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Is Georgia Tech Returning to Its Glory Days?



            Oh happy days! Georgia Tech thumped Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl and will probably end up in the top 10 and prospects for an even better year in 2015 are promising.

            Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech’s coach, even had his contract renewed after the Yellow Jackets beat the Georgia Bulldogs this year. That right there is a major accomplishment and even if Georgia Tech is one and 10 and beats Georgia, it’s still a successful season.

            Now, I didn’t go to Georgia Tech and in fact I received my undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota. So why do I love the Yellow Jackets?

            Well for one reason, I did go to Middle Georgia College and received my associate degree from there in 1972 and Middle Georgia was (I assume it still is) a feeder school for Georgia Tech. I debated on going to Georgia Tech after graduating from Middle Georgia, but ended up working full-time and going to school part-time at Georgia State.

            In 1977, I took a job as the environmental manager for North Dakota’s largest employer, International Co-Op. Part of the benefits package was funding my degree at the University of North Dakota, and my degree from UND proudly hangs on my wall today. I still consider myself a Fighting Sioux from UND, even though my alma mater capitulated to the NCAA’s demands that the school get rid of the “demeaning” name.

            Fortunately for Georgia Tech, there is no group demanding that the Yellow Jacket name be disposed of.

            But that’s not why I continue to love Georgia Tech after all these years.

            No, the reason why I love Georgia Tech is those golden years when my mom and dad and brother Steve lived at the Techwood Apartments from 1951 to 1954, when my dad went to Tech to get his degree in aeronautical engineering. What a time to live on the Georgia Tech campus!

            I can still remember The Rambling Wreck parades where clunker cars were patched together to make the most ridiculous vehicles and would swerve close to the crowds, seemingly out of control. There’s one I remember in particular. Three cars were stacked one on top of each other, and a steering wheel column extended through all three cars to the top of an old Packard. Sitting on top of that Packard was a Tech student with the familiar rat cap sitting on top of a toilet that had been made into an improvised seat. With a goofy grin, sitting on the toilet, he attempted to steer the rambling wreck so as not to maim or kill anyone. Safety standards were little more relaxed back in those days!

            Over 60 years later, that memory is still etched in my mind. It’s a pleasant one, a simpler time when people were happy that World War II had ended, even though there was still that unpleasant “police action” going on in Korea. My father, who had flown a PBY Catalina on anti-submarine patrols to protect the Panama Canal, was terrified that he would be recalled back into the service. But he wasn’t and he went on to finish at Tech and go on to work at Lockheed, where he was part of the original design team of the C-130 Hercules, the most successful aircraft ever built. It’s still being built today at Lockheed in Marietta, Georgia, and when my brother Matt and I got a VIP tour of Lockheed several years ago, there were C-130s on the line.

            The rambling wreck parade was great but the football games were even better. In 1952, the second year of my dad’s studies at Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets were national champions. Sitting there in the student section watching the games was electrifying – the Yellow Jackets were a national force and the enthusiasm was contagious.

            This was the era of Bobby Dodd, the legendary coach and now the namesake for the football stadium. The official title is Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, and he certainly deserves the honor. Under Dodd’s coaching, Tech played in 13 major bowl games, winning nine, including six in a row from 1952 to 1956. Bobby Dodd compiled a 165-64-8 record as head coach at Georgia Tech.

            But most importantly, he knew how to beat Georgia. During my four years at Georgia Tech, Dodd beat Georgia every year.

            To give you a feel for the Rambling Wreck parade, here is a neat link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ_JT6b0qAs And check out Georgia Tech in its former glory days (now hopefully resumed), a video from its 1952 national championship season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQbbem3utf0