Saturday, December 29, 2007

In the Way-back Machine - Hoops 1989

Someone at the Hive found this link to the 1989 GT/Louisville hoops game - the entire game. So check it out.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Football Quick Hitters

Jon Tenuta on Tashard Choice:

"There's no question in my mind the guy's one of best running backs in college
football," Georgia Tech interim coach Jon Tenuta said. "He's the cowbell. He
makes things happen. ... You can't say enough positive things about the guy the
last two years, what he's done and meant to the football team."

Did you say "more cowbell"? Darn NBC Universal for removing all traces of the SNL skit and a free plug.

Evidently the Humanitarian Bowl has sold about 24,000 tickets and in a nice tradition, GT has donated about 1500 tickets to various Idaho military groups. GT has an allotment of 6k tickets.

Well, one of attractions of going to a bowl every year is the loot for the players. Don't kid yourself. We may complain about not player in more important bowls every year, but the fact that GT has been to what - 11 bowls in a row - that means something and it attracts recruits.

So this year our team gets the following: an XM satellite radio and a 1 year subscription, a winter coat, baseball hat, skull cap, gloves, hooded sweatshirt and a commemorative football.

Bowls are limited to $500 per player, although schools are allowed to match a certain amount as well

Tech went head-to-head against Fresno State at bowling. The Techsters won 239-201.

Early reports on our team indicate spirits are high and they are having a good time. That jives with our prior experience in Boise. It also bodes well for potential gameday results, as we did not hear the same thing prior to our Nut Bowl blowout 2 years ago.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hoops - Do We Dare to Love Again?

When you fall in love and get your heart broken, it's hard to love again. It's hard to let yourself be vulnerable and put yourself out on a limb again. Darn those Tech hoopsters if they aren't trying to win us back.

Don't get me wrong - I never gave up on this crew, and it's crazy early to talk like that, but it was easy to treat them like a casual friend. You know, the one you talk to every once in awhile but really don't have a lot invested in.

Ok, weird intro, but tonight the Jackets beat a fairly unimpressive Tennessee Tech team in their 2nd straight dominating performance. Yeah, there were some sloppy stretches, but you can see an energy in this team the last few games that was only there in very short stretches so far this season. You can see a marked improvement on the defensive end of the floor, and it's just enough to make you think that maybe they have really turned a corner.

So again, I ask you, are you ready to start believing again - which means raising your expectations back up a notch? Are you ready to be vulnerable again?

Let's look at some random thoughts about this edition of the hoops-Jackets

You know, from a mix of youth + experience, you really couldn't ask for more. Losing Ra'Sean Dickey for the season will hurt, but having him back next year may help next year more than missing him hurts this year. Did that make sense? However, when you have seniors like Jeremis Smith and A-Mo, juniors D-Bell, L.Clinch and A.Aminu, you should have the nucleus of a winning squad. In my book, experience should just about trump talent in most cases. Then you throw in a good mix of 1st / 2nd year guys, and you really have what should be a great team make-up. Of course, chemistry is a different issue, but from a program continuity standpoint, this year's class is the best mix of the Hewitt era.

This is a tough one for me. I really liked the recruiting class of A-Mo, Dickey, Smith and Zam Fredrerick. I thought they had the makings of something special. Here we are 4 years later and we are still waiting. I don't want to be negative, but this class has yet to really make their mark on the program.

Frederick was a nice kid but not ready to "play a role" on a team when he grew up being "the man", playing ball for his father who was "the man" in his college days. Zam was forced to play PG his final year here, which proved to be low ceiling. Zam transferred to SC, which was probably best for the GT squad and best for him.

Jeremis Smith proved to be a leader, a workhorse, a physical presence, a brute, and an absolutely undersized guy at the PF spot who never showed a jumpshot from anywhere. He wins every lunch-pail, blue-collar, Moses Malone award ever invented, and has always given everything he had. A brutal knee injury cut a chunk out of his collegiate career and it has taken a long time to regain the explosiveness we heard about in high school. But again, he consistently goes out there and muscles up against guys who are taller with longer arms. Get Jeremis in the open floor and you better not get in his way. From a standing position however, he just is limited in his explosiveness. Where does he spend most of his time? In the post. He has always had the intangibles - leadership, hard work, getting his hands dirty. You have to like what he has given Tech in terms of effort and leadership.

Anthony Morrow is one of the most highly thought of players to come out of North Carolina. He played at a small school (Charlotte Latin), but he dominated and was very well coached. He reputation as a dead-eye shooter has been proven time-and-time again at Tech. The guy has one of the prettiest shots you'll find and one of the quickest releases you'll find. He has always ranked in the top long-distance shooters in the ACC. Where A-Mo always seemed to struggle was at the defensive end of the floor and breaking down defenders offensively. A-Mo has always just seemed a bit slow-footed, with a longer, almost loping stride. He gets broken down defensively easily, although he has clearly improved this season. Offensively, A-Mo is almost a catch-and-shoot guy exclusively - although it's not for lack of effort. He tries to break guys down, but it's just not his game. It's just not hard to stay in front of him. I do like the way A-Mo scraps inside. He doesn't mind going after boards.

