Ga Tech fires Geoff Collins in 4th season with 10-28 mark

Sep 25, 2022, 11:51 PM | Updated: Sep 29, 2022, 1:22 am
Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts on the sideline after a play during the first half of ...

Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts on the sideline after a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Central Florida, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

              Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins, left, and Central Florida head coach Gus Malzahn chat on the field before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
              Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins speaks to defensive lineman Noah Collins (43) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
              Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins looks from sideline in the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Clemson Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

ATLANTA (AP) — Geoff Collins is out as Georgia Tech’s football coach, fired Monday in the midst of his fourth season after failing to make headway with a brash plan to turn the Yellow Jackets into a national powerhouse through branding and promoting Atlanta’s big-city culture.

Collins was officially dumped during a meeting of the athletic association board two days after a 27-10 loss to Central Florida left him with a record of 10-28 at Georgia Tech.

Brent Key, the assistant head coach under Collins, was appointed interim head coach. He doesn’t have much time to settle in: The Yellow Jackets are at No. 24 Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Collins, whose team is 1-3 this season, finished with a winning percentage of just .263 — the lowest of 13 full-time coaches in the school’s history. Bill Lewis had been the only Yellow Jackets coach to lose his job during a season, resigning after a 1-7 start in 1994 when it became clear he would be fired.

“Unfortunately, the results of our football program have fallen short of what our loyal community, fans and athletes expect and deserve,” Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera said in a statement. “We are committed to rebuilding the program and a coaching change is a necessary first step in that process.”

Collins was the third Football Bowl Subdivision coach to be let go in the opening month of this season, following Scott Frost at Nebraska and Herm Edwards at Arizona State.

Georgia Tech also dismissed athletic director Todd Stansbury, who hired Collins and provided steadfast support even as the losses mounted. Frank Neville, a senior vice president and Cabrera’s chief of staff, will take over as interim AD while the school begins a search this week to fill both positions.

Collins is due a buyout of at least $10.5 million, the full amount remaining on the final three years of the seven-year contract that brought him to Georgia Tech from Temple ahead of the 2019 season.

Collins led the Owls to a 15-10 record and a pair of bowl berths in his first head coaching job. Then, the former Mississippi State and Florida defensive coordinator landed what he called his dream spot.

A native of suburban Atlanta, Collins said Georgia Tech had the potential to compete with the nation’s top programs, even though he faced a tough transition away from the triple-option offense employed by his predecessor.

Paul Johnson’s quirky scheme helped produce nine bowl appearances in 11 seasons, including a pair of Orange Bowl trips, and an Atlantic Coast Conference championship that was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions. He also managed to beat rival Georgia three times.

Collins didn’t come close to that level of success, and eventually his persistent references to the “404” culture — Atlanta’s area code — and love of the South’s iconic Waffle House diners earned him a derisive nickname: Coach Catchphrase.

Georgia Tech struggled to a 3-9 mark in 2019, which was largely brushed off to the difficult task of switching to a pro-style offense. It never got any better.

The Yellow Jackets finished 3-7 during his second season, which was hindered by the pandemic, followed by another 3-9 debacle in 2021 that ended with shutout losses to Notre Dame and Georgia by a combined score of 100-0.

Collins went into his fourth season facing a brutal early schedule and little indication he could turn things around, especially after perhaps the most touted recruit of his regime, running back Jahmyr Gibbs, transferred to Alabama.

Collins toned down his incessant promotion and conceded at the start of preseason practice that “we’re all tired of losing.”

But more losing followed.

The Yellow Jackets opened with a 41-10 setback to Clemson, got a brief respite with a victory over lower-division Western Carolina, and pretty much sealed Collins’ fate with an embarrassing 42-0 home blowout to Ole Miss.

“That was hard,” the 51-year-old Collins said afterward, his gravelly voice breaking. “It was not up to the standard of Georgia Tech football.”

Unfortunately for Collins, it was pretty much the standard the Yellow Jackets displayed throughout his tenure.

