Jackets finally get their name on a major marquee

The Jackets' reward for an ACC championship is a bowl game we all can identify with. Left to right: Demaryius Thomas, Jonathan Dwyer, Morgan Burnett. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

The Jackets' reward for an ACC championship is a bowl game we all can identify with. Left to right: Demaryius Thomas, Jonathan Dwyer, Morgan Burnett. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

MIAMI — Behold, a fruit. Finally, a bowl game that a majority of the sports-consuming, burger-stuffing, nacho-crunching, is-there-another-beer-left-in-the-fridge populace can relate to.

Take your Humanitarian Bowl with you, sir, and please leave through the back door.  Take the Emerald, the Silicon Valley, the Seattle, the Carquest and the All-American. Take the Liberty, or give me death.  The Orange Bowl is iconic. The Orange Bowl goes back to when college football bowl games actually were cherished and meant something, not viewed as some painful and protracted stopover to a playoff.

It had a spot reserved on New Year’s Day. It sat on the top shelf, with the Rose, the Sugar, the Cotton. Even had its own parade for 62 years.

Georgia Tech plays in the Orange Bowl Tuesday night. The game is not actually played in the Orange Bowl any more, but that’s a good thing. Shifting kickoff to Land Shark Stadium was like a change of venue from Kabul. The Jackets face Iowa, a team from the  Big Ten, which is usually good for some comic relief in the post-season.  But for Tech, this game is about far more than the opponent, or even the final ranking. It’s about moving to a higher shelf.

Unfortunately, given the way college football has evolved (or devolved), bowl games are rarely viewed simply as rewards any more. Bowls define status more than ever. The idea is to avoid obscurity. Some bowls don’t get coaches raises — they get them fired. Often, the number of fans who declare, “Yes! We’re in a bowl game!” are dwarfed by the torch-carrying masses on message boards who declare, “I’d rather have a family of fruit flies nest in my left ear than go to Shreveport.”

Even the posed photos look better at the Orange Bowl. What prop can coaches hold at the Silicon Valley Classic?

Even the posed photos look better at the Orange Bowl. What prop can coaches hold at the Humanitarian Bowl or Silicon Valley Classic?

The Jackets leave obscurity behind Tuesday. This is their biggest bowl game since the last time they played in the Orange Bowl. That came against Florida, 43 years ago. That’s so long ago, Steve Spurrier was relevant. Tech’s 19 bowl trips since then have been mostly second- or third-tier, or whatever a loss to Fresno State in San Jose is considered. Even in the 1990 national championship season (UPI), the second-ranked (AP) Jackets were farmed out to the Citrus Bowl against 19th ranked Nebraska. Why? Because the Orange Bowl took Colorado, the AP’s No. 1 ranked team, and Notre Dame. The Rose, Sugar and Cotton had other agendas.

The Jackets took a step up in coach Paul Johnson’s first season last year with the Chick-fil-A Bowl. But it’s a leap from nuggets to a BCS bowl.

“Obviously, this means a lot to a lot of people, getting to this game,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “When I first came here, I knew about the consecutive bowl streak [now at 13] and everything. I knew before I came here, they went to the Champs Sports Bowl, and that was kind of special. But just to have that recognition of being in a BCS bowl means a lot. People aren’t used to that at Tech. Hopefully now, people will view us as being a powerful team from the ACC and one of the top teams in the country.”

Dwyer was heavily recruited out of Kell High School. He considered Georgia, Florida, USC and Auburn, all programs with more recent success. Florida won the national championship when he was a high school senior (2006).  Georgia won its second SEC title in four seasons under Mark Richt when he was a junior. USC won a national title and Auburn went 13-0 under Tommy Tuberville when he was a sophomore, and the Trojans went back to the title game again when he was a junior. Yet, he chose Tech.

“Everybody said to me, ‘Why are you going to Georgia Tech? You should go to Florida,’” Dwyer said. “But I saw the future of the program. When me and [Morgan] Burnett and [Josh] Nesbitt and a few others came in, we decided we were going to be the class that won the ACC. We were going to be the ones to go to a major bowl game. Now, none of my friends who said I should go to Florida or SC can say anything to me. I can talk trash to them all day long.”

If that’s how we gauge success, so be it. The Humanitarian Bowl and trash talking clearly don’t intersect. The Orange Bowl provides that opportunity. Tech is sitting on a higher shelf.

273 comments Add your comment

Joe Falcon

January 4th, 2010
4:22 pm

Joe Falcon

January 4th, 2010
4:22 pm

Don’t have anything to say. Just wanted ot be first.

Oh, one thing.

Go Jackets.

anderson jones

January 4th, 2010
4:30 pm

My father, Sambo Jones, and I both love Tech! Go Jackets!

Russ

January 4th, 2010
4:31 pm

It’s good to see Tech back in a major bowl. Been a long time since the 50’s and Bobby Dobb.
Jeff, that was before your time. Notice you didn’t go there.

Russ

January 4th, 2010
4:32 pm

I think he spelled it Bobby Dodd.