Ra'Sean Dickey. Where to start. From day 1 I always thought this guy had more potential than anyone on the team - and maybe even the conference. I sat courtside while he went head-to-head against Dwight Howard at a high school tourney in Greenville ("Battle of the Border") years ago. He caused Howard to foul out early in the 2nd half, while Dickey ended with 21 points and 6 boards. He had some thundering dunks that night (on a side note, a young PG took over the game after Howard fouled out and they still won. His name - Javaris Crittenton.). If you want to read my high school reviews of Frederick, Dickey, Randolph Morris and others - read here - they all played that night back in January 2004.

Back to Dickey. To me, the talent was never in question. When a guy like that has the footwork like he had and the jumpshot like he had, and the height, there was so much to work with. Yes, he was a black-hole early - go to him in the post and the ball would never come back. Defenders would collapse and a turnover or charging call were inevitable. But in my mind, he's probably the best post player we've had since Tommy Hammonds. What was ALWAYS in question for Ra'Sean was the mental side of the game. The motivation. I don't want to say heart because that wasn't it. It was more about the focus and drive.

Dickey is redshirting this season after some academic issues and now some lingering knee issues from his childhood. I still contend that Ra'Sean Dickey has more basketball potential than anyone who had come through GT at that position in a LONG time. Unfortunately that potential has not been realized. Ra'Sean will become the last remaining person in his recruiting class next season. It will be his last hurrah and personally, I expect big things from him. A 5th year guy with that kind of talent and the other players returning could be something special. He's been through a lot physically, emotionally and he has matured. It's his time.

So there it is - a class of four dwindles to three with a transfer - then two more play out their eligibility this season - and the last guy will wait another season. I don't know how to characterize how I feel about what this class has accomplished. Honestly, I can't help but think it's a success from the perspective of how they represented GT, but less than a success in terms of on-the-court results. When Jarrett Jack went pro and Austin Jackets never showed up, they took it on the chin with Zam trying to run the point. It didn't work and we had a losing record. In comes Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young and we are back in the dance again. Both those guys were one-and-done and the early hints were that we were back in the soup again.

I so much want to see this group put their stamp on things on the court. Lucky for us the final chapters have not been written.

Coach Hewitt has not had a great track record with bringing in foreign players. The obvious success story is Luke Schenscher, but if it hadn't been for the 8/5 rule, he never would have been on campus (it would have been Emeka Okafor). Aside from Luke, you have mostly busts. Jim Nystrum plays sparingly one season, drops out and heads back to play Euro ball and support a family. Paco Diaw comes in from Senegal, plays sparingly and then transfers to Lee University. Now fellow Senegal native Mouhammad Faye is also MIA. The "International Man of Mystery" was tabbed as the next big thing with his 25 foot wingspan, 42 foot jumper, gazelle like strides and Curly Neal like ball-handling ability. Unfortunately he proved to be a long, long, physically weaker guy who never saw a jumpshot he didn't like, and played spotty defense. Now he's taken a leave of absense from the team, although Coach Hewitt has left the door open for his return if he wants.

So is there a story here about to hit-miss ratio of foreign recruits? I don't know, but thought it was interesting.

There are times that "Motion Offense" is an oxymoron for this team. Watching one guy dribble around trying to fight traps and overplaying forwards beyond the arc, while our 2-guards, wings and fowards stand around like statues is a frustrating experience. It's gotten better for sure, but there are times when you just have to ask what the heck kind of offense we run.

With that in mind, I thought I would remind you about a post I did back in March of this year on the Motion Offense. In some funny ways, the motion offense in hoops seems a little like the triple option that Paul Johnson will be installing. There are not "set" plays. Plays are determined during live action based on the defenders actions. Maybe a stretch, but interesting none-the-less.

There are schools like Memphis that run the Motion Offense in a very impressive fashion, so you know it can work. Is it the players? Is it the coaching? Is it the tweaks that make the difference? I don't know.

Disrespect and Coaching Rumors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas All

As we wind down 2007 I wanted to stop and wish everyone a wonderful Christmas. It's been a great year for me personally, capped with the birth of my 3rd daughter in October.

As we take relax, take stock and reflect on the blessing of our lives, I want to personally send thanks out to the men and women of the armed forces. Our ability to banter about on this website, and live the free lives we have comes through sacrifice. It comes through the blood of solders out there fighting for us - putting their lives on the line. So to those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Europe, and hundreds of other places we don't hear about............

GOD BLESS, and thanks!
............... and Merry Christmas Jacket-nation!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Meet Georgia Tech's New Defensive Coordinator...

Make sure to vote in the new poll to the right on your opinion of this new hire.

Paul Johnson has hired Southern Miss LB Dave Wommack as our new DC. For the blindingly obvious fact of the day, that means our friend Jon Tenuta is moving on, and it means Giff Smith did not get the job even though he did interview for it. Now the question remains - will Giff remain on staff? Conventional wisdom is still a strong yes, but stay tuned.
From Wommack's biography:

"A veteran of 27 years of collegiate coaching, Dave Wommack returns to Southern Miss as the outside linebackers coach after serving the past two years at South Carolina, as the secondary coach in 2005 and last year as the outside linebackers coach. The Gamecocks finished with an 8-5 mark last season and defeated Houston, 44-36, in the Liberty Bowl and posted a 7-5 record his first year.

