Monday, June 30, 2008

Audio Interview with Paul Johnson

Check out ACC Nation's interview with Paul Johnson. Nothing really new for Tech fans, but always good to hear him talk about the players, the plans and the attitudes.

Listen here

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hoops Recruiting - Another Hewitt Miss??

Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg just landed a kid out of Tucker High School in Atlanta named Manny Atkins. He's a 6'5" perimeter player and an outstanding student. Prepstars ranks him a top100 kid. I ran across this article with the following interesting quote from his Tucker high school coach:

“He had offers from everybody,” Hartry said, “Coach [Paul] Hewitt from Georgia Tech called me as recently as yesterday, just wanting to know what he had done wrong, why he hadn’t landed the kid. He wanted to polish up on his recruiting because he had done something wrong.

“I think Manny just wanted to leave the state and, second of all, Virginia Tech was a great offer and the head coach up there came down and visited Atlanta. When the head coach takes time out to come and sits in your gym for 2 ½ hours and watch you play, that’s something special.”

Now, from an outsiders view, it seems that Atkins was about Hewitt's 4th or 5th choice at his position in terms of recruiting priority. I certainly don't know that for a fact, but it seems that guys like Glenn Rice, Brian Oliver, Noel Johnson and maybe a couple of others were higher priorities. Of course some of guys are cross-overs with different positions, so who knows. From a student-athlete perspective, Atkins looks like the perfect GT-type guy with a 3.8 GPA and makes academics a priority.

Well, no problem. Glad he found a place he wants to play. We'll move on to other guys (or continue to focus on the top priorities that have been there all along).

CLASS OF 2008?
As to any additions to the current class, I am hearing nothing that says we are "done", but we also missed out on some of the major guys who transferred elsewhere. Unless there's another Matt Causey-type guy in the woods, I haven't heard any other names bubble up. The fat lady may not be signing but she's warming up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

D-Rad's "Good Word"

Dan Radakovich's latest edition of the "What's the good word" newsletter has a lot of interesting points. However, many of them raise as many questions as they answer. Below are the main bullets of the write-up along with my comments on each point.

D-Rad's text is in blue colo

D-RAD: We are approaching the middle of the summer with the 4th of July coming next week. I am sure many of you are in and out on family vacations and weekend trips to the lake. Many of our athletic department employees are doing the same - catching a breather and re-charging their batteries for the new academic year just ahead in August. Yours truly will grab a little time with family next week as well, but I thought I might give you a glimpse of the AD's current worksheet for the summer months.

# We have been very active in our discussion with regard to multi-media rights. I have informed you in this space before that we are in a window in which our current rights-holder ISP has exclusive negotiating rights for a contract extension past 2010. Our talks have been very substantive and innovative. It is now clear to me that whether we remain with ISP or look elsewhere for a partnership, Georgia Tech is well-positioned in the area for the future. Our location in the heart of this thriving hub of the South combined with our tradition, prestigious academic standing and a bright outlook for success in athletics has us in an enviable situation. Look for this picture to become very clear before the calendar year is out.

Good news in my opinion. Reading between the lines - we are positioned for a more lucrative contract. Talks that are "innovative" sound interesting. What does that mean? Are we talking innovation in terms of the business model financially? Are we talking innovation in the broadcast? Internet broadcasting offerings? I sure hope it has something to do with the radio broadcast for the local folks. Here's the ISP team if you're interested.

Another question - if Georgia Tech ends up moving away from ISP (which I doubt will happen), how does that impact Wes Durham? I doubt much since I believe he's officially an employee of the GTAA.

D-RAD: # On a separate but somewhat related matter, we are on the verge of announcing a major partnership extension with Russell Athletic that will provide uniforms, apparel and a lucrative cash distribution over the next several years. When the terms are completed, Georgia Tech will find itself in the upper tier in these types of agreements in all of college sports. Look for a formal announcement in August.

Cash money. The message from D-Rad - He's makin' it rain. More good news for sure. Let's face it - we need to wring out as much income from these deals as possible. They go a long way towards coaching supplemental salaries and team gear.

# We are finalizing the first phase of a plan to bring a state of the art video screen, ribbon boards and sound system to Bobby Dodd Stadium in 2009. While the huge visual change won't take place for this season, we are busily building the infrastructure this summer to complete the back-of-house technology that will drive the new system in the future. Current work is being done to provide a state-of-the-art production unit that will allow us the most up-to-date video and audio capabilities on the market. We hope to have this behind-the-scenes equipment on hand and in use by August. If all goes well, construction on the new in-stadium displays will begin soon after the football season concludes.

