TO: Fans, Friends, and Supporters of Georgia Tech Athletics
FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics
In the pecking order of “Big Games” played around here in recent years, you can put the showdown between our Jackets and Miami next Thursday night right near the top. So much is still in the balance in this topsy-turvy ACC race that one win or one loss can wildly swing our circumstances.
First though, I want to bring a little sensibility to what has been accomplished. When put into perspective, the thought that Georgia Tech would be involved in a hugely meaningful ACC game this late in November would have been nothing more than a pipe dream for many prior to the start of the season.
As you might recall, Tech was picked to finish in the bottom tier of the ACC in 2008. Some pundits, including those at Sports Illustrated, predicted a 3-9 season. Consequently, last week when the magazine wrote about the nation’s biggest surprise teams, Georgia Tech was listed at No. 1. Tech already has a swing of four victories more than its pre-season prediction – with two games left to play. So, by any stretch, the job that Paul Johnson, his staff and this group of young, eager Yellow Jackets has done is nothing short of miraculous. Victories over Boston College, Mississippi State, Clemson and Florida State stand as a testimony to a team coming together and overcoming long odds.
Having said that, we have put ourselves squarely in the hunt for some pretty nice party gifts at season’s end. Still not mathematically eliminated from the ACC Championship game in Tampa, and with our bowl destination far from determined, the Georgia Tech-Miami game has plenty of intrigue. We are very much in need of a great home crowd – that Thursday night magic that has been a staple of Georgia Tech football over the years. These players and coaches deserve nothing less. Who knows, that 12th man could be the difference in so many things down the road. And don’t forget to support our White Out! This initiative is gaining great momentum.
I am extremely happy to tell you that our Georgia Tech students are way out ahead of the curve in preparing for this national television opportunity. Student Body President Nick Wellkamp has led an effort to secure 8,000 white shirts so that we can outfit our entire student section. Our promotions office will contribute 7,000 white shakers to the effort. Our student body contributes more than $4 million annually in student fees to the success of our athletic program here at Tech. The students have called for this White Out and we are happy to support it. All we need you to do is to wear something white – a hat, a sweatshirt, a long-sleeved T-shirt – whatever you can muster. You can find some of those items here. Bring a white towel or handkerchief to the game to wave if you’d like. We think we can make quite a visual impact.
Speaking of visuals….ever wonder what a jam-packed Bobby Dodd Stadium would look like from space? Well, three astronauts with Georgia Tech degrees will get that opportunity next Thursday as they circle the earth aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The mission is scheduled to launch tomorrow night from Cape Canaveral, Fla., with three bonafide Yellow Jackets among the flight crew. Col. Eric Boe and Lt. Col. Robert “Shane” Kimbrough both grew up in the Atlanta area and have Master’s degrees from Tech. Also on board will be Sandra Magnus, who received a Doctorate from Georgia Tech.
We have reached out to NASA officials to see if there is any way to achieve a communication link with the shuttle either live or by video tape on the night of the game. This would make an outstanding piece for ESPN and the fans who attend the game via the video board. Stay tuned. Ironically, the shuttle will make a near-direct pass over Atlanta on game night between 6:10 and 6:14 p.m. If the sky is clear, the shuttle will appear as a fast moving star from the southwest sky and exiting to the northeast. How do I know all these facts? From my friend Jud Ready at the Georgia Tech Research Institute!
Another initiative that will be fun for students and alumni alike is a live pre-game concert by the GTG’s. This duo, made up of GT grads Brandon Swafford and Daniel Bailey, has taken the Tech campus by storm with their musical parodies of life as a Georgia Tech student. They burst onto the scene last summer with their song “M Train.” Subsequently, they recorded the song called `The Perfect Option” which we play on the video screen during games each week. That song has gotten national notoriety on the ESPN family of networks and actually landed “Swaff” and “DeBay” a permanent segment on ESPNU’s weekly college football show. Next Thursday’s concert will take place right after Yellow Jacket Alley at around 5:30 on Callaway Plaza. For a preview you can catch the GTG’s next Wednesday live on Good Day Atlanta on Fox 5 between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m.
