Bill Barlow’s bona fides as a Georgia Tech diehard need not be questioned. He comes from a family of Tech fans, his family has held season tickets his whole life and the Ramblin’ Wreck whisked him and wife, Laura, away from their wedding.
He’s got the topper now, though — when Laura gives birth to their first child (ETA: Sept. 17), the girl’s name will be Collins Grace Barlow. The inspiration for her first name is, yes, a certain football coach with an appetite for Waffle House.
Geoff Collins himself took part in a gender-reveal video Friday morning at the Tech football office that was posted to Twitter on Friday afternoon.
“He was touched,” said Barlow, a 36-year-old Atlanta resident and a sales manager for Vonage Business. “He was honored. I joked with him and said, ‘No pressure on this.’”
It is perhaps the clearest (nuttiest?) signal of the excitement that Collins and his staff have created since his December hire, one witnessed through sharply increased season-ticket sales and the attendance of more than 500 former players and family members to a spring practice, among other things. Barlow said he told Collins that, like the football team, his family was in a new chapter and that “we’ve rebranded our family the way he’s rebranded our team.”
This is not Barlow’s first effort in christening his children with touches of Tech history. Bill Barlow’s full name is William Frank Barlow III. His wife at the time did not want the son to extend the line, so he proposed William Alexander.
His wife was not aware that her firstborn son would instead bear the name of the Tech coaching great from the 1920s through ’40s until he was born and they were visited by a friend from the Yellow Jackets team (Barlow counts a number of former Tech players as friends; former offensive lineman Nick Claytor was in his wedding and former running back Synjyn Days is his financial adviser).
“He started laughing,” Barlow said. “She found out in the hospital.”
The 7-year-old boy goes by Alex, which, coincidentally, was the coach’s nickname. He has a 4-year-old brother named Cooper. That name was drawn from former Jackets safety Cooper Taylor, who was one of Barlow’s favorite players and the author of a game-saving forced fumble in Tech’s 2008 upset of Florida State.
When Bill and Laura learned they were expecting in January, he looked again to his white-and-gold muse. If it were a boy, he was pushing for John Heisman. John also is Laura’s father’s name, so she was willing to entertain the combination, he said. When it came to girls names, he said Collins popped out of his mouth.
“I don’t know if I subconsciously thought about it, but it was the second name I threw out there,” he said, acknowledging that the coach’s name was 100 percent the inspiration.
While Laura has adopted Tech, Bill didn’t reveal the name’s significance and played his hand carefully. He arranged a viewing of “The Blind Side,” in which the daughter of Sandra Bullock’s character is named Collins. Later, they were watching the news when Collins (the coach) was featured on the broadcast. Bill said that Laura hit pause, “looked at me and goes, ‘Now I get it,’ and she started laughing. She’s such a rock star and was totally on board with it even when she knew the meaning.”
One more homage, albeit unplanned? Alex, Cooper, Collins — ACC.
Last week, Barlow reached out to the team with the hopes that the coach might help with a gender and name reveal, the sort that has become the trend across social media. (Even this week, Duke basketball star Zion Williamson participated in a gender reveal by dunking a basketball that exploded into blue confetti.) Collins was more than willing, and the Barlows visited the Tech football offices Friday morning.
The Barlows expected a brief interaction and a photo, but got much more. They met with Collins in his office, and Collins signed a small megaphone (“Welcome to the Yellow Jacket family!!! #404theculture”) for his soon-to-arrive namesake. Collins then assembled the entire staff for the reveal, standing at the front of the team meeting room alongside Bill and Laura, who was holding a pink onesie adorned with a tutu and the “GT” logo.
“I want to proudly welcome a new Yellow Jacket to the family — #404theculture — Collins Grace Barlow,” he said before raising his right fist in triumph while holding his ubiquitous Waffle House cup in his left.
Reaction has been supportive, he said. He was with friends who are Georgia fans on Friday, and even they liked it, he said. One of them, he said, looked at his wife and proposed they “shoot for a Kirby.”
As for what happens if Collins, whose first game as Tech coach won’t be until August, doesn’t quite cause glory to shower upon Grant Field? Barlow doesn’t believe it will happen, but said that, either way, “she’s still got a great Southern name. It is what it is. And if he goes on to win our fifth (national) title, she has that, too. It’s a win-win.”
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