Bobby Ross recalls 1990 Georgia Tech title

Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse are on hand as Tech coach Bobby Ross accepts a spot in the Citrus Bowl in 1990. Walter Stricklin / AJC
Caption
Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse are on hand as Tech coach Bobby Ross accepts a spot in the Citrus Bowl in 1990. Walter Stricklin / AJC

Credit: AJC file photo

Credit: AJC file photo

Bobby Ross took the San Diego Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance, but in his 43-year coaching career nothing tops the national championship he won at Georgia Tech in 1990.

In his fourth year on The Flats, Ross guided the Yellow Jackets to an 11-0-1 season and 45-21 win over Nebraska in the Florida Citrus Bowl, good enough to share the national title with Colorado (11-1-1). Tech won the UPI coaches poll while the Buffaloes took the AP title.

“A lot of special things happened that season,’’ said Ross said. “We are about to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that team in October, and I am going to enjoy that. It was a great accomplishment by a lot of people. We started all the way at the bottom three years before that and went all the way to the top.’’

Tech, who had a 12-21 record in the previous three seasons under Ross, were led by sophomore quarterback Shawn Jones and scored 379 points. The Jackets woke up the college world when they upset No. 1-ranked Virginia in Charlottesville on Nov. 3, winning 41-38 on a 37-yard field goal by Scott Sisson with seven seconds left.

The tie that season came against North Carolina, and Tech beat Georgia 40-23 in Athens. But the game Ross remembers the most was the 21-19 victory over then 15th-ranked Clemson in Atlanta.

“It was a real gut check,’’ he said. “Clemson is always pretty darn good, and every play was a struggle for us. I remember us getting a late fourth-down stand on defense. We played so hard that game, and the win really gave up a lift for the rest of the season.’’

Ross, by the way, is only one of three head coaches to coach in the Super Bowl and win a college national championship. The other two are Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson.