Ga. Tech hires Collins away from Tem­ple

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS - By Charles Odum

AT­LANTA » Ge­or­gia na­tive Ge­off Collins said Fri­day he landed his dream job when hired to re­turn as Ge­or­gia Tech’s coach.

Most no­table among changes the for­mer Tem­ple coach will bring to the Yellow Jack­ets will be a shift from the spread-op­tion of­fense used by for­mer coach Paul John­son the last 11 years.

At his in­tro­duc­tory news con­fer­ence af­ter his hir­ing was an­nounced early Fri­day, Collins said he will in­stall “NFLbased” schemes on of­fense and de­fense. Those changes will be a chal­lenge for play­ers re­cruited by John­son for the run­first at­tack with its triple-op­tion plays.

Collins said he be­gan re­cruit­ing im­me­di­ately to pre­pare for the early sign­ing pe­riod that be­gins on Dec. 19. There will be some key needs, pos­si­bly in­clud­ing at quar­ter­back, to jump-start the tran­si­tion to a pro-style of­fense.

“I’ve al­ready been watch­ing tape on the plane,” Collins said, ad­ding “Re­cruit­ing mat­ters. That is a huge pri­or­ity for us.”

The 47-year-old Collin, is a for­mer Flor­ida and Mis­sis­sippi State de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and Ge­or­gia Tech as­sis­tant who was 15-10 in two seasons at Tem­ple.

Be­fore his time at Flor­ida (2015-16) and Mis­sis­sippi State (2011-14), Collins was a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant and tight ends coach at Ge­or­gia Tech un­der coach Ge­orge O’Leary from 1999-2001. He re­turned to serve as re­cruit­ing co­or­di­na­tor at Tech un­der coach Chan Gai­ley in 2006.

A na­tive of Cony­ers, Ge­or­gia, Collins said he be­gan dream­ing about even­tu­ally be­com­ing Ge­or­gia Tech’s coach dur­ing his two stints as an as­sis­tant. He said the op­por­tu­nity, which de­vel­oped quickly when John­son stepped down on Nov. 28, was not ex­pected.

“I formed a vi­sion in my head in mul­ti­ple stops I’ve been here of what this place can be, what this place should be,” he said.

He spoke of em­pha­siz­ing the Ge­or­gia Tech brand and cul­ture.

“Re­cruits choose brands and our brand should be as strong as any­where in the coun­try and it’s go­ing to be,” Collins said.

He said he would take ad­van­tage of the school’s tough aca­demic re­quire­ments as a sell­ing point in re­cruit­ing “to come to a place where ed­u­ca­tion mat­ters.”

Collins also spent a sea­son as direc­tor of player per­sonal at Alabama in 2007, Nick Sa­ban’s first sea­son lead­ing the Crim­son Tide.

Tem­ple ath­letic direc­tor Pa­trick Kraft said as­sis­tant coach Ed Fo­ley will serve as in­terim coach for the In­de­pen­dence Bowl against Duke on Dec. 27.

“While it is al­ways dif­fi­cult to lose a head coach, it is a tes­ta­ment to what we have built at Tem­ple through our stu­dents, our fans, our alumni and our donors that we can con­tinue to have suc­cess,” Kraft said in a state­ment re­leased by the school. “We have a world­class univer­sity, strong sup­port staff, ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties, pas­sion­ate sup­port­ers and a very healthy cul­ture and I am con­fi­dent that there will be great in­ter­est in our job yet again.”

Collins had an 8-4 record with a 7-1 mark in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence this sea­son.

He said his farewell meeting with his Tem­ple play­ers on Fri­day was “heartwrench­ing.”

Collins took over for his close friend Matt Rhule last year, when Rhule left for Bay­lor.

Fo­ley also was in­terim coach for the Mil­i­tary Bowl in 2016 fol­low­ing Rhule’s de­par­ture. Fo­ley will be­come the first coach in Tem­ple his­tory to coach two bowl games.

Collins said he is look­ing for­ward to be­ing a “spec­ta­tor” for Ge­or­gia Tech’s bowl game. John­son will coach the team against Min­nesota in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26.

Ge­or­gia Tech fin­ished 7-5 in the reg­u­lar sea­son. John­son compiled a record of 82-59 at Ge­or­gia Tech with three ap­pear­ances in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game.

Collins met with Ge­or­gia Tech ath­letic direc­tor Todd Stans­bury in New York ear­lier this week and with the univer­sity pres­i­dent G.P. “Bud” Peter­son in At­lanta on Thurs­day. An agree­ment was reached on the deal, ex­pected to be for seven years, late Thurs­day.

Stans­bury said Collins fit ev­ery re­quire­ment he sought in a coach, in­clud­ing “some­body who would em­brace Ge­or­gia Tech and would look at the chal­lenge and the unique­ness of Ge­or­gia Tech and that would ac­tu­ally be part of the lure.”

Collins’ flight from Philadel­phia on Fri­day was de­layed by weather and prob­lems with his pri­vate plane, push­ing back the sched­uled time for the news con­fer­ence two hours.

“One of those planes Snoopy used to fly had a flat tire right on the run­way,” he said, ad­ding a strong head­wind then slowed the flight af­ter the tire was re­paired. Collins said he was im­pa­tient at first. “Then I sat back and re­al­ized you’ve been wait­ing 22 years for this, been wait­ing to be the coach at Ge­or­gia Tech for so long, if you have to wait a lit­tle bit it’s OK,” he said.

JOHN BAZEMORE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Newly hired Ge­or­gia Tech coach Ge­off Collins gets a hug from a fam­ily mem­ber be­fore speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day in At­lanta.

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