Atlanta’s sporting interest is focused squarely on the Falcons as their run-up to the Super Bowl in Houston continues. It’s not ideal timing for Georgia Tech and coach Josh Pastner, particularly considering the Yellow Jackets’ upsets of No. 6 Florida State and No. 14 Notre Dame this past week.
Pastner, though, sees national attention on the Falcons as a positive.
“I’ve had a lot of people come up and say to me, ‘What about the Falcons going to the Super Bowl?’” Pastner said last week. I said, ‘I love it.’ The more publicity for Atlanta, and especially positive publicity, the better for Georgia Tech. And I’ve said this before, to turn this thing around, it’s going to take an absolute village, and everybody’s got to be all on board, and our message, our branding, the more we can communicate that out, the better we can be.”
Having an elite NFL team in town hasn’t quite lifted Boston College, but Pastner is probably not wrong. From a short-term public interest standpoint, the Falcons’ Super Bowl berth is not beneficial as the Jackets try to regain some of the local prominence they once enjoyed. But from a recruiting standpoint, it’s probably not terribly consequential.
The people who need to know about Tech – recruits and high-school and AAU coaches – are well aware of what the Jackets have done in the past four weeks, and this past week in particular. There were about 10 elite prospects at Tech’s win over No. 6 Florida State, including Wheeler High senior Jordan Tucker, ranked the No. 40 prospect nationally.
It’s debatable how much the Falcons’ success can benefit Tech. But if their Super Bowl run can create positive associations with the city, it certainly can’t hurt Pastner’s recruiting, particularly nationally. Recruiting can be so much about perception, and any little bit can make a difference. Any coach uses what he can, and Tech coaches have sold the school’s location, seen by some as a negative, as a strength.
For instance, when guard Curtis Haywood came on his visit in December prior to committing, he was taken to the NBA on TNT studios next door to Tech. In the lobby of Tech’s football offices, there is a sign listing five reasons why prospects might choose Tech. The last touts the school’s proximity to sports entertainment. (The sign needs some updating. The Braves probably need to be taken off the list. For that matter, so do the Thrashers, who moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2011.)
As Pastner has noted on more than one occasion, Tech, from a basketball perspective, is not cool. Not going to the NCAA tournament for six consecutive seasons will do that. Obviously, Tech’s wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame are changing the perception. And, perhaps, the Falcons might be doing a little bit, as well.