If the SEC asked, would/should Georgia Tech say yes?

Not long after the conference expansion issue really started to heat up, I found myself in a charity golf foursome with a couple of Georgia Tech guys. We were waiting to hit, so I just asked them point blank:

“If Georgia Tech got an invitation to leave the ACC and join the SEC, would you vote to go?”

Response No. 1:  “In a New York minute.”

Response No. 2: “Can we go today?”

Now look, Georgia Tech has had a very good football home in the ACC since 1983. It is the defending ACC champions.  And the situation got a lot better on Monday when the ACC landed a very good television deal with ABC/ESPN that will pay the league $155 million per year. In this economy, the ACC essentially doubled their money from the previous contract and that is quite an accomplishment. A number of people (this writer included) thought that the numbers might be lower so give the ACC kudos for getting that deal done.

Having said all that, there are two questions we will ponder today:

How/Why does Georgia Tech get on the SEC’s radar?

Why would/should Georgia Tech even consider leaving the ACC?

First, some history: Georgia Tech was a charter member of the Southeastern Conference in 1933 and remained in the league through the 1963 season, when the school withdrew and became a Southern Independent. We won’t debate the reasons why or the wisdom of Georgia Tech’s move. The fact is that Tech was a member of the SEC for 31 years.

People of a certain age will remember going to Grant Field and watching Georgia Tech, as a member of the SEC, play in some of the best rivalries in all of college football. The Georgia rivalry you know about, but did you know:

That Georgia Tech and Auburn have played 92 times? Tech first played Auburn in 1892 and from 1904 to 1987 the schools met every year but two (1905, 1943).

That even after it left the SEC, Georgia Tech also kept playing Tennessee? Between 1964 and 1987 Georgia Tech and Tennessee met every year but three (1974, 1975, 1978).

That there was no fiercer rivalry in the 1960s than the one between Alabama and Georgia Tech? Bear Bryant and Bobby Dodd were friends until the 1961 game, when Tech’s Chick Graning received a blow to the head from Alabama’s Darwin Holt. It broke Graning’s jaw and nose and put him in the hospital. The episode touched off a war of words between newspapers in the two states and drove a wedge between Bryant and Dodd. A year later Alabama came to Grant Field with an 8-0 record and ranked No. 1. Georgia Tech handed Alabama its only loss that season, 7-6. After the 1964 game the two teams did not play again until 1979. They played six straight years until 1984 and have not played since. They were scheduled for a two-game series in 2013 and 2014 but those games have now been postponed.

The point is that Georgia Tech has a lot of history with the current members of the SEC.

Here is how Georgia Tech could get an invitation from the SEC: If the Big Ten expands to 16 teams and exponentially increases its revenue (now at about $22 million per team), the SEC, which pays about $17 million per team, will have a decision to make. If the SEC decides that it must expand as well, some teams from the ACC could come into play if the SEC wants to strengthen its Southeastern footprint.

Whether or not the SEC would extend an invitation to Georgia Tech is a matter of some debate. The argument could be made that with the University of Georgia, the SEC already controls the state’s market place. But the same argument could be made about Clemson (because of South Carolina) and Florida State (because of Florida).

Why Georgia Tech would say yes:

1)      More money. Georgia Tech needs it. Even with the ACC’s new contract, there will be about a $4 million gap in shared revenue per team. If the SEC expands, that gap could grow.

2)      Easier scheduling. If Georgia becomes a conference game, then Tech has another non-conference game to play with. That would guarantee at least seven home games a season. That is also more money.

3)      Better attendance: Bobby Dodd Stadium holds 55,000. With Paul Johnson in place, attendance is picking up as over 50,000 turned out for five of six games last season. The year before (2008) only one game drew over 50,000 (Florida State). But what if Georgia Tech were placed in an SEC division that included Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina and Tennessee? How great would the demand for tickets be? How much more would people pay just for the right to buy them? More money.

Why Georgia Tech would say no:

1)      The school has 27 years invested in the ACC. It has become a good fit for the Institute, both philosophically and academically.

2)      Winning the ACC football championship is hard. Winning the SEC is harder. That’s just a fact. Writer Rick Bragg once said that every SEC game “is like a knife fight in a ditch.”

3)      You can’t go back. As much as the old guard romanticizes about good old days the fact remains that it’s been 47 years since Tech left the SEC and the world has really changed.

