It’s been a long trudge through the college football off-season desert. It’s been difficult to shake the frustration of last season. I still wake up crying once a week because Clemson played Iowa State in a football game that didn’t require a hefty cash payment to the Cyclones for making the trip and taking the L. There are only 2 reasons you should ever play Iowa State. You either play in the Big 12 or you want to see what your 3rd string quarterback looks like against a step down in competition from your scout team defense. Playing them in a bowl game is unacceptable and deeply, deeply embarrassing.
Honestly, I kicked around the idea of discontinuing my “hate” articles this season. Much like Clemson, last season was an uninspiring performance on my part. I tried to find the hate, but no matter how hard I tried, I was only going through the hate motions. When you play in a shambolic joke of a conference like the ACC, it’s tough to get the juices flowing. Trying to conjure hate for a third-rate program like Georgia Tech is like trying to conjure hate for the worst player on your kid’s rec soccer team. Sure, you scream at him to turn off Minecraft and get to the practice field when he leaves a pass short, and you still challenge his dad to a fight in the parking lot for raising soft youngster, but you don’t feel it deep down in your soul.
Trust me, I see the sideways glances I receive when I leave the house. I hear the whispers that “I’ve lost my hate fastball” and that I’ve “accepted mediocrity, just like the 2021 Clemson Tigers who were forced to play Iowa State in a bowl game sponsored by a snack cracker.” For a while, I thought these people were correct. Father time is undefeated. I turned 40 and lost my ability to bring the hate. I tasted college football mortality the same year I was forced to face my own personal mortality, and I had to ask myself, “is the hate even worth it?”
I thought, “maybe irrationally hating the opposing team and fan base because they weren’t smart enough to attend a middle-of-the-road ACC football program that subsequently turned into a college football Juggernaut is a waste of whatever precious time I have left on this planet...shouldn’t I be inspiring love instead of hate?” I was shuffling around town one oppressively humid afternoon late July day in Athens, pondering these questions when a small child walked up to me. He said “excuse me sir, are you the hate guy from Shakin’ the Southland?” I sighed, pulled a 20 out of my wallet, and told the kid, “Look, I’ve never met your mother and I’ve never been to Columbus, Ohio. Here’s 20 bucks, go buy some cigarettes, you never saw me.”
Instead of taking the money he said “No sir, I won’t take your money. I’m a Clemson fan, and we need you. You are the bulwark preventing Clemson from becoming just like the late arriving, early leaving spoiled brats in Tuscaloosa. If you don’t lead our hate, it will clear out faster than Williams-Brice Stadium in the 3rd quarter of a Clemson game. If you’re gone, we’ll become North Carolina with an elite football program.”
Folks, I looked that child in the eye, told him he had a stupid haircut and vowed to bring back the hate, the real hate, this season. The kid with the stupid haircut was right. Clemson needs me. We’ve all gotten fat and happy these last few seasons, and we’ve forgotten our roots. It’s easy to dismiss a team like Georgia Tech as “not being on our level” and “a waste of time and energy” but that’s not what college football is about. College football, at its heart is a tribal experience. If you take away the hate, you take away the soul of college football. Yes, Georgia Tech isn’t on Clemson’s level, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of scorn. They may not belong on the field with Clemson Tigers, but that doesn’t mean that don’t belong in our hating purple and orange hearts.
Let’s Get After It
Folks, this will be Geoff Collins’s 4th season at Georgia Tech and I still have no idea who he is or what he looks like. Georgia Tech, a university in the heart of one the best football states in the nation, hired a coach from the witness protection program. His resume lists “former head coach of Temple” as a bullet point, but I consume more college football than your average fan and I’ve never seen Temple play a football game. His crowning achievement as a football coach, according to Wikipedia, is beating Florida International in the Gasparilla Bowl. If you don’t think Geoff Collins’s rolled over on a white collar crime syndicate running a time share scam out of Destin, and is now hiding out as the Georgia Tech head football coach, you have to believe that an honest-to-goodness P5 football program looked at his resume and said, “how can we not hire the Gasparilla Bowl Champion.”
I am a firm believer in Occam’s Razor, and Collins hiding out in Atlanta after turning state’s evidence is the simplest explanation for his tenure at Georgia Tech. Believing that he was hired on his merits as a coach, after everything we’ve witnessed over the last 3 seasons, is to believe that every administrator at Georgia Tech, from the school president to the athletic director’s secretary, is totally incompetent. The number of people on the Georgia Tech side that had to say “Geoff Collins is the best guy for this job” is too high for me not to think a deeper conspiracy is at play.