That's cool. BDS is a classic stadium and upgrades like this are a nice touch. A top notch sound system and new modern video screen sounds like a reasonable way to spend some money and possibly attract some new fans. Ribbon boards I believe are those narrow screens that run along the narrow face between the upper and lower decks. My guess is that the ribbon boards are a pure ROI calculation, because they'll primarily be used to sell advertising space throughout the game. They will provide a return on capital in some timeframe and become an income generator.

For those who attend the games, a new bigger video board (maybe HD?) and better sound system should be welcome. The ribbon board I'm guessing is more about revenue, which means I like the idea as well. However, I'm not so sure how much it will really add to the game. Let's just not turn BDS into a Christmas light-show. Make the ribbons tasteful I say........

D-RAD: # Academic reform continues to be an important undertaking. Two major pieces of academic change were accomplished during the last few months thanks to great cooperation from the Institute, its faculty and Provost - now Interim President - Dr. Gary Schuster. Thanks to this work, the playing field has become more level for student-athletes at Georgia Tech and we should begin to see a greater level of retention and academic success.

Ok, now this one really opens the door on a bunch of questions. Paul Hewitt alluded to some things that D-Rad was attempting to get done on a 790thezone radio interview a few months back. He didn't say what, but said he really appreciated the support that D-Rad was trying to push through for the athletes.

So what is the "academic reform"? He references "two major pieces of academic change". Here are some pieces of the puzzle based on some comments at some local alumni meetings.

1. One item seems to have to do with a rule that is actually tougher on student-athletes than the general student body. It had to do with a student's ability to participate in "extra-curricular" activities if they were not in good standing academically. Seems that the rule dis-allowed students from participating in clubs, intra-murals, drama, etc if they were on probation. For student-athletes it effectively cut them off from playing their chosen sport. Apparently the rule was only being enforced on student-athletes and not the general population.

2. The second change seems to involve a student-athlete's ability to transfer classes or take transit classes at other schools. Evidently there were more limitations on student-athletes than on "regular" students.

Both of these are speculative until something official is said. Some folks who heard D-Rad's comments at the "coaches caravan" commented that they were really looking for the new GT President to support the Georgia Tech athletic program since it was such a visible face of the school. There were implications (I wasn't there, but read between the lines of attendees) that Wayne Clough was a barrier at times with the GTAA. Not sure any of us will know the truth.

Bottom-line on this is that it's a move to support the student-athlete......... not give them special treatment relative to regular students, but actually treat them more "equally" in areas that seemed to beg change. Nice move by D-Rad. He's standing up for the athletic program, coaches and student-athletes. That's a good way to endear yourself with your organization.

D-RAD: # The Budget process has occupied a good bit of the last month and is now ready to roll out. Our 2008-09 budget has been approved by the GTAA Board of Trustees and I feel confident that we will meet our revenue expectations while giving our programs the financial opportunity to succeed.

Not much to say here without seeing the budget. However, I'm sure the top-line and the bottom-line are both heading north in the plan........ "up and to the right", I say.

D-RAD: # We will spend the summer in our annual evaluation process for our coaches and employees. I believe this is critical if we are to continue to improve while giving our staff honest and direct constructive feedback on job performance. It is my mission to ensure that we have the right people, doing the right jobs and performing to their utmost capability within the program. Doing so will translate into more success on the field and in the classroom. This is a great time of year to really dig down and assess the strengths and weaknesses of our organization both as a whole and individually.

Ahh, the annual performance review / appraisal. We all know'em and love'em, right? That ever effective strengths / weaknesses, projects / accomplishments conversation. Personally I do believe you need a structured process in place, so that's a good thing. However, I'm a believer in the day-to-day open feedback mechanisms when it comes to course-correcting. I sure hope the coaches and staff have a pretty good idea of where they stand at all times, not just once a year. Now, if this is more of an overall process of looking at the organization, structure and activities, then hey, I'm all for it.

# In addition to time in the office there have been a couple of summer road trips for workshop and committee work. Last week I was in Dallas for the annual National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) meeting, where I served on a panel to discuss "Dashboard Indicators." This is a program of financial benchmarks that allows schools to compare their financial data with other institutions. And just last night I returned from Chicago after two days of service on the NCAA's Championships Cabinet - the committee that sets policy and procedure for the various NCAA post-season competitions in all sports.

.......... because the NCAA is really all about the arms race, right? What we need are better ways to benchmark and compare how much money we are (or aren't) making relative to the "Jones's" next door. What's striking about almost every item in D-Rad's letter is the common thread of money through-out. I take that back - it's not striking at all. It's reality.

