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Why 2019 will be different: How can it not?

Everything we said would never change is different now

NCAA Football: ACC Media Days
It all started with one man and a dream. A dream about Waffle House.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Perfect Option? Nope, it’s #404theculture now.

A gimmick offense? Nah, now we have gimmick depth charts.

A quiet, unassuming program in the heart of Atlanta? Not any more, we’re Waffle House U now, look for the full collection coming this fall.

Flexbone football was the deal at Georgia Tech for so long, the whole world apparently just forgot Tech ever ran anything else. And I get it, to an extent; eleven years is a really long time, longer than any coach had been at Tech since Dodd himself. But how many people — important people, blue check mark on Twitter people — gave credit to Paul Johnson for recruiting Calving Johnson, someone who showed up to Tech, left for the NFL, and still left a one year gap before the former Johnson arrived in Atlanta?

Paul Johnson’s longevity at Tech means that, for a lot of people, his brand of football is all they’ve ever known Georgia Tech football to be. It’s almost all I’ve ever known — I followed the 2006 season from afar, and got the joy of experiencing the Taylor Bennett-led season as a freshman. (I likely have disproportionally strong opinions on Matt Ryan stemming from that.) It’s going to be weird transitioning to David Patenaude’s “fast-paced, spread, pro-style offense,” which is..... not a thing, but whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be different.

It’s different off the field, too. Paul Johnson didn’t care what you thought — about him, his offense, his most recent result, his recruiting rankings, or what his favorite BBQ joint in town was. (All I know is it’s not Fat Matt’s.) He wasn’t going to wast time selling you on anything — he was going to run his offense, same as he always had, and let the results speak for themselves. With Collins, we already have at least five new hashtags, acronyms, or catchphrases, and I’m already sick of at least half of them. (Your mileage may vary.)

But you know what I’m not tired of? Collins leaning heavily into the fact Georgia Tech is, ya know, located in Atlanta. A few years ago, a brand new sports team decided they would try that, and now Atlanta United is the most popular professional team in the state, probably even the whole southeast. Why wouldn’t you lean into that if you’re the head coach at Georgia Tech? (Answer: because you are Paul Johnson, and you don’t care.)

Collins does care, and if this were pretty much anyone else I’d probably dismiss it as a bunch of disingenuous hype. But he’s from around here, being a Conyers boy, and this isn’t his first stop at Georgia Tech, or even his second. He’s brought his level of enthusiasm with him everywhere he’s been, and coming back home just adds another layer to it.

So bring on all the WaHo/GT brand crossover gear. Give me the GriT. It’s gonna be G.R.E.A.T. After what has felt like the longest offseason ever, has Collins turned Georgia Tech into Atlanta’s College Football Team? No, of course not. I’m not even sure that’s possible, simply because of how college football is and the size of the local tribes. But can he turn this spot on the map just a tinge more gold? Yeah, I think he can.

Why will this year be different from last year? It already is, in every way you can imagine. A new era of Georgia Tech football starts tomorrow. Let’s kick some ass.