The Hot Button: Where would Tech finish in the SEC?

There's a difference between ACC speed and SEC speed. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

There's a difference between ACC speed and SEC speed. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It’s clear – to me, if not to C.J. Spiller and Dabo Swinney — that Georgia Tech is the class of the ACC. But the ACC is often described as the least of the six BCS leagues, and another conference in the neighborhood is regarded as the best. So now, today’s question:

Where would Tech rank in the SEC?

My first inclination is to say the Jackets would finish wherever Mike Slive’s refs got together and decided they should be, but that’s my little joke. Getting serious, I’d say …

Second in the East behind Florida. Third in the West behind Alabama and LSU. Fourth overall.

That wailing you hear are the cries arising from the confluence of North Avenue and Techwood Drive, but hear me out. As good as Tech is — and it is very good — there’s still a difference between the personnel of a top-shelf SEC team and of everyone else. (Ask Jim Tressel.) This doesn’t mean Tech couldn’t up and beat Florida or Alabama or LSU on a given Saturday; it simply means that, on most given Saturdays, talent would prevail.

We’ve seen the difference between the SEC and the ACC three times in this city in the past 15 months. Alabama beat Clemson in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and then whipped Virginia Tech in the 2009 installment. LSU beat Tech 38-3 on Dec. 31, 2008. Three games on a neutral field, three emphatic SEC victories. Anyone who says there isn’t an imbalance between leagues, at least at their respective summits, isn’t dealing in reality.

On the other hand, SEC zealots are wrong to suggest the Jackets would finish far up the track in that famous league. Tech is better than Ole Miss, better than Auburn, better than South Carolina, better than Arkansas … yes, better than Georgia. To be placed below Florida and Alabama is no great failing, for those are two of the three best teams in the land, and to be deemed less gifted than LSU is no demerit, given that the Tigers have lost only to the Gators and the Tide.

Where would Tech rank in the SEC?

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(And yes, I have noticed that Tech beat both Mississippi State and Vandy by one more point than did the mighty Gators. Whatever that means.)

Since you asked, I don’t think it’s a question of Paul Johnson’s offense not working in the SEC. It’s an issue instead of the SEC’s Big Three having superior defensive manpower. Nobody else in the ACC has the speed to keep up with Dwyer and Nesbitt and Roddy Jones; certain teams in the SEC do.

OK, there’s my take. Feel free to call me an idiot — pretty much everybody does — but know this: I do speak from observation. I’ve seen Tech and Florida and LSU in person both this season and last, and I saw Alabama in the imposing flesh twice in 2008. And I’m not trying to denigrate the Jackets, who might well be the nation’s fifth-best team. (After Florida, Texas, Alabama and LSU. Though I’m not suggesting LSU, with its two losses, should be ranked ahead of Tech in the polls.) I’m just telling you how I see it.

You’re now free to express yourselves on this weighty matter.  Why do I feel you won’t need prompting?

And now, because fair’s fair: Where would Georgia rank in the ACC?

901 comments Add your comment

Newnan Jacket

November 11th, 2009
12:32 am

gold and white

November 11th, 2009
12:32 am

gold and white

November 11th, 2009
12:33 am

just beat me there…

Robby

November 11th, 2009
12:34 am

I would have to agree that! Go Tech! THWG

Mark Bradley

November 11th, 2009
12:34 am

You guys are too fast. I can barely Tweet the post on Twitter before you find it. Kudos to one and all.

waldejh

November 11th, 2009
12:42 am

I think that you are spot on. The Big 3 of the SEC are extremely fast on defense, but I think that we could have that same ability at Tech. I think that Johnson has done a fine job, and that it wont be long before we are an annual contestant for the national crown. I dont think that we have the defense to stand with the powerhouses yet, but great players like to win and it looks like we will see a lot more victories to come on the Flats. Talent will soon be pouring out in droves to wear the white and gold.

waldejh

November 11th, 2009
12:43 am

Oh and can we please get a kicker. Like a real one.

