Transcript of Georgia Tech Press Conference

Dec. 29, 2001

Georgia Tech President Dr. G. Wayne Clough’s opening statement:

“I would like to welcome everyone here today on behalf of Georgia Tech, the Georgia Tech Athletic Association Board and the Athletic Association itself. My name is Wayne Clough, and I am the president of Georgia Tech and also am pleased to serve as president of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association Board. We are here today for a special announcement to welcome a very outstanding person as our new head football coach.

“This is a program that has a long history and rich tradition. It began in its first incarnation back in the 1800s, with a head coach who was a professor of mathematics. While his record wasn’t completely stellar, he did beat the University of Georgia in his first year. But, after that we fairly soon realized that we need a professional to work with us if we were going to have a good program, and we hired the legendary John Heisman as our first head coach. When I was a student here, just a few years ago, I watched our football program under the reigns of Coach Dodd, who was also a legendary coach, and most recently under Coach O’Leary, who I would like acknowledge for the work that he did at Georgia Tech. He took a program, which was in disarray, and took that program to create one of high credibility and a program that is competitive with the best in the country today. I think that we should acknowledge all of the good work that George O’Leary did for our football program when he was with us. Let me also acknowledge our interim coach Mac McWhorter for the fine work he did with our team, particularly in taking our team out to the Seattle Bowl where we had a successful outcome against a very fine Stanford team. You could see the spirit was high amongst our players and I think we are all proud of the outcome and the way our team performed there, particularly of George Godsey, who was named the Most Valuable Player there.

“Let me mention just a little bit about the process. As I mentioned, we have an Athletic Association Board, to which Dave Braine reports. When we learned that Coach O’Leary was leaving, we formed a search committee and of course Dave headed that up and took the lead role in seeking out candidates for the head coaching position. The members of the search committee were, George Nemhauser, a professor at Georgia Tech, Mark Smith, a professor at Georgia Tech, Jim Terry, our alumni association representative, Chris Cavanaugh, who is the president of the undergraduate student body and Joe Irwin, who is the president of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. I would like to thank all of them for their hard work and I think we have a wonderful outcome today. I also want to acknowledge the excellent work done by our athletic director, Dave Braine, who will get some deserved rest after today. He worked very hard in earning every ounce of his pay for what I said is a splendid outcome. I would like to recognize the enterprising nature of those members of the press. We tried to maintain some suspense for this day, we were not completely able to do that. I had the experience of having my son grilling me on Christmas Day as to who our new football coach was going to be. I said ‘Son, I can’t tell you, we’re keeping that a secret,” and about that time it flashed across the bottom of the television screen on ESPN.”

Georgia Tech Director of Athletics Dave Braine’s statement:

“Thank you Dr. Clough. I would like to welcome everybody, we appreciate you all being here on a Saturday morning. It is an honor and a pleasure to introduce our 11th full-time football coach at Georgia Tech. It is no secret that it is Chan Gailey.

“Why Chan? Because, he is the right fit and the right person for the job. As you all know, I’ve said since I’ve been here, that besides the service academies, Georgia Tech is the toughest place to coach in the United States because of our admissions standards and because of our curriculum. But also at the same time I think it’s one of the better jobs in the country because we get a chance to work with some of the best young people, who are very good student athletes. It takes a special person to coach here. Chan Gailey understands the academic process. He is not concerned about the admission standards, he was only concerned that we had enough money to recruit the type of young people we need to be successful. Obviously we have promised him that that will not be a problem. The only other thing he asked, was can we win a national championship. Obviously we can, we have, and we hope to do that again.

“A couple of other side points, that I think are very important, are that he didn’t care what kind of car he drove or where his parking spot was. That was very symbolic of the type of person that he is. He has been an offensive and defensive coordinator as well as a special teams coach. He won a national championship on the Division II level. He is a very quiet person and has a great deal of confidence. I am sure that over the next few years he will win everyone over like he has me.

“In sitting down and talking with him, I felt that if I were a parent of a 17- or 18-year-old young man, and Chan Gailey came into my living room to meet with my son, I would want my son to play for him. Furman, we took the article that you wrote about Coach Dodd to him and we let him read that. We told him that we thought it was very important to have someone like that. I think he is that type of person. Obviously he is not Coach Dodd, but this guy is going to be an awful lot like him and I think you all will enjoy being with him. We will do some things now that I think will make a lot of people very comfortable. Now it is a thrill for me to introduce Chan Gailey as our 11th head coach.”

