Engaging Georgia Tech’s Students Should Be A Priority for Geoff Collins

College Football fanbases start with students and with the recent poor attendance by fans and students of Georgia Tech, getting students to the games should be a priority!

Among Georgia Tech Football’s many problems is fan support. Although it’s easy to say that the poor fan support is because of Paul Johnson’s “boring” offense or the results since 2015, the numbers show it has been bad even when we were good. In the best Tech season in modern era, Tech managed only 48,000 fans in the stadium and an 88% fill rate which was 50th in the country that year.  Last year in a non-bowl season, the attendance was 85%. There’s a myriad of reasons for this poor attendance. Fair-weather fans, “boring” offense, noon games, and the city having a ton of things to do but there’s one reason that stands out to me: students.

Georgia Tech Football Attendance
Georgia Tech’s Student Section in a game against 14th ranked Miami in 2016 (@magnacarterlive on Twitter)
Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 8.37.36 PM
For comparison this is Georgia’s student section 30 minutes prior to Georgia vs. Tennesee that same day (@jeffsentell on Twitter)

“A lot of people who come to this school just don’t really like football. I went to every game in high school and not one at Tech cause I just wasn’t interested anymore. It wasn’t a community event where I knew half the players personally and the fans were people I knew and felt comfortable with.” – u/loveinthesun1

Both of these pictures and the quote were found from a Reddit thread in 2016 about poor Tech attendance. Obviously it’s a problem but the user in the quote says something very true. A majority of Georgia Tech’s students don’t like football or don’t care enough to come. Georgia Tech has never done a great job at selling the football team but under Geoff Collins, that needs to change.

Georgia Tech doesn’t have a strong brand on a national scale but even in Atlanta and on campus, it’s not prevalent. It has gotten better recently with things like the addition of a video board on the Techwood Dr. side of Bobby Dodd, but it’s still not strong. For Geoff Collins, that’s his specialty. His “Money Down” and “GREAT” slogans may sound stupid to older fans but for young people, it’s a good selling point and a good stepping stone to becoming a bigger brand.

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Courtesy: @CherryCrusade on Twitter

At Temple, Geoff Collins had a “money down” saying and it engaged fans. On 3rd down, his players would get excited with money down signs that they customized for staffers to hold up but fans also got in the mix. Temple printed specialty 3 dollar bills with Collins face on them that they would throw if the team made a stop on that down. Once again, it sounds silly but this stuff works with fanbases.

Obviously Geoff Collins has an uphill battle with engaging the fanbase but with students, there are a couple of things he can do. On top of the slogans and mottos, he should continue something Georgia Tech did in 2013 before the 2013-14 season. 

Coincidentally, Georgia Tech’s attendance increased by over 5,000 from the season before this video to the season after. Of course this video isn’t the only reason that attendance went up, I don’t doubt it had an effect. With a very large portion of Georgia Tech students being international and/or having no prior relationship with football, it’s a hard sell. Encouraging international students to learn about the game as well as engage with players can pay dividends.

“You want to get a hobby, something else to pass the time, and also want to get your mind off the studies” – Mike Huff

“The best part was doing the chants with the players” – Zoey Zhang

Mike Huff brings up a great point about how Football can be that hobby or that excursion from the busy day of a Tech student but Zoey Zhang brings up an important point as well. Earlier in the article, I mentioned a quote from a Reddit user about how they didn’t know the players. Of course, high school allows you better opportunities to get to know the players but engaging players with students can lead to higher attendance with students as well as good relationships for both the players and students. I also believe that more specialty days/nights like whiteouts, gold outs, etc. would help immensely.

To put it bluntly: Georgia Tech’s athletic association and previous athletic directors have put not only Tech Football in a bind but also all of Tech’s athletics. Athletic associations run through the Football programs success (mostly) and that should be Georgia Tech’s main priority right now. I loved Paul Johnson, his offense, and his attitude but obviously it was a polarizing topic for fans and turned many off. Although Geoff collins isn’t guaranteed Paul Johnson’s success on the field, he certainly looks poised to be a fan favorite which is what Georgia Tech desperately needs right now.

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