Newnan Jacket

November 11th, 2009
12:43 am

Luck…

Georgia Tech could win in the SEC and they’ve done so in the past. Aside from that, do you remember a few years ago, SEC coaches saying that the SEC was at a disadvantage because of the parity in the league? Because there weren’t any undefeated teams they weren’t in the NC conversation. What a short term argument! Long term?That parity then brought three of the best teams in the country now. Same with the ACC: beating the snot out of each other now will only make us stronger later on. Maybe then MB can ask an even better question: Where would UGA be ranked if it were in the ACC? (My answer would be 12th… but then I am biased)

Ryan

November 11th, 2009
12:46 am

I really think that we would beat Florida or Alabama if we were given the chance. This is the most explosive team since 1998-99. Florida and Alabama might have better defenses but thats about it. Ive watched LSU play this year and they struggled during some games also. All these teams I believe are very close together. Its too bad we dont have a playoff system where we can truly find out whos better.

THE HELL WITH GEORGIA!

GO JACKETS!

gold and white

November 11th, 2009
12:50 am

i think this is about right. it would be a toss up between the jackets and lsu for the third spot though. We could challenge UF and Bama consistenly but seldom beat them. SEC is the best in the country, no doubt (though it is somewhat top-heavy). But I want to see what we do to finishout the season. We’re 9-1 now and #7, but “we still havent done anything yet!” Lets smash Duke, handle UGA, beat CLemson, then beat our Orange bowl opponent (If it’s boise, tcu, or cincy, let’s smash em!). Then, i’ll say for sure that we’d be near the very top of the SEC.

***(unfortunately we’re in the acc…)***

Mark Bradley

November 11th, 2009
12:54 am

It is a shame there’s no playoff. The Jackets would be the team nobody wanted to face.

I Bleed White and Old Gold

November 11th, 2009
12:58 am

I’m with Mark. And I think the gap between LSU and whoever is next in the SEC is huge!

JJacket

November 11th, 2009
12:58 am

Hopefully, Utah wouldn’t be included. Otherwise, by your logic, it would be Florida and Utah at the top – followed by Bamalama and LSU.

62jacket

November 11th, 2009
12:59 am

Mark,
I agree with your overall premise, that being that this season, the Jackets would probably be the fourth best in the SEC behind FL, AL,and LSU. But I think that’s due more to our lack of defense than their ability to defend our offense. If we can just get say, into the top 20 in total defense, I think it’s a different story. Also, I don’t care what conference GT plays in, with a week to prepare, most defenses aren’t disciplined enough for 60 minutes to contain it. In fact, as to the superior defensive speed you mentioned, speed and discipline don’t always go hand-in-hand. With 3-4 weeks to prepare, a bowl game might be different, especially against a top-notch defense. However, over the course of a season, with a decent defense, I would put us at or near the top of any conference.

UGA75

November 11th, 2009
12:59 am

I think at present the Jackets would finish 4th, per MB. I think given their superior coach they would challenge Ala and Florida within two years. The rest of the ACC better get used to looking at the back end of the stinger for the next few years, and since UGA doesn’t have a defensive coach of any kind, so will the Dawgs

Big Dawg

November 11th, 2009
1:07 am

I don’t think LSU would mind much….

spjacket

November 11th, 2009
1:15 am

I agree with everything you said about Tech. But do you really think the ACC is below the the Big East and the Big Ten this year? And one could have a case about the ACC being stronger than the Pac 10 this season.

Jamal Crawford for Atlanta Mayor

November 11th, 2009
1:16 am

Based on my viewing of the LSU-Georgia game, which UGA should have actually won, I’d say that Tech would place 3rd in the SEC, AHEAD of LSU. I don’t think they’re 3rd in talent, though. I think that UGA and LSU are both definitively ahead of Tech just on players, and SC, Arkansas, maybe even MS are ahead on that score. But, it’s about coaching and talent, and Paul Johnson has proven to be a great hire.

It’s just a shame we don’t have a playoff… please everyone (Tech fans who are hoping for a miracle BCS bid, I forgive you for not joining in) root for a Boise State v. Cinncinnati BCS bowl! Hopefully, that would tick enough people off to demand a change!!!!

