Georgia Tech’s 12-game schedule for coach Geoff Collins’ first season as head coach of the Yellow Jackets was released Wednesday by the ACC, and it contains at least a couple of quirks.
The first is that the Jackets will play one of their first four ACC games at home, followed by three of the final four at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Including the final game against arch-rival Georgia, Tech will play four home games in November, just the second time since World War II that the Jackets’ schedule will fall that way.
The second is that none of Tech’s 12 opponents will have an open date before facing the Jackets. In fact, the two opponents whom the Jackets will face this season after their open dates – Temple on Sept. 28 and Pitt on Nov. 2 – will have games the previous week.
It’s a change from the pattern of recent seasons. ACC schedules were drawn up in a way that often benefited Tech opponents, providing them with an open week before facing the Jackets, while the same benefit was afforded to Tech less frequently. It happened with such frequency that former coach Paul Johnson essentially accused the league of conspiring against his team, saying that the ACC granted requests from opponents to get an open date before playing Tech and its unconventional option offense.
While the league denied teams could do such, member schools voted in 2017 to change the scheduling format to prevent such imbalances, approving a change after Tech (with the ACC’s assistance) presented evidence of the imbalance.
The schedule will have its challenges, starting with the season opener at defending national champion Clemson on Aug. 29, a Thursday, in what will be the first football game broadcast on the new ACC Network, scheduled for launch Aug. 22.
The following week, Tech will play the first of its seven home games against South Florida on Sept. 7, the first opportunity many fans will have to support Tech and Collins.
On Sept. 28, Tech will play Temple, Collins’ former employer, in Philadelphia. The game figures to be fraught with emotion for Collins, the assistants and staff he brought with him, and the team that they coached and helped assemble.
On Oct. 5, the Jackets will play their only conference home game out of their first four, against North Carolina. The three road games are against three teams that have given Tech plenty of trouble – Clemson, Duke (Oct. 12) and Miami (Oct. 19).
Tech will play defending Coastal Division champion Pittsburgh on Nov. 2 coming off its second open week. That game is followed by a road game at Virginia (Nov. 9) and a home game vs. rival Virginia Tech on Nov. 16. The Jackets will have short rest before it plays at Bobby Dodd against N.C. State on Nov. 21, a Thursday night. The regular season ends with a home game against Georgia, which will be trying for its 10th consecutive win over the Jackets at Grant Field.
One of Tech’s graduate assistants on coach George O’Leary’s staff for the most recent win, a 51-48 overtime thriller in 1999 – Geoff Collins.
With the issue of the schedule, Tech also announced season-ticket prices, which have been significantly reduced. The least expensive season ticket is $219 – the same as last year, but with one more game. Sideline season tickets are $300, compared with $350 last year. The sideline season ticket price is the lowest since 2014. In the past, the odd-year season tickets have been marked up because of the Georgia game. Season tickets will go on sale Jan. 28.
Tech’s average attendance this season (43,087) was its lowest since 2001.
Tech’s 2019 schedule
(Home games in bold):
Aug. 29: at Clemson (Thursday)
Sept. 7: South Florida
Sept. 14: The Citadel
Sept. 28: at Temple
Oct. 5: North Carolina
Oct. 12: at Duke
Oct. 19: at Miami
Nov. 2: Pittsburgh
Nov. 9: at Virginia
Nov. 16: Virginia Tech
Nov. 21: N.C. State (Thursday)
Nov. 30: Georgia
A quick look at each game:
Aug. 29 at Clemson (Thursday)
The Jackets will open the season – and Collins’ tenure – against the defending national champions in the first-ever game broadcast by the new ACC Network in a Thursday night game at Memorial Stadium in what was sure to be a bedlam atmosphere.
Collins has a way of making a splash in his debut game. His first game at Temple was at Notre Dame, which proved to be a 49-16 defeat for the Owls.
Sept. 7 South Florida
The Jackets will play the return game of a two-game series after losing to USF in the second game of the season in Tampa, Fla. Temple and Collins split two games against USF in American Athletic Conference games in Collins’ two-season tenure, including a 27-17 Owls win this past season. Tech fans may be interested to know that USF return specialist Terrence Horne, who returned back-to-back kickoffs for touchdowns against the Jackets, tore his ACL two weeks after his exploits.
