Georgia Tech was once a powerhouse program. The Yellowjackets were one of America’s best teams and therefore of course helped found one of America’s best conferences. When the SEC was founded in 1932 Tech was a member. They weren’t no slouch either as they have more SEC titles (5) than half of the current SEC. Tech was competitive and even had winning records against many other southern powerhouses so why did they choose to leave?
The instigating incident was the “140 rule.” The rule allowed all SEC schools to have up to 140 players on scholarship in football and basketball combined. The rule also allowed schools to sign as many as 45 players per year. This rule often lead to schools pushing out benchwarmers to make room for newcomers. Tech’s head coach, Bobby Dodd, did not indulge in this practice and found it downright offensive that other schools in the conference did partake. Dodd along with Tech’s president, Edwin Harrison, were so offended by the rule’s existence they attempted to alter it at the 1963 SEC winter meetings to allow fewer signees per class. Bear Bryant even supported a rule change but was not present at the time of the vote and Alabama’s delegate, school president Frank Rose, voted against a change causing a 6-6 tie that meant no rule change.
The 1964 iteration was held in Atlanta amid rumors Tech would leave the conference if a rule change was not made. Despite confidence from Tech’s camp that the rule change would be passed the vote went 11-0 against after Harrison had already announced the Yellowjackets would leave the conference after a disastrous series of negotiations behind the scenes.
News of Tech’s departure was mixed. Although the Yellowjackets had been a force they were also an outlier as a technical institute among primarily state universities. It was commonly thought Dodd saw Georgia Tech as above the rural peasantry of Auburn, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.
Tech left the conference and were far less successful away from the SEC. After Bobby Dodd retired from coaching Tech only finished in the top 10 three times and won only one national title. They eventually asked to be let back into the SEC only to be rejected
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