Wommack spent seven years at Southern Miss from 1994-2000, one of the most successful periods in Golden Eagle history. He was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 1999 and 2000. He coached the outside linebackers in 2000, the middle and strong-side linebackers in 1999 and defensive backs from 1994-98.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity of returning to Southern Miss and working for an outstanding head football coach, Jeff Bower, again," Wommack said. "It's an honor for me to be back in the Southern Miss and Hattiesburg community. My family and I enjoyed it very much when we were here earlier in my career. I am familiar with the defensive staff and the scheme that they run so, it should make the transition a smooth one. I look forward to getting started."

Southern Miss was a founding member of Conference USA in 1996 and won three of the first four championships (1996, 1997 and 1999). The Golden Eagle made four-straight bowl appearances from 1997-00, winning the 1997 and 1999 Liberty Bowls and the 2000 GMAC Bowl. All-Americans Cedric Scott and Leo Barnes were the defensive leaders.

As defensive coordinator, the 2000 defense finished second in the nation in total defense, eighth in scoring defense, fifth in pass defense and fourth in pass efficiency defense. The Golden Eagles collected an 8-4 record that season and won the GMAC Bowl, 28-21, over No. 13 TCU.

His 1999 defense was No. 7 in the nation in turnover margin and No. 8 in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense. All-American Adalius Thomas and T.J. Slaughter were the defensive leaders. Southern Miss posted a 9-3 record that season and won its second Conference USA championship and won the Liberty Bowl, 23-17, over Colorado State.

The 1998 squad was No. 18 nationally in scoring defense and finished with a 7-5 record and made an appearance in the Humanitarian Bowl.

The 1997 Golden Eagle squad posted a 9-3 record and won the second Conference USA championship. Southern Miss defeated Pitt, 41-7, in the Liberty Bowl, the first bowl game for the Golden Eagles since 1990. All-American cornerback and Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Surtain was No. 10 in the nation in interceptions and was drafted No. 44 in the NFL Draft. Defensive back Jamaal Alexander was a sixth-round pick.

The 1996 defense was No. 3 in turnover margin and No. 8 in rushing defense. Southern Miss ranked No. 7 in interceptions with 18, led by Surtain. The Golden Eagles posted an 8-3 record and shared the conference title with Houston.

During his first season at Southern Miss in 1994, the Golden Eagle secondary ranked second in the nation with 25 interceptions. Those interceptions contributed to the Golden Eagles' national-best 41 takeaways.

Prior to South Carolina, he spent a four-year stint at Arkansas from 2001-04, including the last three years as the defensive coordinator. He also coached the secondary, free safeties, cornerbacks and inside linebackers. The Razorbacks made appearances in the Music City Bowl (2002) and the Cotton Bowl (2001).

He also coached at UNLV as defensive coordinator from 1992-93, Southwest Missouri State as defensive coordinator from 1986-91, Bemidji State as defensive coordinator in 1985, two years as defensive line coach at Missouri, 1983-84, and four years at Arkansas (1979-82) as a graduate assistant, assistant strength and conditioning coach and the last two years as the wide receivers coach.

While at Missouri, the Tigers made appearances in the Holiday Bowl (1983). The Razorbacks made four-straight bowl games while Wommack was on staff, the 1980 Sugar Bowl, 1980 Hall of Fame Bowl, 1981 Gator Bowl and the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl.

A 1974 graduate of Reeds Springs (Mo.) High School, Wommack was a three-year letterwinner (center) at Missouri Southern. He graduated with his bachelor's degree from Missouri Southern in 1978 and his master's degree from Arkansas in 1979.

The Kimberling City, Mo., native and his wife, the former Leslie Ann Wilkins, have two children, Kane and Hayley. "

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Into the Mind of the Triple Option

I have a treat for my Georgia Tech brothers and sisters out there. With all the talk of the triple option, I thought it might be useful to start providing some insight into the system. However, why let a two-bit hack like me try and explain things? With that in mind, I made contact with Coach Steve Smith, a guy who has coaches the multiple option, studies the multiple option and is a believer in the multiple option. He's so much of a follower, that he has his own website - called "The Multiple Option Offense" at

Coach Smith agreed to do a Q&A with the GT Sports Blog and provide some insight into the triple option and share some thoughts on Paul Johnson and what we might expect on the flats. With that in mind, let's go to the questions:

First, tell us a little bit about your background.

Coach Smith: I’ve been a high school football coach for 15 years and have become something of a minor “option guru” on the Net since starting back in 2004. I started it as a resource to become a better option coach myself and to share what I learned with other coaches. Somewhere along the way I started answering more questions than I asked… funny how it worked out. I’m just glad I started a resource where folks can go to learn more about the option.

BTW, One of the early adopters and creative forces in option football back in the day was Homer Rice at Fort Thomas Highlands, Kentucky. I believe he retired as Athletic Director at G.T. only a few years ago. I know this because he married a lady from my home town of Middlesboro… and two of the most successful head coaches at Middlesboro, Chalk Stapleton and Ken Roark both ran Rice’s Veer Option. Coach Stapleton was and is good friends with Carson Newman’s head coach, Ken Sparks, who got a few National Championship rings while running the Veer option… It really is a small world after all.

What are the high level basics of option offenses? What are the advantages? Disadvantages? Misconceptions?

Here are a few general advantages of running the option. There was a really great post concerning this over in the Forums at the Flexbone Association site ( and I’m borrowing heavily from it below.

