Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who Could Georgia Tech Play in a 2013 Chick Fil A Kickoff Game?

Gary Stokan of the Atlanta Sports Council created some buzz around the Georgia Tech fan base this week saying he was targeting the Yellow Jackets for a 2013 kickoff game in the Georgia Dome.

So just who could Tech play?

The options seem limitless considering the national recognition the game has garnered in three seasons, but for the game to work I think you have to narrow the focus to a small group of teams that would generate great local and substantial national interest as well as a team that would create a good matchup for Tech's program.

In order to garner a sell out it is very likely a prominent SEC team or a "national" team would be involved as Georgia Tech's fan base simply isn't strong enough right now to bring 75k fans on their own like UGA will this upcoming season.

3 Most Likely SEC Candidates:
Auburn
The Tigers seem like the most likely matchup for Tech because of the program's history with one another. Auburn is Georgia Tech's second most played rivalry continuing their series even after Tech left the SEC. The Tigers also have a large fan base in Atlanta and the Alabama base is a short drive away. Gene Chizik has continued the trend of recruiting the state of Georgia and Atlanta area very hard and this game would only help that exposure.

Plus, Auburn fans desperately want to exact revenge on Tech for wins in 2003 and 2005 under Chan Gailey and Reggie Ball.

Tennessee
Like Auburn, Tennessee is an old rivalry game from Tech's SEC days. The Yellow Jackets most famous coach, Bobby Dodd, was an All-American for the Volunteers before taking an assistant job at Tech. Also like Auburn, UT has a size able fan base in the metro Atlanta area able to make the short trek to the Dome. The Vols are probably even more interested than Auburn in gaining recruiting exposure in the Atlanta area.

With a small in state talent base, Tennessee's fortunes over the years have been shaped by how well they recruit the state of Georgia. And despite a losing record in year one, Derek Dooley generated enough excitement with his close losses that Vols fans are looking towards the future with hope.

South Carolina
Once Tech became an Independent these two schools made a habit of playing each other in the 70s and 80s, but have not matched up since 1991. Things are looking up in Columbia with an SEC East title last season and likely to be the media and coaches favorite this season as well. South Carolina's campus is just a four hour drive away with large portion of their fan base being even closer.

And despite the flap in oversigning Atlanta prospect Lorenzo Mauldin, Spurrier wants to get more in the Atlanta recruiting scene. The one hindrance to the Gamecocks is they already have four non-conference games scheduled in 2013, but as shown for this year's game schedules can be moved around.
Alabama seems like an intriguing option after the two schools pushed back a scheduled home and home, but the Tide are already appearing in a kick off game in Atlanta that season and Stokan said the they would be in a separate, undetermined matchup.

National Opponents
When I think of national opponents interested in the game, two things immediately come into mind:

1. Large, traveling fan base
2. Desire to get into Atlanta recruiting base

When those two items are considered the search narrows to teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State

The one that, by far, makes the most sense to me is Notre Dame.

The Irish and Yellow Jackets have a history stretching back to the 1950s when they were dominant programs. ND would also like to exact revenge for suffering their worst home opener loss ever to Tech back in 2007.

Most importantly, Head Coach Brian Kelly is making a big recruiting push into the South and especially the state of Georgia where he snatched away Stephon Tuitt from Tech this year.

The one caveat is that Notre Dame already has five road games scheduled in 2013 with a sixth at a neutral site. But this is not something that couldn't be worked out. UGA, with the help of ESPN, had to move around their 2011 schedule to get into this year's game.

Above all, the matchup will have to be intriguing enough for Georgia Tech to give up one of its home games in 2013. I think one of these four - Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina, or Notre Dame could make it happen.

This article and others by me are also available at Chuck Oliver.net

2 comments:

  1. I disagree with one thing in this article. I don't think you have to find a regional team with a huge following to sell out the Georgia Dome if GT plays. LSU brought only about 12,000 fans to the Dome for the 2009 Chick-Fila Bowl Yellow Jacket fans sold that game out. Unless the Jackets come off a miserable season They can bring 55-60K to such a game with a good opponent.

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  2. True, GT did bring a lot of fans to that Chick Fil A Bowl. But that game followed arguably GT's biggest win ever under Johnson. Fan support was at an all time high after beating Georgia.

    The Kickoff Game will be in September. GT needs serious momentum in the off season to achieve those ticket sales again and that comes from beating Georgia and winning the bowl game.

    So far Tech is just 1-5 in the those games under Johnson so I am playing the odds here.

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