Live from Tech: Recalling the (awful) ACC title game

Seven days after Reggie Ball called a loss (his fourth) to Georgia “just another game, dog,” he played a dog of a game in Jacksonville. He threw 29 passes. He completed nine. He threw two interceptions. His team didn’t score a touchdown and lost the ACC championship game to Wake Forest 9-6.

We mention because Georgia Tech again plays Wake Forest today, and pretty much everything has changed. Ball is gone. (Indeed, he didn’t play another game for Tech after the Wake loss.) Chan Gailey, who arrived in Jacksonville calling it “a business trip,” was given the sack not quite a year later. And the Jackets are again poised to return to the ACC title game. And this time they’ll win.

In the cold light of hindsight, those two egregegious losses were the best thing that ever happened to Tech. There was a ceiling on Gailey’s achievements, and even if the Jackets had won the 2006 conference championship and reached the Orange Bowl, they’d have been back to the old seven- and eight-win seasons soon enough. (Didn’t Dave Braine, in extending Gailey’s contract, say Tech couldn’t expect to win big as a matter of course?)

Had Tech won either of those two games — the 15-12 loss in Athens to a four-loss Georgia team or the drudgefest in Jacksonville — Gailey would still be in place. Because he’d have either dislodged his Georgia impediment or he’d have won the ACC. And Dan Radakovich couldn’t in good conscience have moved to fire him in November 2007. And if Gailey were still here, Paul Johnson wouldn’t be.

I remember well how crushed Tech backers were back in 2006. Their best team under Gailey had managed 18 points in the two games that mattered most. He’d gotten the Jackets so far but no further, and a better season seemed unlikely. And the Wake loss was, by most objective standards, the worst football game ever played. But look now.

Tech is in the Top 10. It figures to reach both the ACC title game and the Orange Bowl and will surely whip Georgia again. And the coach now is Paul Johnson. Moral of our story: Sometimes things do work out for the best.

And with that, I invite you to join me here — figuratively, if not literally — at historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd stadium for Tech-Wake 2009. I’m as certain as I can be that PJ’s offense will muster at least one touchdown, and I invite your comments, questions and favorite Reggie Ball memories. I’ll be here all day, dog.

1,395 comments Add your comment

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
2:23 pm

Let’s go Jackets make this a good one! Ramblin Wreck! Thank you Clear Atlanta!

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
2:27 pm

I’m nervous about this game, Mark. The defense needs to step up. Our offense is to good for the defense to give the game away. Let’s go Jackets. Blog from the on the hill “Powerhouse parking lot!” Ramblin Wreck!

Eric

November 7th, 2009
2:31 pm

LOL. No reggie ball and gailey so all is good. Iowa lost their qb and are losing now late. A win by GT and we move up 2 more spots at least if things hold up there.

Alan

November 7th, 2009
2:32 pm

My prediction

The def plays well today. No more close first half. But the offense is a little off today. Up 14-10 at the half. Go on to win
35-17

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
2:32 pm

I wouldn’t worry too much about this one. Wake is well coached, as always, but so is Tech. And Tech has superior talent.

Benjamin

November 7th, 2009
2:33 pm

Reggie Ball was the worst college quarterback I’ve seen in some time.

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
2:33 pm

I’ve covered Kentucky. I’ve seen several worse quarterbacks than Reggie Ball. But Reggie was like a shaky point guard: He kept both teams in the game.

Eric

November 7th, 2009
2:38 pm

I think oregon might lose to Stanford. And I’m looking forward to seeing how Vandy and Fla play for comps. 35 is way too much. Vandy always plays uf close. 38-20 sounds more realistic.

GT could be in the top 6-8 if a few upsets happen. Then we just need Texas, who’s not all that impressive today to stumble. Cincy loses to pitt or WV and we could find ourselves in the thick of this Nat champ race. Imagine dawg nation if we got there and then beat fla with all their futility against them. LOL

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
2:38 pm

Damn, that was a low blow Mark. So, how would Reggie survive in PJ’s offense? I think so…

Also, great read to start the game.

bluecole

November 7th, 2009
2:40 pm

Right near the top, and I can’t think of anything to say. Hey, Mark is the AJC hiring?

