Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How The Georgia-Georgia Tech Rivalry Changed Course In 1964

Tech and Georgia fans don't agree on a whole lot.

The respective athletics departments can't even agree on the number of games the two have played against each other. The Bulldogs say this year is the 103rd meeting and the Yellow Jackets say this is the 105th meeting.

But one thing neither side can deny is how this rivalry changed course in 1964.

Up until that year, Tech held an edge in the series 27-26-5 (Yes, I am using the NCAA record book). Since that year, Georgia Tech has won just 12 times in 46 meetings.

Several events came together within a few years that would change the course of both programs and this rivalry.

First, was Vince Dooley's arrival to Athens in 1964. Dooley started with a bang winning his first 5 meetings with Tech. Dooley was subsequently hailed as hero in the state for dominating a program that had tormented UGA in the 50s. He went on to win six SEC titles and a national championship in his 25 seasons as head coach going 19-6 vs Georgia Tech.

Secondly, legendary Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd was winding down his career in Atlanta retiring in 1966. Dodd had a 12-7 record over UGA until a three game losing streak started in '64. Tech beat UGA eight times in a row from 1949-1956 under Dodd which still stands as the longest winning streak in the series.

Beating Tech in 1957 was so big for UGA they retired the number of Theron Sapp who simply recovered a fumble to secure the win for the Bulldogs.

Third, the Jackets had recently pulled out of the SEC in 1963 over disagreements in recruiting practices by some schools and became an Independent. Suddenly, Tech had no conference championship to play for and some SEC schools stopped scheduling the Jackets forcing them to look elsewhere for games.

Finally, around this time pro sports came to Atlanta and suddenly Georgia Tech had competition for the sports fans' eyes and wallets. Before now, Tech had been the only game in town and a successful one too taking a small alumni base and turning it into a national powerhouse post WWII. Being out of the SEC, Tech had to schedule less interesting opponents that couldn't draw fans from flocking to professional events.

Limited success against Georgia added on to the hurt with many fans growing up rooting for UGA instead of Tech.

Since 1964, Georgia Tech has enjoyed some moments in the spotlight most notably the three year winning streak from 1998-2000.

Mark Richt was hired at Georgia primarily to turn this rivalry around which he did winning his first seven tries.

Likewise, Paul Johnson was brought in to turn stop the red and black momentum which he did in year one with an upset victory.

Both schools have had disappointing seasons in 2010 but a win Saturday could easily change the course for the future.

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