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Geoff Collins will try to make Georgia Tech cool, fun, and successful

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The Jackets have the right kind of guy. Can he upgrade the culture on and off the field?

Temple v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Temple’s Geoff Collins is being hired as the next head coach at Georgia Tech, per The Athletic and multiple other outlets.

Collins emerged as the no-brainer for the job, once it was reported that former Jackets player Ken Whisenhunt was no longer a candidate.

Collins went 7-6 in his first year with the Owls and was 8-4 in 2018. Before that, he was the defensive coordinator at Florida and Mississippi State after a year spent with Nick Saban at Alabama and two stints at Tech.

The fact that Whisenhunt isn’t getting the job should tell you the direction Georgia Tech is going.

The mood around Georgia Tech’s donors and fans was not positive toward the idea of hiring Whisenhunt, despite the fact that he played for the Jackets back in the day.

Whisenhunt would surely have done away with the flexbone offense Paul Johnson brought to Atlanta. That offense was long despised by opponents, but GT fans had also tired of the limits it placed on offensive recruiting.

But what Whisenhunt represents is just another retread NFL hire likely out of touch with The Youth and, whether accurate or not, the image of a three-yards-and-cloud-of-dust, I-formation, Chan Gailey-esque offense. That connotation made him a tough sell. Whisenhunt’s Super Bowl berth was a decade ago. Though he currently oversees a good offense, he also had flailing offenses at Arizona and Tennessee. I can give you a laundry list of college coaches that have done that kind of thing.

But Whisenhunt just got a look because he’s familiar with the program.

Tech instead went with a coach who’s a decade younger, also has prior experience with the program, and is a lot sexier of a move.

Collins is a defensive guy. He won’t run the flexbone, but he should bring in a new offense that makes use of Tech’s current skill talent. So the modernization of the program on the field is a box checked.

But plenty of coaches could opt to not run the triple option on almost every play. How many are gonna do stuff like this?

This is a guy who created a position called S.W.A.G coordinator on his staff. He first became a national name in college football by creating hilarious recruiting letters that zigged when everyone else was zagging. This is guy who pulls off some pretty wacky stunts with his program to break up the malaise of major college football.

Collins’ attention is every bit as detailed as that of his old bosses Jim McElwain or Nick Saban, yet it’s the details themselves — superhero workout charts, WWE superstars breaking down practice, putting marching band members in the bull ring or letting your fullback play a guitar solo — that imply this crazy notion that college football is actually supposed to be...fun.

Georgia Tech’s bet is that Collins can at least try to make the program cool, furthering the big step taken by finally ditching Russell Athletic for Adidas. In the eyes of both recruits and the community, GT misses a massive opportunity by having not taken advantage of being in downtown Atlanta.

But marrying Tech’s culture as an academically rigorous institution to one of the most vibrant and diverse metropolitan areas in the country isn’t easy. Atlanta has a large influence on pop culture. That’s not exactly something synonymous with the Georgia Institute of Technology. But the potential is there for someone to make an in-city school to Atlanta what The U is to Miami and USC is to Los Angeles.

That is all way easier said than done, but winning early and often helps. Just ask MLS Cup participants Atlanta United.

Modernizing the reputation of the program is only part of the equation of winning.

But it’s certainly a start.

GT will need to do things like devote more resources to football if it truly wants to compete with in-state power Georgia and nearby Clemson for the best players in the city and state.

This will not be an easy task, but Collins is the type of guy who can do it. And betting on him over an NFL guy is the right call.