(Speaking of… where do you think THOSE teams would sit in the SEC???)

jacketit

November 11th, 2009
1:27 am

Honestly, I think Tech would have a good shot at knocking off Florida based solely on what regularly stop us, and that is a dominating front four. While their D-line is good, it isn’t dominate like an Alabama. And given that their offense isn’t as good as it has been in recent memory, I think Tech might have a shot to outscore them. Now Alabama, their D-line is too big and too dominating right now for Tech to compete against. Now, CPJ would probably come up with some adjustments to try to counter it, I don’t think it would help much. I’m not even going to try to predict what would happen if we played LSU, they are just too schizophrenic to accurately predict.

GTGreg

November 11th, 2009
2:16 am

Ok, I’ll bite. Regarding the inane caption on the lead photo: did you actually watch the Peach-fil-a bowl last year? That was a game decided by special teams gaffes and enormous miscues, not by Essss Eeee Seee Speed (registered trademark) as you suggest. It wasn’t about Les Miles’ legendary preparation skills, as asserted by my LSU friends (I live among them down here in NOLA). It wasn’t about a blueprint to stop the option. It was about crappy special teams play pure and simple. All of the other factors could have very well been overcome, had the whole muffed punt/onside kick chain reaction been interrupted. Respect to Les Miles for his timely play calls, but Tech did about as much to lose that game as LSU did to win it.

Now about that SECSpeed again… you do realize that Tech is the only team to hang 50+ on an SEC defense this season, right? The fastest-of-them-all Gators hung about half that on the same Vandy defense in the swamp. Did Vandy save all of their speed for their game with UF? Hopefully Tech will get to hang 50+ on another SEC defense before bowl season…

stu

November 11th, 2009
2:41 am

“whipped Virginia Tech in the 2009 installment” Bama had to make a fourth quarter comeback to win that game. What are you talking about? GTech whipped Virginia tech, not bama.

Gravy Train

November 11th, 2009
2:47 am

I think it has already been proven that 1-AA and less such teams have what it takes to beat this vaunted Tech squad. That “it” is an opportunistic assignment defense. Shut down the corners, keep the action in the middle contained and wait for the qb to turn it over. Especially in Tech’s case, wait for the cocky coach to gamble and lose.

I’ve heard so much inane pontification from the geek squad this season: “Our offense is unstoppable,” “We own this or that,” “We are the best team in the state,” or the all-time greatest “NFL scouts are looking at our QB.”

MB, it’s your Shangri-La song that helps fuel this situation. The real story should be “If this offense is so great, why isn’t it used in the NFL or any major college program?” “Why does the national media give Tech the fly-by treament?”

I just don’t get what you see here MB. You like PJ, fine. But why in the world go overboard with it?

Charles Foster Kane would be proud.

Sting-em! Buzzz

November 11th, 2009
3:49 am

He’s talking about in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic. The first game of the season.

Ted Striker

November 11th, 2009
4:03 am

Where would Tech finish in the SEC? They wouldn’t. They couldn’t make it through a season.

Not Disappointed!

November 11th, 2009
4:19 am

Okay Mark you have my attention. I believe you maybe on the money. I still think feel 3rd, but 4th isn’t bad in the sec.

Great Read. “Going back to bed.” Later jackets!

jacketnation

November 11th, 2009
4:29 am

Why would a prestigious academic school like Georgia Tech want to be part of an academic scandal filled league like the Schools Education Criminals. Did someone just say Jan Kemp was a hero? We have an offensive lineman majoring in aeronautical engineering. At UgaG you can enroll in the school of food science and eat your way to a degree. It is much harder to get 5 star athletes when your school requires ALL students to take two semesters of advanced calculus. No, I didn’t say “calluses” UgaG, Alabama and Auburn athletes. And Tech doesn’t ask the bureau of pardons and paroles for recruiting lists.

jacketnation

November 11th, 2009
4:40 am

…and a reminder, Tech athletes ranked #1 in the nation in SAT scores, Florida ranked dead last. That’s why there ranked the #1 football program in the country. And if you don’t agree then Urban Cryer has a player who will poke your eyes out. Florida was ranked the #1 party school with UgaG (school of drunk arrested athletes) ranked near the top as well. Mark do you recall the year all those players sold their SEC championship rings? Then got caught smoking pot on campus. Well at least they got enough at the pawn shop for their ring to buy a bag of weed.

m

November 11th, 2009
5:22 am

Mark…your idiotic sec bias is showing.

alabammer and floriduh are mainly media creations. alabammer is basically no better than a weak tennersee team and floriduh was pushed to the limit by a missy st team that tech handled easily.

