Georgia Tech and the 140 Rule, a cautionary tale

No, not this one.

With the SEC meetings in June on the horizon and the topic of oversigning at or near the topic of the agenda, perhaps Mike Slive and the Athletic Directors of the SEC should use the oversigning time machine and rewind the clock back to the SEC meetings of 1964.  That was the year Georgia Tech took a stand against the practice of oversigning and eventually left the conference because it would not change its recruiting rules to prevent the abuses taking place relative to signing more players than there was room for, which subsequently led to players being run off the team and out of school.

This one.

… If Dodd could have predicted the future, one could argue that he never would have pulled Georgia Tech out of the SEC. The years that followed as an independent were mostly lean ones for Georgia Tech. From 1964 to 1982, Georgia Tech’s football record was 104-100-5. Compare that to Tech’s SEC football record of 206-110-12 from 1933 to 1963. As an independent, Georgia Tech saw its facilities become worn and outdated, surpassed in size and quality by most of its Southern competitors.

Georgia Tech would officially begin competing in the ACC in 1983. As a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Tech’s athletic fortunes rose again. With victories and championships in a variety of sports have come financial contributions and greatly improved facilities.

Arguably, the level of national prestige that Tech football enjoyed as a member in the SEC has never returned. Even with all its current success, here’s a startling comparison. In 1963, the enrollment at Georgia Tech was about 6,300 students, and there were roughly 50,000 living alumni. In 2011, the enrollment at Georgia Tech is more than 20,000, and there are more than 120,000 living alumni. Atlanta’s metro population has more than tripled. Yet Georgia Tech’s average football attendance for 2010 was less than it was in 1963.

Georgia Tech athletics forever changed on Jan. 24, 1964.

Some observations…

  • Tech’s arrogance was its downfall.  It wasn’t just the stance it took with regard to demanding that the rest of the conference bend to its position or else, it was reflected in the way it handled scheduling western schools and an overall attitude that the conference needed Tech more than vice versa.
  • Contrary to what Joshua asserts, Dodd wasn’t seeking to ban oversigning so much as getting the conference to commit to making every school treat its student athletes with scholarships in a way consistent with the honorable stance he took on signees:  “We’d live with 10 boys a year, 20, 30, 40, 50, we don’t give a damn how many boys you let us take.  But don’t tell us we gotta run ’em off.” Georgia Tech wasn’t pushing for a tougher signing cap.  It wanted the existing cap abolished.  (That’s why Bear Bryant sided with Dodd in the first vote.  Nick Saban would no doubt approve.)
  • Which gets back to another point I’ve made:  oversigning and running scholarship athletes off are two different issues.  If the SEC agreed to impose a hard signing cap tomorrow and nothing else, it wouldn’t change what some coaches now do to open roster slots.  It would simply accelerate the timing of those moves.  If you don’t want schools to run kids off, you’ve got two choices.  You can go Dodd’s route and remove the cap altogether, or you can make scholarships four-year commitments.  My guess is that neither is palatable to most schools in the SEC (although I think Richt could happily live with the latter).
  • I don’t think you’ll ever again see an SEC school, no matter how strongly it might feel about an issue like this, threaten to leave the conference without having an escape plan in place first.  And in this day and age, how easy would that be to pull off without letting anyone know?


Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

60 responses to “Georgia Tech and the 140 Rule, a cautionary tale

  1. Go Dawgs!

    Georgia Tech? Arrogant? Well, maybe back then, but CERTAINLY that’s not the Georgia Tech we all know today!

  2. Peter Rajecki

    The reasons for Tech leaving were largely cultural. Remember, Dodd was a very different head coach. He was soft-spoken and mannered in an era of Bear Bryant/Wally Butts fire breathers. Tech prepared for bowl games by playing volleyball, so players would stay in shape without getting hurt. I think he actually cared about his players, and that wasn’t just some nice guy schtick.

    Look at the Fairley cheap shot on Murray and multiply that by 10 and you have the Chick Graning/Darwin Holt incident. To Tech fans, that injury was a galvanizing event – it showed how different they were compared to their redneck brethren. Bryant’s glib response to it and the bile that built up in its aftermath hastened Tech’s departure.

