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Opinion Week 2022: Georgia Tech football’s schedule might be the worst in program history

Geoff Collins has his work cut out for him this fall

NCAA Football: Boston College at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A couple weeks ago, Ralph Russo of the Associated Press offered this thought on Georgia Tech football’s upcoming fall schedule:

Between the actions of the ACC, Georgia Tech administration, and Georgia Tech athletics itself the past few years, it’s not hard to decide for oneself Georgia Tech’s schedule was indeed created by someone who hates Georgia Tech football. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Georgia Tech football schedule and thought it was good, but this one combines being bad in multiple ways to create maybe the worst I’ve ever seen. Let’s break it down:

The home/away splits make it a bad schedule for fans

On any given year not affected by COVID you can expect the Yellow Jackets to have seven home football games, or at least six. This year, it’s just five. “But that’s not true!” I hear you protest, “it is six, just look at the schedule!”

Look, we need to be honest with each other. The season opener vs. Clemson is a home game in name only. As I was typing this, I received an email from GT athletics with the subject line “These Tickets WILL Sell Out”. With all due respect (which, at this point, is little to none), the only way that becomes true is if Clemson fans buy up a large number of tickets — which, given their proximity and recent football success, last season notwithstanding, is a decent possibility. Even if that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t change the fact this game is being played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of Atlanta United. It’s not the home of Georgia Tech football, no matter how much people within the program would try to tell us it is. I understand why these games are happening — I wrote about it three years ago. But just one game there was enough to know it felt different — and unfortunately, it didn’t feel like home.

Not to be overlooked — despite it desperately trying to escape attention — is the other weeknight game on the schedule: vs. Virginia on Thursday, October 22. Yes, Georgia Tech plays two home (or “home”) weeknight games this year. So instead of the typical seven (or at worst, six) Saturdays at Bobby Dodd fans would expect to have in a given fall, this year they are only getting four. There’s no way around it — this schedule is a total bummer for local Georgia Tech fans.

Georgia Tech — once again — is not set up for non-con success

We all know Georgia Tech would rather close for good than make things easy for its students, and that extends to its football scheduling as well. Tech likes to tout the rigor of its schedules, and when the Industrial Engineering program is #1 in the nation for several years running (I don’t actually know how long it’s been anymore), it works. When the football team is underperforming, the natural thought might be to do what you can to set up an easier schedule. (To save yourself some time on that article, scroll down to “tier 3b”. Then scroll back up to the top and note it was written in January of 2020, almost two and a half years ago.)

During the Paul Johnson years, schedules like this were mitigated somewhat by a system that pretty consistently allowed Georgia Tech to punch above its weight. In 2022, it’s a recipe for pain. UCF has been one of the hottest G5 teams for nearly a decade now, is about to move up to the Big 12, and utterly demolished Tech in Atlanta just two years ago. Meanwhile, the Ole Miss games were pushed back from a time when the Jackets were doing slightly better than the Rebels to now, when they have decided to get scary again. I was surprised to discover this move was apparently at Georgia Tech’s request after years of believing the opposite. I can’t say I understand the rationale behind it, but I think it’s safe to say it turned into another instance of Georgia Tech kneecapping itself.

I realized I didn’t even mention Georgia at all. But do I need to?

A no-good, very bad home stretch

This ties back into the first point a bit, but man, the second half of that schedule is just all kinds of awful. It starts with the aforementioned Thursday night game vs. Virginia, and finishes with 4 of 5 games on the road, including two straight to finish the season. It’s not hard to look at this stretch of @FSU, @Virginia Tech, vs. Miami, @UNC, and @uga and understand why many think Geoff Collins’ fate will be sealed before we even get to that point. But it is good if you’re trying to schedule a longer Thanksgiving vacation, so there is that.

Ahead of last season, I said Geoff Collins was facing a “put up or shut up” year against a schedule that was not particularly favorable, but five wins or so while avoiding major blowouts would be enough to show progress. As we well know, Collins failed on both counts, putting him in a deeper hole this year against a schedule that’s just as unfavorable, if not more so. Collins needs a miracle if he wants to be the head coach at Georgia Tech in 2023, and just from the schedule alone, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it.

Days to kickoff: 95