So if you’re a Georgia Tech fan and you got a vote, would you vote to go back to the SEC if the invitation came? Or do you think the ACC is still the best place for the Yellow Jackets?

If you’re an SEC fan, would you like to see Georgia Tech come back?

The floor is yours.

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661 comments Add your comment

Lady Ga Ga Gator

May 18th, 2010
8:12 am

RAPIN_Bergers

May 18th, 2010
8:20 am

Kid Ray

May 18th, 2010
8:23 am

rocksteadyfreddie

May 18th, 2010
8:30 am

I can’t respect any school that sells season ticket packages to their main in state rival every other year. I went to a UGA GT game in Atlanta a couple years ago and it was 40% UGA fans. That automatically disqualifies GT in my opinion.

757dawg

May 18th, 2010
8:33 am

I think that Tech should stay in the ACC. By playing against each other, GA and GA TECH have a good non-conf game that boosts the schedule at the end of the year, and a win could help either team move up in the BCS rankings, esp in this age where non-conf schedules are analyzed like they are.

UT96

May 18th, 2010
8:33 am

yes, absolutely. I loved watching UT and Tech play in the eighties.

Herschel Walker

May 18th, 2010
8:36 am

I can’t read

QUESTION 3...BIG IF

May 18th, 2010
8:39 am

“But what if Georgia Tech were placed in an SEC division that included Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina and Tennessee?” You really think Clemson, Florida State, Miami, and GT will all leave the ACC? Doubt it.

Knight-Nole

May 18th, 2010
8:39 am

None of the teams within the current SEC footprint would be invited. If the SEC is genuinely looking to add money to the conference then they would have to expand their footprint. Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and OK State would be prime for raiding if enough teams defect from the Big 12. On the other front Virginia Tech is a football school in a basketball conference and NC State already has historic rivalries with South Carolina and Tennessee. These are the teams the SEC would look at if they are really interested in increasing revenue.

Lady Ga Ga Gator

May 18th, 2010
8:39 am

Which personality can’t, Herschel?

XpatHeel

May 18th, 2010
8:39 am

Tony, Check your math. If the SEC expanded, the espn contract stays the same. Same sized pie. Expansion means cutting the pie into smaller pieces. LESS money, Tony. Not more.

BehindEnemyLines

May 18th, 2010
8:40 am

Not for any amount of money.

dml

May 18th, 2010
8:41 am

No way. The ACC is better academically, the SEC will just drag the school down. To hell with Georgia.

Matt

May 18th, 2010
8:42 am

What about Tech going to the Big 10? I am sure they would like to add Atlanta as a hub for the B10N.

XpatHeel

May 18th, 2010
8:45 am

Knight-nole, you are spot on with where the $ec will look IF it decides to expand. ACC schools are out of the question. To think VT and ncState would be possibilities is to prove you know nothing about the political cement that holds those schools to their flagship universities. You’ll never get those two unless UNC and UVa come along, and Hell will freeze over before those 2 join the SlEezyConference.

Atlanta Gator

May 18th, 2010
8:45 am

Here’s the bottom line: by rejoining the SEC, Georgia Tech could do something that it hasn’t done consistently for years—-fill its football stadium on Saturdays.

GT4life

May 18th, 2010
8:46 am

I’m in. We need to be back where we belong. If for no other reason than to finally put an end to the whole “Tech couldn’t be successful in the SEC”.

WTF

May 18th, 2010
8:48 am

Tony, you got it wrong. UGA won the ACC Championship last season 30 – 24 on November 28th at US Grant Field. Tech too good for the SEC back in the 60’s, and the SEC is too good for Tech now.

Charlie Bama

May 18th, 2010
8:49 am

It would be a mistake for GaTech to jump to the SEC alone —but a big thumbs up if the deal includes Clemson, Fla State, etc. GaTech is a class act, and its presence in the SEC East will further strengthen (intensify?) the rivalry with the Ga BullDawgs. But, Tony, seriously, this whole Big 10 and SEC expansion talk is not going to happen. It’s just window dressing and an American-style kabuki dance among conference egos to force ND into the Big 10 fold. And who wants ‘em? Not in my conference–they’re no better competition than Panama City Jr. College or Tennessee or SCAD.