Sept. 14 The Citadel
The Bulldogs run an option offense similar to that of former Tech coach Paul Johnson. After 11 years of hearing opposing coaches repeat the same coaching points prior to playing the Jackets, fans may hear the same from Collins: Assignment football, eye discipline, low-possession game, one player not doing his job can mean a touchdown, etc. Citadel finished last season 5-6 but was tied at 10-all at halftime against Alabama last November.
Sept. 28 at Temple
Collins will return to Philadelphia in a game sure to be fraught with emotion, as he’ll face players he coached, recruited and developed relationships in two seasons with the Owls. Ironically, Collins was part of the impetus for the two-game series, which was made official in Aug. 2017.
Tech will have two significant advantages for its first game in the city of Philadelphia since 1931 – Collins and his assistants hired from Temple (coaches on both sides of the ball) will have significant knowledge of the Owls roster and Tech will be coming off its first of two open dates, while Temple will have played the week prior at Buffalo.
Oct. 5 North Carolina
Tech will play its first ACC home game of the season against the Tar Heels and new coach Mack Brown, one of three new coaches whom the Jackets will face this season (Miami’s Manny Diaz and Temple’s Rod Carey are the others). The game could be critical in the flow of the season as it will be Tech’s only league home game out of its first four.
Oct. 12 at Duke
Collins will go up against David Cutcliffe, going into his 12th season at Duke and now the unquestioned dean of ACC coaches with Johnson’s departure from Tech. The Blue Devils have beaten the Jackets four out of the past five seasons.
Oct. 19 at Miami
A meeting of former Temple coaches in Collins (2017-18) and Diaz (Dec. 15-30, 2018). Rather coincidentally, it isn’t the first time that Diaz filled a job vacated by Collins. After Collins left his position as Mississippi State defensive coordinator to take the same job at Florida, Diaz was hired as the Bulldogs’ next defensive coordinator, a job he held for one season before joining Mark Richt at Miami as its defensive coordinator.
Nov. 2 Pittsburgh
The defending ACC Coastal champions will come to Tech, which figures to be rested as it will be playing after its second open date of the season. The Panthers and Jackets are 3-3 in league play since Pitt joined the ACC in 2013. Tech’s 24-19 loss at Pitt last September was a pivotal defeat; had the Jackets won and the other games stayed constant, they would have won the Coastal.
Nov. 9 at Virginia
It may be the Cavaliers’ turn to win the Coastal, as they’re the only team not to have won the division in the past six seasons. While the Jackets beat Virginia in overtime in perhaps the most dramatic win of Tech’s season, they’ve also lost in their past two trips to Charlottesville, Va.
Nov. 16 Virginia Tech
Arguably the most significant rivalry in the Coastal Division will take new form as the game will be the first time the teams will face each other as ACC opponents in which neither Johnson nor Frank Beamer will be on one of the sidelines. Georgia Tech has won four of the past five games in the series, last year winning in a 49-28 rout.
Nov. 21 N.C. State (Thursday)
What seemed an intriguing matchup 12 months ago – former Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof returns to his alma mater with the Wolfpack to face off against Johnson, his boss from 2013-17 – lost some of its punch with Johnson’s departure and Roof’s taking a job at Appalachian State as its new defensive coordinator. Collins will try to continue Johnson’s near-perfect mark in the rotating crossover game – in regular-season play, Johnson was 15-1 against Atlantic teams other than Clemson.
Nov. 30 Georgia
Collins’ first game against the arch-rival Bulldogs, who will be going for their 10th consecutive win in Bobby Dodd Stadium. It should be noted Collins was a graduate assistant for coach George O’Leary the last time the Jackets beat Georgia in Atlanta, a 51-48 overtime thriller in 1999.
Collins already understands the rivalry well. At his introductory news conference, he read from notes handwritten in red ink. (Temple’s school color is cherry.) He vowed to never use that color again.