Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Daddy Fat Sacks" has a little somp'in for ya

Another year and another Thursday night game. It's time for that annual ESPN tradition. Opinions differ on the value of this showcase. Bobby Bowden said at one point this year that if you were trying to make a name for yourself it was great, but that if you're an elite team you don't need to be playing on Thursdays. Well, I guess that means Bobby better start contacting ESPN about some future slots.
My personal opinion is that with the competitive landscape of collegiate football, you can't go wrong by having your team be the only game in town across the nation. The ATL skyline at night is certainly unique and Bobby Dodd Stadium offers one-of-a-kind views of the city. It's a great showcase for Georgia Tech and should continue. Yeah, tailgating is a drag and getting home is a drag (especially if you work on Friday), or getting to class is a drag......... but hey, it's only once a season. I went to the Thursday night UVA game last season, made it back to Greenville SC for work the next day. Tired? Yes....... Worth it? Yes.

Did you know that the first ACC ESPN Thursday night game was played on September 19, 1991 between UVA and GT? In that game, Scott Sisson (I was his RA and next door neighbor by the way - Field Dorm first floor), kicked a game-winning 33 yard field goal. Of course we were all used to him kicking game winners by that point. Tech has gone on to play a total of 19 Thursday night games, the most of any ACC team. In addition, Tech has hosted more match-ups than anyone else (14 in all).

This year we welcome back the Hokies, who just got done losing to Boston College last Thursday night in a game that might single-handedly give Matt Ryan the Heisman Trophy. With Tashard Choice and R.Grant out for the game, it's going to be an interesting match-up to see how J.Evans and J.Dwyer buck up. It's probably going to take some elevated play by everyone on the team, including some stronger work in the passing game. However, Taylor Bennett is taking no prisoners.

(Taylor Bennett directs traffic at the line - "I'm going to be firing bullets, so you better get your vests on tight Bebe, Greg and James"............ While the guy in the picture may look like Robert Patrick, I'm sure it's actually Bennett.)

Speaking of Grant, I'm not sure I could possibly feel worse for a guy on this team. Grant just does his work, waits patiently, doesn't complain and is all about the team............ and yet has battled the injury bug since his senior year in high school. Some guys are just unlucky like that and some guys are just made like that. Their bodies just don't hold up (ask Grant Hill). I don't know which category he falls into. My sincere hope is that he's able to come back for the bowl game, and do something special in his last game.

From the VaTech perspective, it looks like VaTech's QB is going to be a game-time decision. Looks like some of the local media want to see a mobile guy with the Tenuta blitz on the way. My guess is that we'll see both Glennon and Taylor, so once again we have to get used to 2 very different types of QB's.
Whoever it is, it should be fun to watch. A little Tenuta blitz. Some future RB's showcased. Some Daddy Fat Sacks at halftime.................... and hopefully a Jacket victory.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pete Rozelle's Dream

by LennieMac

Pete Rozelle always believed that a perfect season would be 32 NFL teams at 8-8. If you take a closer look at this college football season, his dream is a lot closer there than in the NFL. Let's take a look at the record of the 66 BCS teams against other BCS teams. No mid-majors or Appalachian State's need apply.

ACC: BC 5-0, UVA 6-1, VT 4-2, WF 4-2, Clemson 3-2, FSU 4-3, Miami 3-3, GT 3-3, Maryland 2-4, NC St. 1-4, UNC 1-5, Duke 1-6

Winning records: Six
500: 2
Losing records: Four

Big East: WV 4-1, UConn 4-1, USF 3-2, L'ville 3-3, Cinn 2-2, Rutgers 2-3, Pitt 1-4, Syracuse 1-5

Winning records: Three
500: 2
Losing records: Three

Big 10: Ohio St. 5-0, Mich 6-1, Wisc. 4-2, Purdue 4-2, Illinois 4-3, Penn St. 4-3, Mich St. 3-4, Iowa 3-5, N'western 2-4, Indiana 2-4, Minn 0-5

Winning records: Six
Losing records: Five

Big 12: KU 4-0, Okla 4-1, Mizz 4-1, Tex 3-2, Okla St. 3-2, A&M 3-3, K State 3-3, Colo 3-4, Texas Tech 2-3, Neb 2-5, Iowa St. 1-5, Baylor 0-5

Winning records: Five
500: Two
Losing Records: Five

Pac 10: ASU 6-0, Oregon 5-1, USC 5-2, UCLA 4-2, Cal 3-3, OSU 3-3, Ariz 2-4, Stan 2-4, WSU 1-5, UW 1-6

Winning records: Four
500: Two
Losing records: Four

SEC: LSU 5-1, UGA 5-2, Aub 5-3, Ala 4-2, USC 4-3, Fla 3-3, Tenn 3-3, Kent 3-3, Vandy 2-3, Miss St. 2-4, Ark 1-3, Ole Miss 0-7

Winning records: Five
500: Three
Losing records: Four

Notre Dame: 1-7

So out of 66 teams 29 have winning records, 26 have losing records and 11 have 500 records. If you take the teams one game above or below 500, there are 24 out of 66 teams, almost 40%.

