BISHER: Where does Tech go after concurrent Orange Bowl, hoops losses?

Furman Bisher

Furman Bisher

Now what?

Georgia Tech not only loses to Iowa in the Orange Bowl, and on the same night the basketball team loses to Georgia, playing with its imported new coach, Mark Fox. (Ninth time in a row? Can that be right?)

What can happen next? Will they now grow a hedge around Grant Field?

I've always had a feeling lurking inside of me that these Midwestern kids were tougher than our cornbread-reared Southerners. Especially up front, where the real war is fought. And so it turned out in Land Shark Stadium. (Hate that name.)

From my own close observation, and what I've read, the Yellow Jackets were manhandled on both sides of the line of scrimmage in the Orange.

The Hawkeyes play straight eyeball-to-eyeball football. Ever hear of a defensive coordinator named Norm Parker? Neither had I, but he's famous now, especially on The Flats. You see, we don't pay much attention in the South to what goes on in football in the Great Midwest, where the names end in "-ski," and the Big Ten does little business with that part of the country where cotton once was king.

Remember the time when Vince Dooley took a Georgia team up to Ann Arbor and beat Michigan? It is still sweet on the Southern mind as a monumental conquest.

Well, I hardly know what to make of this. I always expect Paul Johnson to be able to find the way. I've been watching him do it since he brought his offensive style to Georgia Southern. Actually, we never paid that much attention to it until he moved to the Naval Academy and the bright lights found him. He simply calls his offense "the option."

Some call it the "triple option," but you dig into the roots of football and you'll find some Southerners who trace it back to what Bobby Dodd called "the belly series."

"Belly?" Pretty coarse terminology, having to do with a quarterback option. Quarterback takes the snap, moves out of the pocket in step with a running back, either shoves the ball into the runner's midregion or keeps it himself, thus the "belly" part of it. Seriously, nothing more than that. The QB can then keep running with the ball or pass it.

And all this began when Darrell Crawford was the QB at Tech, and continued with Pepper Rodgers and Bill Brigman. And Dodd won a national championship with it in 1952.

But I digress. This seems to have been the root of it all, as I've come to know it. I must say that Johnson gets more action and faster feet in his offense -- except that it didn't happen in the Georgia game, and now the Orange Bowl.

Is it losing its mystique? Are people like Norm Parker and Kirk Ferentz, Iowa's head man, catching up to it?

Last year, LSU blew Tech out of the water in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and now Iowa. Apparently, give a team a month of lab work on Johnson's offense and it can solve the puzzle. Even Georgia had an extra week in November.

However, don't expect things to be changed at Georgia Tech, except names and faces. There will be business as usual on North Avenue. And by the way, in parting let me make it clear that the 1967 Orange Bowl was Dodd's last game at Tech -- and sorrowfully it ended in defeat by Florida.

Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures likes Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He will write periodic columns for the Daily Post.