Rodgers Lived the ‘Rambling Wreck’ Life, From QB, to Coach, to the Very End

There was only one Pepper Rodgers.

He was colorful. He was entertaining. He was everything that a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket is supposed to be.

Rodgers gave everything that he had on every play. He played bloodthirsty football in every game. He lived and died with the Yellow Jackets.

The former Georgia Tech quarterback and kicker won with class, and he lost with dignity. Rodgers, who played for the Rambling Wreck from 1951-53, represents everything that is good and dignified about Tech football.

Rodgers played for the football master, Bobby Dodd, and they both won at an exceedingly high level. In Rodgers’ three seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Georgia Tech lost just two games.

The Rambling Wreck played error-free football, and they had back-to-back undefeated seasons with Dodd calling the plays and Rodgers throwing the ball.

Rodgers was a winner. He played with an edge. He played with a touch of confidence and arrogance. Rodgers never lost to Georgia, too, which endears him to all Yellow Jacket football fans.

Tech flushed out a record of 32-2-2 in Rodgers’ three varsity seasons in Atlanta. Rodgers led the Rambling Wreck to a pair of Southeastern Conference titles. Tech lost just one SEC game in the Rodgers football era at Georgia Tech.

After his playing days and after a stint in the Air Force as a pilot, Rodgers also made a name for himself as a college football coach. He learned the ropes and the playbooks as an assistant coach at Florida, UCLA and the Air Force Academy.

Rodgers also had some success as a head coach at Kansas, UCLA and Georgia Tech. His Kansas Jayhawks won the 1968 Big Eight Conference championship. Rodgers also ventured back to Atlanta and coached the Rambling Wreck from 1974-79.

He had a record of 34-31-2 in six years as the head football coach at Tech. The Yellow Jackets won seven games in two of Rodgers’ seasons at Georgia Tech.

Rodgers will most prominently be remembered as a player, however, as he led the Yellow Jackets to consecutive national rankings of No. 5, No. 1 and No. 8 back in the good old days of Rambling Wreck football from 1951-53.

Under the coaching of Bobby Dodd and with Rodgers engineering Georgia Tech from the quarterback position, the Yellow Jackets did win the college football national championship in the 1952 season. Pepper Rodgers, the former Tech signal caller and leader, is particularly being remembered today.

Just last week, Rodgers died in Reston, Va. at the age of 88. Pepper Rodgers was a Tech man in life, and he is a Tech man in death.

Rodgers is an honored member of the Rambling Wreck family.