Advantages of the Option

• Reduces the need for a dominant offensive line (O-linemen are blocking low and fast playside or releasing to screen linebackers- one on one blocks aren’t needed as much as in other schemes.) Also, since the quarterback's reads eliminate defenders, there are fewer defenders to block. (ps. You don’t have to recruit traditional D-I talent to run this offense – although it wouldn’t hurt)
• Enables a physically inferior team to control the ball by running it, thus giving its defense more time to rest while wearing down the rival defense. Option teams are often great 4th quarter teams.
• Is adaptable to the team's personnel (A running QB will love it and a passing QB gets simpler coverages to throw at due to the defense having to play the option)
• Forces the defense to play assignment football (the Dline must play with some control which also slows the pass rush, blitzes become much more of a risk, etc)
• Reduces the number of coverages that the secondary can use and forces the secondary to get involved with the run.
• Is a goal-line to goal-line attack that requires no special red-zone or goal-line plays.
• Uses a variety of perimeter blocking schemes, thus simplifying the task of making game adjustments.
• Opens the door to more big plays… because the defense must concentrate on stopping the option, passes, reverses, and other “trick” plays can really catch them off-guard.

Disadvantages of the Option

• It can sometimes be harder to showcase a singularly talented back in the option unless you go out of your way a bit to tune the offense and get the football in one back’s hands. The option is designed to “spread the wealth” with respect to carries… most see this as an advantage.
• Penalties can be harder for an option team to overcome.
• It requires more timing, discipline, and practice time to perfect than some other offenses.
• The option was designed to win football games, not “sell beer and hotdogs.” Fans expecting to see a “mini-Pro” game on Saturday might be disappointed.

Misconceptions about the Option

The option will get your quarterback “killed.” If your QB lives through Spring Ball (just kidding!), he’ll get adept at making guys miss at the last second just like any good running back does. Think of it this way; put your QB in the shotgun 40 plays a game while those defensive ends pin their ears back and he’ll take a lot more blind-side shots. Pick your poison.
The option is easy for D-1 defenses to stop. Hmmm… really? Vintage Air Force and more recent Navy teams have put the points up on some decent opponents. Besides, if it were so easy, why aren’t more option teams scheduled to be “Homecoming patsies” for the big schools?
Good recruits won’t go where they run the option. True, some blue chip QBs don’t like getting that uniform dirty, but then you have those guys like Tebow at Florida who don’t seem to mind. You should also remember the option is designed for smaller, faster offensive linemen… it lets you recruit smaller, faster O-linemen that the D-I schools mostly overlook. And it won’t effect the defensive recruiting either way.

Can you help fans understand some of the different terminology? Spread offense, triple option, multiple option, veer, run-and-shoot, etc.

Running a spread offense usually means you feature formations with two split ends and either receivers or wingbacks… or that there’s one back in the backfield with the QB instead of two or three. Spread can mean either the QB is under center or in the shotgun. The term Flexbone is pretty much the same thing, but I take it as emphasizing that the QB is under center and you’re looking to run more than pass.

Running the option (another link) is when the QB “reads” the charge of a particular defensive lineman (succinctly called the “read” in this case). Depending on what that lineman does, the QB may hand the football to a dive back up the middle, keep it himself off tackle, or pitch the ball to a trailing running back. The analogy of the 2-on-1 fast break in basketball is not bad. The defensive player can’t cover both at the same time.

Are you familiar with the offense Paul Johnson ran at Georgia Southern and Navy? Is there something Jacket fans should know about the system he put in place at those schools? How is Johnson's system different from others?

The main thing GT fans should consider when thinking about Coach Johnson is that programs win when he shows up to coach there. Look at Johnson’s time at Hawaii… also at Ga. Southern as coordinator and as head coach… and most recently his time at Navy as a HC. The man wins football games. I have faith in his ability to make a big difference in a couple or three years – IF he’s left alone and allowed to coach.

Johnson has made it clear that he customizes the offense to the talent he has on the field. There is some evidence of that from his days as OC at Hawaii, where they passed at a higher rate. However, what is your guess as to the type of offense he installs at GT? What are the critical factors in making that decision?

I have no crystal ball concerning Coach Johnson’s offensive system for his initial year at Ga. Tech. I would be surprised if it were a complete clone of Navy’s offense right off the bat. Johnson and his staff will have to make their schemes fit the athletes that have been recruited over the past few years. But you never know… a lot of high school coaches still run the option and I’d almost bet there’s at least one kid on the team that’s ran it before. Regardless, I would also be surprised if you didn’t see the option play a huge role in the offense right away.

Talk about the importance of the QB in the option system. What are the key traits you are looking for at QB?

The option QB is the focal point for the offense. It all starts with the QB and his ability to make correct reads during the option. A calm, level head is a must… really the same things you look for in a QB in any offense. Option QBs tend to be competitors who don’t mind “getting their hands dirty” running the football. Most good option QBs are respected on the team because they are willing to take a lick or two and be physical and athletic in the process of winning. But things really get cooking when you get a kid that has the system down well enough to check-off at the line of scrimmage and hit the defense where it’s weakest. I honestly think that once a QB is confident in his ability to make option reads (pull and pitch stuff), a lot of the pressure is off. The option spreads the runs around the backfield and passing becomes more a situation of opportunity rather than necessity. I’d say an option QB has less pressure than a run and shoot QB who knows the team’s fortunes ride heavily on his throwing arm.