    • 69Dawg

      +1 I was born and raised in East Point and my father was a big Tech fan. Bobby Dodd was a Tennessee man through and through. They used to say that once the season started GT would not hit at all in practice. Yet the teams of the 50’s and early 60’s were very good teams and Tech had some major All-Americans. I can remember the Chick Graning incident and it was worst than any I have ever seen. Holt elbowed him in the face and actually broke the single bar face mask that all backs wore back then. Holt not only knocked him out but broke several bones in his face. Nothing was done, I don’t even think a penalty was called. Tech hated Bama and Auburn both. I really hated to see Tech pull out because it effected the UGA/GT rivalry since now instead of playing for the SEC the last game we are just beating up on a weak sister.

    • Macallanlover

      Your bigoted “red neck” remark shows you are neither rational, nor desiring a discussion of the issue. Dodd was a gentleman, and a solid coach, but his decision sent GT tumbling and they are unlikely to ever recover from that mistake. And for GT to pretend they have taken the high road and others are beneath them is laughable. Like everyone, there are good points and weaknesses to your program and people. Unfortunately, your physical facility, location, and lack of a well-rounded curriculum dooms you to being a mid-major. Now add to that 45+ years since you were relevant and abandoned your traditions and it is easy to see why young men aren’t buying what you are selling. Just ain’t attractive (and that gets into what else isn’t attractive around the North Avenue area.)

      • George

        45 years since relevancy? Did you black out for all of 1990?

        • Macallanlover

          Uh, no. I don’t consider scattering a win ocasionally over UGA, or winning a title in a weak conference cause for overriding the norm of break-even, or slight winning, seasons that are GT’s MO. So yes, tech is not worthy of much discussion when it comes to CFB, and hasn’t been since Dodd’s screw-up.

          • George

            Wait, so you don’t consider winning a national championship as being relevant? Seriously?

  3. Bob

    Maybe and maybe not. What if UGA and UF threatened to walk. But what if they knew that they would have an open invitation to the Big Ten. After all, Florida and Georgia would pretty much meet the Big Ten requirements…academically both would be mid tier Big Ten teams. Athletically both programs offer a lot…especially in football. Jim Delaney would jump in a heart beat, if for no other reason than to jab the SEC.

    Of course this scenario might be far fetched. But don’t think for one moment that Georgia and Florida would not have some leverage that Dodd and Tech did not have in 1964. Tech made a huge mistake. I have talked with Billy Curry about that decision as my Dad was teaching ROTC at Tech in those days and Curry was one of his students. Curry says that Dodd told him many times that his decision to withdraw was his biggest mistake.

    • There’s a huge money problem for Florida and Georgia in considering a move like the one you suggest. The Big Ten doesn’t allow its member schools to maintain independent media revenue streams; all of that has to go through the BTN. If you’re Delany, that’s a lot of money you’re asking your potential new members to forgo. Plus, you’d have to split the existing conference revenue stream two more ways.

      Maybe that’s not insurmountable, but it’s not insignificant either.

      • crapsandwich

        As you know this will never happen. with any type of threat to leave the SEC. Georgia and Florida will continue to take the high road, as it benefits them to do so.

        Oversigning benefits Florida and Georgia you just have to think outside the box to realize this.

        • Yep. It gets back to tactics, as I’ve suggested. Florida and Georgia need to keep the discussion off of competitive advantage and focus on doing what’s right for the kids.

          • Bulldog Joe

            Perhaps, but let’s be realistic here.

            This is the SEC, where creating rules and enforcing them are two completely different things.

          • crapsandwich

            Your right Senator, isn’t the real issue of which all SEC schools are guilty of, is using these young men, many functionally illiterate to further pad the pockets of our institutions? Or you can look at it the other way, Athletes using Universities not to get an education but to prepare for the NFL? Somewhere in the argument the Student Athlete gets lost.

        • Baloney. What benefits Georgia more, the two or three recruits they secure through the “high road”, or the ten they could secure through the “low road”? As a strategy, touting moral superiority is for crap as a recruiting advantage.

      • Mike Sanders

        What independent media rights does Georgia have outside the SEC, and what do you make from them? I’m 95% sure Georgia would make more money through the Big Ten Network than from its current media rights foundation, and if Georgia and Florida were to join the Big Ten, the revenue streams would go ham.

      • Texas_Dawg

        The Big Ten doesn’t allow its member schools to maintain independent media revenue streams; all of that has to go through the BTN.

        There are some local broadcast rights, but they are much more limited.

        The Big 10 athletic programs are on average significantly more profitable than those of SEC schools:

        The average athletic department in the Big Ten sees a $10,704,551 profit, while the average in the SEC is $8,157,298.