Daggummit!

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
2:40 pm

Thanks, Not Disappointed. I’m obliged.

Brad

November 7th, 2009
2:40 pm

What was sad about that year was it was a real waste of Calvin Johnson’s talent. To have a guy that superior and not be able to get him the ball. It may have been that same year when I watched them play UNC in Chapel Hill and same story..no offense ..but that time they won.

I’m nervous but optimistic. Johnson seems to keep them motivated and grounded. I can tell you anyone that says the option is boring hasn’t watch this team. Remember last year during Peach Bowl the announcers saying it wasn’t a big play offense. While they blew that game..hard to find a team that has had more big plays on a consistent basis. Now if they can just stop the opponent from big plays.

Go Jackets and good luck today.

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
2:40 pm

Actually, I think we are. Esteemed colleague Sekou Smith just left to work for NBA.com.

Chet Whitlock

November 7th, 2009
2:41 pm

Bradley, are you jockeying (Kentucky [derby] reference) for “M” to come on here and post his notorious “Thank God and greyhound Chan Gomer Gailey…” line? The man does not need to be provoked.

sharecropper

November 7th, 2009
2:41 pm

Ah, seen “in some time”? Let’s go for that firm, definitive position.

Eric

November 7th, 2009
2:42 pm

If Iowa comes back and wins, they will go down as the luckiest team ever. Still have osu and minn. But I’d rather have them out of the way this week. GT train is coming!! Look out Gators!

collegeballfan

November 7th, 2009
2:43 pm

“Tech is in the Top 10. It figures to reach both the ACC title game and the Orange Bowl and will surely whip Georgia again.”

Some of us old timers have seen similar moments before only to come away crushed – 1990 being the exception.

There is no acceptable reason that Tech should not win against all three remaining opponents on the schedule. And I include in those reasons injuries to key players. But all of this is on offense.

Defense is another story. I do not mind saying that the defense is scary. If Wake, or anyone, rises up and plays an exceptional game on defense GT has a loss. S**t happens.

#4 Iowa still down 17 – 10 with under 8 minutes left. There is no acceptable for Iowa to lose, injured QB or not. We shall see.

Go Jackets!

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
2:43 pm

That line, Chet, has gotten a little tired. Sort of like the Gators/jean shorts thing.

bluecole

November 7th, 2009
2:44 pm

We can dream of MNC all we want, but this season has been a great success. CPJ is proven right, everyone is healthy, and we’re not perfect.(D and special teams; second level blocking)

I’m really proud how our focus seems to be improving. I’m not seeing the brain farts we’ve become used to under previous regimes. (of course, brainfarts and under-performance are not the same thing)

Also, how many of you (five) will be watching Navy? A little TO warmup!

B.

Greg

November 7th, 2009
2:45 pm

What about kentucky and the mullets? Haha

bluecole

November 7th, 2009
2:45 pm

I do have some newspaper experience. . . .

Chet Whitlock

November 7th, 2009
2:46 pm

No doubt about that, MB. I’m sure it will still somehow find its way into this blog. Still waiting on Saint Simons to chime in also…

Loving the Tech coverage by the way.

Eric

November 7th, 2009
2:47 pm

I’m just glad we have a bye week before the uga game. I think they will be huge and they Mark’s team the week before. I wonder if Mark will be pulling for the dawgs or kentucky in 2 weeks. Probably UK in his heart but he will say go dawgs to appease the mutt fans.

cooter

November 7th, 2009
2:48 pm

Where is M when you need him. Copy. Mark, any suggestions for a new DC for next year?

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
2:54 pm

college ball fan, don’t count out IOWA. I watched the Michigan St game at the end, and they won. IOWA has a luck that’s strong.

Nevertheless, Ramblin Wreck.

Pi$$onaDawg

November 7th, 2009
2:55 pm

I am home this game because my Neice’s school band is run by the Tech band director too. Mt Vernon is playing at halftime. My Sis went with Dad to see the game. Got to take care of business early. Really want FSU to take care of Clemson tonight too.

