By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
It is very difficult to have one elite team for a university. Having that in multiple sports typically does not happen, especially for football and men’s basketball. I want to revisit 1990, a great year for Georgia Tech.
The basketball team for the 1989-90 season had a great year. They were led by coach Bobby Cremins. They were led by a talented trio of players nicknamed “Lethal Weapon 3”. That consisted of ACC Player of the Year Dennis Scott, National Freshman of the Year Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver.
They had some big wins during the regular season against ranked teams including No. 18 Pitt, No. 17 NC State, No. 15 Louisville and No. 20 Clemson. They also demolished No. 25 North Carolina, 102 – 75.
During the regular season they were swept by Duke and Virginia. In the ACC Tournament they beat both teams and NC State for the third time to win the conference tournament.
They advanced to the Final Four in Denver. On the way there they beat Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen. The Spartans were Big Ten champs and the top seed in the region. They were ranked third nationally and led by junior Steve Smith.
In the Final Four they lost to UNLV, 90 – 81. The Running Rebels went on to win the national championship. Tech finished the season 28 – 7.
In the fall of 1990, the football team had a historic undefeated season. They were led by head coach Bobby Ross and quarterback Shawn Jones. For the season the Yellow Jackets offense scored 379 points while the defense allowed 186 points.
Jones passed for 2,008 yards, 13 touchdowns and he had 6 rushing touchdowns. William Bell led the team in rushing with 891 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
On defense they were led by All-American defensive back Ken Swilling. He had 5 interceptions that season. He is said to have predicted an undefeated season before it started, supposedly based on a dream. Safety Willie Clay was second on the team with three picks.
The Yellow Jackets started the season with a home win against NC State. They beat ranked teams like No. 25 South Carolina, No. 15 Clemson and No. 1 Virginia. The game against UVA was nationally televised.
The tie happened at North Carolina, 13 -13. Overtime was not added to FBS football until the 1995-96 bowl season.
They also beat archrival Georgia 40 – 23 in Athens. They went to the Citrus Bowl and played No. 19 Nebraska. Going into the game the Cornhuskers were 9 – 2. The Yellow Jackets won big, 45 -21.
They finished the season 11-0-1 and No. 1 in the Coaches Poll. Colorado was the top team in the AP Poll and they were 11-1-1. I’m not sure how the Buffalos were voted No. 1 since they had a loss.
They also had a game against Missouri where they were given a fifth down. That led to them scoring a touchdown on the last play to win the game 33 -31.
They also have a common opponent, Nebraska. Colorado beat Nebraska 27 – 12.
“A lot of special things happened that season,’’ said Ross said. It was a great accomplishment by a lot of people. We started all the way at the bottom three years before that and went all the way to the top.’’
1990 was an amazing year for Georgia Tech that will never be duplicated.