Georgia Tech Head Coach Chan Gailey’s statement:

“First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Clough and Dave Braine, and everybody that was involved in the process of this coming together at this time. Also I want to publicly thank Dave Wannstedt and the Miami Dolphins organization for allowing this to take place this morning. There is still some work to be done there and I have a commitment there as well.

“How many times does a guy like myself get a chance to come to an institute like this. It’s something that you can believe in and when you talk to somebody you know what you’re selling and you know what you’re talking about. What’s up here with the alumni and the people that are involved, every day I get to go to work with people that exude character and class. That’s an enjoyable situation.

“I did ask, ‘Do we have the ability to win a national championship?’ because I want to win and that’s part of the process. I want to win a championship and that’s why you play, that’s why you line up and that’s why you go out and work and lift weights in the off season, to have a chance to be the best of the best and that’s one of the goals. I get a chance to come back to my home state and I get an opportunity to work in a great city and to be involved with an unbelievable institute.

“I say all of that, and to say that it is an honor for me to be the head coach at Georgia Tech, it really is. I look forward to a long tenure here. I don’t want to move again. This coaching business takes you a lot of places. I hope to make this thing a great long tenure and that we can win a bunch of football games and a lot of people will be happy for many years. I thank everybody again that made this possible and I can’t believe that you would mention my name in the same sentence with Bobby Dodd because I don’t belong there and you’ve got to earn that and hopefully as time goes on we’ll do that.”

On the status of the coaching staff:
“I have visited with every staff member. I did that last night. I have asked Glen Spencer and Bill O’Brien to stay at this point. The others I have told I will get back in touch with them in the near future to talk with them further about maybe being on the staff.”

On his plans for recruiting:
“I hope to be on the phone within the next two to three days, especially to guys who have given commitments. I want to assure them of where the program is headed and what we stand for and what we believe in, so that they can feel secure about where they are in the process. The after that, we’ll continue recruiting guys as we can.”

On his coaching philosophy:
“I grew up in football when it was run the football, stop the run and play great special teams. That is still deeply imbedded in me. When you win the national championship running the wishbone, it’s going to stay there for awhile. I’m about to come around to this passing game. I understand you have to take the personnel you have and put them in position to win football games and sometimes that doesn’t mean three yards and a cloud of dust kind of football. There’s a lot more to the game today than when I started coaching. Our offensive football will be multiple sets. Defensively, we’re going to swarm the field with guys and attack the ball. Scheme-wise, three-man front, four-man front, multiple, we’re going to do what it takes to win the football game.”

On his plans for filling the staff:
“What you have in this business is you have people you have worked with, people you know and people you want to talk to. I didn’t feel right calling people and asking them if they wanted to come to Georgia Tech with me before I had signed the contract. That’s not right, so I will be on the phone over the next few days, talking to people that I know and I would like to hire to come here. They may be happy where they are. For whatever reason, they may not want to join us. Once you go through those people, then you talk to people you don’t know but you know something about them. I have had excellent reports about the coaches here from the administration. What I’ve got to talk to some of these other people and see whom I might be able to get. If that works, great. Then those will be the people I hire. If that doesn’t work you’ve got to come back to people you don’t know. To be fair to these guys who have been here, they have to know something as soon as possible.”

On what was appealing about this job:
“The appeal is the type of school this is, and what this stands for. As I said, the type of people I’m going to be dealing with on a daily basis, Dave (Braine), Sterling (Brown) and Larry (New), are all football guys. They know what it is like to be in my shoes. When you have people like that, you have a certain comfort level, knowing that we are all in this together. That was very appealing to me.”

On his commitment to the Miami Dolphins:
“If I’m going to talk to players about loyalty, commitment and integrity, I can’t jump ship on the Miami Dolphins. When he (Braine) said they still wanted to talk to me, I knew I was still dealing with the right kind of people. If you’re talking about a long term relationship, what’s and extra two or three or four weeks.”

On the fan support at Tech:
“You don’t want to be somewhere where they don’t care. That’s the worst thing is to be somewhere where no one cares if you win or lose. At least people here are excited and have expectations. That mean’s that there are people behind the program and you’re out there playing with something on the line. If nobody ever showed up or nobody cared it wouldn’t be worth preparing all those hours.”

Rising senior punt returner Kelley Rhino:
“A.J. (Suggs) and I just met with coach, and on first impression we really liked him. He seemed very honest with us. He’s really excited about the job, and he’s very excited about us coming off a big win in Seattle. I think he’s going to fit in well here.”

Rising junior quarterback A.J. Suggs:
“I think we have a lot of momentum to carry into the off season. The sooner he can get with us the better , but obviously I’ll be pulling for the Dolphins for the rest of year.”

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