive title this year on the backs of one of the most loaded senior classes the team has ever seen, led by US Amateur champion Andy Ogletree. Not to mention, he has fully earned the respect of his peers, with a decade worth of ACC Coach of the Year awards to show for it. Only Danny Hall, a fellow Homer Rice hire, beats Heppler out for tenure.

As for Johnson, well, if Morris is a salty skipper, then what on earth is dear old CPJ? He captained Tech to not only an ACC title, an Orange Bowl win, a Gator Bowl win, 3 Coastal 1st place finishes, 3 ranked finishes, and to the 4th most all-time football wins, but to an identity unique in the college football landscape. He was a Tech guy, through and through, and gave us some of the strongest lasting memories, whether it’s the Miracle on Techwood Drive, the Miracle on North Avenue, or the 2009 Virginia Tech game. Those indelible memories are hard to shake.

Poll

No. 5 Bruce Heppler vs. No. 12 Paul Johnson

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Bruce Heppler
    (29 votes)
  • 56%
    Paul Johnson
    (38 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now

No. 4 William Alexander vs. No. 13 Herb McAuley

William Alexander is another man who probably doesn’t need an introduction. He started at Tech as a student and captain of the scrub team, graduated as a civil engineer and class valedictorian, and stayed on to be an instructor, before eventually finding his way to Heisman’s staff in several sports. He proved so indispensable that, despite his young age, he was named to be the Old Man’s successor, and would go on to not only lead the team to the 1928 national championship, but to be the first coach to ever lead a team to every major bowl - Rose, Cotton, Sugar, and Orange. His “Plan” in 1927 famously ruined the School in Athens’ national title hopes, and, despite getting offers to follow in the footsteps of Wallace Wade in Alabama, he never left his alma mater. As athletic director, he would also see the athletic department through some of its leanest years, costing the school its boxing and lacrosse programs, and, for a while, swimming and other non-revenue sports, but kept the doors open and founded the Reck Club.

As for McAuley, he was a Tech alumnus who was the star of the 1942 SEC Championship squad under drownproofing pioneer Freddy Lanue, Tech’s first conference championship in the sport. After the war, which saw not only the suspension of the Tech team, but the sport across the whole conference, Lanue hired him on as his assistant coach, and the pair swept the first four titles after the sport restarted. Those four titles would be the last he would win in his full forty years on the coaching staff, but, after taking over for Lanue in the early 1960s, he would prove so indispensable that the program shuttered for a year following his retirement. The Olympic pool, named in his offer, curiously has the record boards as a gift in honor of “1987 Team Captain, George P. Burdell,” a humorous nod by his athletes to the year the men’s program took off after his departure to restructure and figure out how to move on.

Poll

No. 4 William Alexander vs. No. 13 Herb McAuley

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    William Alexander
    (54 votes)
  • 14%
    Herb McAuley
    (9 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now

No. 6 Bobby Ross vs. No. 11 Whack Hyder

Like many of the top seeds in this region, Bobby Ross probably requires no introduction for the fair reader of this blog. For those that don’t know, Ross was the coach of Tech’s most recent football national championship team in 1990, a year that, unsurprisingly, also saw a conference title and a bowl win (Citrus, over Nebraska). That team came from pretty much nowhere, just two seasons removed from being the dregs of the conference, and took a lot of skill and a little luck to go the whole season without a loss, something no other title claimant from the year can make. The next year, Tech would finish second in the ACC behind a newcomer/juggernaut, the Bobby Bowden-led Florida State Seminoles, and, despite an 8-5 record and Aloha Bowl win, Ross would depart for the NFL after just five years at Tech.

Hyder, on the other hand, was more or less the man that made Georgia Tech basketball respectable, first as Tech’s best player yet in his playing days, and then as its first coach to see sustained success. In those days, far fewer teams made the NCAA tournament, so he lacks in appearances, and the team spent many years outside of a conference, so he lacks in those, too, but his one NCAA appearance resulted in a trip to the Elite Eight, and one of his handful of NIT trips brought the Jackets to the championship game, as well as memorable Kentucky upsets and his recruiting of Roger Kaiser and Rich Yunkus.