D-RAD: # We have and will spend a good deal of time this summer on our various facility projects and some deferred maintenance. We continue the construction of our new softball complex just off Fowler Street on campus. Likewise, we are working toward a March '09 start to the Zelnak Basketball Practice Facility - adjacent to Alexander Memorial Coliseum. These are major additions to our landscape that require solid planning and discussion this summer. Not so visible is the work to provide a bit of a facelift to some of the infrastructure within Bobby Dodd Stadium. For this season we will see the complete repainting of the East Side Upper Deck. After the '08 season more deferred maintenance issues will be tackled.

We now have a target date of March 2009 for the hoops practice facility. Sounds good. Should be a nice addition for the hoop teams and maybe boost recruiting a tad.............. A facelift to BDS. Some infrastructure work. When you're the oldest DI-A stadium in the nation, I imagine infrastructure work is something that needs to be on the agenda regularly. Repainting of the East Side Upper Deck. Good news. My wife tells me all the time that paint is the cheapest and quickest way to change the look of a room. Why not a stadium.

D-RAD: NOTEBOOK ITEMS: Congratulations to golfer Chesson Hadley for being named a first-team All-American by Golfweek magazine... Hadley is currently playing on the United States team which is competing in the annual Palmer Cup matches in Glasgow, Scotland... congratulations to golf alumnus Stewart Cink for capturing his fifth PGA Tour title last week at the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Conn... Cink currently ranks No. 2 in the points standings (behind Tiger Woods) to make the U.S. team for the Ryder Cup, which will be played in Louisville, Ky., in September... We'd also like to congratulate basketball alumnus Chris Bosh (2002-03) who has been named to the 12-man U.S. basketball team for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China... Bosh, an NBA all-star with the Toronto Raptors, was on the U.S. squad which won a bronze medal in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and participated in the 2007 Senior National Team training camp.... Kristi Miller received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship... Derek Dietrich was named to the 20-man USA National Baseball Team that will tour the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic before competing in the FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championships to end the summer... Miller and Amanda McDowell knocked off the tournament's No. 3 doubles seed to advance to the quarterfinals of the CHRISTI Pro Tennis Classic in Wichita this week... make sure to continue to check out for updated blog and journal entries by members of our golf and baseball teams... Speaking of the website, you have an opportunity to vote for the seven greatest games in Georgia Tech football history... the top seven vote-getters will get a spot on the cover of each of our home football game programs this fall.

I hope you all enjoy a great 4th of July holiday next week as well as the rest of the month of July. I will reconnect with you via the Good Word beginning the first week of August. Go Jackets!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why do you care?

If you peruse the discussion boards enough, you will find that there is a sub-segment of Georgia Tech fans who really care about the fortunes of our rivals in Athens. You will occasionally find these rants from Tech fans about how the recent success of UGAg absolutely drives them to drink, pull their hair out and even give up sports all-together. I just don't get it. Well, let me clarify - I understand it, but I still don't get it. So here's my question - why do you care?

Here's my position on the mutts - I don't care a lot about what happens to them other than when it overlaps with the fortunes of Georgia Tech. I care how we perform against them head-to-head, but my feelings are pretty ambivalent as to what they do on their own. Am I upset that they made it to the College World Series final and almost won the whole thing? No. I don't really care much. There's a little part of me that was glad to see them lose, but not much. It's mainly that part of me that doesn't want to hear the gloating from them. Now, do I care that they beat us in the Regional to get there - yeah. But what steams me is GT's failure, not UGAg's success.

Do I care that their football team is getting major hype pre-season? Not really. Heck, the way I look at, it just means there will possibly be a lot more at stake for them when we meet in November. That's when the wins are the sweetest.

Do I care that UGAg's hoops team won the SEC championship out of nowhere? Not really. Honestly, it doesn't even sting that they beat us on our home floor. We did the right thing by opening our doors and I'm proud of our school for that over the results of the tourney. However, I'm using my brain cells to focus on where Paul Hewitt is taking us as opposed to the fortunes of the crew in Athens.

You'll notice that I rarely mention UGAg on this blog, while many of the UGAg blogs devote a decent portion of their weekly coverage to the Jackets. For me, one reason is time. I have 3 girls under 7 years old, a full time job, responsibilities at church, etc. I chose to focus my blog time on Georgia Tech sports - not UGAg sports. But mainly, I just don't care much what they're doing. I don't even spend much time figuring out ways to slam them. If I did, it would just invite the throngs over here to turn the site into a smack board, which I'm not that interested in. Even posting on this topic is likely to result in some non-regulars to make their way over.

