Thursday, December 27, 2007

Disrespect and Coaching Rumors

So apparently our players didn't like the fact that there's hardly a talking head out there that thinks they are going to beat Fresno State. In addition, they were really a bit ticked at Lee Corso emphatically stating that GT would be the BIGGEST BOWL BLOWOUT of the season. He doesn't just think we are going to lose. He thinks we are about to be slaughtered.

So I ask you players - how will you answer the bell? In so many ways, there is just nothing to lose in this year's bowl game. It's the last hurrah before the Paul Johnson era begins. It's the one-and-only chance to date to let Jon Tenuta get victory #1 as a head coach. In some way, it's a chance to salute Chan Gailey one last time. So few people are putting stock in this game. It is so disconnected to this season in terms of meaning, and so many things will change that it really has so little bearing on next year. So what do you have to lose? Nothing I say. Go have fun and whip some blue field tuckus.

So have you had time to think about our new DC Dave Wommack and form an opionion? Here's the vibe I get from fans here and around the 'net.

First, losing Jon Tenuta is a downer for virtually everyone. You can poke holes in what he has done, but at the end of the day our defense has been top 30 every year and it's an exciting, high risk, play-to-win defense. Tenuta gave GT a certain swagger. Make no mistake, LSU fans are LOVING the possibility of adding him as DC. He is a bonafide well-respected guy in coaching circles and SEC fans would see this as another serious upgrade in coaching talent for the coaching-rich SEC. So losing Tenuta is just a downer and very hard to replace.

Second, Dave Wommack does not have a bullet-proof record. He had some outstanding defenses at Southern Miss, but had some fuzzy stops at Arkansas and South Carolina. Houston Nutt fired him at Ark, and Steve Spurrier did not renew his contract at SC - effectively firing him as well. Now, there are always two sides to every story and there are evidently two serious sides to the Razorback saga, from losing all his starting players to graduation, the NFL or injury and having to cobble together a defense from what was left. From what I can tell, there are some legit things that happened there that were out of his control. In addition, I think we can all agree that the Houston Nutt era was a bit of a "Nut House". However, at the end of the day he was effectively fired from two SEC jobs. That does not give GT fans a boatload of warm fuzzies.

Third is that there just isn't an apparent connection between DW and Tech fans. He's not a grad, didn't coach here before (or even the ACC). He wasn't well known and even his association with Paul Johnson was second hand. When you hire a new coach you can usually find a good reason to rally behind the guy and develop a connection. The easiest is when the guy he was replacing wasn't doing the job. It wasn't hard to give Coach Bond (replacing Patrick Nix) or Coach Kelly (targeting our terrible special teams), or Giff Smith (huge upgrade as recruiting coordinator) the benefit of the doubt. But replacing Tenuta is not a rallying point. His track record is spotty. He's been in the business a LOT of years (great), but now he's no longer a DC (he's a LB coach). Unfortunately for him, his primary connection with GT fans won't come until after we see his defenses on the field, and we start to get those trickles of info about how he interacts with players and recruits.

From a smattering of SEC fans at Ark and SC, they generally saw Wommack as a decent coach, but a guy that "didn't fit in" in terms of connecting with players and recruits. Don't ask me what that means, but that's what I saw.

From an X's / O's perspective, here's Paul Johnson's comment:

"There's not a lot of difference between what he does and what Georgia Tech has
been doing," Johnson said Friday.

In other words, his defenses are a 4-3, aggressive, blitzing styles. In fact, I am sure it was part of PJ's strategy to make the transition away from Tenuta smooth for defensive players and recruits. Question is - will it be "Tenuta-like" or "Tenuta-light"? Will it succeed? Can he recruit more effectively? Can someone coach DB's please?

"He comes very highly recommended by a lot of guys I highly respect in the
business," Johnson said. One example: SMU executive associate athletics director
Mike Vaught, who coached with Wommack at Southwest Missouri State and with
Johnson at Navy.

"Everywhere he's been he's done a good job," Johnson said of Wommack,
and he added that X's and O's skills weren't the only things he considered. "I
think it's important for a coaching staff that the personalities all mesh.
There's a lot of guys that are great coaches. I think he'll do a great job and
be a good fit."

Now, to hear everyone's account (other than Jon Tenuta's), JT was offered the job and basically decided he wanted to move on:

"Jon felt like he had some other things he was interested in doing
professionally," Johnson said. "When we sat down to talk, he said there were
some other things he was interested in doing, and that's kind of where it was."

It would certainly have been a real negative strike against PJ had it come out that Tenuta was told to move on. I guess I understand JT's perspective, since he was the loyal solder but not given a chance to run the show here at Tech. I wish him all the best and will always consider him a Tech-man.

So it's hard to view Dave Wommack as an upgrade or even an equal trade. However, we really have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He's our guy and he's going to get his chance to build a defense in a major BCS conference again. We certainly all want the guy to succeed.

So what does the coaching staff look like? Well, nothing's official, but here are the rumblings and my best guesses:

Head Coach: Paul Johnson (official)
Offensive Coordinator: None - PJ will call plays (official)
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Wommack (official)

Defensive Line / Recruiting Coordinator - Giff Smith (not official)
Secondary - Charles Kelly (not official)
Linebackers - Brian Jean-Mary (not official)

Slot backs - Jeff Monken (Navy - not official)
Wide Receivers - Brian Bohannon (Navy - not official)
Offensive Line - Todd Spencer (Navy - not official)
QB's - ???

Special teams - (unknown if we will have a dedicated coach here)

We should know the official staff in probably about a week.