ATLANTA (Jan. 31) – Georgia Tech will open the 2001 football season by taking on Syracuse in the Kickoff Classic on Sunday, Aug. 26 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Kickoff Classic XIX will be nationally televised by ABC-TV at 2 p.m.
Tech will be making its second appearance in the Kickoff Classic, following a 34-22 loss to Penn State in 1991. This will be the Yellow Jackets’ third scheduled preseason game, coming one year after the 2000 BCA Bowl against Virginia Tech was cancelled by inclement weather.
“I’ve always been in favor of playing a preseason game,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “I think it sets the barometer for your football team during the off-season and gives you a sense of urgency in your workouts.
“I’m happy to be playing in the Kickoff Classic. We’ve played there once before in 1991. We weren’t too successful, so hopefully this one will be different. Syracuse University is a quality opponent, and I think it should be a great matchup.”
Tech and the Orangemen will meet on the gridiron for the first time, but O’Leary is no stranger to Syracuse. Winner of the 2000 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award and the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year for the second time in three years, O’Leary began his college coaching career with the Orangemen. He served as defensive line coach and assistant head coach at Syracuse from 1980-86 before coming to Tech in 1987 as defensive coordinator. Tech assistant coaches Paul Ferraro and Peter McCarty were graduate assistants at Syracuse under O’Leary.
“I haven’t been at Syracuse for a number of years, but I have a lot of friends up there . . . I think,” said O’Leary. “It really didn’t concern me who the opponent was, but just to have the chance to play in the game is what’s important.
“Any time you can get exposure in areas where you like to recruit, I think it helps you.”
Georgia Tech is coming off a 9-3 record and a second-place finish in the ACC (6-2 record) in 2000. Led by all-ACC quarterback George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.), the Jackets earned their fourth straight bowl berth, a first for the program since the 1950’s.
Godsey, who passed for 2,906 yards and 23 touchdowns, record-setting receiver Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.) and tailback Joe Burns (Thomasville, Ga.) are among the seven returning starters to a Tech offense that averaged 435.4 yards and 33.8 points a game. Nine starters return on defense, including big-play defensive ends Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) and Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.), who combined for 22 sacks. The Jackets, who have averaged nine wins over the last three seasons, welcome back 36 of their top 44 players on offense and defense.
Syracuse, playing in its third Kickoff Classic, posted its 14th consecutive winning season in 2000 with a record of 6-5 overall, 4-3 in the Big East.
“We’re happy to be invited to play in the Kickoff Classic against a worthy opponent in Syracuse,” said director of athletics Dave Braine. “Obviously, George O’Leary has a history with them from his days prior to coaching at Georgia Tech, and the matchup is a very good and exciting one for us because both programs are strong. It is an opportunity to play on national television and gives our program excellent exposure. Many of our coaches and players are from the Northeast, so this will be a good opportunity for them to play close to their families.”
Ticket prices and information will be announced in the near future.
2001 GEORGIA TECH FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 26 – Syracuse, Kickoff Classic, East Rutherford, N.J. (ABC), 2 p.m.
Sept. 1 – THE CITADEL
Sept. 8 – at Navy
Sept. 15 – at Florida State
Sept. 29 – CLEMSON
Oct. 6 – at Duke
Oct. 13 – MARYLAND
Oct. 20 – NC STATE, Homecoming
Nov. 1 – NORTH CAROLINA (ESPN), 8 p.m.
Nov. 10 – at Virginia
Nov. 17 – at Wake Forest
Nov. 24 – GEORGIA