Georgia Tech Football

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Football and athletics always has seemed to be an "afterthought" at Georgia Tech. Education and the struggle for excellence has always been the priority at Georgia Tech.

"I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a helluva engineer. A helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, hell of an engineer."
Those words from one of America's most famous fight songs typify the spirit of athletics at Georgia Tech, a school with one of the most storied and honored traditions in college athletics.

Ever since 1892, when the first football team was organized on The Flats, Georgia Tech teams in all sports have represented the Institute in outstanding fashion while producing some of the best known names in athletics. Tech has won four National Championships in football in the years 1917, 1928, 1952, and 1990. The Yellow Jacket football teams have one of the nation's best records in bowl games at 22-14. Over the past 100 years, Tech has had only 12 head football coaches: John Heisman, Bill Alexander, Bobby Dodd, Bud Carson, Bill Fulcher, Pepper Rodgers, Bill Curry, Bobby Ross, Bill Lewis, George O'Leary, Chan Gailey and the present coach, Paul Johnson.

In the fall of 1891, before Georgia Tech organized a football team of its own, a game was scheduled between Auburn and Georgia. Due to the rivalry established in baseball games between Tech and Georgia (which is still strong after more than 100 years), the Tech students were invited to the game to cheer, of course, for Auburn. At a mass meeting, the students appointed a committee to recommend colors to be worn and cheers to be used at the game. The committee suggested white and gold, and about 200 students attended the game wearing school colors for the first time.

In 1893, when Tech's football team played its first official game against Georgia, a group of young women from the Lucy Cobb Institute for Girls, dressed in white and gold, attended the game to cheer for Tech. These ladies were some of the earliest Tech supporters to show their allegiance by wearing the now-traditional colors.

The Yellow Jacket nickname and mascot are two of the most beloved trademarks of Georgia Tech athletic teams, but many conflicting accounts exist as to the origins and beginnings of the Yellow Jacket. One thing that is clear, however, is that the nickname did not grow out of the familiar six-legged insect, but instead that the insect mascot, known as "Buzz," grew out of the nickname.
As far as can be determined, the first reference to Tech students as "Yellow Jackets" appeared in the Atlanta Constitution in 1905 and became common usage at that time.

Historians say the name, spelled as one word, was first used to describe supporters who attended Tech athletic events, dressed in yellow coats and jackets. The actual mascot was conceived at a later date.

Other common nicknames which have applied to Georgia Tech teams include Engineers, which is still used by some writers; the Techs, the first known nickname which was phased out sometime around 1910; and the Blacksmiths, which was common between 1902 and 1904. Georgia Tech football has one of the most "storied" traditions and historical memories in College Football...here are just a few that TECH fans all remember:

• Oct. 17, 1916, John Heisman's team crushed Cumberland College 222-0 in the most lopsided and highest-scoring game in college football history in AKA the Cumberland game.

• 1929 Rose Bowl, remember when Cal's Roy Riegels ran the wrong way, Tech won 8-7 and claimed its 2nd national championship?

• Oct. 3, 1942, when Tech finally won at Notre Dame for the first time in eight tries, 13-6. Freshman great, Clint Castleberry threw a touchdown pass in his only season on The Flats, before dying while piloting a plane during World War II.

• Nov. 6, 1976: Tech 23, Notre Dame 14. In the "Pass-less Upset," the Jackets with freshman QB Gary Lanier running Pepper Rodgers' option to perfection, didn't throw a pass in shocking the Irish.

• Nov. 11, 1978: Tech 42, Air Force 21. On the frozen tundra in Colorado Springs, Eddie Lee Ivery ran wild for 356 yards, breaking the NCAA single-game rushing record.

• Nov. 8, 1980: Tech 3, Notre Dame 3. Coach Bill Curry's 1st team as head coach of the Jackets stunned the unbeaten, No. 1 Irish and nearly beat them before a late, tying field goal.

• Nov. 3, 1990: Tech 41, Virginia 38. In Charlottesville, in probably the most significant victory in Tech history, the Jackets staged a enormous comeback against No. 1 Virginia's strong offense. Shawn Jones and William Bell led the resurgence, and Scott Sisson's field goal with 7 seconds left, duped UVA and sent Tech to the National Championship.

Tradition and vigilance continues at GA TECH as one of the most well known alumni, Bill Curry, now returns to Atlanta to help build Georgia State University into a football contender. Curry has been named the 1st Head Coach for the Atlanta University in establishing and building a football program, beginning play in 2010.

You will hear more about the Techs, as they make their mark in days to come.

Freddie Brister writes about college football and understands that after coaching high school football for over 25 years, the importance of team traditions. Georgia Tech football is rich in history, traditions and excellence in academics, which prompted him to write this article. The ever popular tradition of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets merchandise continues as fans fill the stadium on game day wearing yellow, black and white.

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