LikeIWasSaying: With the news about the turf formerly known as Historic Grant Field…how long until college teams start wearing sponsors on their jerseys or helmets? This question brought to you by Heineken, the official drink of mailbag submitters throughout the metro area.
Ben: Sponsored stadium names are nothing new, so I don’t think Georgia Tech adding Hyundai is indicative of any imminent shift in sponsor branding in college sports.
Jack: I believe that would take a change in the NCAA rules. I could see some teams being ok with it as a means to better fund their departments. Some schools won’t need it. I don’t feel like it’ll happen any time soon. I say that though, and MLB has allowed it, creating the very weird reality of seeing ads on Braves and Yankees uniforms.
Jeff: The Hyundai deal happened to be timing with GT in some serious need of cash and the company trying to make gains in Georgia. A new Hyundai plant is set to operate around the border with South Carolina. Their fellow Korean and rival company Kia has one of the largest factories in West Point, GA. I think it just happened to work for both parties at the time more than any new trend in college.
TkTheGoat: Will outdoor stadiums become a thing of the past in major sports with rising heat in the summer and blizzardy winters?
Ben: This is a really interesting question. As the summers continue to get warmer, especially, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more schools (and sports teams in general that play summer sports) opt for in-door spaces.
Jeff: I think you are seeing it already but I think it has more to do with fan attendance. Football and baseball are the main two that play in outside stadiums and a lot of the NFL teams have already converted to indoor facilities. Northern cities like Green Bay and Chicago take pride in having outdoor games with near sub-zero temps. Baseball has a few indoor parks but tends to be in cities that are prone to higher heat like Tampa or Arizona.
TkTheGoat: Who is the most successful NFL player to come out of Tech?
Ben: Calvin Johnson seems like the easy answer, granted he retired earlier than most would have expected. Still, though, he was an easy first-ballot hall-of-famer. I found an article on NFL.com from several years ago that mentions G Billy Shaw of the Bills as the most successful player to come from Tech, but the article also came from about halfway through Johnson’s career.
Jack: Pretty sure it’s Calvin Johnson? I’m young, I could be missing someone who was alive 100 years before me.
Jeff: Calvin is easily the most recognizable if you were to ask anyone that didn’t follow Georgia Tech. As Ben mentioned Billy Shaw has the most All-Pro selections of any GT player. I’d give an honorable mention to LB Keith Brooking who played the longest NFL career of 15 years with most being with the Atlanta Falcons who drafted him 12th overall in 1998.
TkTheGoat: Will the ACC have to change its name if Cal and Stanford join?
Ben: “The Coastal Conference” The other option would be for Cal and Stanford to move to the Atlantic Coast, but that seems less likely.
Jack: Many steps before we get there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to stick with the current ACC name as the B1G and Big XII have decided to do just for continuity.
Jeff: Rebranding an entire conference when there are naming rights with television would be a royal pain. I’m going to say no.
DressHerInWhiteAndGold: How long before teams in megatranscontinental conferences have their own airliners for Home/Away? Will non-revenue athletes be allowed onboard?
Maybe they’ll “sell” it to boosters as “our students can study for their DBods midterm, but the desks only fit on a wide body“.
Ben: If they can get the funding for it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. Use of it will be solely based on the cost of it all.
Jack: Woof yeah that will be a luxury only so many teams will be able to afford without boosters stepping in. I’ll be curious how the B1G deals with this. Do like 4 or 5 eastern teams spend a weekend in LA and get a bunch of games done? Do the four pacific teams hang out at Northwestern or Minnesota with a couple more standard B1G teams and knock out games that way too? I work in the sports travel industry as my main job, and there are ways to more efficiently get games done without doing cross-country travel way too often.
Jeff: I do have a working knowledge of how some of this works in the airline industry. At the professional level, there are a few teams who own and operate their aircraft outright. The Colorado Rockies have an old Boeing 727, Mark Cuban has an A319 for his Mavericks, and the Patriots acquired a Boeing 757. Those are the three I know and have seen come in and out of Atlanta. There might be a few more. As for the college side and NFL, most football programs partner with an airline for their football charters. The teams are just too big to fly commercially with their equipment. Allegiant has been pretty popular among some colleges (MLS has an exclusive deal for all their travel) but most try to use an airline that frequents an airport local to their area. Non-Rev sports do book through commercial scheduled flights but have close tabs kept on their progress.