Take a look at the company GT has at 3-3. We're not the only team that had high expectations that are in the middle of the pack.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What's Buzzin'

Well folks - it's been a crazy week. I've been at home, shuttling kids back-and-forth to school / gymnastics / art / etc. Been keeping crazy sleep hours. Trying to help the wife rest and the new baby adjust to life "on the outside". Had major computer crash problems. Just been a crazy week. So with that, let me ramble on about a variety of topics:

Are you kidding me? 'Rio made the Hawks roster? If he manages to "stick" then his story now becomes even more inspiring. The GT chapter doesn't change. Rio came to Tech as a walk-on and earned a scholarship after Hewitt decided he was going to kill himself in practice showing what he could do. Turns out that wasn't for show - it's just what he does. Now he's doing it again, and in an even higher improbability actually made the cut on the Hawks roster. Mario and PJ Daniels are the type of guys that really define the student-athlete and standout in terms of what is right about college athletics.

Now, Paul Hewitt has had some pretty strong words about the guys he lost this season. He basically said that of all the guys he lost going into this season, Mario West is the one he will miss the most and worries about how to replace him. That's high praise for a walk-on who seem to average more steals than points during his career.

Keep it going Rio. Nice work

While Coach Hewitt landed talented Ill guard Iman Shumpert, he did strike out on another bigman, as Ralph Sampson III has evidently chosen to leave the confines of the ATL and play his college ball with Tubby Smith in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. Say what?

I guess ice-ball is making a comeback. So Ralph, have you spent time in Minnesota in January? I have. That's why I'm in South Carolina.

So Coach Hewitt strikes out on another one of his top targets. It will be interesting to see what he pulls up his sleeve this time. Is there another International Man of Mystery that will pop up in this class? You have to wonder.

JC is playing some decent ball out there in LA, although he's only getting slim minutes. However, his mates are treating him like a true rookie. In his first exhibition game, the team "wanted" him to lead them out for warm-ups. He was excited. He ran out to mid-court to start the lay-up drill, running a proud trot, only to look back and see that he was the only guy who ran out. His mates were in the tunnel busting a gut.

You'll be finding out why soon, but our deep stable of running backs just might tested even further. Let's just say that some guys past the two-deep might get a chance to prove themselves next game.

Haven't had time for a detailed outlook for the hoops season, but this season really boil down to the following questions:

  1. Who will lead the point? Coach Hewitt teams depend on smart, physical, up-tempo PG play. Will Matt Causey or Mo Miller be that guy. We already hear that both these guys are more "pass first" guards than JC. That could be bode well, but PG remains the single biggest question on this team.
  2. Who will defend? Offense shouldn't be too big of a problem, but who is going to be the defensive catalyst? Who is going to to generate steals? JC and Rio were the top guys there. Are we going to be able to stop people?
  3. Can this team get over the mental hurdle of playing on the road. I know I know I know it's tough playing on the road. We'll hear all about it a lot from every coach this year - like we do every year. However, if we are going to make ANY serious impact, we've got to have the leadership and preparation and mental toughness to win on the road. Will they? Can they? Sure hope so.

There are many other questions, but these are really the most important questions in my opinion.

Well, that's a few quick hits. It's late and I'm going to be for a couple of hours before feeding time.

Night all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What a great day

Well, this is a glorious day. Could it be the commitment of Iman Shumpert to Paul Hewitt at GT? That's a good one but that's not it........... Could it be that it's Friday and Friday's are always good? That's nice too, but that's not it.

How about the fact that yours truly just became the father of his 3rd girl last night at about 11:23? Oh yeah, that would be it!!! Mom and baby are great..

God does it again. Another day, another miracle.

Gotta run. Have a great weekend. I know I will.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hoops Recruiting

Talented Guard Iman Shumpert is set to announce his collegiate decision today. All the internet chatter has him going to Marquette, although nobody knows for sure. In addition, there is word that Ralph Sampson III has a top 2 of GT / Minn (remember Tubby Smith) and that he will announce later this month.

If Shumpert goes to Marquette and Sampson to Minn (or one of those happens), the doomsayers will start coming out of the woodwork. Why? Well, Coach Hewitt has already lost out on other top targets Al Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest), Sylven Landesberg (Virginia), Trey Thompkins (UGAg), JaMychal Green (Alabama). There are others as well.

Shumpert is the highest profile guy left on Hewitt's recruiting radar for 2008 (that we know of). You can sense that Tech fans are getting antsy as the top 100 players are filling up quickly and we only have a few serious targets of those left. In an era when players are committing earlier and earlier, this year is a bit of a nail biter for Jacket fans.

When you look at our commits the past few years, we had a number of spots full by now:

Recruit and their verbal commit date:

Gani Lawal - 1/20/2006
Lance Storrs - 3/9/2006
Maurice Miller - 9/4/2006

Javaris Crittenton - 7/6/2005
Brad Sheehan - 9/27/2005
Zach Peacock - 10/9/2005
Thaddeus Young - 10/24/2005

Alade Aminu - 5/27/2004
Lewis Clinch - 8/30/2004
D'Andre Bell - 9/28/2007
Austin Jackson - 10/7/2007

Anthony Morrow - 10/2/2007
Zam Fredrick - 10/6/2007
Ra'Sean Dickey - 10/29/2007
Jeremis Smith - 10/31/2007

In fact, the spots have been full by the end of October the last 4 classes. So here we are in mid-October and there are no commits yet. Should we be concerned?

On one hand - yes, we should be concerned. Coach Hewitt and staff have missed out on all his top targets. All of them. That is cause for concern. The kids HE wanted they didn't get. We know it's not for lack of effort - as Coach Hewitt has been living on the road and has pursued his targets as hard as anyone. Heck, he went to more of Landesberg's games than anyone. We know he did everything he could to get Alade's little bro. Just didn't happen. Recruiting has such a huge impact (typically) on the future of a program, and a few guys can make a big difference. So you could be rightfully concerned.