Tech would be just as likely to beat alabammer or floriduh as they would of beating tech.

You sec homer gomers are just silly. If we ever have a playoff the sec is going to be exposed big time.

falcon 71

November 11th, 2009
5:41 am

doesnt matter they are in the weak ACC so there is no 8 game gauge. wish to god they hadnt left the SEC in the 60s though then we would know for sure wonder if the SEC would trade Vandy for Tech in a hartbeat

RYan

November 11th, 2009
6:02 am

Yeah. Right. I think LSU wouldn’t be ahead.

And you also have to split tech into BM and AM: Before MIami and After MIami,.

And why is it when Alabama barely escapes Vs an inferior team ,y blocking a last minute field goal, its just ‘Evidence of the strength of the SEC”, but when teach Vs a wake team that, records aside, is arguably better than the team Alabama almost lost to. . .

A team not in the SEC plays the same game Alabama did that week they slip down a few slots.

RYan

November 11th, 2009
6:04 am

‘A weak ACC’ – why are they weak. . because theya ren’t the SEC. Why is the SEC strong? Because they are the SEC and every team in it automatically gets extra credit merely for their conference rather than actual accomplishments, and they start ranked higher and therefore finish ranked higher in a self fulfilling prophecy. Mainly due to ESPN’s crush on the SEC.

Tony has a burr in his saddle

November 11th, 2009
6:06 am

Mark… I think you are right.. maybe 3rd ahead of LSU.. but no higher.. give Johnson another 2 years and the story may be different

M Reagan

November 11th, 2009
6:12 am

Mark let me ask you a question? With Wake having a win over Stanford, NC State having a win over #12 Pittsburg, FSU routing BYU on the road, Miami taking care of Oklahoma, Va Tech beating Nebraska, Clemson taking TCU to the buzzer, Tech waxing MS State on the road, besides Alabama beating Va Tech in the first game, what does the mighty SEC have to hang their hat on out side of beating each other?

Gordon

November 11th, 2009
6:15 am

No question we are behind UF, Alabama, and LSU. Probably 4th or 5th. I would have to say it would be easier to get upset by a middle tier SEC team (Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina) than a middle tier ACC team (North Carolina, FSU, Boston College).

Scrap

November 11th, 2009
6:22 am

Mark, great piece! I’m glad to see we’re back to the “Good Ole Fashioned Hate” theme………It does wonders to fuel one of the country’s great rivalries. Ain’t Georgia football great? THWG, and lets focus on Duke, then UGA, then Clemson or whoever…….This could still be a special season for the Jackets.

Pipepimp

November 11th, 2009
6:29 am

M, I guess M= Mindless, Moron, Mouthy, Maniac, etc…….., if you even think GT could lead the pack in the S.E.C…

dagnabit

November 11th, 2009
6:33 am

Mark. I’ll ride with that. Good column.

GT4Ever

November 11th, 2009
6:37 am

I agree with 4th but LSU isn’t as tough as they have been so maybe you can’t rule out 3rd. At this moment would would give UF and Bama a battle. If Tech was in the SEC, with all the national attention they would get would be a big plus recruiting wise. It would raise their media attention even more than their getting right now. So maybe in a few years we could challenge the mighty UF and Bama.

The Other Saint Simons

November 11th, 2009
6:42 am

I am a dawg and it pains me to say that Tech would win this year after 8 years of being Vandy and Kentucky’s pal way down at the bottom. This last two years gets everyone’s attention, but then their coach goes to Notre Dame and they hire Reggie Ball to replace him. (Since we are dreaming).

GT Rules State

November 11th, 2009
6:43 am

GT could beat any team on any day. D is only question.