Will colleges ever buy their own planes? That’s a hard no. The operation and upkeep of an aircraft needed to move a football team is massive and even these new TV deals won’t pay the school enough to warrant that as an expense item. Then there is this scenario for you. Let’s say Notre Dame who is flush with cash has their own plane. They are boarded up and ready to leave South Bend to play USC in Los Angeles tomorrow night in primetime. Bad news though, the center hydraulic pump has a leak in it. It can be fixed, but you don’t maintain ready at a moment's notice mechanic. You also don’t inventory parts because why would you for one plane? So, by the time you call out a contract mechanic, have a new part delivered, and then reinstall and go through all the checks, you might beat the tailgating drunks into the stadium.
Frodo Swagginz: Statistical context and disclaimers at the bottom. There are, in my opinion, *six winnable games on the schedule*. They are Louisville, SC State, Bowling Green, BC, UVA, and Syracuse. It goes without saying that there are several ways to skin a cat, but what position group(s) do you think could be key in leading Tech to victory in these games?
Winnable games meaning that ESPN Analytics gives a >30% chance of winning.
Disclaimer: Football is a game that cannot be exactly predicted using data points and analysis. If it was 100% accurate, all the time, God would not have made Saturdays in fall. Any given Saturday.
Ben: The offensive line is the only correct answer. If the offensive line improves, even just a little, I think Tech goes bowling. Yeah, there’s some turnover at receiver and we don’t know who’s starting at QB. Also, we’re replacing our best pass rusher and linebackers. I don’t care. I think ultimately, the defense will be fine (setting myself up for @OldTakesExposed here). For Tech to improve, the OL needs to be better.
Jeff: The Secondary is going to be the strength of this team. LaMiles Brooks is going to be one of the better defensive backs in the league and he has a great cast around him. The ACC returns a lot of talent at the QB position so teams that can keep them on their heels will have an advantage.
Looking at the schedule I honestly think the only three games GT would be a true long shot in are Ole Miss, Clemson, and UGA. I’d say UNC too if we hadn’t already beaten them last year. That team can’t block a wet noodle. Out of the teams you mentioned Syracuse is the only one returning a QB so that would bode even better for Tech. Louisville gets a good transfer but we will see how he gels week one.
YankeeJacket: Is there any news on who is going to be the starting quarterback? and the state of the offensive line?
Ben: It will certainly be Zach Pyron or Haynes King. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the first depth chart, Key lists both of them as the starter. There’s no reason for him to tip his hand ahead of the first game. Louisville doesn’t know who the starter is going to be either. Why give away that advantage? Make them prepare for both. As for the OL, I’m very curious to see how it shakes out. I’m hoping to see something along the lines of Corey Robinson/???/Weston Franklin/Connor Scalgione/Jordan Williams, but with the hole at LG, I imagine Williams will probably slide inside and Jakiah Leftwich will start at RT. In an ideal world, one of this year’s or last year’s freshmen step up and step into the role. Maybe a guy like Tyler Gibson, or maybe Gabe Fortson shows up strong at center and pushes Weston Franklin out to guard. Maybe Paul Tchio shows everyone why he was rated as a 4-star recruit. The OL is my biggest concern coming into the season, as Tech’s success hinges on the OL’s success.
Jack: As of now, Zach Pyron has been getting the majority of the first team reps. Brent Key hasn’t hinted either way if it’s going to be him or Haynes King, so it’s definitely still up in the air. If we had a game today, I’d say Pyron gets the nod. I’ll leave the others to comment on the OL.
Jeff: Brent Key announced who the starter would be back at the ACC Media Days. Don’t believe me? Rewatch GT Road Trip on ACCN where Wes Durham replays Key claiming Durham as the starter during an interview. Which I believe is the funny way of saying, quit asking. It’s become common but you’ll know when the starter walks out on the first possession. I’m a bit higher on the offensive line this year for two reasons. First, Brent Key does know how to build a line. Saban doesn’t hire bad coaches and Brent Key was hired by Saban to do that for Alabama. I believe he was hamstrung by some serious incompetence by him who will not be named. Secondly, the offensive line is best measured by reps and experience. They were still young last year, but outside of Pierce Quick leaving they get everyone back. They began the season last year with just 37 combined starts. This year they start with 66 before you add in Princeton transfer Connor Scaglione.