What role do the wide receivers typically play in the option? With the popular wide receivers these days being 6'4" big guys (like GT's former star Calvin Johnson), do typical option offenses get these type guys? What do you think are the ideal traits of a WR in this system?

The main thing the option gives them is predictable coverages – and the option almost assuredly eliminates the defense’s ability to double-cover any one receiver. I personally think that the option has allowed the teams I’ve coached to have a very explosive passing games. I’m not talking 20 completions a game but more like 6-12 completions with 3 being genuine big plays that went for big yardage. Think quality and not quantity. You aren’t likely to see an option team make a living off short passes thrown in the flat. But you are likely to see long balls like a backside Post, or a playside Fade or Wheel route go all the way for a score. The defensive coordinator must use his DBs as run support and it really puts them in a bind. I really hate that for ‘em.

Talk about the difference in play from the offensive line when comparing the option to a traditional pro-set.

The Option is designed for smaller, faster, and more agile offensive linemen… most of the blocks are low and quick since the running game is north-and-south and hits fast. You can get “more with less” concerning size and strength. The main requirement for the option lineman is quickness off the ball and a nasty disposition. Pass protection is much simpler since it’s usually either play action or turnback protection. In the first case, the defense has to stay under control and not just come sprinting up the field for fear of being “read” or “trapped.” In the latter, the O-lineman has the angle to begin with and thus an advantage.

I have read many comments that Georgia Tech is going to be watched closely next season by writers, fans and "experts" to judge the success of the triple option at the highest level - almost like some science experiment. What is a fair amount of time to judge the success of his system, considering he is starting over with a new team, new players and has to teach a brand new system? Will the fact that he will be playing more talented competition be a factor?

Coach Smith: I’ve already seen articles where the writer wasn’t wondering “if” G.T. was going to be successful but instead wondering just “how” successful they might be. No coach wants to “spot” the competition a season or two so I expect Johnson to get as much of his scheme in place as he possibly can. But most option teams –especially young and inexperienced ones- tend to start off slow but peak late. I expect some initial problems but think the team will begin clicking by mid-season. Barring any key injuries, I’d say the latter games of the season will be the ones to look at with regard to the future despite the strength of the opponent. The Yellow Jackets do have the ability to be 3-0 going into the Miami game. If they do, and confidence is high… then who knows what might happen. But I’m going to be cautious in Johnson’s first year and err on the conservative side and say a 4-6, 5-5, or 6-4 season is most likely. But if the players learn the system and most key players stay healthy… Well, let me say that I’d love to be eating my words as G.T. wins 8 games and heads to a bowl!

Johnson has said that he does not have a playbook. He basically runs only a handful of plays over and over, and may alter the formation instead. What advantages does this offer for players in the system?

Players go harder when they are sure of what they are doing and what their responsibilities are. They will have fewer blown alignments and fewer blown assignments in a simpler system. Also, the fewer plays you have, the more time you have to practice them to perfection. In this day of 20 hours of practice per week, Georgia Tech has the advantage with respect to the opponent’s defense. It has 3-4 days to prepare for G.T., probably the lone option team on the schedule.

It has been said that the triple option is a great equalizer in terms of reducing the impact of talent gaps between two teams. Johnson proved it at Navy, where he consistently held his own against more talented teams. So we know the option works in those situations. However, what happens when you get equal or greater talent running the option as your opposition? Does it further distance your team in terms of winning games, or is the advantage a lot smaller in this case? In other words, the multiple option can neutralize the disadvantage of inferior talent, but can it exploit the advantage of equal or better talent?

Better talent helps any offensive scheme you run; period. When you are significantly superior to your opponent, you just get to name your score.

There is a perception that recruiting into this system is a challenge, as high level future NFL caliber players don't think it prepares them for the NFL. Is there any truth to this? Obviously Johnson will have his first real access to bigtime Div IA talent. What should Jacket fans expect in terms of the types of recruits he will go after? Do you believe he will have success recruiting high level athletes into this system?

Remember Eric Crouch at Nebraska? He won the Heisman trophy in 2001. He wasn’t the best passer but I don’t think it lessened his ability to shred college defenses in the least. Yet how many pro teams wanted him as a QB? Not many. There are a lot of great running QBs in high school who every year who are forced to join D-I teams as receivers because their talents are largely ignored by college coaches eager to prove they can run what the pro coaches run. Every high school option QB in America now has a D-I school (other than a service academy) where he can now aspire to play. I honestly don’t think G.T. is going to hurt at the QB position. The biggest talent at wide receiver might look elsewhere, but G.T. will get plenty small, fast wideouts who will be very open due to the coverages they will see. Big-time tailbacks will most likely try other schools running the “I” or one-back sets, yet bruising fullbacks will see an opportunity to carry the football at G.T. Also look for Johnson to have success recruiting the utility-back type to play wingback/receiver. What you lose in one area you make up for in another. Georgia Tech recruiting will be fine.

How will option offense impact the Georgia Tech defense? What about the fact that they will not be practicing against a conventional offense during the week and will have to rely on the scout team more heavily? What about during gametime? Can the defense expect to stay on the field less because the offense will control the ball more?