Poll

No. 6 Bobby Ross vs. No. 11 John "Whack" Hyder

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Bobby Ross
    (56 votes)
  • 11%
    Whack Hyder
    (7 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now

No. 3 Bryan Shelton vs. No. 14 Bill Curry

Bryan Shelton is the only Georgia Tech coach to ever win an NCAA-recognized national championship. The Tech tennis legend came back to his alma mater and built the strong program that remains today from a team that had never qualified for the postseason before he was hired. His success, taking the 2007 NCAA title along with the 2007 and 2008 ITA indoor titles, represents the highest of highs in the sport.

As for Curry, well, he did a lot of everything. Yeah, he was an alumnus who went on to an accomplished NFL career, but, critically, after Tech a dark spell in the doldrums of football, he was was a crucial part of rebuilding Tech’s football program as coach, even though he only peaked with one ranked finish and a bowl win, good for second in the conference standings, before jumping ship for Alabama. However, he remains one of Georgia Tech’s most prominent and vocal advocates.

Poll

No. 3 Bryan Shelton vs. No. 14 Bill Curry

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Bryan Shelton
    (41 votes)
  • 34%
    Bill Curry
    (22 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now

No. 7 Danny Hall vs. No. 10 Jim Luck

To talk Hall is to talk of a man who spans several Tech eras. There’s typically only two or three we think about, usually dividing our eras between football coaches, for the sportier-leaning Tech folk, or by president, for a decent bit of alumni, or, if you’re getting esoteric, basketball coach or athletic director. He, by those definitions, is a man of patchworks, between names like O’Leary, Gailey, Johnson, and Collins; Cremins, Hewitt, Gregory, and Pastner; Clough, Peterson, and Cabrera; or Rice, Radakovich, Bobinski, and Stansbury. Hall defies this logic - his three CWS appearances, coming within one team of the title in his very first year, status as Tech’s winningest coach in any sport (including years when Heisman, Dodd, or Alexander coached some combination of baseball, basketball, and football all at once), longest tenured Tech coach at a school with a history of loyal, long-serving coaches, and five ACC titles - exemplify a man that has been the very definition of stability. Georgia Tech baseball has missed the postseason five times in the last 27 years, suffering one losing season, and Hall has been named ACC Coach of the Year four times.

It seems unfair for Luck, an alumnus who was the winningest baseball coach at the time of his untimely death and also served as an assistant athletic director, to have to follow that. And, sure, he only made the NCAA tournament once, but it was a smaller field back then, and has no conference titles thank to being Tech’s coach throughout the entire independence experiment. His longevity speaks volumes, and his service to Tech to the death is matched by very few men in this bracket.

Poll

No. 7 Danny Hall vs. No. 10 Jim Luck

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Danny Hall
    (56 votes)
  • 12%
    Jim Luck
    (8 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

No. 2 Bobby Dodd vs. No. 15 George O’Leary

On a nice gameday, if one enters the Flats from Tech Square, in order to get to the game, one must walk down Techwood to Bobby Dodd Way and take a right in order to get into Bobby Dodd Stadium. It is no accident the man was doubly immortalized, seeing as his name is also on the award that goes to the football coach of the year, and he served extensively on the Flats to a school he wanted to come to as a young two-way football star, but rejected him because of his poor academics. Before he was Alexander’s successor, he was an assistant coach and coached baseball, and he would go on to be Tech’s athletic director, but his greatest accomplishment was the Golden Era of Tech Football, with a claimed national championship in 1952 joined by unclaimed awarded titles in 1951 and 1956, as well as many other years of great success, bowl wins, and growth. It was said Bobby Dodd would only leave Tech for Texas, but neither they or his alma mater of Tennessee ever pried him away. Ultimately, it’s probably principally his fault we’re no longer in the SEC, but he stuck to higher principles, and, for that, I respect him more.

