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Georgia Tech and the SEC: A Match Made in Never

The Engineers can have the SEC when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

I don't even want to know what's happening here.
I don't even want to know what's happening here.
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

With respect to Alkaline5 and his FanPost, which we linked at the top of the front page recently, I would welcome Georgia Tech's readmission to the SEC with approximately the same enthusiasm that I would welcome an orange and blue-themed makeover of my living room, complete with a gator head mounted on the mantle. Tech's conference affiliation was essentially linked with Georgia's for the first 69 years of conference-era football (1894-present), but if there's one thing we should have learned from all this conference realignment madness, it's that historical alliances have no place in the new college football world.

When the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) was first formed in 1894, Georgia and Georgia Tech were two of the 19 charter members. At that time, there was no NCAA or unified rules of the game, and the SIAA provided that framework and a very loose conference affiliation as we think of it today. The SIAA had its own rule book, eligibility requirements, and recruiting rules, that all evolved over the years.

Eventually, the SIAA grew in size to include about 40 schools, and there arose a dispute between the larger schools and the smaller ones over things like eligibility and amateurism. (Strange as it might seem in today's environment, the larger schools were pushing for things like freshman ineligibility and banning baseball players from playing what we would call semi-pro baseball in the summer, to which the smaller schools objected.) This dispute let 14 schools to secede from the SIAA and form the Southern Conference. Again, Georgia Tech and Georgia walked in lockstep during this move, and both schools were charter members of the SoCon.

Unfortunately, the Southern Conference also eventually grew unwieldy and large, and in 1932, barely over a decade after it was formed, another splinter group decided to break with the conference and form their own conference with more limited membership. Once again, Georgia Tech aligned itself with Georgia and their other natural geographic rivals in becoming a charter member of the SEC.

Over those years and the ensuing 30 years, the Golden Tornado was a strong competitor. They fielded excellent sports teams in football, baseball, track, and the other sports contested at the time. They had natural rivalries with Georgia, Auburn, and Alabama, among others. (In fact, the Alabama fight song includes the line, "Send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave.") While they were certainly a heated rival for the Dawgs, the North Avenue Trade School was an integral part of our big, happy SEC family.

Then, everything changed.

Bobby Dodd arrived on North Avenue in 1946, taking over from then-most-successful head coach William Alexander. Dodd, who played for General Neyland at Tennessee, kept the ball rolling for the Engineers, winning consistently against contemporaries like Wally Butts at UGA, Bear Bryant at Bama, Johnny Vaught at Ole Miss, and Shug Jordan at Auburn. Unfortunately for the white and gold, however, he let this success somewhat go to his head, and tended to think of himself, and by extension, the entire Georgia Institute of Technology, as somehow inherently superior to the rest of the SEC.

Dodd's attitude problems came to a head in the 1961 Tech/Alabama game, when one of the Engineers' players was suffered a career-ending injury after being tackled following a "fair catch" signal. Dodd demanded that Bear Bryant suspend the player that made the hit, and Bryant basically ignored the demand. After simmering for 2 years, Dodd, who by then was the Tech athletic director, decided to leave the SEC and become a football independent, which they remained until joining the ACC in 1979... 3 years after Dodd left the AD position.

Bobby Dodd left the SEC in a hissy-fit, and steadfastly insisted that Georgia Tech should "go it alone" as long as he was at the helm on North Avenue. Georgia Tech reveres his name to this day, even naming their stadium after him. (A stadium, by the way, that would be the second-smallest in the SEC, ahead of only Vanderbilt's glorified high school venue.)

The Golden Tornado made its bed in 1963. They chose to leave the SEC. They chose to stand alone. They have chosen this route for themselves. I am about as inclined to rescue them from their football obscurity as I am to don orange and blue and sing "We Are the Boys From Old Florida." Somebody thinks the Big Ten wants them? Well hell, they can have 'em for all I care.

I'd respond to an inquiry of interest from the North Avenue Trade School with a little ditty we normally reserve for the Sunshine State Saurians: "Jackets... Jackets... How'd Ya Like To Sting My Ass."