SOGADOG

May 18th, 2010
8:49 am

The SEC should not invite Ga. Tech back. There are many more quality programs out there the SEC should consider such as Texas, Va. Tech, Ok., FSU etc. that will bring much more to the table than Tech will ever offer. Tech’s stadium only holds 55K and they struggle to fill it every year. Tech just does not have an SEC caliber fan base. Tech’s fan base lacks the numbers and the passion of most SEC fan bases and Tech is really more suited to a basketball conference like the ACC. Tech does occasionally have good teams every ten years or so as they should since they are geographically located in a recruiting hotbed, but they will never be competitive with the SEC in terms of recruiting, winning games, and winning SEC championships. Tech does not give the SEC much of a “footprint” either since Georgia is made up mostly of Bulldog fans. Inviting Tech into the SEC is a bad idea.

Jacket Backer

May 18th, 2010
8:50 am

not my preference unless FSU, Clemson and Miami leave the ACC…..then yes, absolutely….i would rather us be in the SEC than a watered down ACC…..however, we are a much better fit in the ACC with regards to academic missions, enrollment, etc……will be interesting to see how this all plays out….

Go Jackets!!

Tech fan

May 18th, 2010
8:51 am

If the ACC stays as it is now, I don’t mind staying. But if the SEC takes FSU and Clemson, we better be going with them or to the Big 10.

Goldtimer

May 18th, 2010
8:51 am

No way, now how would I ever want to see Tech join the SEC. We have standards and joining that conference would lower ourselves to the likes of UGA. Anyway, the ACC is almost equal to the SEC in football as it stands now – no need to jump the ACC ship.

Heck with Tech

May 18th, 2010
8:53 am

Tech joining the SEC would ruin the conference. Stay in the ALL CUPCAKE CONFERENCE please!

Reggie Ball

May 18th, 2010
8:53 am

I can’t count to four.

Conflicted

May 18th, 2010
8:54 am

I too have fond memories of Tech’s historic rivalries in the SEC. Also I have a contrary opinion when it comes to how Tech would do in the SEC. I think Tech would thrive. Recruiting would get easier. Money would help the cause. And all of the reasons Tech left in the SEC in first place no longer apply. Having said all of that I think Tech stays in the ACC. Why? Because the overall quality of the competing schools is higher than the SEC. To be sure there aren’t many football factories in the ACC but there are way more future heads of state, business and corporate leaders.

rocksteadyfreddie

May 18th, 2010
8:54 am

I counted each fan in attendance at that game, and it came out to be exactly 40% UGA fans. Season tickets holders are absolutely the only people who attend these games.

Rueben Houston

May 18th, 2010
8:54 am

I can smoke weed.

Ryan

May 18th, 2010
8:55 am

Tech is a better fit than Vanderbilt.

And Vanderbilt would be a better fit in the ACC.

EW

May 18th, 2010
8:59 am

We’ll take GT in the SEC if the ACC will take Vandy.

EW

May 18th, 2010
9:01 am

At least if GT were in the SEC it would shut the GT fans up so they would learn their place. You think that garbage option attack is going to work week in and week out against SEC defenses?? N.F.W.!!

kaput

May 18th, 2010
9:01 am

It’s not about the past, it’s about the future – and by having to dedicate a major portion of the column explaining that history is proof enough. Georgia Tech doesn’t bring new television markets to the SEC, which would result in increased revenue sometime down the line.

Any expansion will be about money, not history.

Bulldog59

May 18th, 2010
9:01 am

Addressing GT, from the SEC side, they should start the discussions. The Georgia-GT game will have even more significance if it is a conference game.

Question3…BIG IF….specifically addressing your reference to Miami’s possible move to the SEC, most likely Miami will go to the highest bidder. Everything we read about Miami lately, talks about the Athletic Dept. being broke.

XpatHeel

May 18th, 2010
9:04 am

Barnyard trying to stir up the pot that he wants to boil the ACC in. Tony, you are such a sec hack. Why not just come out and admit what’s so obvious. The “basketball conference” you love to rag on is going to eat your lunch this season. It’s taken a long time for scholarship limits and crack downs on institutional corruption (see UGa and ‘bama) to have the necessary effect, but the talent gap that used to exist is gone. The quality of coaching gap is fading fast. The academic standards of excellence in the ACC is STILL rock solid. You saw small examples of how ACC teams can hold their own the past couple of seasons, when mid-level ACC teams took out mid-level sec teams. There is really not much difference anymore once you get past ‘bama and UF. The “basketball” conference tag doesn’t fit any more. And after this season, you’ll have 5 or 6 examples of why.