O’Leary, on the other hand, saw great success in a short span. In the mold of Curry and Ross, he wasn’t here long before he was hired away, but was probably a nice midpoint between the two in terms of success, with three ranked finishes and a conference championship, but left the team embroiled in an eligibility scandal and was fired from the job he jumped ship for having falsified his records. Not great, but his success came about as close to the ceiling as you can get without winning it all.

Poll

No. 2 Bobby Dodd vs. No. 15 George O’Leary

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Bobby Dodd
    (65 votes)
  • 1%
    George O’Leary
    (1 vote)
66 votes total Vote Now

Faculty and Staff Region:

No. 1 George Griffin vs. No. 16 Gilbert Hillhouse Boggs

The Best Friend to All Tech Men, “The Most Beloved Person in the History of Georgia Tech,” or one of his other many Tech-friendly nicknames would fit in well here, but, really, the man did it all. Whether it was carrying two touchdowns across the line in the Cumberland game, graduating in 1922 as an engineer after an 8 year slog from sub-freshman to senior interrupted by World War Two, serving as a math professor, a football assistant coach, and tennis, track and cross country head coach, countless administrative positions, or, most famously, as the Dean of Men, Griffin did it all, and wrote it down for us to enjoy in his memoirs. For that, he is immortalized in statue form outside the Ferst Center in a plaza named in his honor, as well as the namesake of the track. Oh, and he also invented what is now known as the Freshman Cake Race.

Boggs, on the other hand, was a loyal and respected professor-turned-administrator in the sciences and would become the namesake of the Boggs Building.

Poll

No. 1 George Griffin vs. No. 16 Gilbert Hillhouse Boggs

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    George Griffin
    (57 votes)
  • 3%
    Gilbert Hillhouse Boggs
    (2 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now

No. 8 Jesse Mason vs. No. 9 Cherry Emerson, Sr.

Ah, where to start with Jesse Mason? Sure, he was the Dean of the College of Engineering, which is all well and good, but he, more than any other man, became the personification of the rift between the “old guard” and “new age” at Georgia Tech. Whereas men like Griffin and Dodd bridged this gap gracefully, Mason was the man who fought tooth and nail, much like Coon before him, to protect “what was.” A fierce proponent of the hands-on “shop culture” at the heart of Tech’s founding, while fiercely guarding a kingdom of administrative power like a dragon on top of a mountain of gold, Mason almost threw it away in one failed 1960s power struggle. But, ultimately, his influence did keep Tech rooted in the hands-on past, so it didn’t completely disregard the application-based learning that so strongly defines the character of a Tech education today.

As for Emerson, he would go on to become the first notable chemist named Cherry Logan Emerson, despite being the second notable chemist in the family. 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.

Poll

No. 8 Jesse Mason vs. No. 9 Cherry Emerson, Sr.

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Jesse Mason
    (24 votes)
  • 57%
    Cherry Emerson, Sr.
    (33 votes)
57 votes total Vote Now

No. 5 D. M. Smith vs. No. 12 Fred Wenn

David Melville Smith was a mathematics professor best known for his teaching style and winning personality. He spent forty years as an instructor at Tech, retiring in 1954, and spent 14 of those years as the department head of mathematics and helped charter the Mathematical Association of America. He was described as,

“‘A friendly, inspiring curmudgeon who could scare the hell out of you, teach you, advise you, and follow your future after graduation...unfailingly interested and supportive.’ His memorable teaching style and devotion to his students earned him the title of “legend” among alumni...He was often seen driving around the Georgia Tech campus in a 1930s black coupé automobile similar to the Ramblin’ Wreck.”

Upon his death, the Carnegie Physics Building would be renamed in his honor.