Understand one thing though - I really don't like UGAg, and the basis for that is precisely my loyalty. Clean-ole-fashion-hate is alive in my heart. However, for me, it's about crossing paths, not what goes on when our worlds are apart. From that perspective, I'd like to see better performance from the GTAA. They've gotten the best of us recently. It's a fact. I don't like it and want to see us be more competitive.

However, bottom-line, their successes and failures really mean nothing to me. Does their success drive you crazy? Why?

Where are they now - Stewart Cink

Turns out Stewart Cink's lack of PGA Tour wins was starting to weigh on him. His latest win comes at a good time:

"I know there's been talk that I've not been a closer," he said. "I mean they have every right to say that, because I felt the same way myself. And so I felt like I had something to prove to myself. I'm not trying to prove anything to anybody out there that's writing stories or doing articles or whatever, but to myself. I wanted to prove something to myself. And that extra burden that was carrying around, trying to silence those thoughts added to the difficulty. And coming through it makes me even more proud of it."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Football - D-Rich on the option

Daryl Richard and Cory Earls attended the Peachstate Pigskin Preview in Macon and talked with reporters. Here are some interesting quotes from D-Rich that came from various media stories:

On Paul Johnson's "3 yards and a cloud of dust" critics on the triple option:
"It's more like 8 yards," Richard said. "It's fast -- that's the biggest thing about it. You've got guys that will burn you if you can't get to them for the tackle. It's physical, smash-mouth football, and if you're not ready for it, you're going to be embarrassed."

On attitudes:
"Things are definitely different than things in the past," said Richard, a fifth-year senior. "The bar has been raised. It's the level of intensity and the expectations."

On first playing against the TO in spring:
“When we first started this spring, the offense actually got the best of us,” he said. “It was a new offense; we were not familiar with it at all. I had the mentality that every now and then I got to go make a play. (Johnson) is going to find those type of people. That is who he is going to attack, the most productive guy on defense can actually become a weakness because he wasn’t playing team defense. It forces you to play football that way. That was real big.”

On Paul Johnson:
“You are talking about bringing in one of the best minds in football,” he said. “I don’t live my life in a vacuum. I watch a lot of football. I have seen what his Navy teams did. I have seen some of the Georgia Southern clips in the past. You watch some of his football games in the past, the way he is attacking people … you can actually see there is a method to the madness. That is really important. When you do those types of things, you can help build something that is big.”

On defensive changes:
“Our front four has been freed up to make plays,” he said, almost singing. “In the past, we pressured by scheme, not by winning personal battles.”

“In the past, you had teams that set up their blocking schemes for that [hells bells pressure, non-stop]. When you have a Boston College — and we took a lot of criticism for this — that said, ‘Let’s do some max protection, and hold in seven or eight guys, and run two-man or three-man routes … that doesn’t happen a lot in college football.’ Now, we’re going to tell a team if you do that to us, we’re going to have five or six guys back there waiting on you to throw the ball.”

“Now, instead of only offenses attacking us different ways, changing to see what works or doesn’t, we’re going to change what we do, change the way we attack you as we go.”

"pretty much running two shell. You know, last year we got into cover three action and our former defense, we zone blitzed a lot. One thing our defensive coordinator Dave Womack does, he adds that. Also he likes to do some dropback coverage. So in terms of how we're gonna play every down, they don't know.

"No question. In Coach Tenuta's system, I pretty much played the nose guard, and I had a responsibility every play of crossing the center's face," Richard said. "I didn't get many chances to do what I thought I do best, which a lot of times is work from the guard position, get in their heads with different styles."

On leadership on the line:
“I think when you have a unit that has three seniors who have played a lot of football (Michael Johnson, Darryl and Vance Walker), you can show these younger guys how to play the game. It’s almost an expectation. It’s not, can you get it done?”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where are they now - Extravaganza

Jamal Lewis was released by the Falcons..................... Philip Wheeler looks to have a serious chance the crack the starting line-up at some point this NFL season with the Colts................ Matt Wieters continues to absolutely tear up the O's minor league system and will probably be making his next jump after his league's all-star game, where he is now the headliner.................... Stewart Cink won the most recent PGA Tour event - the Travelers Championship. Fans wished him well here........... Wayne Clough gets a caricature..................... Ted Roof goes from trying to fix the worst program in D-IA (Duke) to only trying to fix the worst defense in IA (Minn)............... Jeremis Smith is working out for the Milwaukee Bucks today along with a handful of other players.

Where are they now - Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh was chosen as a member of the US Olympic basketball team. In addition there are rumors that Jermaine O'Neill might be joining him in Toronto. Congrats to Chris!! I think we should all expect the US to bring home the gold, but nothing can be presumed on the international stage any longer.

