Georgia Tech did not fare well in the ACC preseason media poll – the Yellow Jackets were projected to finish fifth in the Coastal Division. (Tech has routinely outperformed its preseason projection.)
For better or worse, they’ve got that in common with the three non-conference opponents against whom they’ll start the season.
Wofford, which plays Tech in the season opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium Aug. 30, was picked to finish fourth in the seven-team Southern Conference coaches poll behind Chattanooga, Samford and Furman. (Not terribly relevant, but diehard Jackets fans will know that Tech was a charter member of the Southern Conference in 1921, back when it was the Georgia School of Technology. More on this later.)
Tulane, Tech’s opponent Sept. 6 in New Orleans, was picked to tie for ninth in the 11-team American Athletic Conference in a media poll.
Georgia Southern, which will play at Bobby Dodd Sept. 13, was picked eighth in the 11-team Sun Belt in a media poll. (I confess I didn’t realize that Idaho is in the Sun Belt. The phrase “fits like a glove” comes to mind.)
Anyway, back to the Southern Conference. Here are the 13 other charter members of the Southern Conference – Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Washington & Lee.
You may have deduced that both the ACC (1952) and SEC (1932) broke off at various points from the Southern. This original 14 is an interesting mix, though. To a large degree, it’s the original ACC without the private schools and the core schools of the SEC, not including Florida and perhaps excluding Mississippi State. And Washington & Lee. (W&L actually won the Southern in football in 1934 and 1950 before later dropping down to what would become Division III.)
Taking Washington and Lee out of the equation, I suppose neither conference commissioner would trade for this configuration at this point, but, from an SEC perspective, it would bring in the better football elements of the ACC (not including Florida State and Miami) and raise the academic profile of the league.
On the ACC side, you bring in some of the biggest fan bases in the country and improve the level of football (though you lose Florida State and Miami, but also Wake Forest). It would be a minus for ACC basketball, though, both because of who enters and who leaves.
From a TV standpoint, I imagine both conferences would be better off as they are. The footprint and television household number that the ACC loves to tout would be considerably smaller, while the fan bases that the SEC brings would be diluted.
Anyway, back to the original point of the blog – Tech’s first three non-conference opponents are not expected to blow the doors off anyone, least of all the Jackets.