Fred Wenn was similarly notable. An industrial management professor, Wenn is a significant force behind the success of what is now Georgia State University, thanks to his inspired expansion while the Evening School was still at Tech. After its departure, he continued to be a strong leader, as well as an advocate for students. In his honor, the new student center was named for him following its completion.

Poll

No. 5 D. M. Smith vs. No. 12 Fred Wenn

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    D. M. Smith
    (45 votes)
  • 19%
    Fred Wenn
    (11 votes)
56 votes total Vote Now

No. 4 Floyd Field vs. No. 13 Frank Roman

We might have wound up with the Ramblin’ Reck anyways were it not for Floyd Field, but his legacy is the student body’s obsession with old cars. He drove a classic Model T around campus for many years as the Dean of Men between William Henry Emerson and George Griffin. His residence, Glenn Dormitory, was a common sight of the car, and the man was a powerful personality in representing students to the leadership. He is immortalized with Field Dormitory on East Campus.

Roman’s legacy is much more obvious. John Wayne knew it, even if he had never heard of Roman. Nikita Khrushchev knew it, even he hadn’t either. Though both fight songs had come into use before Roman’s time on the Flats, he created the modern arrangement for both, as well as writing the Alma Mater in his 16 year stint as director of bands.

Poll

No. 4 Floyd Field vs. No. 13 Frank Roman

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Floyd Field
    (24 votes)
  • 56%
    Frank Roman
    (31 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

No. 6 John Saylor Coon vs. No. 11 Montgomery Knight

This guy was the first one, as in, the first professor of mechanical engineering and drawing, Tech’s first major, as well as being the first head of the department. He spent 35 years as a Tech educator and was known for being a very difficult professor. As superintendent of the shop program, he ended the expectation that students use the school shops to make and sell goods to raise money, moving the school closer towards a traditional collegiate engineering degree. He promoted quantification and pushed the degree program with classes broadening the scope of learning with ethics, design, and analysis. Like Smith, he was a pioneer in his field, helping found the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His lasting legacy would define mechanical engineering curriculum across the country, fusing his shops and classrooms into unified programs, with the shops essentially becoming labs for the classes in the New Shop Building, named in his honor after his retirement in 1923. Though it no longer houses engineering classes, it is the oldest building on campus still used for academics, and was the largest by floor area at the time of its completion. Though Mason would be seen as promoting “shop culture” in the 1960s, its true form died in the turn of the 20th century with Coon, as he helped evolve it to where it stood in Mason’s time, when it needed to evolve again.

Montgomery Knight, however, was hired to chair aeronautics before the money for such a position, let alone a school, existed. He specialized in helicopters, but, more significantly to Tech’s long term, his hire was a contributing factor to the Guggenheim foundation awarding Tech the money to found what is now the Aerospace school in spite of the state’s sketchy history of funding the school. Along with Harry Vaughn and Harold Bunger, he led the way to Tech becoming a premier research institution with the study in favor of founding the Engineering Experiment Station, what is now the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

Poll

No. 6 John Saylor Coon vs. No. 11 Montgomery Knight

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    John Saylor Coon
    (30 votes)
  • 44%
    Montgomery Knight
    (24 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now

No. 3 James Boyd vs. No. 14 J. B. Crenshaw

Without Boyd, there would have been no nuclear reactor at Tech. Though Knight contributed to the founding of the EES, it was Boyd who took it to the next level. He joined Tech as a physics professor in 1935, where we worked until the disruptions of World War II. After the war, he picked up a position in the EES, working his way up the ladder of the latter, and helping found Scientific Atlanta along the way. As director of the EES, he was a powerful man and a visionary, publishing works about Tech and the future of institutional research, as well as promoting new areas of study like electronics. After being hired away to be the president of West Georgia, where he spent most of the 1960s, he was promoted to vice chancellor of the University System before being tapped to be interim president of Tech, thanks to his years of experience at the EES in light of the brewing controversy about the future of that in relation to the rest of the school. Not only that, but he faced controversy with Bud Carson’s success as football coach, or lack of it. Soon after Joseph Petitt was hired to replace him, he retired after nearly forty years in the system.