Eric

November 7th, 2009
2:56 pm

Mark
Has a team over the past 15 years ever made it to the Nat champ game without winning their conf? Wasn’t there some issue a few years ago with a Big 12 team, maybe ok or Neb getting to the title game and not playing in their Conf champ game? I’m just wondering what would happen if Gt did win out and the cards fell into place and texas lost their conf champ game. How would they ever vote a team to play for it all when they lost their conf. I just don’t see that happening today. But it’s all about $$$. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see a GT or some other team get screwed under a scenario where tcu or gt were in the mix and they still voted some texas or psu ahead of them.

Paul in RDU

November 7th, 2009
2:56 pm

Eric – Don’t be silly. As a professional journalist Mark will be pulling for a good story rather than any team.
I’ve never thought he was a homer for any team.
Now – trying to be provocative to get people to read his colums is another story.

Eric

November 7th, 2009
2:57 pm

Iowa isn’t going to win. Their luck has run out.

Eric

November 7th, 2009
2:58 pm

Paul
Yeah how silly to think he would pull for his home state team without writing it.

mmgtfan

November 7th, 2009
2:58 pm

What uniforms are they wearing? Any black?

Pi$$onaDawg

November 7th, 2009
3:00 pm

Have to blog today. Can’t go to the game. Sis went with Dad because my Niece’s Band(Mt. Vernon) is run by Tech’s Band Director too and will play at halftime. Tech needs to handle their business early. Need FSU to take care of Clemson tonight.

Eric

November 7th, 2009
3:00 pm

It’s over. Iowa lost! One down 6 to go!

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
3:00 pm

Georgia is wearing black helmets. (Whoops. That was last week.)

Tech in white pants, gold shirts and gold helmets. Unless it changes before kickoff.

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
3:01 pm

Iowa, just shot their load. Poor baby………. “Let’s go Jackets!”

Pi$$onaDawg

November 7th, 2009
3:01 pm

Iowa goes down

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
3:01 pm

Oklahoma made it in 2003. Nebraska made it in 2000.

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
3:02 pm

Mark, that’s another low blow. Did you have Kahlua and coffee too this morning? LOL!

Paul in RDU

November 7th, 2009
3:02 pm

Northwestern 17 – Iowa 10
Looks like the Big 10 is wide open

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
3:03 pm

I had neither coffee nor Kahlua. Thanks for asking, though. (I had a Snapple diet lemon.)

Pi$$onaDawg

November 7th, 2009
3:03 pm

Have to blog today can’t go to the game. Sis went with Dad because my niece’s band is playing at halftime. Need FSU to take care of Clemson tonight too.

Paul in RDU

November 7th, 2009
3:04 pm

If GT winds today they’ll jump Iowa

Pi$$onaDawg

November 7th, 2009
3:04 pm

Is the blog running funny for anybody out there? I can’t see after I type and enter.

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
3:06 pm

I guss, I’m heading inside stadium. Clear Atlanta is difinitely the best wireless for laptops at 4G speed. I’m impressed. Let’s go Jackets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pi$$onaDawg

November 7th, 2009
3:07 pm

I see the Dawg fans are having a better day on the blogs than last week.

Not Disappointed!

November 7th, 2009
3:07 pm

POAD it may be your internet provider. Are you on Cable, wireless or dsl?

calvin

November 7th, 2009
3:08 pm

This is a dangerous game today, which we should
know even if Wake hadn’t nearly beaten Miami last
week.

Paul in RDU

November 7th, 2009
3:10 pm

POAD – You have that right about the Dawgs.
All week they were talking about how bad they are. Now that they are blowing out TT some of them are back to “I’m worried that when we go 9-4 it will save Willie’s job”

Mark Bradley

November 7th, 2009
3:11 pm

Let me point something out: I went to UK, but I didn’t ever root for UK. I grew up a Louisville fan. My dad graduated from the U of L dental school.

Paul in RDU

November 7th, 2009
3:13 pm

Did Louisville even have a D-1 FB team back then?