Now, back to some bowl game business. You should have received in the mail by now a form in which we are asking for priority orders for bowl game tickets. It is important to us that you complete the form and return it to us by next Thursday, Nov. 20. This will give us some bargaining power when it comes to discussing our various bowl game opportunities down the road. Completing this form before the Nov. 20 deadline will also give you priority seating locations as we allocate bowl tickets.
While our focus is on a strong finish to the regular season and whatever post-season opportunities lie ahead, we are already in the final stages of fine-tuning our plans for football ticket sales in 2009. I have received many suggestions from our fans. I am always amazed by how many marketing and sales aficionados we have among the Tech family. Some of your ideas have been excellent and we will work them into our mix. One thing, though, is for sure, we really need all of you – our Georgia Tech fans – to help us expand the ticket base in 2009. Your individual help in bringing friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues into the fold will be critical in helping us attain our goal of filling up the stadium with Jacket fans in 2009.
And, my basketball e-mailers would be rough on me if I didn’t take a second to talk about our season-openers tomorrow night at the Thrillerdome. What could be better than a Friday night doubleheader to get the season off and running? MaChelle Joseph’s team opens its bid for a third straight NCAA Tournament season with a 6 p.m. tipoff vs. Troy. Paul Hewitt’s men take on Winston-Salem State at 8:30. There are good seats available for the doubleheader and there still remains a window of opportunity to jump on some excellent men’s basketball season tickets. After the news being generated by our newly-signed recruits, this may be the last chance for a while to secure a season ticket. Don’t miss this opportunity – it’s the first chance in five years. You can purchase basketball season tickets here.
MICHAEL ISENHOUR TOY DRIVE
Don’t forget next week marks the beginning of the eighth-annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive! Fans are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys to the GT-Miami game, and student-athletes will be located at each and every gate around the stadium prior to kickoff to collect toys and donations which go to a local foster home and the Atlanta-area Toys for Tots program. Over the last seven years, Georgia Tech fans have donated more than 10,000 toys and over $10,000, all of which have gone to local kids in time for the holidays.
This week marked the beginning of Signing Day for many of our sports. Get an updated list of who have signed National Letters of Intent here.
CROSS COUNTRY IN NCAA REGIONALS
The men’s and women’s cross country teams will run Saturday in the NCAA South Region Championships in Knoxville, Tenn. The top teams and individuals in this meet advance to the NCAA Championships.
VOLLEYBALL NEARING HOMESTRETCH
Coach Bond Shymansky’s volleyball team, 18-7 overall and 10-5 in the ACC, are in Florida this weekend before closing out the regular season with three consecutive home matches on Nov. 21, 22 and 28. The Yellow Jackets hope a strong finish will earn them an NCAA Tournament bid.
SWIMMING & DIVING HOSTS MEET SATURDAY
Georgia Tech’s men’s and women’s swimming/diving teams will host meets Saturday at noon. The men’s team welcomes Georgia Southern, New Orleans and Western Kentucky. The women’s team will go against those three teams as well as the Miami Hurricanes. Come early as the first 75 fans will receive a free t-shirt. Catch the Georgia Tech band and Buzz before the meet. The Yellow Jackets will also host the Georgia Tech Diving Invitational Nov. 21-23.
GAME DAY RECYCLING
We did it, Georgia Tech fans! We’ve already met our overall game day recycling goal, with one home game to go. At our last home game against Florida State, in addition to a phenomenal win, we also recycled 3.45 tons of aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass. This was the largest tonnage that we’ve collected so far this season and it puts us over our 10-ton goal to 10.45 tons! Many thanks to our fans in the stadium suites for taking time to recycle, and our 27 student volunteers who distributed the blue recycling bags to tailgaters. Our final home game will take place Nov. 20 vs. Miami. Thanks to the many departments who worked with GTAA to make this season the great success that it has been.