Player Position NBA Team
Carmelo Anthony Forward Denver
Carlos Boozer Forward Utah
Chris Bosh Forward/Centre Toronto
Kobe Bryant Guard L.A. Lakers
LeBron James Forward Cleveland
Dwight Howard Centre Orlando
Jason Kidd Guard Dallas
Chris Paul Guard New Orleans
Tayshaun Prince Forward Detroit
Michael Redd Guard Milwaukee
Dwyane Wade Guard Miami
Deron Williams Guard Utah

Friday, June 20, 2008

D-Rad's Extension - Good Idea?

At this point I don't think anyone really questions the hire of Dan Radakovich. However, I was curious about your thoughts on him getting an early contract extension this week. He just signed a new 5-year deal after a 2-year performance review.

Here's what we know about his contract:

New base salary = $300,000 / year
Supplemental income = $260,000 in year 1, increasing by $20,000 / year.

Salary year 1 = $560,000
Last year he made $477,000

What has Mr.Radakovich done in 2 years? There are primarily two faces of success to examine and both are somewhat intertwined. There's the front-end - wins, losses, championships, all-americans, graduation rates, program excitement & momentum. I also put coaching hire decisions on the front-end since they are so public. Then there's the back-office stuff - fundraising, investment in facilities, organization building, GTAA balance sheet / income statement, etc.

On the front-end, two years really isn't long enough for D-Rad's impact to be felt. We have experienced some strong success in women's sports, but it's been in bumpy ride in the "big 3" men's sports. D-Rad has basically put his stamp of approval on all legacy coaching hires except Chan Gailey. In the highest profile program, he recognized that something needed to change "off the field" to generate more excitement and energy. So he brings in Paul Johnson. Only time will tell if this was a master-stroke. While there was a clear split in the fan-base on if Chan Gailey should stay or go, once the decision was made, the vast majority of fans seem to like the new hire and where he's taking things. Of course it's going to be a rough first year and it's going to be a long-term process. Patience will be required.

Behind the scenes, D-Rad has taken some tough steps to get the GTAA back in the black. It's always painful to change the ticketing fees and season ticket structure, but honestly there wasn't much choice. If Georgia Tech wants to be competitive on the field, they've got to be competitive off the field. That means money for facilities, academic support, to keep the gears greased. It means separating us from more of our money - all in the name of progress. It means attracting more fans, particularly the non-alumni. It's necessary and difficult at the same time to raise ticket prices. In terms of fundraising, I don't think we have a good idea of the change in fundraising activities with donors at this point. We do know he managed to extract more money out of the students with an increased activity fee, and overall we know GTAA's financial picture has postive momentum. Looking at the facilities, there are capital projects on a new softball complex and fundraising is ongoing for a hoops practice facility by next year. So he's gets good marks on the behind the scenes stuff at this point.

All-in-all, I have no problem with the contract extensions. He done a lot of good things and seems to be building a good foundation for future success. He is energetic and has passion. He reaches out and talks to everyone he can. He's trying to build bridges. He's trying to connect new fans with Georgia Tech. While he has also been named in a couple of recent AD searches, including LSU and U of Washington, he has withdrawn his name from both. You want guys that other people want. You just want them to stay where they are. So far so good.

So kudos to Dan Radakovich for the progress so far. Keep up the good work!!

That's my opinion - what's yours?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Football - The Walls Brothers

Great story by ESPN on the three Walls brothers, all playing at Georgia Tech, and all playing with hereditary heart problem. You know, what's interesting about this story is the fine line between the aggressive push of head coaches to teach kids new limits to their abilities, and at the same time monitoring their personal health. It's not uncommon to see one or two stories in a year about a kid dying during some workout. In many of those cases they find some type of heart defect or abnormality.

Where are they now - Matt Harpring

The Sports Network - National Basketball Association
Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - Matt Harpring underwent successful scope surgery to remove two bone spurs from his right ankle, Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor announced Friday.

The procedure was performed Thursday by Dr. R. Marvin Royster in Atlanta. A timeline on Harpring's recovery was not immediately available.

The Georgia Tech product averaged 8.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, shooting .500 from the field in 76 games, all off the bench last season.

The 6-foot-7 veteran, entering his ninth season and seventh with the Jazz, appeared in all 12 of Utah's playoff tilts this past season, averaging 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BDS to Become Earth-Friendly

Add a new color to the official colors - we're going green.

Georgia Tech going to more earth-friendly lights in football stadium
By Yoon Kim
June 13, 2008
Source: The Technique, Georgia Tech

The Athletic Association has begun the process of making a switch from manual breakers to solar breakers and photocells at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The switch to solar breakers and photocells will mean less light being output from the stadium during daylight hours.