        The Big 10 Network currently has basic cable package inclusion in 9 of the top 30 media markets.

        Adding Vanderbilt (Nashville), Florida (Tampa, Orlando, Miami), and Georgia (Atlanta) would raise that total to 14. It would greatly expand the footprint of the Network and, very critically, effectively gut the SEC and give the Big 10 huge additional leverage against ESPN/ABC and the other major networks in future contract negotiations.

        Far-fetched and not coming soon… but the Big 10 Network model is very simple: growth by acquisition. They aren’t done expanding. Gutting the closest competitor? Do it, Jim. At least kick this civil war up a notch with public overtures. Save us from these yokels. Please.

  4. Bulldog Joe

    Georgia, Florida, and Vanderbilt have no leverage on this issue with the SEC office.

    Best thing they can do to educate high schools coaches and fans on how their approach is different and use it as a recruiting advantage. That, and do a much better job of developing the players they have.

    • It’s hard to say they have no leverage. It depends on what kind of consensus they can build on certain issues with at least four other schools.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the conference does something in June. I just don’t expect the first step to be earth-shattering.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        The focus ought not to be the theoretical effect of UGA and FLA moving to another conference. Rather, the focus should be on how UGA and FLA ( and Vandy, too) can force the conference to throw the cheaters out of the SEC thereby cleaning up the conference. That all begins, by necessity, with the removal of Mike Slime…er…Slive.

  5. Georgia Tech would officially begin “competing” in the ACC in 1983.


    • Bulldog Joe

      Georgia Tech would unofficially stop “competing” in the ACC in 2010.

      • 81 Dog

        Doug, wouldn’t this be more correct?

        “Georgia Tech would officially begin competing (sic) in the ACC in 1983.”

        I guess it depends on what the meaning of “competing” is. As a guy who has watched GTU mostly flounder around in the ACC since Lee Goza was spitting on opposing players (and that’s another GTU point of pride), it pains me to note that they could be on the verge of the proverbial abyss. Hew?tt has built them into a hoops bottom feeder, and Fish Fry ain’t looking so good himself.

  6. sUGArdaddy

    Just goes to show the danger of independence, too. That’s why I don’t get the BYU thing. I understand they’re positioning themselves for greener pastures, but life as an independent is not fun. It’s MNC or bust. When you don’t have a conference title to play for…it’s hard to figure out what to play for.

    • Dog in Fla


      “Plunging from Peak Prestige”
      This story originally appeared in the Times Picayune on 10/24/02.
      By Ted Lewis and Marty Mul�

      (random excerpts): In 1951 Harris swung a heavy ax on the [Tulane] athletic department, slicing football grants-in-aid to 75, reducing staff and coaching salaries, and curtailing scouting activities. Physical education became a minor, and — for the rest of the decade — athletes were required to follow academic tracks leading to standard B.A. or B.S. degrees.

      Reformation may have been appropriate, but the extent of it set in motion events that would shape Green Wave athletics for the ensuing half-century.

      Bob Whitman, one of my assistants, used to come into my office crying because we were losing players to other schools who wanted to come to Tulane, but couldn’t meet the admission requirements. These same athletes were beating us.

      “The thing is,” said Whitman, who both played and coached at Tulane in that era, “some SEC teams like Georgia Tech and Ole Miss were recruiting twice the number of players we could, and then we were being asked to compete on an equal footing against them.”

      Leaving the SEC

      Still, Pilney said in Sweeney’s book, “I thought it was a mistake getting out of the SEC. You lose your identity as an independent. There’s always that goal of shooting for the conference championship every year. It also makes scheduling in the minor sports very difficult.”

      It caused other problems in football. Tulane had no athletic port, no natural conference rivals, no share of television revenue. And of course, no one at the time envisioned the Bowl Championship Series, which pays millions of dollars each year to the top conferences, including the SEC.

      Vanderbilt, by comparison, never has won the SEC football crown, but each year cashes a multimillion-dollar check just for being in the league.

      “Well, 20/20 hindsight is pretty good,” said Yard, who said Tulane already was moving to leave the SEC when he came aboard in 1963. “I can’t say it was a mistake because in those days conference membership wasn’t what it is today, it wasn’t lucrative, there was no real money in television. We had to lighten the schedule.”

      • That’s some good stuff there.

        Today, schools like Tulane don’t want to compete with the big boys, but they still want to share in the revenues the big boys generate.