On the other hand, we should not be concerned. There is not much reason to get all worked up over one year where you don't land a top guy. Have some perspective. Coach Hewitt has proven his ability to land top recruits. So if he doesn't land a blue chipper this year, that's no reason to jump ship. These things go in cycles. That's just the way it works. In addition, we're about to lose a bunch of solid senior players after this season - and we need to make sure we have a solid base of "program" players to keep the program on an even keel. Could Gani be a 1-2 year guy? It's possible. Storrs and Mo Miller are likely 3-4 year guys. Zach Peacock, Brad Sheehan, Lewis Clinch, Alade Aminu, Faye and D'Andre Bell are all likely 4 year guys. Do we have a solid foundation of program players to build around with blue-chippers? Hard to say, but you need the Anthony McHenry's and Clarence Moore's just as much as you need the Chris Bosh's and Thaddeus Young's.

What is more concerning than recruiting is the lack of success when we do land the blue-chippers. Chris Bosh / Javaris Crittenton / Thaddeus Young. All in the NBA. All with one mediocre year at GT. Let me clarify - by mediocre I mean team success. I could really care less about how many points they scored or how high they got drafted. We didn't use their talents in a way that resulted in high level on-the-court success. Is this a result of the 3-4 year program guys there at the time? Is it a result of guys who just have too many limitations? Is it an ineffectiveness in integrating highly talented guys into a team framework? Is it the supreme challenge of expecting too much from freshman who will be gone after a season? Maybe all of the above.

Where are you going if you barely make the big dance with two first round draft picks and a lot of upperclassmen to support and compliment that talent? That's what we seemingly had last season. A foundation of experienced blue collar guys to go with the special blue-chipper guys. Just turns out we couldn't put the pieces together into a high level season. So where do we go from here?

It is for this reason that I don't get too worked up over missing out on blue chip guys one particular year. We need them. Don't get me wrong. However, Coach Hewitt has proven his ability to land these guys. What I am most concerned with is what is happening on the court. Coach Hewitt is still the right guy for Georgia Tech, but it sure would be nice to see growth in our on-the-court success.

So if Iman and Ralph want to join the Jacket party - fantastic. We will welcome you with open arms. If not, best of luck to you at those schools in those colder climates.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Special Teams - How to go from worst to first

So how do you go from dead last in kick-off coverage in 2006 (119 out of 119 teams) to #1 in the nation in 2007 at 15.62 yards/return? That is a feat Georgia Tech has managed so far this season. It is probably the single most remarkable stat when comparing last year versus this year. It's freaky and mind-boggling. Worst to 55th? I can buy that. Maybe top 20 even.......... but #1 in the nation. Come on. That's just plain bizarre.

So what does it take to have a turnaround like this? There are many teams that would kill to improve their kick-off coverage, but what Tech has managed almost doesn't seem possible. How have they done it?

Here is my take on the key factors resuting in this particular turnaround:

1. Talent. The better talent you put on the field, the better chance of success you have. There's no way around it. However, special teams is typically a mine-field of holes and inexperience. You're giving freshman a "taste" of the speed and physicalilty of collegiate ball. You just don't put your best players out there for kick-off coverage. You can't risk it. You want Philip Wheeler risking injury flying down the field 100mph? He's too valuable for the defense.

However, when saying put the best "talent" on the field, I am NOT saying the fastest guys, the most athletic guys or the strongest guys. These factors are important, but there is a factor that trumps all these - having "a nose for the ball". In 2006, who seemed to make about 90% of every special teams tackle? The answer would be Michael Johnson. If he didn't make a stop, then it tended to be a free-for-all trying to keep the opposing return men from breaking a big one.

Here's the thing about Michael Johnson though. He was rarely the first guy down the field on a kick-off (at least that I could tell). I was at the Thursday night game last season against UVA and Johnson made about every kick-off and punt coverage tackle (or so it seemed). He was actually often one of the last guys down the field - yet he always seemed to be the first guy to make the tackle. He just seems to understand how to get to the ball carrier. He seems to understand angles and how to slither through traffic to get to a guy.

This year's freshman class has provided a major infusion of physical talent. But more important, there is an infusion of guys with a "nose for the ball". You go back and watch our coverage team replays and you're going to see a lot of guys like Morgan Burnett, Brad Jefferson, Mario Butler, and DJ Donley among others making plays consistently. I tell you, Morgan Burnett is a joy to watch on special teams............. oh, and Michael Johnson is still doing his thing.

2. Scott Blair. He's not kicking balls in the endzone, but what he is doing is kicking the ball very very high. He is giving our guys an extra 10 yards down the field with the extra hang time. This cannot be underestimated. Now remember, the stat we lead the nation in is "kick off return yardage defense". If he kicks a skyball to the 35 yard line and we tackle the guy at the 38, that's a "great" return defense giving up only 3 yards. However, field position in that case isn't wonderful. However, Blair is kicking his sky balls typically to the 5-10 yard line. Occassionally he'll kick a shorter one - which are often by design to keep things off balance - but he's doing a nice job to get them deep AND kick them high.

3. Coaching. It would almost be logical to put Special Teams Coach Charles Kelly #1 on this list. I am focusing here on kick-off return coverage, but when you look at our 6 special teams groups (punt, punt return, kick off, kick-off return, FG, FG defense), they are ALL getting the job done. Heck, we are #10 in the nation in kick-off return yardage. Coach Kelly deserves huge credit for this.

