Post from former Tech beat writer

Hjacket

Georgia Tech Fan
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71
Post from former Tech beat writer, IJ Rosenberg:

In the spring of 1989, I was just finishing up my second year as the Georgia Tech beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ... Under two years with new football coach Bobby Ross, the Yellow Jackets had won a total of four games, one against the Citadel in '87 and three the next year which included one against a Top-10 ranked South Carolina team ... I was called in the office of AJC editors Van McKenzie and Tim Tucker and told I was going on the Falcons beat ... I was only 25 at the time, had been married for only nine months and with how the Falcons were doing at the time, I had mixed emotions about the move ... I liked Tech, especially basketball coach Bobby Cremins but it was a pro beat and I wasn't about to tell Van and Tim I didn't want it ... But I do remember telling then whoever they picked to be the next Tech beat writer would be lucky because Kenny Anderson was about to come on the scene for basketball and football was going to really turn the corner ... The latter part of that statement came because I felt Ross was an excellent football coach and both his coordinators, Ralph Friedgen and George O'Leary, were superb as was the rest of his staff ... Ross just needed some time ... Two years later Tech played in the Final Four in basketball but even bigger won a national championship in football ... OK, flip to today ... Our biggest event at Score Atlanta is the Corky Kell+Dave Hunter Classic and looking to improve our 7 On 7 event, we moved it down to Georgia Tech; three days and 93 teams and it kicked *** thanks to some heavy lifting by two future High School Hall of Fame coaches who now work for new Tech head coach Brent Key ... Tim McFarlin with support from Bill Stewart, both state championship coaches, helped us take our 7 On 7 event to a new level .. But that is not what this is about ... For 10 hours each of the three days, I think I met everyone on Key's staff, both on and off the field ... Folks, I am now a believer ... The last few years I have been down on Tech in both football and basketball, feeling this great university was cheating us all who grew up fans of the Yellow Jackets ... And all I heard from Tech people was the same excuse they always use when things don't go well ... Too tough academically ... Poppycock ... Heisman did it ... Dodd did it ... Ross did it ... O'Leary did it ... Johnson did it ... It all comes down to leadership and spending time with Key's team made the feel the same way I did when I had come off the beat some 35 years ago ... They had the coaching then and I believe they have the coaching now ... Ok, that said, times have changed in college football since that 1990 natty but something that hasn't, despite an administration that has been unsupportive in previous years and a student-fan base that for the most part is nonexistent, is the great tradition Tech started in football many years ago is still there ... It just needs a big dose of fertilizer poured on it and I really feel Key's staff is about to feed that to everyone ... I don't want to mention names because I don't want to leave anyone out but I will say what I saw for three days were young coaches with great work ethics and football knowledge and tons of personality which comes in handy when recruiting ... Key, himself, is probably the most subdued person among his staff but what it appears he is doing is taking some of the things he learned in two years on Nick Saban's staff at Alabama ... The head coach has his hands on the controls but it is the assistants that turns the wheels ... I said I didn't want to mention names but I am going to bring up three examples ... The first is Brian Baker ... When I was on the beat, Baker was at Tech in only his second year as a full-time assistant ... I liked Baker, we were the same age and he treated me better than Friedgen and O'Leary, who would light me up after I hammered the team after another loss ... Baker is serving as a defensive analyst but more so he is there for his experience, a tremendous coaching career in both college and the NFL including being the associate head coach under Saban for a year in Tuscaloosa ... Then there is offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner, who comes over after three years under Kirby Smart at Georgia ... You may remember Faulkner as the first Parkview quarterback to win a state title in 1997 ... Faulkner reminds me of the guy in high school that we all wished we could trade shoes with, walking down the hall wearing a letter jacket with a football in one arm and his other arm around the neck of the homecoming queen ... He has it all - personality, well-spoken, the ability to command a room but most importantly he has been a winner since high school, a star at Valdosta State who helped lead the team as their quarterback to 47-6 record and berth in the Division II national title game ... Then there are the last two years under Kirby Smart at Georgia which brought him some bling for his two ring fingers ... The last person I want to mention is Donald Hill-Eley ... He is Key's chief of staff and perhaps the most grounded of all the staff I meet ... His son Ayinde played for Tech and is now with the Carolina Panthers ... Hill-Eley cut his teeth coach at places like Alabama State, Morgan State, Hampton and Virginia Union ... Those places give you a different perspective on football, giving Key someone that looks at football different from the others that were at major colleges ... In fact, we had to deal with weather on two of our three days at Tech and Hill-Eley funneled some very sensible ways to handle it ... And of course there is McFarlin and Stewart as the underpinnings of the staff ... I don't think there are too many college programs in the country that have two of their state's top high school football coaches on their staff ... Now Tech has a long way to go ... They are light-years behind other ACC school in facilities and while they have pulled in a lot of talent in the transfer portal they have also lost some ... But it does appear that they are starting to make a small dent in in-state recruiting ... It's not about catching Georgia, it's about taking players away from Alabama and Tennessee and Clemson who continue to come into this state and get some of our best players that are not heading to Athens ... Tech also has to deal with the fact that right now they don't have the type of NIL money most of the big boys have ... But I believe in people and if I would have written in 1988 that Tech would win a national title two years later you would have laughed at me ... And I am not saying that in two years Tech is going to be playing in the title game ... It's just a feeling I have and I really think the Yellow Jackets have turned a corner and in a year or two, or three, don't be surprised if this program finds its way back into the upper level of college football ... Rusty MansellUGA DawgNation – Georgia BulldogsScore AtlantaCorky Kell ClassicGeorgia High School Football Hall of FameAJC SportsPeachtreeTVGPBAJC Georgia Entertainment SceneGeorgia Tech FootballGeorgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Fanatics103.5 The FoxAtlanta Falcons News NowBuster Stamus
 

iceeater1969

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The prez and the AD and the head coach are a team in most top footbalk programs.