“[We] have not have made a switch yet, but anticipate it’s completion in July,” said Shawn Teske, Director of Athletic Facilities.

Bobby Petrino - Triple Option Fan

Guess who's watching Paul Johnson closely - Bobby Petrino.

He mentioned the success of triple option teams Navy and Air Force
and said he was interested in how former Navy coach Paul Johnson would
do at Georgia Tech. Johnson, 45-29 in six years at Navy, says the
Midshipmen played more than 30 schools from Bowl Championship Series
conferences. “If it worked at Navy, why wouldn’t it work here?” he said.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Where are they now - Calvin Johnson

How do you top All-American? How do you top breaking handfuls of records? How do you top highlight-reel catches? How do you top being a first round draft pick with a $30+million signing bonus?

I'll tell you how. You bowl. You bowl like the wind. You participate in a 100+ person team tourney and then proceed to win by bowling a 243, including 8-straight strikes. Just crazy. Wes Durham's moniker of "The Truth" still holds.

On a side note, CJ missed a few "voluntary" practices to work out some personal issues (completely sanctioned by his coach). Hope everything's kosher.w

Where are they now - Matt Wieters

Great article on Matt Wieters, who will be coming to a MLB stadium near you............ soon.

J.J. Cannon, the Keys hitting coach, has worked with him since the spring.

coming here is a blessing for us," Cannon said. "He's a knowledgeable,
positive young man. I'm surprised he adapted so quickly to pro ball. He
just came in and took off."

He called him a leader in both the clubhouse and on the field.

"You see him in the locker room and you don't think he's the big dog," Cannon said. "But on the field he is the big dog."

Where are they now - Bill Curry

Here's a little on Bill Curry's sales pitch to get kids to come to Georgia State.

"We set it apart by communicating that it's a different kind of
opportunity," Curry said. "If you go to Georgia or Georgia Tech, you're
going to have to compete with a bunch of high school All-Americans to
get playing time."

Football - Triple Option vs UGAg

Good video showcasing the Georgia Southern Triple Option against our arch-rivals at UGAg in 2004:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Recruiting Bonanza

Yesterday we mentioned that three guys verbally committed to Paul Johnson. Turns out that number inflated to four by late evening, and the other Paul (Hewitt) got into the act with his first commit of the class of 2009.

Click here to check out the three guys we reported on yesterday (Daniel Drummond, Jay Finch, Chris Crenshaw). The 4th guy to commit was Jeremy Moore, a 6'3" 170lb WR out of Austin TX. He's a big physical receiver who doesn't seem to mind blocking, which is a good thing.

Per the recruiting sites, we are done at Wide Receiver for this class. One guy - that's it.

How's this for deja vu. The Jackets just got a verbal commit from Brian Oliver. Turns out there is no relation to the original. This one is a 6'6" 200lb SG/SF with a pretty darn good outside shot. Consider him a "top 100" type guy. He plays at the famous Oak Hill Academy. He holds offers from Cincy, UMass, Miami, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, VaTech, WV and Xavier. It seems that GT and VT were his top choices.

As far as Oliver's game, he's been recruited as a versatile guy who could play everywhere from SG to SF to maybe PF. We're likely to see him settle into the 2/3-spot. He's a very good 3-pt shooter, has a good handle and is a very good defender who can block shots. He's athletic, although his foot-speed has been questioned by at least one site. He evidently has a very big wingspan.

Great weekend all-around for Jacket fans. Four commits in football and one in hoops.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Football - Recruiting - Jackets Nab Three

A Saturday football camp turned into a verbal commit free-for-all, as at least three different guys gave their pledges to Paul Johnson (per and A good day for Jacket fans.

A 6'3", 230lb kid from Flowery Branch HS, he was offered and committed on the spot to Georgia Tech. Most schools were after him as a MLB, but we recruited him as a B-Back. Has some pretty impressive measurables - ran about a 4.5-40, 35" vertical, bench 350lb and a 3.8GPA. Drummond had offers from Arkansas, Ok St, WV, Marshall and Troy.

A 6'4" 265lb O-Line / D-Line combo player. While every other school recruited him for the D-Line, we recruited him for the O-Line. Looks like he ran about a 4.7-40, so quicker looks to be better than bigger when it comes to O-Linemen for Paul Johnson. Jay is from Kennesaw Mountain. Had offers from Louisville, Ole Miss, NCST and at least 3 other schools.