Folks - it amazes me that some teams would NOT have a special teams coach. Think about it. Typically special teams accounts for about 20% of the plays in the game, and has a huge impact on field position (hidden yardage) and scoring (FG's). We will have a tight ends coach, a running backs coach, an O-Line coach, etc, etc, but many won't even have a special teams coach.

Clemson does not have a special teams coach. The past two weeks for them? Blocked punt.... Fumbled punt...... 4 missed field goals........ opponent punt return for TD......... opponent kick-off return for TD........... NEED I SAY MORE?

Having a guy who focuses on these 20% of plays in a game makes a difference. Of course having the right guy makes an even bigger difference. So far, coach Kelly sure looks like that guy.

4. Schemes. This is really a subset of coaching, but it deserves it's own category. Coach Gailey is the first to credit Coach Kelly with spending the off-season meticulously studying schemes and game-plans to improve Tech's special teams play. All you can say is that it is working. He has added some wrinkles to our kick-off coverage, our kick return team, built some consistency in our FG trio (snapper / holder / kicker). He's pushing the right buttons.

However, as fans, none of us REALLY understands the difference here. It's hard to tell from the stands and certainly on TV the difference this year in terms of roles and responsibilities of each player. There is a lot of basic X-and-O pieces to kick-off coverage. If you want to read an interesting article about on-the-field positioning strategy - read this. It's a lot more complicated than "get your rear end down there and tackle the guy with the ball".

Television camera angles make the kickoff coverage unit look like vaguely organized chaos. That’s not an entirely inaccurate description of what’s happening on the field. But players on the kickoff coverage units spend hours watching film and studying the Xs and Os on the blackboard for a reason. Within that seeming chaos, each of the 10 men on the kickoff coverage unit has a specific job that he needs to execute with every bit the precision of a quarterback’s seven-step drop or a safety’s blitz. Covering a kickoff doesn’t get a player’s face on television, but it does help his team win.

Everything isn't going 100% right on special teams. There have been a few key miscues, but I don't remember in my GT memory a year when so much of it was going right. The best punter in the nation. Great punt coverage. Great kick-off coverage. Great kick-return game. Great FG kicker. Good, high kick-off man. Guys with a nose for the ball making plays. Blocked punts. Forcing fumbles.

Overall, you have to say special teams this season are truly............ special. Keep it going guys.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Now that's Playing to Win

4th Quarter
3:41 remaining
Jackets up 17-14
GT with the ball, 3rd-and-7 on the Miami 35.
Announcers saying the Jackets should stick with the run.

What did you think we were going to do? I know what you were thinking, because I was thinking it too...... here we go again................ but....

However, even though I was thinking it, I was yelling - play to win!!! Play to win!! Don't run the ball.

Guess what? We passed the ball................ a laser shot to DJ Donley, who was covered up............. and he caught it for a 1st down. I was proud on the coaching staff for trusting Taylor to make a play. He did........ 1st down......... they ran out the clock and the rest is history............ Jackets win by a final of 17-14 over Miami.

Run the ball............................. check (265 yards rushing)
Stop the run............................ check (mostly - gave up 169 yards to Miami, most in the 1st half)
Don't turn the ball over......... check (mostly- one INT in the endzone in the 1st half)
Control the clock..................... check (Miami only ran 20 plays in the 2nd half ~10 mintues TOP)

Major props to Tashard Choice, Mike Cox and the O-Line. That banged up group of guys controlled the game in the 2nd half. Choice goes over 200 yards rushing, a career high, most of which came in the 2nd half, as the O-Line controlled the game and the time-of-possession. Just another gutsy outing. We're going to ride this guy into the dirt, but it's fun watching. Last 3 games - 32 carries, 32 carries, 37 carries. Wow.

As impressive as Choice was, Mike Cox once again showed why he will be playing on Sundays. Block after block after block after block. The beat up O-Line was outstanding.

You may love'em or hate'em (our coaching staff), but you have to give them credit for making the right adjustments at the half. Coach Bond pushed the right buttons on the offensive side of the ball, and in doing so, limited Miami's offensive attempts. In the first half, they probably tried passing too many times (easy to say now). Choice had been running well, but they just didn't get it into his hands enough in my humble opinion. Obviously they changed the game-plan in the 2nd half and rode Duece to the promised land. Was it just me, or did it look like an XBox Madden game out there? Run that same play that works every time and just keep doing it? Reminded me of the old Sega Genesis - ride Bo Jackson all the way!!!

The offenses ability to keep Miami off the field gave Jon Tenuta a better opportunity to keep his guys fresh and make the right calls defensively. We did give up 169 yards rushing, but shut down Miami's passing game, and made key stops at the right time.

Nice adjustments today by the staff.

The stats are nothing to go wild about. 11-for-28 for 114 yards, 0 TD's and 1 INT. However, he did run two beautiful bootlegs in for TD's today. He managed the game pretty well, and once again he made some nice throws in the 2nd half. He had two VERY key 3rd down conversions that kept drives alive. He wasn't overwhelming, but he got the ball into the hands of his playmakers. Good job today.

By the way, Bennett did not get sacked today. Just more props to the O-Line. Remember, Miami was 2nd in the ACC in sacks (GT 1st).