        • Dog in Fla

          You betcha! Tulane’s president, Scott Cowen, who actually is a good guy to have a drink with, cranked it up somewhere around ’99 or so for the first serious revenue grab shot across the bow of the BCS after the Liberty Bowl. Scott’s done his duty and is now letting Orrin, Joe Barton and Shurtleff do theirs, so he hasn’t had to do a whole lot lately but you can see Scott’s coalition of the willing to take other people’s money website at

          While Scott is a great guy, I don’t think he knew much about football having come to Tulane from Case-Western or somewhere like that I think. But like all college presidents, he does know how to smell the money. He even looks like John Goodman in “O Brother Where Art Thou”.

          How could an undefeated Greenie team not be considered for the BCSCG? How could anyone have ever forseen that Green Wave football would die again? After all, they had Tommy Bowden as head coach and Rich Rodriguez as offensive coordinator. How could anything ever go wrong with that? They’re great. They’ll never leave. We thought we wouldn’t ever recover after North Carolina hired Mack Brown away from Tulane but Tommy and Rich did resurrect the Wave for one season.

          The best thing I remember about that Tulane bowl game was waiting around in the Memphis airport (tinier than the adjacent FedEx intergalactic airport) to pick up friends coming in for the game and watching other Tulane people walking through the airport having no clue whatsoever on what they should do or not do coming in for a bowl game, except go to a bar and drink,* which we found out from some lame security guy you could not do in the Liberty Bowl stadium, making it different from the old Sugar Bowl stadium on campus or the Superdome.

          *That’s where we met Scott. He picked up the tab. Great guy. We were playing some Mormon school like BYU or Utah. For some reason, their players or fans were not in the bars on Beale Street or in the hotel bars. We guessed they were probably in their rooms banging their girlfriends.

  7. Scorpio Jones, III

    I remember when Tech left the conference and my first thought was: Oh, so we don’t have to play them anymore…right?

    Then the state legislature stepped in.

    Who knew? Obviously Dodd did not.

  8. Bulldog Joe

    South Carolina went through some very lean times competitively and financially when they left the ACC.

    The move eventually worked out very well for them, but the lesson-learned is to have another place to land before you threaten to jump.

    Anyone who has seen a basketball game officiated on Tobacco Road knows the ACC hoops officials make the SEC football officials look almost legitimate by comparison.

  9. Normaltown Mike

    When you’ve never tooooouuuuuched a boob, you are at Tech.

  10. I beg to disagree with some of you. GT and fans still like to be and feel arrogant but by doing so reveal their incompetence in competing.

  11. Mark Badley

    Dodd outsmarted the SEC.

  12. SC Dawg

    Doesn’t the information in this article, specifically that the Big Ten curbed oversigning in 1953, throw the entire competitive advantage from oversigning argument out the window? The Big Ten was by no means lean from 53′ to the present. The real competitive advantage is geographic talent pool. The ironic part is that curbing oversigning in the SEC is not going to make these players go North or West. They will continue to help build programs like USF, UCF, FIU, etc.

  13. Aaargh. Senator, I appreciate that you’re focusing more on the larger issues that lead to oversigning, among other things, but no, oversigning and running off athletes are not unrelated issues. Oversigning (the cause) leads to athletes being run off (the effect). Take away the cause, and there will be less of the effect.

    • You think there will be less medical issues at Alabama if Nick Saban can’t have from February to August every year to fix the numbers? You’ve got a different impression of the man than I do. Like I said, all a hard cap would do is move his timetable up.

      The one way I’m sure you can put a serious damper on running kids off is to make schollys four-year deals.

      • I’m all for four year scholarships too, but that’s not mutually exclusive with ending oversigning. Compare this to the other potential changes: four year scholarships, ending LOIs, establishing an NCAA medical hardship review board, greater scholarship number transparency, fines or scholarship reduction for going over the limit on signing day. On every one of those points, you’re going to get a bigger fight than this one. It would be so friggin’ easy for the SEC or any conference to implement the Big Ten’s recruiting and scholarship number rules, since the Big Ten has shown the schools can still compete nationally without causing some massive harm to their students. The conference was a guinea pig for oversigning restriction, kind of like it was for instant replay. If you’re looking for to curb abuses, this is the easiest place to start.

        • Mike, I’m not arguing with you about any of that. All I’m saying is that ending oversigning in and of itself isn’t going to bring an end to those other practices.

          Nick Saban is a clever man. So are a lot of other coaches. They’ll all be looking for an edge with whatever new regime pops up.