Tech Man in Dawg Country

November 11th, 2009
6:44 am

I agree with Mark overall, but would put Tech third, ahead of LSU. I agree it is Tech’s defense (or lack thereof) that is the difference between Tech and Florida and Alabama. However, I don’t think LSU’s offense is anything special either, so I think Tech could simply out score them. And before you mention the Peach Bowl, that was last year, not this. Last year they would have been 4th, this year 3rd, and with Nesbitt returning and Tebow leaving, who knows about next year…

Big time?? Not

November 11th, 2009
6:47 am

Four tickets, four hot dogs, four cokes. 51,000 at “biggest game of year” Joke

EEJacket

November 11th, 2009
6:48 am

More or less I agree with you Mark. I just think I disagree on HOW we’d lose to UF, Bama, and Loosoo.

First of all, we’d beat LSU and bama much more often than UF. The gaytors can get it done on both sides of the ball consistently well, wereas bama and loosoo rely heavily on their defenses to make the stop. That being said, I don’t think its the “SEC Speed” you’re talking about that would get us, I think its the SEC strength. I’d pick Sean Bedford over Terrance Cody any day in a reaction time, sprinting, or drinking contest, but damned if ol’ Terrance couldn’t bench 1.75 Bedfords. I guess my point is they’d muscle us down at the line more often than not, but if we get that ball past the initial coverage watch out baby because AA and JD and BBT would pick apart any SEC secondary (with the exception, probably, of UF’s)

Teddy

November 11th, 2009
6:53 am

Tech can’t throw the ball a lick. That won’t work in the SEC. THey will put nine in the box and shut down the run. Second, the caliber of play is at a consistently high level every week – not patsies in the middle of the season like in the ACC. The grind of the SEC would lead to two or three more losses for Tech, at least until they got used to the routine. Tech would have to be deeper in talent and would have to learn to pass, if not, they would be a mid level team in the SEC. Will say Johnson is a tremendous coach, and with the added exposure being in the SEC, he would fill out that team and get the players he needs to be competitive. But, he would have to adapt that offense. No throw, no win. SEC has too many big defense linemen and too much speed to be one dimensional.

SEC is tops when....

November 11th, 2009
6:53 am

it comes to playing cupcake teams like College of Charleston, Troy, and FIU in the same season. The #1 team in the nation scheduled all of these lightweights in addition to playing the cupcakes in their own league like Vanderbilt. Why does everyone think they’re so great when they continually schedule weak out of conference games? Simple -ratings, money, and large fan bases.

Many SEC schools also have a high number of “special permit” players that would not even be admitted to college if it depended on their GPA’s and SAT scores. The playing field is not level in that respect. If those SEC schools adhered to TECH’s academic standards, they would not be as competitive as they are now.

Top Dawg

November 11th, 2009
6:55 am

“Last” is the answer to your question.

GatorMan

November 11th, 2009
6:58 am

Georgia Tech would finish second. Georgia Tech THIS year would be LSU (yes I saw the game last year, Tech’s QB and offense in general are on a different level this year). They would also take Alabama IMO over a seven game series. They would still be behind UF, as UF has an offense and a defense as opposed to Alabama. Alabama couldn’t score 40 if they had to in order to beat Tech.

UTvolunteer

November 11th, 2009
7:00 am

Tech would finish 4th right now….

1. Florida
2. Alabama
3. Tennessee
4. Georgia Tech
5. LSU
6. South Carolina
7. Auburn
8. Arkansas
9. Ole Miss
10. Georgia
11. Miss St
12. Kentucky
13. Vanderbilt

AZ Jacket

November 11th, 2009
7:02 am

Who cares where they would finish. Tech is not in the SEC. We have been in the ACC for years. We have a division clinching game this Saturday and that is all CPJ and the team are thinking about. We played 4 SEC teams last year and we came out 3-1. We play 3 this year and have beat two already. Mark you write these blogs just to give the dawg fans something bitch about. They cannot brag about their programs so you set them up with stupid articles such as this. It is a shame the the AJC cannot be journalist and bring insight to programs and teams. They can only create ‘what ifs’ that have no meaning at all.

KJ

November 11th, 2009
7:05 am

“Anyone who says there isn’t an imbalance between leagues, at least at their respective summits, isn’t dealing in reality.”

You only have to read posts by m, ramble on, newnan jacket et.al.to know there are no shortage of NATStards on these blogs that aren’t “dealing in reality.” They actually think that beating up on Vandy and MSU, and winning 1 game in 7 against UGA translates into “dominating the SEC”.