The front 7 today did a very nice job. A lot of pressure. A lot of tackles-for-a-loss. A lot of disruption. Nice effort overall. Wheeler was all over the place. Guyton made some spectacular tackles. Vance Walker and D.Richard did a very nice job of getting pressure from the inside.

Is it just me, or do you have a heart flutter every time a ball goes deep to one of our corners? I don't want to take away from an overall good game from those guys, but if Miami throws a few better passes, we lose this game. Their WR's were open a lot.

Now, Miami ended up with only 56 yards passing, so I am not going to take a stab at those guys. Just saying that everytime the ball is in the air, my breath is in waiting.

Nice punting by Brooks - again! Travis Bell hits a game-winning field goal - nice going!! The coverage teams did their job. Tech won the field position battle today, and special teams were a large part of it. Ok - yes, we got faked out on the fake punt, but that's it.

Well, Randy Shannon hired Patrick Nix specifically because Tech always got the best of Miami and he was impressed with Tech's offense the past two seasons. Well, maybe it wasn't Mr.Nix after all. I mean, 17 points is nothing to get all hyped up about, but the ball control and domination in the 2nd half was.

Nix certainly tried to send a message early, going deep with the patented toss-up balls early on. But it was more flash than sizzle.

He missed the game today because his sister was in a car accident and he headed home. Prayers out your family.

Another frustrating struggle in the 1st half and a wonderfully coached and executed 2nd half. This time we walk away with a win. With all that great feeling, we only won by 3 pts. Last week we lost by 2. That's just the way football works.

The Jackets beat Miami for the 3rd season in a row, joining, FSU, VT and Notre Dame as the only teams to do that. Who'd a thunk it? Doesn't matter - they did it!!

Nice job team!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A New Poll - Most Disappointed Fanbases

Look, I'm not in the business of trying to appease the cynical portion of our fanbase. I'm not in the business of trying to make everyone feel all mushy and warm about our team and our staff. I'm not going to try and convince the coach bashers they are wrong. I'm not going to beat my head against a wall. However, I do like to offer perspective. I think it's important to look at the reality of this college football season at the halfway point.

With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to create a top 24 poll of the most disappointed fanbases. We are 3-3 and no matter if you are a Chan-fan or not, we are all hurting. So where does our disappointment level stack up against other fan bases?

The order is of course influenced by expectations. Teams with fan bases that fully expect to win the national championship will fall the hardest with a loss or two. They will certainly be more disappointed than a fanbase that realistically only wanted a shot at a conference title or a bowl game. It is also important to understand that I don't truly understand the disappointment levels of fan bases in many schools. Just don't follow all those teams enough. It's my best initial effort, and the idea is to show that there are a ton of fanbases with strong levels of disappointment. You ain't alone, and in fact you're in good company.

So with that, here we go.