          • Right. Ending oversigning is just getting rid of a way coaches get past scholarship limits. The point I’m making is that as these methods are taken away, coaches have to rely on shadier and shadier practices to get past the scholarship limits, which puts pressure on the Sabans and Spurriers and hurts their recruting efforts.

            The problem is that legislation either has to come from SEC headquarters or the NCAA. Ideally it would be the NCAA taking care of this, but they’re slow and arbitrary; the SEC taking action is what it’s going to have to be. I’m trying to convince people like you to move beyond sympathizing and agreeing to take action, to advocate.

            • I’m flattered you think I have any influence. I doubt I do.

              Human nature being what it is, though, I’d be pleased if they took any steps at all in June towards curbing exploitation of recruits. Regulating the practice of grayshirting by requiring an easy to understand standard disclosure and preventing a school from revoking a grayshirt unless a kid signs elsewhere is one example of a simple place to start.

              If Slive is smart, he’ll take small victories to start with, show that the changes have little to no impact on competitive advantage and build a meaningful consensus from there. I’ll be happy to cheer him on if he gets any wins.

              • On influence: it’s not just about who says a message but the media saturation of that message. For instance: Texas Dawg has had a bigger influence on oversigning than you might realize.

                A few days ago, cocknfire wrote a really good article on oversigning at Garnet & Black Attack: Though I disagree with the conclusions and Big Ten vs. SEC stuff, that’s a thoughtful, articulate position, and he also linked to your “We’ll see how it goes down the road” article. Then another manager linked to your “It’s so easy” article and said to continue the discussion there and, well, you know how things turned out there.

                Texas Dawg managed to piss off EVERY GABA staffer involved, so much so that they mentioned him by name in another article and linked to one of his posts here. ( GABA is on the SB Nation platform and is one of the biggest South Carolina sites around, so they could have an actual impact in getting their football program to stop oversigning. Meanwhile, they saw a thread here with one asshole and that one guy probably pissed an opportunity away. Well, you have a higher profile than Texas Dawg, and you could do some good, even if it’s just on GTP.

                • Sorry, but pissing people off isn’t my idea of having influence. And I’m not going to post something I don’t believe in simply to stir things up. That’s not fair to my readers.

                  My sense is that you guys and I see things differently on grayshirting, for example. As well as on the competitive advantage issue, which doesn’t concern me in the least.

                  If I see recruits being abused, as in the Mauldin/Montgomery situation, I’ll raise my voice. But that’s likely to be as far as I go.

                  • I mean to use him as an example of a negative influence, nor do I think you should troll your readers.

                    There are shades of grey in this discussion, because of attrition and what cannot be proved and some behavior (like Nutt’s) being more ethical than others’ (like Miles’). Competitive advantage can an ethical problem, but I’ve probably said enough.

                • Texas_Dawg


                  That’s awesome. Hadn’t seen that.

                  Would they have ever even mentioned the whole issue had they not been so pissed off about it?

      • Also: Alabama already has as many medical hardships over the last three years as the rest of the SEC combined. If that goes up any more, their denials of wrongdoing get even less credulous and the NCAA will be very interested to find out what’s going on in Tuscaloosa.

  14. 2011-dawgtrain

    Coach Dodd overplayed his hand,he underestimated the role of sec.The notre dame of the south was his idea.Coach Dodd was a visionary in 2011 they are.

    • Bulldog Joe

      Agree, only they’re Notre Dame minus the 80,000-plus sellout crowds and the $9 million per year exclusive TV contract.

      He didn’t anticipate the Falcons and Braves coming in and taking away the local sports dollar, either.

  15. Texas_Dawg

    The part I can’t figure out is why Porter, after a year at Kentucky, decided to walk on at LSU.

    It’s home. He was already enrolled in school and had already made numerous friends at the school. It’s his favorite team. It’s a better team. He’s a black teenager from a working class, predominantly black community near New Orleans (Waggaman, LA), and he likely just assumes, given his life experiences to date, that this is just how powerful white men and Southern institutions often act and always will, whether they are in Louisiana or Kentucky.

  16. shane#1

    I do not hold Dodd in such high regard as some. I think Dodd helped cook up the Saturday Evening post scandal along whith his pal Furman. What better way to screw two of your rivals? Dodd left the SEC because he didn’t want to share revenue, period. Unfortunately, every program will go through a rough period sooner or later. In those hard times shared revenue is a good thing.