As for Crenshaw, he was the first non-engineering or science professor to seize a voice in how the school ran. He spent 38 years as the modern languages professor, in addition to a spell as the first athletic director. After he left the school, they built a small building named after him on the east side of the Downtown Connector, the first Tech building east of the highway. What did it do? No idea, but it doesn’t exist anymore since it is under the Olympic torch. Though lacrosse is no longer a varsity sport, something many Tech folks don’t know ever happened in the first place, he coached the team through its tenure as a letter-able sport from 1924 through the Great Depression.

Poll

No. 3 James Boyd vs. No. 14 J. B. Crenshaw

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    James Boyd
    (41 votes)
  • 19%
    J. B. Crenshaw
    (10 votes)
51 votes total Vote Now

No. 7 Dorothy Crosland vs. No. 10 Homer Rice

Dorothy Crosland, legendary Tech librarian, as interesting as this sounds, is probably the founding matriarch of the Computer Science program, as her series of conferences in the early 1960s spurred the way for a School of Information and the nation’s first Masters of Information. In addition, she was named Woman of the Year in Education long before she had a library worth her sterling standard, in 1945. By the time she retired, her cramped quarters in the Carnegie Library were twice replaced, first with the 1950s Modern-style Price Gilbert Library, then the seven story Graduate Addition next door named in her honor.

Rice, meanwhile, was the athletic director’s athletic director. In fact, the best one of the year gets an award named after him. Not only that, but, in terms of general success, he oversaw Tech athletics’ Golden Era, with unmatched heights in basketball, a national championship in football, a baseball College World Series appearance, and sustained success in golf and tennis, and two of his facilities hosted Olympic events. Most importantly, and longest lasting, has been Rice’s views on leadership and his Total Person Program, exemplifying what Dodd meant when he and Edwin Harrison pulled us out of the SEC - Tech, and the college experience, is about more than wins and losses, it’s about the journey, education, and growth along the way, too.

Poll

No. 7 Dorothy Crosland vs. No. 10 Homer Rice

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Dorothy Crosland
    (22 votes)
  • 62%
    Homer Rice
    (36 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now

No. 2 James Dull vs. No. 15 Joseph Howey

Dull arrived at Tech in 1958 to be the Associate Dean of Students. Along the way he was promoted to Assistant Dean of Students. By the time Griffin was ready to retire, it was Dull who was pegged to be next in line to be Dean of Students at Georgia Tech. How does one get deemed as worthy to follow one of the most well-respected and loved men in the school’s history? See, he had proven his worth on a pair of critical decisions early in his tenure that leave a lasting legacy today. The first is his critical role in the integration of Georgia Tech and the second is his quick thinking to buy a car he saw on the side of the road outside the stadium when he lived in the Towers Dorm. Tech, consequently, would be the first school in the South to integrate peacefully, as well as be represented to this day by the Ford 1930 Model A Sport Coupe he bought off of Delta pilot Ted Johnson. Of course, his involvement with the cheerleading and spirit program, Ramblin’ Reck Club, and FASET are worth mentioning, too.

As for Howey, well, he was a physics professor-turned head of the physics department, a post which he held for 28 years. In 1963, it wasn’t his health or age that led Vernon Crawford to replace him in his role, but his desire to create and design a cutting edge building to house his program, free from the shackles of aging Carnegie/D.M. Smith. He retired in 1969 after 35 years at Georgia Tech, and having built its physics program from the dirt into one of the greatest programs in the country. Three years after his death, his magnum opus porject was completed: the Joseph Howey Building.

Poll

No. 2 James Dull vs. No. 15 Joseph Howey

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    James Dull
    (44 votes)
  • 22%
    Joseph Howey
    (13 votes)
57 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 next Thursday for the second half of the Opening Round.