Off season continues for college football and we’re rolling through Phil Steele’s Preseason Top 40 for our Mascot Mondays. This week, it’s #33 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the inanimate Ramblin’ Wreck and buggy Buzz. So we ran into one of the few abstract mascots last week and now we have something solid in an old timey car. On top of that, there’s a giant costumed Yellowjacket. Where one was born from the history of its region, the other comes from the affectionate nickname of the products of the students work in South America. Buckle up, folks, we’re going for a ride through the ATL. Don’t forget the bug spray.
The first mention of a nickname for Georgia Tech came straight outta the 1890’s. Not only does the name refer to the type of bug that inhabits the region, the fans who went to the game actually wore yellow jackets. It was a match made in heaven. The school made it official in 1905 when then new head coach John Heisman told the local paper he wanted the team to be referred to as the Yellow Jackets. Fast forward way in the future to 1972 and we find Judi McNair as the first student to don the mascot costume. The fans loved it but they didn’t see it again until 1979 when Richie Bland snuck onto the field and scammed his way into making the mascot official.
When Judi rode onto the field with her makeshift suit, she was riding on the embodied spirit of makeshift mechanics, as well as Georgia Tech’s other mascot, the Ramblin’ Wreck. The term refers to students who had to fashion motorized vehicles in South America during the 19th Century with a hodge podge of parts. The first mascot version of the Ramblin’ Wreck barreled onto the field in the form of a Ford Model T by its owner Dean Floyd Field. Field trucked around the country with it and its various upgrades over the years. Fields last version petered out around 1945 and it wasn’t until 1961 that a new version stormed the campus.
As strange as it seems, we aren’t that big of car junkies around here. So as we inspect this hulking bulk of metal, we think it’s pretty good for a spirit mobile. We don’t know a thing about what’s under the hood, but the aesthetics on the outside make more than worry for us to want to take it for a spin. The pennants are used for a real purpose and the chrome is extras shiny. Plus, if this thing ever came face to face with other mascots, it could just rev the engines and run them down (even for Colorado’s Ralphie).
Buzz on the other hand looks like a yellow frog with a stripped butt and nice sneakers. The Buzz in the logo has a better smirk and some well-defined muscles. The Buzz on the field looks like a half assed version of the logo. All the traits that need to be there are there but it doesn’t seem like much effort was put into making it perfect. The wings are droopy, the shirt is loose, and please loose those dang sneakers. The school needs to take some time and fashion are more scary looking Buzz, since the cartoony spirit has the Ramblin’ Wreck parked in it.
Georgia Tech is another one of those 19th Century schools that had a mascot from almost day one. The tradition runs deep down in the South and in Atlanta. The Ramblin’ Wreck embodies that spirit and carries on for every generation of Yellow Jacket. Buzz looks like he flew into the Ramblin’ Wreck’s windshield. Please wipe him off the window and fix him up, Georgia Tech.