With lower donations, a limited course offering, and way high academics; why have we just started working as a team. Why weren't we leading in this team approach?
The real change is at the top. We have finally gotton a leader at the top that takes more than a "memorandum of agreement of roles and responsibilities"

Our new prez takes this personally.
I hope that he can get the other departments and the alumni association to ACTIVELY support the sport programs.

Key and AD are leading with confidence. With a little luck we can turn that into points for the good guys
 

CrackerJacket

Jolly Good Fellow
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CBK's interviews and pressers already had me all in on him personally. The OP gives us more hope. The schedule is demanding, so I'll try to leaven hope with patience this season. CBK says toughness is his watchword - that's what to look for from this team IMO. You might be outmanned, but you can always play tough. Can't wait!
 

Sheboygan

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GREAT OP !
Success, or failure, starts at the top. And unfortunately, we have had a string of uninterested Presidents followed by mediocre, or worse ADs, followed by similar coaching hires.
Cabrera is totally invested, IMO. He has set an attitude and commitment to excellence. His hiring of Batt was crucial and so far it looks very good. Then the firings and hirings have both cleaned house and installed a new paradigm for the two major sports.
For me, our success has become a matter of how soon, not if. My guess at this point ? Football will be a winning season this year, then compete for division title in 2025. Basketball ? Winning record in 2024/2025 year then NCAA tournament in 2025/2026. I'm trying to not expect too much, too soon.
 

takethepoints

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I think having Cabrera as President does make a great difference. But it really comes down to Key. And there the jury is still out.

Personally, I think he'll succeed. He does have a good staff and the substratum is sufficient that if anyone falters replacing them will not be crippling. But … the only way to see that is to play the games; many thought that TFG had made good hiring decisions too. One thing for sure: Key will let his coaches coach. I think that part of the post is correct and will lead to good things for the Jackets.
 

GT33

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I think having Cabrera as President does make a great difference. But it really comes down to Key. And there the jury is still out.

Personally, I think he'll succeed. He does have a good staff and the substratum is sufficient that if anyone falters replacing them will not be crippling. But … the only way to see that is to play the games; many thought that TFG had made good hiring decisions too. One thing for sure: Key will let his coaches coach. I think that part of the post is correct and will lead to good things for the Jackets.
Cabrera's respect and support for the kids in all sports can make a big difference. How that flows down to the staff in better policies and better treatment will be critical because he's bucking decades of elitist academics. As far as Key goes, that President-AD-HC relationship appears to be rock solid. Key couldn't have gotten a better opportunity leadership wise, but as you stated he needs to deliver early to get the ball rolling. These first couple seasons will have long term ramifications, hopefully good.
 

GSOJacket

Jolly Good Fellow
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242
Great story, Hjacket. I have one too. Following the misery that was our 1987 & 1988 football seasons, we had Bobby Ross as our summer 1989 Triad Alumni Club meeting in Winston-Salem. Prior to dinner you would have thought Coach Ross had come from a leper colony. Very few attendees were interesting in talking to him. It was embarrassing. At dinner I sat next to him. I asked him how he saw prospects for the coming season after losing most of his starters to graduation. I'll never forget his response, one sentence, no elaboration, essentially: "While we lost most of our starters, and the guys who are going to replace them don't have much experience, THEY ARE MORE TALENTED."
As you probably know, we lost our first three games in 1989, and you could almost feel the groans all the day up here in North Carolina, but then the turn began with the Jackets winning 7 of the final 8. No bowl - I think we'd been written off early. But that was the prelude to 1990. My son was at Tech in 1990 and experienced our unforgettable football and basketball teams in his freshman year.
 
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IM79

Jolly Good Fellow
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I'll never forget his response, one sentence, no elaboration, essentially: "While we lost most of our starters, and the guys who are going to replace them don't have much experience, THEY ARE MORE TALENTED."
As you probably know, we lost our first three games in 1989,
The 1989 UNC game at BDSGF was when I really knew what our QB do.
 

Heisman's Ghost

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Great story, Hjacket. I have one too. Following the misery that was our 1987 & 1988 football seasons, we had Bobby Ross as our summer 1989 Triad Alumni Club meeting in Winston-Salem. Prior to dinner you would have thought Coach Ross had come from a leper colony. Very few attendees were interesting in talking to him. It was embarrassing. At dinner I sat next to him. I asked him how he saw prospects for the coming season after losing most of his starters to graduation. I'll never forget his response, one sentence, no elaboration, essentially: "While we lost most of our starters, and the guys who are going to replace them don't have much experience, THEY ARE MORE TALENTED."
As you probably know, we lost our first three games in 1989, and you could almost feel the groans all the day up here in North Carolina, but then the turn began with the Jackets winning 7 of the final 8. No bowl - I think we'd been written off early. But that was the prelude to 1990. My son was at Tech in 1990 and experienced our unforgettable football and basketball teams in his freshman year.
We won that game with Maryland and that jump started the program in 1989. Its funny how sometimes a program can change on just winning one game to get confidence.
 
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