  1. 1. Notre Dame - When it takes 6 weeks to notch your first win, and you're Notre Dame, you are past disappointment. You're searching for excuses, reasons for living, anything. However, a result of the last 5 weeks of national exposure and embarrasment, they are well on their way to passing through the 7 phases of mourning. They are past denial, anger and sadness and are almost to acceptance at this point. However, that first win last week could set them back a little.
  2. 2. Michigan - Much like GT, their hopes and expectations were dashed early. Week 1 loss. Week 2 loss. National title picture over. Cased closed. Considering they were a pre-season top 5, fans were riding in the clouds. There is still a lot to be accomplished with this team and the leadership of Mike Hart is a compelling story. However, the fanbase is clearly disappointed and the "fire the coach" chatter is alive and well.
  3. 3. Louisville - Pre-season Heisman hype for their QB. Top 10 ranking. It was all their for the taking right? Not so fast. A crushing loss to Syracuse. What? Are we talking the Syracuse that only has one win - against said Louisville? The 1-5 Orangmen? The Cardinals are now 3-3 and 0-1 in their conference. Clearly this is a fanbase that is disappointed. Bobby Petrino left them to lead the Falcons to another miserable season and now many are starting to think about hoops.
  4. 4. Penn State - It all looked good to start the season, but now the wheels have fallen off a bit. 4-2 overall and 1-2 in conference assure them no shot at the national title and they have a lot of work to do to win the Big Ten.
  5. 5. Clemson - I live in the heart of Clemson territory, and let me tell you - Tiger-nation is on the collective ledge, ready to end it all. Maybe I am biased because I am in their backyard. However, this year's Tiger meltdown against GT and VT have had a fairly different reaction. Typically it's "stinkin typical Bowden ball" but a large contingent still backs Bowden and suffers with him. This year I don't hear that portion of the fanbase that supported him in year's past. Just not hearing it. Losing to a GT team that these fans honestly believed was inferior was a breaking point. Losingto VaTech was not shameful in their minds, but the way they did it was. Now Boston College comes calling. Many Clemson fans honestly believe this team is not trying hard - not giving their all. I heard more than one person tell me - "at least GT looks like they give it everything that have. I don't see that in Clemson".
  6. 6. Texas - Vince Young is gone and now you have an 0-2 record in the Big 12 (4-2 overall). I'd say you are sufficiently disappointed. However, you do have that recent national title to lean on as you cry in your beer.
  7. 7.Oklahoma State - 3-3 record and no shot at the national title.
  8. 8.Miami - This is a different kind of situation. The disappointment spans multiple seasons. When you have been on top of the mountain, it's hard to imagine life anywhere else. That is where this fan base continues to think they are enjoying the view. The reality is that fans of "the U" should have been notching their expectation levels down each season. The reality is they haven't. Their disappointment continues and losing to North Carolina last weekend only makes thing worse. Hiring Randy Shannon bought them time. That's it. It only pushed the hurt down a little. But it's still there. It burns them to not be nationally relevant.
  9. 9. Michigan State - A 4-2 record and 0-2 in conference. Yes they are little sisters to Michigan, but still have high hopes.
  10. 10. Georgia - Ah the mutts. They basically have no limitations on building a successful program - money, fan support, recruiting, academics - you name it. Yet year in and year out they end up national contender wanna-bees. Each year they bow out somewhere along the way. This year it was against their arch-nemesis Steve Spurrier and last weekend against the Rocky Top gang. I can't say too much because this program has had success under Richt (they've certainly had our number), but not the kind of success the fanbase really wants, craves, and thinks they deserve.
  11. 11. Georgia Tech - You know the story. No national title this year. No ACC title this year. No ACC Coastal title repeat. No Heisman for Tashard. The spector of the dreaded "Chan Gailey equilibrium" (the magnetic pull towards 7 wins) is rearing it's ugly head. A 10 win season is still possible - although a stretch. There is still a lot to play for, but clearly we are a hurting bunch. What are we playing for now? A respectable East Coast bowl and beating the Mutts.
  12. 12. North Carolina State - Yes, fans generally understood that they would struggle this year. However, this is the Pack. I don't think they ever expected to be 1-5 and 0-3 in conference. Tom O'Brien has a bigger rebuilding effort than people expected.
  13. 13. FSU - See "Miami" story above. Insert FSU and repeat.
  14. 14. Arkansas - Darren "Wildcat" McFadden. Heisman steamroller. However, a 3-2 record (0-2 in conference) is not the formula for a satisfied fanbase.
  15. 15. Auburn - A 4-2 record (2-1 conference) shouldn't be something to sneeze at. However, Tiger fans want to be in the title picture - that's out. Losing to USF at home was frustrating - especially considering the beat Florida on the road. Oh what could have been. But fans are frustrated by a team that always seems to lose some key games each year they weren't expected to (sound familiar?). Of course GT contributed to a bit of that frustration the past few years. The annual Tiger / Tide game takes on some new significance with a resurgent Tide - and a loss to those guys would really send them into a tailspin.
  16. 16. Florida - The defending national champions just lost back-to-back games, effectively taking them out of the national title picture. Yes, the fanbase knew this team was not as talented, but they were believing prior to Auburn. Heck, they didn't know what they had last year until mid-way through, and they are bigtime believers in the Uber-Urban. However, it is not to be this year. Having said that, these guys don't crack the top 10 because the fanbase is still hungover from their national championship last year in football................. and basketball............... and basketball the year before. Disappointed? Yes. Crushed? Not really.
  17. 17. Washington - 2-3 overall and 0-2 in conference. Ty willingham isn't quite getting it done. Of course Charlie Weiss is redefining what it means to "rebuild" at Notre Dame.
  18. 18. Alabama - I include 'Bama because this is the nuttiest, least grounded fanbase in the country. So to win a few early games and have their hopes raised up, only to be crushed the past two weeks hurts a bit. This group has been hurting for years, and this year they were ready to come out hiding again. They got their star coach and I'm sure he'll get them in the right direction - but where 'Bama fans want to be? Hard for anyone to meet that expectation consistently.
  19. 19. Southern Cal - These fans believed that when the season was over they would be one of two teams playing for it all. It's still possible. Losing a game to Stanford however was eye-opening. Losing to Jim Harbough, who has ribbed Pete Carroll more than once, was appaling. Lose to Cal - ok......... to UCLA? Maybe............. but Stanford? No way. That win might be bigger that Michigan losing to App State. Seriously.
  20. 20. Oklahoma - Oh they were looking good. Real good. Crushing people, but to lose to Colorado? How did that happen? Don't know but it did. These guys still have a shot at the title, but fans have to be disappointed at their loss.
  21. 21. Nebraska - Oh how they want to be nationally relavent again. It's been a few years of eating humble pie after firing a very successful coach years ago. A record 4-2 record and 1-1 in conference. Hopes are still fairly high, so the season has not been crushed.
  22. 22. Tennessee - See UGAg story above. Repeat.
  23. 23. West Virginia - Pat White..... Steve Slayton........ Heisman x's two.......... Blistering offense......... yet not to be. A mediocre performance against USF gives them the loss they cannot afford. A one-loss West Virginia team will not play in the national title game. Some fairly strong disappointment here. However, they can still be a national factor by winning out.
  24. 24. Wisconsin - Hard to put them on the list, but when you are always the bridesmaid and never the bride, it gets frustrating. They already have their annual loss - this time to Ron Zook and Illinois. What must it have felt like to be ranked in the top 5 and have the Vegas oddsmakers picking you as an underdog to an unranked team.............. and then be right..... Ouch....... Frustrating.
What do you think? Am I way off base? How would change the order? What teams would you add or remove?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Chan Gailey's Contract

posted by Lennie Mac

I've seen on the chat room the last couple of days that Chan Gailey should be fired and what would it take to be fired. I'm here to say that talk is moot. If you look at his contract, he could lose out this year, go 0-12 in 2008 and 2009 and he would still be the coach.

Attached is a copy of Chan Gailey's contract. You will see that it ends "December 31, 2010 (subject to the extension bonus set forth in Article III Section E.8).