He never solved the rash of false starts and other pre-snap penalties that plagued the offense. The defense failed to show signs of improvement, despite Collins taking a more hands-on role. And, in perhaps the most troubling development, Georgia Tech gave up a staggering four blocked punts in the first four games — displaying an almost comic ineptitude on special teams.

Of course, it was no laughing matter to the school’s big-money donors and disgruntled fan base. Their dissatisfaction only grew when they looked longingly at the success of Georgia, which won the national championship in January and is ranked No. 1 this season.

By contrast, Georgia Tech has lost nine straight games to Football Bowl Subdivision opponents and rarely showed a hint of competitiveness against top-level teams.

Under Collins, the Yellow Jackets lost their last five games against FBS programs by a combined score of 210-20. They were 1-10 against ranked opponents and 7-19 in the ACC.

In what turned out to be Collins’ final game, the Yellow Jackets outgained UCF 452-333 and allowed only eight completions, but threw away any shot at the upset with another sloppy showing.

There was a blocked punt. Jeff Sims was sacked four times. Defensive star Charlie Thomas was ejected for the second time this season for targeting. Eight penalties proved to be critical.

Stansbury, a former Georgia Tech football player, was hired from Oregon State in 2016 to lead his alma mater’s athletic program. He dealt with attendance woes and a tight budget that only got more restrictive with the pandemic. But his regime was largely marred by the hiring of Collins and insistence that the program was headed in the right direction.

The 61-year-old Stansbury became the first athletic director in Georgia Tech history to be fired from the post, having lost the confidence of the administration and influential donors who didn’t want him involved in the hiring of the next football coach.

“The challenges the athletic program has faced in recent years have grown to a point where we need to try a new approach,” Cabrera said, “and that requires new leadership.”


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at


More AP college football: and Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) dribbles against Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) a...
Associated Press

Nike says Kyrie Irving is no longer one of its athletes

Kyrie Irving’s relationship with Nike is officially over, the shoe and athletic apparel maker said Monday, a move that came a month after the company suspended the Brooklyn guard as part of the fallout over his tweeting a link to a film containing antisemitic material. It was not a surprise breakup, especially after Nike co-founder […]
18 hours ago
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) reacts after a score during the second half of the team's NBA b...
Associated Press

Hawks’ Trae Young, McMillan try to smooth over dispute

ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young says he and Hawks coach Nate McMillan have smoothed over their disagreement regarding his not attending a game last Friday. Young, the team’s leading scorer, was out with a sore shoulder and did not attend the game the win over the Denver Nuggets. It is rare for an injured player […]
18 hours ago
TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA...
Associated Press

Bennett, Duggan, Stroud, Williams are Heisman finalists

Quarterbacks Stetson Bennett of Georgia, Max Duggan of TCU, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Caleb Williams of Southern California were announced as finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Monday night. The award given to the outstanding player in college football, determined by a vote of more than 900 sports journalists and past winners, will […]
18 hours ago
Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris, left, Tyrese Maxey, center, and James Harden, right, look on fro...
Associated Press

Sixers’ Harden to return Monday against Rockets after injury

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden will return Monday night for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Houston Rockets after missing 14 games with a foot injury. Harden, who spent just more than eight seasons with the Rockets before being traded to Brooklyn in January 2021, last played Nov. 2. He had a tendon strain in his […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Blake scores 20, Green Bay beats IUPUI 68-61

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Zae Blake scored 20 points to help Green Bay defeat IUPUI 68-61 on Monday. Blake added three steals for the Phoenix (1-7). Clarence Cummings III scored 16 points, going 6 of 13 from the floor, including 2 for 5 from distance, and 2 for 5 from the line. Garren Davis […]
18 hours ago
Ydamelys Moreno, right, watches as fellow female boxers train in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022...
Associated Press

Boxing powerhouse Cuba lets women boxers compete

HAVANA (AP) — Legnis Cala Massó carefully removes her necklace and smiles as her coach slides her bright red boxing gloves over her French tip nails. The 31-year-old swings her wiry body into the ring and pounds her fellow boxer – also a young woman – with a series of punches, just as she’s done […]
18 hours ago
Ga Tech fires Geoff Collins in 4th season with 10-28 mark