A 6'2" 210lb LB / DE from Jefferson County. Offered by Miss St and was getting a lot of interest from Virginia and Alabama. He will likely end up in the LB position although he was ranked the #33 DE by nationally.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where are they now - Bill Curry

For the "completely out of left field" moment of the week, how about this - Bill Curry was named as the inaugural head coach of the newly formed football program at Georgia State. Ga St will be playing "I-AA" starting in 2010, and Curry will go down in the history books as their first head coach. We knew Curry had the bug to get back into the collegiate game after his run for the Georgia Tech Athletic Director job. Even the most die-hard Curry supporters have a hard time finding fault in how Dan Radakovich has hit the ground running, but it did leave us wondering in what form Curry would emerge. I didn't see him staying with the ESPN gig, even though he did a nice job with it. I could have seen him making some cheddar on the speaking circuit. He's definitely an engaging and entertaining speaker.

............... but head coach at Georgia State? Does it make sense for GaSt? Does it make sense for Curry? My general feeling is that it's probably good thing both Curry and the school. Looking through our old gold lense, is it a good thing for Georgia Tech? Some downside and little upside. Let's look at some factors:

If Georgia State was going to make an impact hire, this is probably close to a home-run. A highly respected, high character guy known in all circles of the game. A guy well known in the state - heck, in the state sports hall-of-fame. Getting Curry should work to energize the fanbase in just the right way.

There's no doubt in my mind Curry can raise funds and sway donors. He's strong but approachable, wise and influential. We don't know about the product he'll be selling, but he's an outstanding front-man.

Now, there could be an interesting side-effect with Georgia Tech. Dan Radakovich is on a mission to draw a new non-alumni fan-base in the ATL area. Now comes another competing product. There's no way around that. People will have another choice to make. Having said that, it would be pretty sad if a brand new program had a big negative impact on a program that has as much tradition and history as Georgia Tech. But hey, if we were drawing enough ATL-area non-alumni fans, then D-Rad wouldn't be on a mission, now, would he?


Can Bill Curry get into the recruiting game again? Sure, why not? He can probably live on ATL-area kids that are looked over by the big schools. Heck, the ATL has become such a hotbed for recruiting that schools like Clemson, 'Bama, FSU and others are starting to schedule "neutral site" games in the Georgia dome just to poach in-state kids. I doubt recruiting will be too much of an issue.

The X's and O's. If we take an honest look at Bill Curry's coaching resume, it really isn't all that great. He was ok at Georgia Tech (31-43-4), better at Alabama (26-10) with the exception of 3 sinful losses to Auburn (side bar story from a former 'Bama beat writer) and he was pretty bad at Kentucky (23-51). Can Curry build a winning program where no program exists? Remains to be seen. They'll be competing in the Colonial Athletic Association (and playing in the Georgia Dome).

I don't really think they really hired Curry for his coaching ability. His choices when building a coaching staff will probably be more important in his ability to win. That will probably happen in the coming weeks.

At the end of the day, it's a good hire for Georgia State. It's probably a decent way for Curry to get back into the collegiate game while also forging an untraveled road. Bill Curry is now the first guy to ever run this program. There's a strong legacy thing going on there.

Bill Curry is incredibly well-like and respected by his teammates, players he coached, and just about anyone who meets him. Personally, I wish nothing but the best for Mr.Curry. We all should. A great man forging a new chapter in his life back in the town his collegiate career began. Great stuff.

So does this mean we'll be seeing a Panthers / Jackets match-up on the field? With the way football scheduling works, it's not bound to happen for years, barring some scheduling quirck (Army, ya hear me?). However, I have no doubt that those conversations will occur if they haven't already. Of course they'll want to schedule GT. Of course they'll want to schedule UGAg. So stay tuned..............

Story or no story?

So, why has Jamaal Evans disappeared from the roster at Mistake or something else? I don't know. I sure hope it's nothing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Listen to Amanda McDowell

Amanda McDowell joined the guys at ACC Nation for their podcast. Taken a listen here. She comes in about the 9:20 mark.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where are they now - George Cooper

Tight-end supreme George Cooper was released by the Atlanta Falcons today. He was on their practice squad last season. What are they thinking?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Where are they now - Austin Jackson

The Point Guard that never was is now the #2 prospect in the New York Yankees organizagtion. Here's an interview with the guy that handed the PG job at Georgia Tech to Zam Fredrick.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Where are they now - Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh does a nice field reporting role for Jay Leno and The Tonight Show. This guy's got a future in broadcasting:

Chris's girlfriend my have a different future - as a motivational counselor:

Chris's girlfriend and Lebron became friends after that episode.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Tennis - Player of the Year Amanda McDowell

