When Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury spoke at the introductory news conference for coach Geoff Collins on Dec. 7, he joked that Collins was so in sync with him about the importance of brand and culture that he wasn’t sure if Collins was recruiting him with a tailor-made sales pitch.
Two months into the job, it’s become clear that it wasn’t just job-interview talking points. Whether it’s wearing a camouflage “404” hat at a news conference, inviting former players back to attend spring practice or bringing a Waffle House truck into Bobby Dodd Stadium to feed and reward players after an early-morning workout, Collins has been painting a picture of Tech and himself in a way that is hard to miss. And that was just Wednesday. Stansbury has watched with appreciation how Collins’ tenure has begun.
“I think he’s very strategic,” Stansbury told the AJC. “When I met with him, the first two things that he talked about was brand and culture, and we see that he’s been pretty focused on it.”
It’s also what Stansbury envisioned the team needed. Collins has executed, whether it’s been reflecting Tech’s pillars of science and innovation through the hire of a director of applied sports science, including four trophy emojis on his Twitter handle (a reminder of Tech’s four national championships) or the ramped-up competitive edge to the Yellow Jackets’ offseason workout program. It wasn’t enough for him to rent a helicopter to visit local high schools; he embossed the exterior with his Twitter handle and the recruiting hashtag #GOLDblooded.
“So I think there’s a reason for everything he does,” Stansbury said.
That would particularly include his efforts to hammer home Tech’s presence in Atlanta, to wit his appearance at the opening night of Super Bowl week.
It’s important for at least a couple of reasons. One, it’s not uncommon for recruits not to know Tech’s location. Two, even for those who do, tying Tech to Atlanta imbues it with all that the city represents. It’s not anything that Tech wasn’t doing previously, but just with a higher intensity.
“He’s already had it all mapped out,” Stansbury said. “He knew exactly what he wanted to do, how he wanted to do it, how we needed to use our location to our advantage, which, of course, I’ve been saying that since we got here. And he had already figured out how he was going to do it. When I met with him, there was not a lot of hypothetical. It was, this is what we’re going to do, this is what we did at Temple that fits into how I see it. So it wasn’t like he was just coming up with it for my benefit.”
There are next steps. Stansbury said that Collins has walked around Bobby Dodd Stadium, looking for ways to use it as a way to repeat his message.
“He has looked at how, whether it’s wraps or banners or ways that we can reinforce the values of the program, what we stand for, the brand, so all of those,” Stansbury said. “I know that he’s definitely got some ideas there.”
For Stansbury, as he leads a department of 17 varsity teams that often struggles to compete in the ACC, there is an ancillary benefit.
“I think because he is so focused on brand and is so visible, especially in the social-media space, it actually is helping our other sports, as well,” Stansbury said. “There’s definitely a carryover. And because he’s not really creating it right now – he’s already got the template – some of the other programs will be able to gain access to some of that, what he’s already done.”
Collins is still 6-1/2 months from the matter of actually winning games on the field. But, two months in, his boss approves.