By Pat Edwards
Ramblin' Reck Club
What's the good word? To Hell With Georgia!
Every year on the traditional date reserved for giving thanks in our great country, the two greatest teams in Georgia meet in order to decide the bragging rights for the coming year.
On this date, wise cooks will prepare their turkey meals for tailgate parties, not saving them for after game dinners, less the appetite of the family should be stifled by the loss of the favorite team.
This game divides families, pitting brother against brother and father against son.
Tech's rivalry with Georgia transcends the playing field and starts back to the hard feelings surrounding the founding of the Institute.
You see, there is a Bulldog in Tech's woodpile.
Tech was founded in 1885 during a summer session of the Georgia General Assembly. The bill passed the legislature in a divided vote that left Tech's future very much in doubt.
The Institute had been foreseen as a department of the University of Georgia by the founding fathers, and many in the legislature who were Georgia Alumni felt that Tech's existence, with its practical, engineering instruction, had no place in a state dedicated to the classical model of teaching, (it is no coincidence that the name of the town to house UGA is called Athens.) In the end, though, the endorsement of the chancellor and the faculty committee members of UGA strengthened Tech's position, and the Assembly passed the bill, and, on October 13, 1885, Governor McDaniel signed the bill founding the Georgia School of Technology.
Tech's first football game with Georgia was on November 4, 1893.
Tech had just come off of a founding season in which she lost her first three games in history against Mercer, Vanderbilt and Auburn. Still, Tech saved the best for this first by defeating Georgia at Athens, 28-6.
Tech's coach, officially, was a professor in the Institute, a Professor West, but was led, and quite practically coached, by a player, Leonard Wood. Leonard, an experienced lineman, was also a soldier in the US Army stationed at Fort MacPherson in Atlanta.
When Tech fielded him as a player on that day, Georgia students protested that he was a surgeon in the Army that only enrolled at Tech for the express purpose of playing football that day.
Another player, Park Howell, was also protested against for having a questionable affiliation with the Institute.
Georgia was also not without controversy on that game with a halfback being accused of actually being a paid trainer, not a student.
In 1919, Tech and Georgia clashed on the game field and in the halls of academia and politics.
Tech and Georgia's bitter baseball rivalry that year caused such a rift that in that year the final severing of Tech athletics occurred from the parent university in Athens.
But the real heat happened as a result of the passage of the federal Smith-Howard Act that provided for federal support of engineering research in state institutions.
This would sound like a windfall program for Tech, but the UGA's College of Agriculture's Dr. Andrew Soule ,that had developed a great deal of political power prior to World War I, argued that they were due any moneys to come from that act of congress.
What ensued was a major struggle that ended in the establishment of the Enabling Act that established the State Engineering Experiment Station at the Georgia School of Technology.
The poorly funded, but broadly chartered institution defined Tech as the premier center of research of technology and engineering in the state.
This and other steps taken in these early years established Tech as an institution in her own right that followed a course for herself that led away from UGA, and into the future.
Tech has always seemed to lead Georgia in areas of progress. In the matter of integration, on January 9, 1961 UGA was forcibly integrated by a court order.
There were frightening demonstrations and violence perpetrated by students and members of the Ku Klux Klan on campus.
Tech, however, peacefully and voluntarily integrated in the fall of 1961, becoming the first institution in the deep south to do so.
Tech students and UGA students share several rival pranks, but the one most enjoyed by the Tech students is the stealing of the UGA bronze bulldog.
Tech students will perform this feet, on occasion, attributing the act to our old friend, George P. Burdell.
Georgia students matched this boldness once, stealing our own dog of lore, Sideways.
One year UGA students stole the beloved Tech pet, a dog thrown from a car in front of the Varsity, and left with a permanent gait in which her head was 15 (out of phase with her tail). The ole girl was held for a number of days in Athens, until returned to the bosom of her home.
Although Tech was born in association with Georgia, politics and rivalry have separated the two institutions into two diverse characters that provided two different ends of the spectrum for Georgia's academic needs.
Tech's discipline of the practical engineer has given us the strength of purpose to lead the state into the next century, and beyond.
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