Sept. 20, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Paul Newberry’s plan Tuesday was to attend Paul Johnson’s conference at Georgia Tech and write a little something about Orwin Smith and/or the Yellow Jackets’ on-going re-invention of offensive football ahead of Saturday’s game against North Carolina.
His plan changed, and that’s no small development.
That’ll be a big game, the first of the ACC schedule for No. 24 Tech, and No. 25 UNC is in the Yellow Jackets’ division.
But Paul changed his mind. Maybe you will, too, and go to the game. That’s what Newberry opted to write about, actually, when he took on attendance matters.
To a great degree, Newberry calls his own shots in writing for the Associated Press. He’s one of AP’s top sports writers on the planet; he just happens to be based in Atlanta. He covers every Olympiad, summer and winter, every Masters and British Open and quite a bit more.
Perhaps his story about Orwin will come together a day later after the Tech coach both helped and impeded Newberry’s plan in answer to Paul’s questions.
Johnson acknowledged that Smith is in some ways a prototypical A-back in his offense for sake of his ball skills both as a runner and as a receiver. But the Tech coach rapped firmly on Smith’s blocking. Hey, there’s always work to be done.
The boss was in a good enough mood Tuesday.
Some inquisitors poked him about the pending addition of Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC, and his comments are out there in the media world to be found if you’re interested.
Johnson’s not in the business of promotion, at least not overtly, but he took a stab in his opening comments when he said, “First conference game, division game at home, national game on ESPN . . . hopefully, we can get a great crowd and make this place a great atmosphere on Saturday [at noon]. I know our players feed off that a lot.”
Attendance has lagged at many college football outposts. The economy is a factor, surely, and I believe the fact that nearly every game is available to home-bound, or bar-bound, fans everywhere on TV hurts in a real way.
That’s the reality of the world, though, and athletic director Dan Radakovich knows it.
He nonetheless took a crack at promotion after Johnson finished a relatively benign discourse spiked only by his answer to a Newberry question about how he would defend his offense if he were a defensive coordinator.
“If I told you that, then I’d have to kill you,” the coach said.
Soon, D-Rad was up.
“I just wanted to take a few moments . . . to ramp up the enthusiasm about the matchup this weekend,” he said. “We have two top-25 teams. I just checked the weather, and it should be sunny and 76.”
The boss’ boss went on to say there have been no new tailgating restrictions implemented on campus that he knows of, and that Tech’s campus is worth discovering if you haven’t before.
“There’s a lot of green on this campus,” Radakovich said. “There are a lot of places for people to come and enjoy the festivities before a football game.”
He encouraged newcomers to drive the Tech campus, check it out. There are tailgating opportunities even in Midtown, and while some 46,000 or so tickets have already been distributed, there are more available.
If you’re already planning to attend, Tech officials would appreciate considering spreading the word, and perhaps inviting others you know.
The weather seems likely to be fantastic. The football is almost certain to be exciting, as the Jackets lead the nation in a slew of offensive categories, and the UNC quarterback is completing more than 80 percent of his passes to date.
Call the Tech ticket office at 1-888-TECH-TIX and look into it.
Hey, if you’ve got a great tailgate planned, maybe I’ll stop by for a spell. Or, maybe not; maybe you’d rather I stay away. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.