That bonus was activated after Chan Gailey went to a bowl game after his first year. This extends his contract to December 31, 2011.

Article I of his contract states:

"If at any time during the term of this Contract, the Association terminates his Contract without cause" (win-loss record does not qualify as cause) "the Association shall buy out its further obligations under this Contract by paying to COACH, in equal monthly installments, all monies due COACH for each of the remaining years of the Contract under Article III.A (Annual Salary), Article III.G (Radio and Television) and Article III.H (Personal Appearances and Speaking)."

Annual Salary

2008 - $482,434
2009 - $506,556
2010 - $531,884
2011 - $531,884 (not listed in contract, but let's assume the same as 2010)

Radio and Television

2008 - $385,499
2009 - $391,195
2010 - $396,975
2011 - $396,975 (see above)

Personal Appearances

2008 - $200,000
2009 - $200,000
2010 - $200,000
2011 - $200,000

This comes to a grand total of $4,423,402 that the GTAA would owe him if they let him go after the season, or $92,154.20 a month (at least). I don't believe that the GTAA could fit this bill plus spend $1.5 million a year on another coach. Bottom line, is that WE ARE MARRIED TO HIM!!

If this thought is unbearable to you, then check back to GT Football in 2011.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Tech / Maryland - The Day After the Loss

Yesterday was an interesting day for me, watching the Jackets lose to Maryland 28-26. In terms of the 2007 Georgia Tech football season, something inside of me died on Saturday. Hard to describe. Just a mix of frustration, sadness and reality when you now know that halfway through the season, you are effectively out of the ACC race. Now the fight is for bowl pecking order, to see if we can somehow pull out 6-8 wins for the season. Oh yeah, and beating the mutts.

Don't get me wrong. My support for the team is still there. My passion is still there. However, much of my hope died. I have to re-configure my expectations from here on out. When you have this many experienced players returning to a team that won the ACC Coastal last season, you have every reason to have high hopes. Of course, with high expectations comes vulnerability. My vulnerability was exposed and now I'm left to deal with an incredible disappointment.

Of course the disappointment I feel is nothing compared to what those players and coaches are going through. You know they are hurting and disappointed. After all, they are the ones who gave the blood, sweat in tears to prepare - not you and I. They are the ones that put their bodies on the line. They are the warriors who battled in the trenches. Unfortunately we have lost too many battles and the war is lost. All we have left is to win a few more battles and get a mid-tier bowl game.

You know, every team at Georgia Tech is special..... and every year the team is different. Different players, different personalities, sometimes different coaches. I love this year's team. I love Tashard Choice's guttiness. I love Darrel Robertson's tenacity. I love Philip Wheeler's speed and fearlessness. I love Daryl Richard's leadership on and off the field. I love Durant Brooks' foot. I actually love watching the special teams for a change. I love what Coach Kelly has done there. I love glimpsing the future by watching young people make their mark like Morgan Burnett, Jonathan Dwyer and DJ Donley. This is a fun team to watch and each player and coach is part of the reason.

What I don't love is the lack of answers. What I don't love is losing. Who does? It hurts. How can you "fix" things that are wrong? How do you fix a fumbled punt and a 'pick 6' that leads to one loss? How do you "fix" secondary coverage that basically led to the other two losses? How do you "fix" all the in-opportune penalties? How do you "fix" a defense that only seems to buckle down after being punched in the mouth a couple of times? How do you fix a passing game? How do you call the right plays at the right time?

It would be nice if there were easy answers to these questions. Some of it comes down to the plays being called by our coaching staff. Some of it comes down to execution by the players. Some of it comes down to the opposition just making a play. There are many reasons things don't happen the way they should.

I will say this and I'll get off my soapbox. The "can-Chan" crowd is out again. This is just me talking, but calling for the coaches head is just lazy. It's basically saying - I don't know what's wrong but I want someone to pay. The most popular player is the back-up QB AAANNNDDD the head coach you don't have. Is Chan Gailey's offensive philosophy fairly conservative? Yeah, it really is. Is that frustrating at times? Yeah, it really is......... By not letting Taylor Bennett attempt more throws on that last drive, they were basically playing in a way to avoid exposing as many weaknesses as possible.

However, did Taylor Bennett's 2nd half passing breakout against MD give you the confidence that he would have completed the key pass that would have gotten us closer to a TD - or even to the endzone? Well, in hindsight, it's obvious we should have tried something different. But who's to say? Speculate is all you can do. Coach Gailey and John Bond made a decision based on days and days of film study of this team and watching in-game tendencies. They made the call they thought would work. It didn't. You really think you would have made the right call? Would you be happier had we attempted a pass and thrown an INT? Would you have been happier at least going out in a blaze of glory? I seem to remember a few Reggie Ball game ending INT's doing just that same thing. I don't seem to remember post-game talk shows with fans saying - "hey, we may have thrown an INT, but I like the fact that we went out going for the gusto!!". Bottom-line is that none of like losing. Second guessing what didn't work after the fact is a WHOLE lost easier than figuring out what will work before the fact.

Would we have won more games the past 5 years had Coach Gailey been an offensive wild-man? Who the heck knows - but I doubt it. I really doubt it. Maybe we end up with one 10 or 11 win season and a bunch of 5-6 win seasons. I don't know. Are we going to be better off with a different coach? I really don't think so. I just don't see it.

