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Burdell’s Bracket: Elite Eight

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Georgia Tech v Auburn
Calvin Johnson. The Plains. You know the rest.
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

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 Final Four.


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

Elite Eight edition of the bracket.
Jake Grant

Real quick before we get started: the last round really came down to the wire. Like, Calvin Johnson won by one vote kind of down to the wire. I thought I was going to have to break several ties, and, well, luckily I didn’t, because I would’ve chosen John Young. The man went to the moon, that’s basically all I have to say on that. But, as usual, sports rule the day, at a time when, despite our best efforts, we have no CRC, no live sports, and no, sadly, no more The Last Dance. But we have this! So there’s that.

Elite Eight:

Coaches Region:

No. 1 John Heisman vs. No. 2 Bobby Dodd

This is a chalky matchup, but, well, there was a reason these two guys were ranked one and two in the bracket. 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.

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.

Poll

No. 1 John Heisman vs. No. 2 Bobby Dodd

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    John Heisman
    (38 votes)
  • 63%
    Bobby Dodd
    (66 votes)
104 votes total Vote Now

Faculty and Staff Region:

No. 1 George Griffin vs. No. 10 Homer Rice

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 One, 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.

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. 1 George Griffin vs. No. 10 Homer Rice

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    George Griffin
    (53 votes)
  • 45%
    Homer Rice
    (45 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now

Alumni and Students Region:

No. 11 Bobby Jones vs. No. 13 Calvin Johnson

Jones was a lawyer by day after graduating from Tech as a mechanical engineer in 1922 and picking up degrees from Emory and Harvard, while moonlighting as the greatest amateur golfer of all time. He is famous for his innovations at Augusta National, where he helped found the course and the Masters, but even more notable for his “Grand Slam” in 1930, where he won the US Open, US Amateur, British Open, and the British Amateur, the four main golf tournaments of the day, all in the same year. Afterwards, he retired from golf, participating in his Masters’ tournament on an exhibition basis from its founding until 1948, when he retired due to health. A noted sportsman, he once quipped that “you might as well praise me for not robbing banks” when he was acclaimed for openly taking a questionable penalty - the USGA’s sportsmanship award is named in his honor. He died in 1971 and is one of the few on this list to be a member of both Georgia Tech’s athletic and engineering halls of fame, and, unsurprisingly, is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

There’s only one Megatron. We can talk about his many NFL accolades, including his status as a Pro Bowler in 6 of his 9 professional seasons, his four All-Pro selections, his record for receiving yards in a season, his 100-yard game records, and his reception records, but being one of the greatest to ever do it after college doesn’t even reflect what he did while he was here. The Newnan native is Tech’s highest-rated recruit ever, winner of the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the best college receiver, was the ACC Player of the Year, a two-time first team All-American, all-conference in each of his three seasons, and ACC Rookie of the Year, as well. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018. These are all great things but Johnson is a man of high character as well. And, in that, he represents his alma mater well.

Poll

No. 11 Bobby Jones vs. No. 13 Calvin Johnson

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Bobby Jones
    (60 votes)
  • 43%
    Calvin Johnson
    (46 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now

Presidents and Leaders Region:

No. 1 Marion Brittain vs. No. 2 Lyman Hall

A cursory glance at the map lends Marion Brittain a respect not given to any past faculty, staff, or administrator. Not one, but two places are named for Brittain: the beautiful collegiate gothic dining hall, and the path known as Brittain Drive, more colloquially known as Yellow Jacket Alley. He would find both fitting. Brittain helped expand campus to new and previously underserved students, like the women of the Evening School, growing the research at the Engineering Experiment Station, and standing up to the inequalities of the state government with resolve, despite countless setbacks like losing the Commerce School and the school’s independence when the Board of Trustees was merged into the state Board of Regents. It was Brittain who secured the Guggenheim grant that established the School of Aeronautics and he who established the ROTC. When it was all said and done, after a tenure of fighting legislature that began before he even dreamed of leading the Institute, he stepped down on his own terms. He still lived in the old President’s House on North Avenue and still walked to work every day to his desk in the same office. Brittain was the only man to ever officially hold the title President Emeritus. Instead of administrative duties, he toiled for a few years on his book, The Story of Georgia Tech, a labor of love. He would continue to be Tech’s biggest, most loyal football fan - fittingly, one of the founding fathers of what is now the Ramblin’ Reck, Club - and remains to this day Tech’s longest serving president.

While Pettit, Van Leer, and Hall all died on the job, only one worked himself to death. For all his work fundraising for a school that was criminally neglected by the state legislature, he was able to expand the curriculum offerings by laying the groundwork for programs like textile, civil, chemical, and electrical engineering. Though he was not a sports or recreation fan, his hiring of John Heisman to coach football and his empowerment of J.B. Crenshaw to run the rest of the athletic department was inspired. It is because of that the public tribute to Hall on campus is a small, out of the way chemistry lab-turned-office building that is quite literally overshadowed by its much more famous neighbor, Bobby Dodd Stadium. Growth was the name for Hall, be it through programs, offerings, having dormitories on campus - he thought they would reduce disciplinary infractions, or enrollment. He was the school’s first and only mathematics professor when he was hired, and eventually worked his way up to be its president. He was a hardliner, but a humble man who cared deeply about Tech.

Poll

No. 1 Marion Brittain vs. No. 2 Lyman Hall

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Marion Brittain
    (62 votes)
  • 33%
    Lyman Hall
    (31 votes)
93 votes total Vote Now

Who ya got? One Cinderella is sure to go down, but, conversely one is guaranteed to move on to the Final Four. Spicy. We’ll see you next Thursday for the Final Four.