An attempt by Georgia to connect itself with the city of Atlanta had Georgia Tech fans and even coaches poking fun at their rivals from Athens on Twitter Saturday.
The source of the amusement was a photo of two Bulldogs recruits on their official visits, a copy of which was retweeted by one of them, safety Eric Reed of Shreveport, La. In the photo, the two players posed in front of a backdrop that read “Welcome to Atlanta” with a number of Atlanta images. In the collage were signs for the Varsity and Waffle House, an I-85 road sign, a pink home once leased by Atlanta-based rapper 2 Chainz and State Farm Arena. Beneath the “Welcome to Atlanta” — written in a graffiti font — was “UGATL,” with the “UG” in the font of the school’s word mark and “ATL” in a dripping-paint font. Improbably, it was printed in a shade of gold.
On Twitter, Tech fans were finding the “Welcome to Atlanta” message laughable as Athens is about 70 miles by car from Atlanta. Moreover, the backdrop’s Atlanta theme was perceived as a duplication of Tech coach Geoff Collins’ efforts to leverage the school’s location in Atlanta to appeal to prospects. Further, the Varsity neighbors Tech’s campus, Tech has a long history with Waffle House (Collins has likewise aligned himself with the chain) and State Farm Arena and the 2 Chainz house are less than two miles from Tech’s campus. Also, via Ga. 316, Athens is about 45 miles from I-85.
Tech general manager Patrick Suddes tweeted “.@CoachCollins Often Imitated Never Duplicated.” A fan tweeted the photo with a caption “Boys from Athens want to be @CoachCollins so bad,” which Collins himself re-tweeted. In an oblique reference, offensive-line coach Brent Key tweeted “Rollin’ down 85 with the windows down.”
Tech doesn’t hold exclusive connections to Waffle House, the Varsity or other Atlanta institutions, and Georgia has a right to tout its relative proximity to Atlanta if it chooses. Georgia fans might respond that, regardless of the logic of the message, one of the prospects in the photo (safety Major Burns of Baton Rouge, La.) has a higher 247 Sports Composite rating higher than all of Tech’s committed prospects and the other (Reed) is rated higher than all but one (Dalton High running back Jahmyr Gibbs).”
But, as the early signing period approaches and Collins is closing in on Tech’s first top-25 class since 2007, Tech fans interpreted the image as an indication that UGA has a raised awareness of its rival to the west in Atlanta.