Amanda McDowell not only wins the singles NCAA Championship. Now she's named the ITA Player of the Year. Sweetness

Beesball - MLB Draft

The final line-up of guys taken in the draft. No time for more right now:

GT (7)

Blackmon - 72
Duncan - 152
Hicks - 422
Haniger - 564
Murton - 1008
Rulon - 1040
Burns - 1191

As we hear what these guys plan to do, we'll update more.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Gold Nuggets

Just a quick reminder. If you are a news hound and want all the latest and greatest, there is a great source of relevant links involving Georgia Tech Sports. It's in the left column below the google ads called "Latest News" (imagine that). That list contains links to stories involving current and former GT athletes and also links to stories relevant from the ACC as well.

There's gold in those links. There's a lot more to learn there than I have the time or inclination to report in the main column. Make sure to check it out on a regular basis. It's updated throughout the day.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Beesball - Two Jackets Drafted on Day 1

Charlie Blackmon goes to the Colorado Rockies in the 2nd round with the #72 pick in the 2008 MLB draft. Starting pitcher David Duncan was taken 152nd overall, in the 5th round by the Houston Astros.

Congrats to these guys. Blackmon's story is truly a storybook one, as he's already been drafted twice as a pitcher, but now as an outfielder. Here are some comments on various GT prospects. Here is the official draft central.

By the way, note that a Georgia high school kid went #1. Some of the commentors are right - Georgia is a serious hotbed of talent in all three major sports. There is no reason you can't be successful by only focusing on in-state talent. There's certainly enough.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Beesball - The End

The Jackets got demolished by the half-breeds at UGAg in beesball yesterday. Season over. What is there really to say? It was a depressing end to a tragic season. Truthfully, there wasn't going to be a happy ending to this year. The death of Michael Hutts made sure of that. Sure, a trip to the Super-Regional would have been nice. A single victory over our hated rivals in two tries would have been nice. Not only didn't either happen, the Jackets played the worst game of the season during the most important game of the season. It hurts. It stings. It's painful to see your guys completely fall apart in every phase of the game when it counts the most.

So what is your reaction? Do you choose to empathize with the team and their pain or do you choose to focus on the X's and O's of a pitching staff that failed or a defense that fell apart or bats that went silent? Do you choose to focus on the big picture - that Danny Hall fields a team each and every year that is competitive and in the national picture? Or do you choose to focus on a pattern of post-season collapses, with too many coming against our Rival? Are you the optimist that focuses on the youth of this team? Are you the pessimist that focuses on their shortcomings?

For me, I'm a supporter of Danny Hall. He's built a consistent regular season program that just hasn't proven to be a consistent post-season winner. His teams are seemingly always in position to do good things in the post-season. They just don't do them enough for anyone's taste - Coach Hall's included. I want more. We all want more. One College World Series game won since that great 1994 team during Hall's tenure isn't enough for me. However, I support Coach Hall's efforts 100% and want to see him continue to build the program further. Danny Hall is a successful program builder. I like the kids he brings in. I like the teams he builds. I like the consistent winning his teams do in the regular season. I'm just selfish like every other fan, and I want more trophies and titles. I hope he can find a way to build off his current success and make that happen.

To UGAg - congrats. Even without our errors, I doubt we beat them. They mashed. We got mashed.I hope with every ounce of my being they get crushed by NCST. I really do. The Pack better bring their A-game though. In the end, it's not really about them anyhow.

For the Jackets, better luck next season I guess. Congrats to the team on a successful season in light of some truly unique and trying circumstances. As much as this season will sting fans, it will pale in comparison to what each and every member of that team feels. Not only will they be dealing with two bad losses to our rival. They be dealing with fan backlash, AJC backlash, 790theZone backlash and blog backlash.

Most important, they'll still be dealing the loss of their friend and teammate Michael Hutts. My guess is that dealing with that is going to be a lot tougher now that there's no "team" to go practice with. This group is disbanding. Guys are heading their separate ways - summer leagues, Cape Cod leagues, MLB workouts, etc. They will be more alone in their contemplation of things now, and that just might be when reality starts to hit some of them.

I hope the guys stay in touch during this time. I hope their families check in on them regularly, because you know us fans mostly won't. We'll be voicing our frustrations through keyboards and radio shows. Then we'll be moving on to the next thing, preparing for Paul Johnson's opening stanza in the fall. We'll compartmentalize the baseball team somewhere and lock it away until next spring. The guys on the team will be living every day.

Have I completely depressed you? I hope not. I just wanted to share some of my perspective about different ways to view the situation. Kids playing games in college. That's what we're talking about.