Robert

January 4th, 2010
4:34 pm

I can’t wait until all of Gailey’s recruits are gone and this gimmick offense is exposed. Oh wait….it already was exposed. (((30-24))) Another big and physical team…UH-OH GNATS…..

Dry Eyes

January 4th, 2010
4:35 pm

Amazing indeed… Long time coming… Go Jackets!!!
Weird im in the top 10, first time ever!!!

balismith

January 4th, 2010
4:38 pm

iowa…..iowa……………they play football in iowa…..thought they just grew corn in iowa….. iowa……

CPJ's Sportsbra

January 4th, 2010
4:42 pm

That photo opp will be the only time CPJ poses with the trophy. I hope he enjoyed it.

Mark Richt

January 4th, 2010
4:43 pm

I wish I was in Miami…Hey, anybody wanna be Def. Coord.

Bout time for Middle School

January 4th, 2010
4:44 pm

to let out so the Ga fans will be here soon

F-105 Thunderchief

January 4th, 2010
4:45 pm

How interesting that they thought they would win the ACC under Chan Gailey.

T-MAN

January 4th, 2010
4:45 pm

ROBERTTT….

See a few

January 4th, 2010
4:45 pm

are here already, guess they skipped school today

Ed-Milledgeville

January 4th, 2010
4:47 pm

What can the coaches hold for the SILICON Valley Classic? WAY TOO EASY!!

Russ

January 4th, 2010
4:47 pm

Dry Eyes

First time ever. You mean first time lately.

T-MAN

January 4th, 2010
4:47 pm

ROBERT,YOU’RE MOM CALL FROM THE WAFFLE HOUSE,SAID GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND CLEAN YOUR ROOM.WAS THAT 8-5 THIS YEAR AND A TRIP TO SHREVEPORT,GET OTTA HERE WIMP.

I think

January 4th, 2010
4:49 pm

dry eyes was talking about posting in the first ten

Tom

January 4th, 2010
4:50 pm

Jeff, I’m sure both the Orange Bowl AND tech would’ve preferred the GT-CU matchup after the ‘90 season, but the ACC’s screwy contract with the Citrus Bowl only allowed the ACC Champ an ‘out’ if they were ranked #1 or #2 the week before the last pre-bowl polls came out. Tech was one week too late moving to #2 to be able to use that out. (Much to the ultimate and eventual delight of the Buffs, you can rest assured.)

GA Tech Insider

January 4th, 2010
4:51 pm

You would think that there would be some State pride for at least one game, and everyone here in Georgia would be supporting Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets come Tuesday night, but no, we still have some Neanderthals who would rather act like children with their childish comments.

Here’s wishing Paul Johnson and his GA Tech Yellow Jackets the very best at the Orange Bowl; play a great game, come out healthy, and safe travel home.

Happy New Year to all, even all you UGA fans who feel the need to show your collective arses…

Ed-Milledgeville

January 4th, 2010
4:52 pm

BTW…GO JACKETS!!!

Ed-Milledgeville

January 4th, 2010
4:54 pm

ugay just named craig james as their new dc!

Buckhead Dawg

January 4th, 2010
4:54 pm

Pathetic. Not even in 1990 did they go to a major bowl. The team that deserves no respect, gets no respect. Enjoy nerds.

Just got punched in the face by a Tech fan…I think, nope, just a cool breeze.

Ed-Milledgeville

January 4th, 2010
4:56 pm

his son will coach the dl and his wife, Etta, will coach dbs.

Bryan G.

January 4th, 2010
4:56 pm

I hope Tech plays well so that we can say we beat the ACC/Orange Bowl champs.

pilgrim

January 4th, 2010
4:57 pm

This is a great opportunity. Hope the Jackets are at their best.

…….CPJ’s Sportsbra – I suggest you invent a different anonymous blog name. Some folks might think you are making a cheap personal attack.

Told You

January 4th, 2010
4:57 pm

that short bus ride home from middle school didn’t take long

Just like

January 4th, 2010
4:59 pm

West Virginia beat the SEC champ Bulldogs in 2005, so WV really were SEC champs

UGA roots for Tech in the Orange Bowl

January 4th, 2010
5:01 pm

Though we are bitter rivals… I’m pleased to see UGA get a victory in their bowl, and I think many Tech fans root for our entire state to be well represented. I think UGA fans will still root for Tech to beat Iowa Tuesday night as well.

Go Jackets! Cheers to the best football state in the country!

Robert

January 4th, 2010
5:02 pm

Let me guess….the next joke will be about how one of you nerds is my boss…..Sorry. Not the case. I’m normally a tactful and respectful UGA fan. But after a year of coming on ANY blog and seeing the nerds show their true colors….it’s our turn. T-MAN…talk to me when you guys have a win streak against us. Talk to me when you’re a constant threat in the ACC. You’re best team in nearly 20 years couldn’t beat our worst in this decade. Remember the sting you felt that night?? It’s gonna be that way for years to come. Enjoy your lone BCS trip. The U is back and so is FSU, along with the Hokies. (((30-24))) You’re program is measured by wins against us. Ours is measured by BCS wins. You know it….I know it….and any true fan of Georgia football knows it. When you get embarrassed in the Orange Bowl all the bandwagon fans will go away. The ones that will come back on here and take their lumps are the ones I respect. Not wanna be’s like T-boy. IT’S GREAT TO BE A GEORGIA BULLDOG!!!!