ATLBadger

May 18th, 2010
9:04 am

It would be great for Tech as far as football and athletic revenue goes. However, it would be a step back in basketball.

Also, it’s a step back academically. Not saying SEC schools are all bad (there are some good ones). But Tech is a world class research university that just joined the AAU and the ACC (or Big Ten) is a far better fit academically. In fact, I’d say the Big Ten is the best fit due to the huge amount of research prestige and money, but the ACC has lots of world class universities as well (though they are generally smaller than the B10 ones).

Don

May 18th, 2010
9:07 am

There are only two good schools in the sec academic wise. Uf and Vandy. Gt would add to that. Only if the acc is raided do I want tech to move. You can always schedule ooc games with bama and tenn.

Bulldog59

May 18th, 2010
9:12 am

XpatHeel, not sure I follow your logic that the ACC is closing the gap on the SEC. Didn’t 7-5 Georgia beat ACC Champion, GT, the week prior to the ACC Championship? Didn’t 7-5 South Carolina beat ACC runner-up Clemson also in the previous week?

When, at the end of the season, 2 middle of the road SEC teams beat the best two teams in the ACC, it doesn’t appear the gap is closing.

Not bashing, just don’t follow that one. I agree with your comments about academics, basketball, etc. in the ACC.

Reptiles Rule

May 18th, 2010
9:14 am

I even hate this conversation. Superconferences will be the ruination of college football. You think you have weak out of conference scheduling now?? There will be NO out of conferencing scheduling under this format. Adding a couple of teams would not hurt much but these 16-18 team conferences suck! Don’t screw with success! Look where that has got other sports! It’s like taking a plastic surgeons knife to an already beautiful woman, chances are great it’s not gonna end up a better result .

T3

May 18th, 2010
9:18 am

If the SEC sends an invite, we go. Period.

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

May 18th, 2010
9:18 am

Sure, let’s let GT in the SEC. We could always use another good basketball team.

Me

May 18th, 2010
9:27 am

The SEC shouldn’t stink itself up by inviting Tech.

UGAY in the Papa Johns Bowl

May 18th, 2010
9:27 am

then we would dominate the sec

TommyJack

May 18th, 2010
9:30 am

I would welcome Tech back.
GBO

Navigator

May 18th, 2010
9:30 am

Let’s go back to the early 1960’s when the big game every year was Tech-Tennessee, and it was quite a rivalry. Wally Butts was winding down his career and then the wire tap with Bryant, so on. The two state schools wouldn’t get good again until Vince Dooley took over. Now today, Tech has been in the ACC for most of a generation, Tennessee has their own struggles, and the Tech-Georgia game has moved back into the fore front. It is not the same, I don’t thing of Tech as an SEC school and never will again. They have a chance not to go to a good bowl most years, have a great basketball conference, good baseball too. Doing everything based on more money is a bad idea, and they are in a conference now where the emphasis isn’t win at all cost. They are a small school in a conference with other small schools, so let the glory days in the SEC stay in the history books and move forward in the conference that they have loyalty to now and I might add has loyalty to them.

jarvis

May 18th, 2010
9:32 am

GT is a basketball school? What is this 1986?

UGA'91

May 18th, 2010
9:32 am

I would love to see GT in the SEC…These games only count for State bragging rights. If Tech was in the SEC that would be another guaranteed conference victory (like Vandy or MSU).

Daniel B.

May 18th, 2010
9:33 am

Tech is too good academically for the SEC. They need to stay in the ACC. Plus, Tech has a better chance at competing for ACC football championships than they would SEC championships. The schools in the SEC are too big for Tech to compete with.

jarvis

May 18th, 2010
9:35 am

Florida State and Virginia Tech are suddenly academic powerhouses?

WTF

May 18th, 2010
9:35 am

Using Bulldog59’s incoherent logic,
might as well appoint Bama the ACC champ.

Kentucky waxed Ugag.
Florida obliterated Ugag. Again.
Clemson beat Kentucky.
Florida beat Kentucky.
VT destroyed Tennessee.
Tennessee obliterated Ugag.
Bama beat Florida.

Blah blah blah.

UGA'91

May 18th, 2010
9:35 am

Somebody should delete the CJ Spiller post…I mean there’s no room for that stuff on fan sites.