The Jackets line up opposite the ball. The crowd roars to its feet as the USF snapper places his hands on the ball. In Bobby Dodd, it is a tense moment. Despite the wall of sound produced by the fans, you can hear yourself breathing — in, out, in, out. And then, over the loudspeaker, the PA announcer shouts, holding the first syllable of the line in like a gate keeping back a mighty beast, only to have the beast break free — “It’s… Money Down!”
If you’re one type of Tech fan, that paragraph should get your blood pumping. If you’re another, it might get it boiling. “Can we stop doing Money Down[?]” one user on Tech subreddit asked during Saturday’s game. “Pretty please!”
“It’s weird and cringey,” said another user. “And it just feels like they’re trying to make ‘fetch’ happen,” they added, voicing their displeasure.
So debut of one of Tech’s newest traditions — and a staple of Geoff Collin’s culture — was not exactly met with warm reception online. So be it.
For the unacquainted, the “Money Down” is another name for a third down, popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. The third down is the play that the drive hangs upon — if the offense is stopped, they are usually forced to punt or kick a field goal, lessening the offensive threat. The payoff of the stop lends itself to the name.
Geoff Collins, who prior to becoming a head coach as Temple had served as a defensive coordinator at Florida, Mississippi State and Florida International University, is all too aware of the importance of getting a stop on a third down, and from Florida to Temple to Tech, he has carried the importance of it with him.
While at Florida, Collins’ assistants would jump up and down with the “Money Down” signs. At Tech, he has expanded the tradition, with graphics announcing the moment, the PA announcer shouting out the phrase and the student cheering section making it rain with fake money.
Is it cheesy? Of course — Collins always operates with a degree of tongue-in-cheek silliness, refusing to take football too seriously and encouraging his players to do the same. Sometimes he has absurd costumes, other times he brings Waffle House to the players, but no matter the occasion, Collins has kept things light at Bobby Dodd.
It is a stark contrast from the Paul Johnson era when the gruff Johnson would be content to merely scowl at the game-action from the sidelines. And it’s understandable that fans raised on a steady diet of option football — a scheme where there are no stars, no standouts, only running the ball and never letting go — might not immediately be receptive to their business-like football games being infiltrated by silly fun.
But at the end of the day, that’s what it is: silly fun. Football is just a playground game that mass media, fans and coaches, have led you to believe is far more serious of a matter than it actually is. At its core, it’s just a game, and that’s something Collins understands.
If you are at the football game Saturday, go ahead: you are more than welcome to roll your eyes the next time the sideline assistants bust out the signs or groan as the student section makes it rain. But at the end of the day, Collins is just trying to remind people that football is, at its core, a game, and games are meant to be fun. So feel free to join in!