UGAFan

January 4th, 2010
5:02 pm

Lots of luck in the Orange, GT!

Paddy

January 4th, 2010
5:03 pm

Robert….get over it…CPJ can coach and will be just fine with his own players. Have you not watched them play the last couple of years? Or a better question. Do you even watch college football?

@Buckhead Dawg

January 4th, 2010
5:05 pm

@Buckhead Dawg– if the “major” bowls are all you are concerned with, I’m sure you guys are content. Tech is concerned with national championships, hence why we have more than you do. Slam us all you want… call us when you have 4 national titles.

Ezekiel

January 4th, 2010
5:06 pm

Having Paul Johnson coach Georgia Tech takes the program to a higher level year in and year out. The days of living in Chan Gailey purgatory are thankfully over and the best news of all is that this will be the first of many big-time bowl games under Paul Johnson’s watch. Talk more Tech football at: http://www.bbuzzoff.com

Kay

January 4th, 2010
5:07 pm

Great article, Jeff.
Thanks.

m

January 4th, 2010
5:08 pm

Jeff…this column is a damne disgrace. You mentioned the the damne Humanitarian Bowl more than you did the Orange.

You do Coach Johnson, and all the Yellow Jacket team a disservice by crappy journalism (sic) like this.

You truly are the gomer gailey of sportwriters. And Thanks to God and Greyhound, gomer is gone forever,,,he should of took you with him.

Tom

January 4th, 2010
5:09 pm

Ezekiel, please do not link that site. The idiot that runs it needs to wash his mouth out with a revolver.

The day will come

January 4th, 2010
5:10 pm

Tech fan here-

I don’t root for UGA to lose- in fact, I am looking forward to the day when an undefeated Tech team meets an undefeated UGA team in November. Congrats to the Bulldogs on their win, the Falcons on their back to back winning seasons, and GOOD LUCK IN MIAMI JACKETS!!!!!!

BRING THE ORANGE BOWL TROPHY BACK TO ATLANTA BABY!!!!!!

Sorry

January 4th, 2010
5:11 pm

Something tells me tech comes up short again. It’s in their nature to fail.

Dawg

January 4th, 2010
5:12 pm

I hate to say it guys, but Tech’s offense will only get better when the players they need are in place to execute their gimmicky offense. It may be a gimmick, but we can’t argue the fact that it’s effective. that Navy team has far less talent, yet they whip better teams. I hope the UGA and Tech rivalry is a good one for a long time. Go Dawgs!

Orange Bowl in a new location

January 4th, 2010
5:13 pm

Wait a minute… I have seen this 80s movie before… Tech fan base near Ft Lauderdale… Revenge of the Nerds Part II

Revenge of the Nerds Part II

January 4th, 2010
5:14 pm

coming to a stadium near you in Athens in 2010

Darin

January 4th, 2010
5:15 pm

Just think mutt rednecks! You were playing a week ago today! Ah how nostalgic! Hope you enjoyed your big win.

Now leave us alone and let us savor playing a real team in a bowl that matters. Adios cuellos rojos!

WonderDawg

January 4th, 2010
5:18 pm

Aww, what the heck….. go Jackets and kick some Hawkeye a$$!!

GT IS STILL 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 4th, 2010
5:18 pm

NO MATTER WHAT, THE JELLOW JOCKITCH WILL STILL BE A HIGH SCHOOL TEAM FOREVER AND EVER. HAHAHAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Hal

January 4th, 2010
5:19 pm

Kinda ridiculous we win a national champ but didn’t go to the orange that year. Still Tom Osborne said we were the toughest team he played that year including colorado with their 5 downs, a tie and bs clipping call against ND. It’s only a matter of time before we reach that game again. CPJ will win a nat champ here.

GT IS STILL 4TH RATE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM

January 4th, 2010
5:20 pm

NO MATER WHAT THE IMAGE OF THE JELLOW JOCKITCH WILL BE IN THE WATERLES URINALS OF THE CALLAWAY GARDENS AT THE END OF YOUR STREAM FOREVER AND EVER. HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

pilgrim

January 4th, 2010
5:25 pm

There was a little boy who sat on a see-saw. He told his friend to get off – it would be so much more fun to do the game by himself.

And Ga

January 4th, 2010
5:25 pm

will forever be the college team that lost BETWEEN THE HEDGES to a 4th rate high school team

Examples of HORRIBLE FANS

January 4th, 2010
5:26 pm

From UGA- “GT is still a 4th Rate High School Team” and Robert

From Tech- “St. Simons”

Many fans from both schools are pretty classy I would say. Nobody wears jorts around here either.