If the option game is going well, then the G.T. defense can expect to be rested when it hits the field. It might also allow the defensive coordinator to gamble a little more. I don’t think the scout team situation will be much of a factor. No scout team in America is going to be as good either physically or execute as well as a D-I offense. Scout team plays are scripted and drawn out for the players… who most likely will have to emulate pass patterns and pass-pro drops. It will be far tougher for G.T.’s opponents to get a good option scout team ready when you consider the timing and practice involved. And they will have only 3-4 days to make it happen.

I hope I’ve made things a little clearer. And like G.T. fans everywhere, I’m really excited about the 2008 season.

Coach Steve Smith


Coach Smith, I just want to thank you for the interaction and insight into the Triple Option. It is great to have someone who has implemented these schemes share their insight. Hey, and the insight into Homer Rice was priceless and will be appreciated by Jacket fans!

You are welcome back anytime!!

Christmas Bubble Talk

by Lennie Mac

We still have eleven or so weeks to go until selection Sunday, but already GT is behind the 8 ball to get into the tournament. A good effort losing to Kansas by 5 as a 10 point underdog actually didn't hurt them much at all, but already they are in big trouble.

Georgia Tech's current RPI rating is 77. The last two years the last four at-large teams RPI ratings were:

2007 - 52-53-55-65
2006 - 51-56-57-58

Georgia Tech has to get in the low 50's to have a reasonable chance. They can't drop any further.

The next 5 games for the Jackets are critical. GT plays Centenary, Tennessee Tech, Florida State and Presbyterian at home and UGA in Athens. They must win their next 5 games just to improve their RPI rating by just a few spots. Lose one to FSU, and they'll drop slightly, lose to any of the other four and they'll sink like a stone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reflecting on the Option

The more time I spend reading about option football - spread option, triple option, veer, how it differs from wishbone, the pass vs run ratio - the more I get excited about our future. Now, my excitement is not really centered around any dissatisfaction around what we had. I generally liked where we were headed as a program. Of course specifically, there was plenty of frustration..... but I digress..

With Paul Johnson now at the helm, I've gained a renewed interest in the X's and O's of the game. Back to basics. Back to principles of war, strategy and success. Angles and numbers. Researching the triple option is a fascinating exercise, and there is truly a lot to be excited about if you are a Jacket fan. At a base level, getting back to option football just warms my heart. I can't explain it, but option football is truly college football goodness. Moving away from a traditional pro-set and installing the triple option should be fun. However, with the spread formations of today's option, we're not talking about your daddy's wishbone here. It is modern. It is fun to watch........... and it works.

More than anything else, it's hard to argue with results. This stinkin spread system just results in wins and wins and wins. There is not a bigger reason to be excited than the success of the system itself. Truthfully, it doesn't seem to matter whether you're running or passing either. There are some fundamental differences between the known spread teams out there, but really the differences are minor. Even Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach said this when comparing his spread passing attack, which led the nation in passing, to PJ's Navy attack, which led the nation in rushing:

"They run it all the time, and we throw it a lot, but in my mind that's sort of
where the differences end," Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach said. "It's about
distribution of the ball. They make sure everybody touches the ball, and the
quarterback makes good decisions about who gets the ball. Philosophically, I
think we're incredibly similar."

This stinkin' system just seems to works. I mean, let's look at some facts:

1. PJ's record at GaSouthern and Navy and Hawaii, all using the triple option. All his teams won lots of games. All his teams racked up lots of yards and points on offense. His teams did not lose much and the National Championships at GaSouthern are well documented.

2. Texas Tech annually leads the nation in passing yards (or comes close). Navy annually leads the nation in rushing yards (or top 2). One team throws 60%+ of the time. The other runs it most of the time. Both teams spread the ball around. Both teams rack up yards and points. Both teams win and go to bowls every year now. Texas Tech has beaten Texas A&M 6 out of the past 8 years and Navy has dominated its service academy rivals. Spread option football my friends.

3. Appalation State just became the first 1-AA team in history to win back-to-back-to-back national championships............running the spread option. Oh yeah, they also beat some team named MICHIGAN to start the season, which some labeled as the biggest upset in the history of college football. And guess what - Michigan just hired one of the pioneers of the spread option - Rich Rodriguez. If you can't beat'em, join'em I guess. Spread option football my friends. Oh yeah, know where App State got their offense? Their head coach studied some guy named Urban Meyer at Utah and some guy named Rich Rodriguez at WV. Speaking of....

4. West Virginia - Rodriguez turned WV into a national power. West Virginia? Other than John Denver and flaming couches, what else is going on up there?.... I'll tell you what else - the spread option. Oh, and don't be fooled by the fact that they called it the spread option and not the triple option. Yes, they will line up 4 wideouts and put the QB in the shotgun, but guess what - they run the ball a lot more than they pass. Despite perceptions, WV has a running option offense that occasionally passes the ball.

5. Why did Missouri and Kansas rise to the top of the polls after histories of being less than mediocre? I'll tell you how - largely on the back of option football.

6. Why is Hawaii undefeated, in a BCS bowl and about to play UGAg? Well, besides a weak schedule, the answer would be the spread option. June Jones has a beautiful system in place and a great QB to execute it.

