The Top 25 Just Wasn't Enough for Tech's Greatest
By Wes Durham
The Voice of the Yellow Jackets
When the idea was conceived about giving fans a chance to vote for their favorite Georgia Tech athletes of the 20th century, it seemed like a good idea. In one of our internal meetings during the summer of 1999, former SID Mike Finn and I thought it would be a good way to chart traffic on the official web site (www.ramblinwreck.com), along with conducting our own "greatest" list.
There had been two preliminary contests in the fall of 1998 surrounding football that had drawn great traffic on the web site, and we hoped this one would do the same, except over a longer period of time. Well, we were right. The traffic was there and so were the results.
We polled 30 people currently associated or formerly with Georgia Tech athletics over several eras. That helped create the nomination of 75, which debuted on the web site in early November of last year. I heard from some fans who thought that the voting should have been weighted because of the "internet voting" and that the most recent athletes would get the most votes. I also heard from some who were upset that certain athletes were not included on the nomination list. It was going to be tough before the first vote was even cast.
In the sense of Georgia Tech being a "team" in all sports, the original idea was to announce 25 names, not a countdown like others have done. No era would outweigh the other, a vote was a vote and the totals would tell the story of how the fans felt. Our internet site is coordinated by Total Sports, and they were nice enough to provide us a monthly report on the voting. We knew after the first month we had a problem, it was too close to call.
Before the voting process closed in the late spring, a small group of us involved from the start decided to expand the list to 50. It had nothing to do with someone not being in the top 25 that needed to be, it was simply to close to call all the way to the end. Mail-in ballots were encouraged and when those were added to the internet totals, it really got tight. Single votes were deciding places up and down the list.
The one thing I learned through all of this is that Georgia Tech is one of the few schools in the country that has had superior athletic performances throughout the entire century. Take the 28 names in football that made the list. Joe Hamilton is one of the most recent stars of the 50, and he is joined by "Buck" Flowers and "Indian Joe" Guyon, who both played in the Heisman era.
Generations of fans have followed Tech sports through the last century. If you were a fan of Keith Brooking in the 1990's, I bet your Dad was just as crazy about George Morris in the 1950's. Look at the list and you will find several examples where the generations have come together on this team of 50.
There are also some tough calls to make on the list. If you had to pick five-starters for a basketball game of the nine that made the list, who would you put on the floor? I will have to check with Coach Hewitt on that one. Wonder who golf coach Bruce Heppler would put in his foursome for the final round of a tournament?
Glad I don't have to make that call.
I hope that fans had a good time voting on the list. This was never intended to be scientific, but more of a way to celebrate one of the great athletic traditions in college sports. I think it also created plenty of discussion about the history of the Yellow Jackets among its followers. But it's never a bad thing to spend time talking about "the wearers of the T."
The 50 Greatest Tech Athletes of the 20th Century (grouped by sport in alphabetical order)