Folks - winning does wonders. Remember the mutts last year. Incredibly disappointing season until they rattled off three wins against good teams (including us) to end the season. The fans came into this year with a tremendous amount of hope and excitement - primarily driven off the wins to end the prior season. Now, I love nothing more than the fact that they are on the verge of being out of the race for their conference title. However, if this Tech team runs the table, beats UGAg and wins a bowl, ends the year with 10 wins - you're feeling good about this team. Yes, the ACC title is basically gone, but if they end the season by running the table the last 4-5 games, we will all be feeling pretty good.

................. and this team is capable of running the table. Maybe Taylor Bennett's 2nd half against Maryland was the real thing. Maybe the passing game has "clicked". If so, anything is possible. We just have to keep riding the ride. Are we going to beat Miami a 3rd year in a row? Odds seem low, but we know they are not a great team. Will we beat VaTech a 2nd year in a row? Don't know - but let's get behind them and find out. Will we slip and lose to either Duke or UNC? Will we finally break through and slap the mutts? I will sure be cheering with the team to find out.

So, my hopes for this season are now different. The ACC title hopes are gone, but my passion for Georgia Tech has not changed. My love for this group of players is no different. My support of the coaches will not change either. Let's wait until the season is over to try and see if the program continues to go in the right direction. Let's not damage our recruiting efforts with cries for coaches heads please. I"m just going to do the right thing and support the team.

Many. losing sure stinks.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Where are they now - Gerris Wilkinson

Way to go Gerris:

*Sunday marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Volunteers will be on hand to accept donations from fans and sell caps, T-shirts and wrist bands in the parking lots and inside each Giants Stadium gate.

Last year, the Giants raised more than $50,000 and donated $15,000 of that to Zeta Tau Alpha and Susan G. Koman foundations. The Giants are also working with the Breast Cancer Task Force this year and are attempting to raise $70,000 for them. That money will translate into $1 million in breast cancer health care for uninsured women and men.

During pre-game ceremonies, the Giants will host 25 breast cancer survivors who will be wearing pink T-shirts. Survivors will also be part of the volunteer corps.

Marianne Vogt, a breast cancer survivor and a long-time Giants employee, will be one of the honorary captains for the coin toss. She will represent cancer survivors.

Linebacker Gerris Wilkinson will be producing a public service announcement in memory of his mother, who died of cancer when he was a senior at Georgia Tech. Wilkinson will represent those who have lost loved ones to cancer.

Melissa Jiminez, a representative from the Breast Treatment Task Force, will sing the National Anthem.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

X-Factor #1 Motivation

You know, motivation is such an unquantifiable thing. As fans, we never know how each player on that field is impacted by events of the week........... which guy had a fight with his girlfriend....... which guy struggled to pass a test..... or didn't................ which guy lost a family member.

There are so many things that go into the "motivation" factor for each individual. In addition, there is always the factor of team leaders who motivate or coaches who motivate. Coach Gailey always like to downplay that stuff, saying it only lasts about 3 minutes after kick-off - then it comes down to execution.

Having said that, it's hard to believe that this pre-game speech by Tashard Choice didn't cause each guy in the lockerroom to dig a little deeper, play a little harder, "fight", "lie down and bleed awhile", "get up", and "fight some more". Quite a speech from quite a guy.

Check it out.

For good measure, here are some sights and sounds from gameday at BDS:

Monday, October 01, 2007

Notes From Clemson Territory

In case you're wondering, I thought I would share the general feelings and vibes I am getting in the heart of Clemson country (Greenville SC).

First, it's always interesting to hear things from the other perspective. Here is a sense of what I heard today at the office and on local radio:

  • Georgia Tech is a good team, but Clemson fans feel pretty strongly that they are more talented at almost every position on the field. The fact that they were beaten by a "lesser" team is a complete debacle to them. The coming weeks will bring teams like VaTech, "better" teams than us, and if they cannot beat GT, how are they going to get the national respect they crave and deserve?
  • Clemson people are happy with recruiting, but see Tommy Bowden as a terrible game-day coach. They do not see the in-game adjustments necessary to counter opponents. In addition, they did not feel like there was any gameplan or strategy to counter the blitzing Tech defense
  • Clemson fans all say James Davis was hurt and that's why he didn't get the ball more. They don't understand why they kept trying to stretch out runs to the edges (of course that was our game-plan to force them to the edges).
  • They're all ticked at special teams, although the general feeling is the kicker is not to blame since his missed field goals were all pretty long.
  • "That is Tommy Bowden football". I heard that a few times. Many are just convinced it will always be this way under Bowden.
  • Also interesting that Clemson and GT both lose games they are "supposed" to win and win games they are not expected to, yet the way this is perceived by the media is different. For GT, it's about "schizophrenia" and "inconsistency". For Clemson it's about the "annual collapse", typically between games 4-8 each year.
  • I received more than one comment about the cockiness of both Tashard Choice and Philip Wheeler. One Clemson person told me they were "underwhelmed" with the way Choice acted after a number of those plays and how he yapped his jaw all game (I tend to agree on a few plays). Another thought it was arrogant that everytime Wheeler made a play he held up 4 fingers on one hand and 1 on the other (his number).

Bottom-line is that Clemson fans had reconciled a fairly easy victory based on three factors:

1) They crushed us last year
2) Clemson is a better team than last year
3) GT is NOT a better team than last year.

The fact that they lost has created quite a disconnect and the resulting frustration and anger is interesting to watch. Of course it's something we're used to over at Jacket-nation as well. Bottom-line is that there is nothing like winning and losing to change perceptions of a program.