7. How did Utah come out of the netherworld to go undefeated in 2004? A guy named Urban Meyer and a system called the spread option. Of course Meyer later went on to win the National Championship at Florida implementing that same system - a spread option.

These are just some of the stories you've heard about. There are many more. The bottom-line is this - the option works and the spread option is the modern incarnation that is driving defensive coordinators crazy. It works. Spread out the defenses. Create large gaps. Distribute the ball to many different players. Force defenses to play assignment football (this is a key component). Execute, execute, execute.

Now, it is important to note that Paul Johnson is the only guy in the country running the spread option like he does - as a run-dominant offense. Clearly PJ is a run-first guy. If any GT fans are thinking we are going to turn into a Texas Tech pass-first offense, you can forget it. Ain't gonna happen. This is going to be an offense that bases everything off the triple option run. We will pass more than Navy, but at the end of the day, we are going to be just like Chan Gailey teams - rely on the run to win.

Will PJ adjust his offense to personnel? Sure he will. But folks, we were a run-first, weak passing team with Chan Gailey's players. We didn't have a strong passing attack from year 1 to year 6 under Coach Gailey. We just brought in a guy who specializes in the run, so don't expect that to change much. Honestly I would guess that GT is going to throw the ball 5-10 fewer times per game, but complete even more passes. My guess is that our passing efficiency goes up significantly.

Today, recruit WR Chris Jackson announced he was switching his commitment from GT to Alabama. He was the first GT verbal and a bigtime cheerleader for GT. There wasn't another guy in the class that was more of a "Tech man". However, now he's saying "Roll Tide". PJ has a challenge on his hands to convince receivers they will have a significant role in this system. Of course the real challenge is that he has no product to really sell. He's selling something different than Navy and something different than Hawaii. I don't worry about the QB situation because we immediately start going after a specific type of kid (Jaybo Shaw, not Sean Renfree, dual-threat, not drop-back pocket passer). My only real worry is QB next season, as triple option football does get your QB smacked a lot. That means we need a good stable of competent running QB's. However, I do worry about our long-term ability to bring in bigger talent WR's.

Now, there's another grain of salt about "fitting the offense to personnel". That makes a lot of sense when you just inherited a team of guys you didn't recruit. However, the question becomes - what type of players do you recruit moving forward? You mold the offense to your inherited players - but then do you go out and recruit players that allow you to change the offense?..... or do you recruit even better players that allow you to execute the system you have had success running? I bring this up because evidently at Hawaii PJ set all kinds of passing records in his first couple of years there, but then he brought in the dual-threat QB's and started running the ball more. So in the end, Hawaii turned into more of a triple-option running team by the time he left. It will be interesting to watch.

At the end of the day, we're going to have a bumpy ride until PJ proves what he's all about to the current team at spring ball and to recruits next season during gametime. Until then it's going to be a rocky recruiting ride and possibly a rocky road for transfers. It is just the reality of coaching changes, and don't let it surprise you too much. You change the head coach and you're going to assume risk. Change the system at the same time and the risk level gets higher. Just reality.

Don't get me wrong about the option. I'm excited about the possibilities. My Clemson friend here in the upstate told me yesterday at lunch that I was already drinking the "Triple Option" Kool-Aid. I guess that's true. I like so much about the system and it's going to be a fun ride to see how PJ puts it into practice at "the I".

............. to be continued.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Coaching Tidbits - Bud Foster wanted GT job

So VaTech's longtime DC Bud Foster applied for the GT head job. Just one of many details that come out in dribs and drabs or not at all. I guess he didn't make the "final 8" or else we would have heard his name mentioned more promoninently.

Considering how many people were lukewarm about Randy Edsall coming to GT, you may find it interesting that ESPN reported that he was contacted by Michigan for their head spot to "gauge interest". He record at UConn may not jump out at you, but considering what he inherited and what he built, it really is an impressive accomplishment. Edsall is a good coach.

Here's a good story on PJ.........

Here's more on Jaybo Shaw, the first recruit to commit to PJ.

Wow. If you thought the spread offense was a fringe scheme, think again my friends. Looks like 4-wide option football could be coming to the Wolverines. By the way, let's check out this timeline:

Steven Threet commits to Georgia Tech..... great decision
Steven Threet enrolls early to get ahead in spring ball...... great decision
Steven Threet decides to transfer to Michigan over the summer........ "bad decision"
Chan Gailey gets fired
Paul Johnson gets hired.......... Threet's bad decision becomes a great decision
Lloyd Carr retires from Michigan
Rich Rodriguez gets hired at Michigan
Steven Threet decision goes back to being a bad one again.
Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.
What next for Mr.Threet?

Here's what Mark Richt had to say about Paul Johnson:

"We don't know what he's going to do," Richt said. "He's a guy who is going to
look at his personnel and do what he thinks they can do best. He is a winner.
Everywhere he's gone, he's won. Everywhere he's gone, he's won big."

Meanwhile, Richt and Paul Hewitt and their wives were co-hosts at a "HERO for Children" banquet. Here's what they said:

Richt and Hewitt exchanged some gracious repartee.“I’m glad to be hanging around
Paul,” Richt said. “It’s not often you get to hang around a Georgia Tech guy and
enjoy it.”

Hewitt won style points for his classy comment regarding Georgia’s upcoming bowl
game: “For what it’s worth, I thought you should be playing for the championship.”