For a moment, let’s suspend our disbelief and pretend that Geoff Collins is a legitimate football coach. What is his plan for Georgia Tech other than stealing money from the athletic department until they catch on and stop paying him to lose home games to teams like The Citadel? What skill does he possess that qualifies him to hold, what at one point in the now distant past, a somewhat coveted position in the college football world? I know it’s hard to believe, but the Yellow Jackets haven’t always been a college football joke. At one point, Clemson circled the Georgia Tech game on their actual calendar, and not the one they hand out to walk-on’s with all the games they could potentially see action in circled in red.
I scanned back over his obviously fabricated qualifications and he’s supposedly a good defensive coach, and yet, his team finished the 2021 season by dropping a game to Notre Dame 0-55 followed by a 0-45 performance against supposed in-state rival Georgia. In a way, I feel bad for Georgia because like Clemson, they have a bottom tier Sun Belt team masquerading as a P5 “rival” dragging down their strength of schedule. In fact, I would like to take this time do something I don’t often do, and apologize to the Sun Belt Conference for associating them with Georgia Tech and South Carolina football. That was uncalled for. South Alabama and Arkansas St. at least attempt to put a winning team on the field, even if they are unsuccessful in the endeavor.
There is no way you finish off your 3rd season at a Power 5 school by dropping your final two games by a combined score of 100-0 and still have a job if everything is on the up-and-up. The man has played Georgia twice and has managed to score 7 points, while giving up 97 points and is still employed. I mean my God, Will Muschamp scammed South Carolina out of 5 seasons but at least he gave them just enough hope to believe that things could potentially turn around. Collins isn’t even providing Muschmap levels of “next year we’re going to be better” potential. No self respecting southern fan base would accept this level of ineptitude, not even Duke.
Speaking of Georgia Tech Fans
Georgia Tech prides itself as an engineering school but building a football program seems outside their ability. What confuses me the most about Tech fans is the apathy. You’ve got Tony Elliott, an actual nerdy engineer, at Clemson collecting National Championship trophies and the administration goes with Geoff Collins, and Tech fans don’t burn mattresses in the street? Say what you will about the 2 1⁄2 toothed rednecks at Tennessee, at least they care enough about college football to regularly embarrass themselves.
I get that they are self described “nerds, dorks, dweebs, and geeks” but what’s the point of being in an athletic conference if you have no interest in fielding a competitive football team? In this world of college football expansion, where schools are desperate to find a soft landing spot, Georgia Tech is taking a perfectly good spot in a conference despite showing no interest in bringing any value. At least Vandy brings a solid baseball program to the SEC and Duke brings basketball to the ACC. What does Tech bring to the ACC other than the 1/90th of the Atlanta television market that aren’t Georgia fans and embarrassment?
If any of the 12 masochistic Georgia Tech alums that support the football programs (R.I.P. Mr. Smith, the 13th Tech fan, who passed away at the age of 107 this off-season) read this article, I’m begging you to try. I’m not asking you to win. I understand that having Clemson and Georgia on your forever schedule guarantees you start every season 0-2, but let’s show a little hustle. Get mad, get frustrated, get anything other than self loathing and apathetic.
You’re paying a coach around 1 million dollars a win at the moment, and your program is getting worse, not better. Jahmyr Gibbs, the only reason to watch a Georgia Tech game last year, caught the first bus to Tuscaloosa after the season. I’m told he didn’t even clean out his locker or apartment, just left in the middle of the night on a Greyhound with the clothes on his back, hoping that the stank of Georgia Tech football wouldn’t follow him to his next destination. Why do you settle for this torture every Saturday afternoon?
Do you remember what it feels like to go into a game thinking “we have a legitimate chance to not embarrass ourselves today, and if things break correctly, we might even win.” Clemson tried to hand you a game last season, and you refused to even acknowledge our charity. You may not have a better chance of knocking off the Tigers in your lifetime, and you could only muster 8 points when Clemson was trying everything in its power, short of scoring for you, to lose the game.
When you settle back in your chair on your lunch break Tuesday afternoon to watch the the condensed version of Monday night’s game (I assume this is the only way Georgia Tech football is consumed), please know that you deserve better than what you’re getting at the moment. Please know, I’m not coming from a place of sympathy or solidarity. I can’t empathize with a bottom feeder like Georgia Tech. This is coming from a place of disgust and hate. Your football program is a disgrace to the ACC and buddy, the bar to not disgrace the ACC in football is buried 20 feet under the ground and you still manage to tunnel under it. It’s time to decide if you’re serious about this football thing or if you should turn Bobby Dodd Stadium into the premier Quiddich venue in the south east and call it a program.
I know there are only 12 of you remaining (and again, R.I.P. Mr. Smith), but I also know that you 12 have an incredible tolerance for pain and humiliation. If you can focus that suffering into making a change, I would greatly appreciate it. Your team is embarrassing the conference and college football in general.