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Former NFL Coaches Meet as Tech Hosts Virginia

Oct. 23, 2002

Georgia Tech’s matchup with Virginia features two of the eight current major college head coaches who have previously been head coaches in the National Football League as Chan Gailey’s Yellow Jackets and the Cavaliers of Al Groh meet Saturday at Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field.

The Jackets (4-3, -13 ACC) and Cavaliers (6-2, 4-1 ACC) kick off at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will be regionally televised on ABC-TV, including Atlanta affiliate WSB Channel 2. Radio coverage on the Georgia Tech-ISP Radio network is available in the Atlanta area on flagship station 790 the Zone (WQXI-AM) as well as South 107.1 (WSTH-FM) and Magic 98.1 (WMGP-FM).

Gailey, Tech’s first-year head coach, served as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons (1998-99), while Groh, now in his second season at his alma mater, spent one year (2000) as the head coach of the New York Jets.

Between them, Gailey (12 seasons) and Groh (12 seasons) also have 24 years of experience as NFL assistant coaches and have participated in six Super Bowls as assistants, including four for Gailey.

The last time Gailey and Groh met on opposing sidelines was the 2000 season, when Groh was the Jets’ head coach and Gailey was the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins. The Jets captured both regular season meetings between the two division rivals, although Gailey’s Dolphins made the playoffs that year and Groh’s Jets did not.

Gailey and Groh coached one season together at the Air Force Academy in 1979, when Groh was defensive coordinator and Gailey was a defensive assistant on the staff of Ken Hatfield.

The other Division I-A head coaches with NFL head coaching experience are Pete Carroll (Southern California), Dennis Erickson (Oregon State), Lou Holtz (South Carolina), June Jones (Hawaii), John Mackovic (Arizona) and John Robinson (UNLV). At the I-AA level, Joe Walton of Robert Morris is a former NFL head coach. Interestingly, four of those nine served as head coach of the New York Jets: Groh, Carroll, Holtz and Walton.

Gailey was asked this week to make some comparisons between coaching in the NFL and at the collegiate level.

“You have understand that they are a little more impressionable at this age,” said Gailey of his current charges. “You have to help them more so fight through tough times, and at the same time you have to keep them grounded when things are going well. They don’t have the amount of experience that the NFL guy has in dealing with success and failure. That’s always a challenge, I don’t care what level you are at.”

When asked to compare his practices now to a year ago, Gailey noted the use of scout teams in college.

“It’s a lot different in that in the NFL you service each other,” he said. “When the offense is running their plays, it’s against the No. 2 defense and the No. 1 defense is standing off on the side. Here you are working all the time, there is not anyone sitting very often. Because of the number of players that you have, you can have a scout team to work against.

“Timewise, it’s very similar. We get a lot more plays run here than we did at the pro level. But I try to spend the same amount of time on the kicking game here that I did in the NFL.”

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