I don’t remember when I first became a fan of Georgia Tech.
It was sometime well after 1982, however, as understanding and watching football prior to that time was something I was more forced to do thanks to the limited tv’s in my house at age 11 and my dad’s tendency to be "not sleeping" in front of the one in the living room Saturdays and Sundays in fall. I knew however, after a brief dalliance with being a fan of that other school who’d just come off a national championship that I wasn’t one anymore.
I do remember by the time junior high rolled around being solidly in the GT camp. We weren’t very good then. I didn’t follow the team closely even then, but I knew I was for GT and against that other place.
By HS I was starting to pay more attention. GT still wasn’t very good in the late 80s. I graduated in 1989 and was one of the few people I knew that was disappointed that I was going to GT. I had gotten a nomination to the USAF academy and been medically disqualified at the last minute and GT was my backup.
However, once I arrived, I loved it. The campus, the difficulty, and the football. We were getting better. Quickly. Midway through my freshman year we won the national championship (5th downs don’t count, sorry Buffs.) I remember being elated. Our basketball team was pretty good at the time too and for a while it seemed both teams would have a shot at national championships again in ‘91. Unfortunately it was not to be. The star RB got snagged in a theft scandal, the coach eventually got hired away to the NFL.
We got another good coach and in ’92 things seemed on track until the loss to FSU which took the wind out of the sails right in the midst of FSU’s reign of glory.
We then got a terrible coach who has only recently been surpassed on the most hated people by GT fans list. My only real GT memory of the time is the coach refusing to go for it on 4th down at the end of the game in a desperation effort because he felt we deserved to lose.
We then picked up another good coach and got back on the winning streak and began to rebuild the program. We had a great QB and a great defense. We could hold our own against anyone.
Then that coach got picked by touchdown Jesus and then got caught having fudged his resume. He went on to bring a program south of us out of obscurity and into the national conversation before questionable safety concerns tarnished his image. In the meantime GT picked up an NFL coach who’d claimed a Super Bowl with another coach’s team then burned through all his goodwill there with a series of mediocre seasons. We entered the 7-5 era with a couple of Coastal championship games. The epitome of the Gailey years was the 9-6 loss to Wake Forest in the championship game.
Finally we get to the portion where I became a dedicated rather than casual fan. With CPJ’s unique offense and personality it became critical to understand the X’s O’s to appreciate the game and what GT was trying to accomplish. Watching the flexbone in good years was an amazing experience. 2008 and 2014 were great years to be a GT fan and the years between were quite fun.
Then 2015 happened and it seemed the golden opportunity to repeat 1990 had slipped by. Something just didn’t gel with that 2015 team despite the talent and willpower of Justin Thomas. After that came the downhill years. The magic just didn’t return in CPJ’s system and the ACC scheduling system didn’t help- ensuring just about every critical ACC team got us after their bye year after year. Finally it was clear the end of the CPJ era was in sight.
The school had a couple of choices. 1) Continue with an updated version of the flexbone and use someone from CPJ’s coaching tree or 2) Go with someone who promised to wow the recruits and bring GT back to competitiveness with a more standard style. You all know the decision that was made which was nearly a repeat of the error that Georgia Southern made after their CPJ years. The former Eastern Carolina coach who for years held the top spot on the unmentionable list suddenly was displaced by "Money Down" and "Elite Competition."
4 years of drudgery ensued during which almost every last ounce of goodwill was slowly wrung out of my GT fandom. I had no hope beginning the 2022 season as it was clear that the coaching was the problem and the AD was pretty clueless. I was disappointed with the Key hire initially as I thought a big splash like Coach Prime, or a new up and comer like Chadwell at Coastal Carolina was the right direction. But the way Key finished the season and the clear bond he has with the team seems like the right choice.
I’m looking forward to GT football starting a season with the most hope that I’ve had in years.
Football starts tomorrow.
To Hell with Georgia!