For the last 11 years, Georgia Tech was the quirky option team in Atlanta that generally won more games than they should’ve with the players they had. We all filled out our bingo cards every week as announcers who didn’t really understand what they were watching tried to explain what was happening in the flexbone offense to the viewing audience. It was unique, it was ours, and our coach did not give a damn what you thought about it. The Paul Johnson flexbone is what made me fall in love with college football in 2008.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that this era of Georgia Tech football is over. The coach and offense that gave the team its national identity, for better or worse, are gone. While the on-field success of Geoff Collins remains to be seen, he has successfully controlled the narrative of the transition away from Paul Johnson this season into something more modern - a word-salad of “pro-style, spread” football bolstered by an onslaught of a social media presence. He has also done an excellent job of setting no expectations for the win / loss column this fall, despite his injection of energy and hype into the program. That’s a difficult line to walk not just on the field, but with the media as well.
Before we continue, I think Collins was an excellent hire and that he’s exactly what this program needs at this time. We need his recruiting prowess and online presence. We need his energy, and we badly needed someone to galvanize this lackadaisical fanbase.
I say all this to say, or confess, that I’m struggling to get excited for this football season in the same way that I did in previous years. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my season tickets and will be at every home game, but it almost feels like we’re going through a divorce and New Dad is here and he’s really trying his best, but it’s going to take time. Things are going to be different, but if you’re patient with New Dad, things will work out in the long-term, and you’ll get used to this.
Part of my hesitance is that I’m truly going to miss A-backs catching a pitch on the perimeter and taking it to the house. I’m going to miss B-back dives and rocket tosses, the play-action pass that results in a receiver with no one within 15 yards of him, and not even considering kicking on 4th and short from our own side of the field.
Part of it is that I know we’re not going to have much to cheer for on the field this season, and that’s just part of the process. Part of it is that, maybe, as I get older, I’m just trying to have a healthier relationship with my sports teams and not let my day’s happiness be determined by wins and losses... Because maybe Atlanta sports have just beaten me down and broken me over the years. Who can say.
The North Avenue Trade School’s changing of the guard has already dramatically altered the off-field presence of the team, and the 2019 iteration might be tough to recognize for those of us that have been following this team for the last decade. Are we going to have to get used to punting on 4th and short? What in the world is a tight end? Are we going to snap the ball 5 yards backwards in the shotgun when it’s 3rd and goal from the 1? Are we going to get honesty and candor from our new head coach, or is it always going to be sunshine and catchphrases and memes?
Obviously, I have a lot of mixed emotions going into this season. I want what’s best for this team and its future, and I sincerely hope Collins is it. Change is hard, but it’s often necessary. We’re going to see a lot of change this fall and in the coming years both on and off the field, and I know we’re all hoping that it’s for the better.
However, lest you fret about all of the new things happening around the program, the ‘Wreck will still lead the team onto Grant Field at historic Bobby Dodd Stadium. We’ll still sing about Budwesier going into the 4th quarter. We’ll still get hype every time DMo speaks. We’ll still walk into Bobby Dodd and be surrounded by the beautiful Atlanta skyline. And we’ll certainly still sing about where Georgia can go in the afterlife.
Fight, win, drink, get naked.
Some things change, but others stay the same.
Remember when Paul Johnson hung 70 points on a hapless Kansas team to, “remove them from his craw?”