I guess when you're trying benefit childre, a little white lie doesn't hurt (wink wink nudge nudge, right Paul?).

By the way, the incident against the Gators in the endzone looks like it's aged Richt's wife just a bit.

Actually, I am only kidding. This is Richt's mom, who attended the event as well, and was looking good all dolled up......... but hey.............. we have so little to jab them about. Gotta take your shots when you can........

Friday, December 14, 2007

Recruiting - PJ Nabs First Recruit - a QB

(image from

Paul Johnson nabbed his first recruit, a QB from in-state who should fit his triple option system perfectly. He's Jaybo Shaw and he was committed to Middle Tenn St. He actually had an offer from Chan Gailey late in the game (remember how many QB's we have lost), and PJ had been recruiting him at Navy. Should be a good fit.
He's a hair under 6'0" 180lb and has good speed (although Scout lists him at 4.6-40yd dash). has him as the #8 Dual-threat QB in the country, which ain't half bad, and the #49 prospect in the state.
Considering the fact there is exactly one guy on our current roster at QB that is strongly suited for this offense, there is no doubt that QB will be a priority.
Also, don't be surprised to see another one. Keep in mind that the triple option often results in your QB taking lots of hits = higher risk for injury = need more QB's who can run the option.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Great X-mas Gift Idea: GT Vintage Calendar

Hey, you looking for a stocking stuffer for the college football fan in your life? Check this out. It's a vintage GT calendar made from classic football program covers.

A different cover for each month of the year. Very cool and it's made on high quality paper. I was contacted by with an offer to give Jacket fans 10% off anything they buy if they click to their site through this link or the one in the left-hand column.

Click here and you will automatically get a 10% discount when you purchase any calendar

Go get one or get 10. Just thought you might be interested. I know I'm tough to buy for (per my wife), but I'd love this as a stocking stuffer to go along with a new 50" plasma HDTV :-).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Paul Johnson - Sassy with the Media

So it turns out that Paul Johnson has been criticized for how he deals with the media. However, it's the exact opposite of Chan Gailey. Gailey, who frustrated media people with coach-speak and nothing really quotable, left writers to their own devices. However, turns out Paul Johnson can be downright sassy. Check out this exchange between an Annapolis writer and PJ:

Wagner: Can I ask you something without making you mad?

Johnson: Maybe. I don't know.

Wagner: I was talking to a Navy fan and he said he follows the coverage and that he noticed something and I'm just going to put it to you. He says that it seems like when Navy loses you blame the players, ie we can't execute fundamental plays, but that the success of the team the last four years has been attributed to brilliant coaching. How do you respond to that?

Johnson: Whatever he thinks. I don't go down to McDonald's and start second-guessing his job so he ought to leave me alone.

Wagner: But do you feel like it can't be both ways?

Johnson: You know what? I could care less. I'm old enough where I could give a crap what the fans think or what you think to put it in a nutshell.

Wagner: Wins and losses are evenly distributed as far as credit and blame, right?

Johnson: If you could ever find one time that I said we won the game because of brilliant strategy I will kiss your butt at city dock and give you two days to draw a crowd. Find it and bring it to me. Tell that guy that if he wants to talk to me I live at (address given but deleted for the transcript) I will be right there. Come ring my doorbell and I will be glad to talk to him.

Wagner: But the bottom line is the coaches do take as much responsibility as the players when the team loses?

Johnson: We are ultimately responsible. What did I say about eight million times? I did a poor job. We have to get them ready. What else do you want me to say?

Well, alrighty then......... The writer had plenty to say on his blog following that exchange:

Johnson basically said he's too busy trying to help Navy win games to worry about blogs, fan opinions or media criticisms. He doesn't have the time nor the inclination to pay much attention to any of those extraneous issues.

Here's a Navy blogs take on that exchange.

Now, Tech fans are going to have mixed feelings about that exchange. Some are going to be all gung-ho, ra-ra, yeah dude. You know - the Boom MF Muschamp Club. Others are going to be really turned off. Here's my take - the writer baited PJ and I thought it was a pretty honest exchange. A bit harsh from PJ and maybe it bit condescending, but clearly the questions were edgy and begged for conflict.

At the end of the day, I don't want my coach worried about what people write in blogs or papers. I want a leader who takes blame when things go wrong and gives out credit when they go right. Focus on winning games and do your best with the rest in your spare time. It just strengthens my faith in D-Rad in that he didn't go for a guy that was "all sizzle, no steak". PJ's pretty meaty, like a 20oz porterhouse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's Buzzin' Tuesday Night

Someone on one of the boards posted a link to this article, which just may be the ultimate high level debunking of all the myths you've heard or will hear about Paul Johnson's offense. It is so much of a must-read, that I'm assigning homework........ and there will be a quiz later - period!! Your life depends on it.

Tyrone Nix just left USC-East to work for Houston Nutt at Ole Miss. That means Spurrier is on the lookout for a new DC. Expect Jon Tenuta to get a look. Of course his name is still prominent for the LSU DC job.

Evidently some UCLA folks are going through their own personal demons as they wait on their next coach. We all know about the excrutiating daily wait with dribs and drabs of inaccurate info leaking out. In the meantime, this UCLA blogger's outside impression of Dan Radakovich's hiring process and ultimate result was the cream of the NCAA crop when it came to hires. An efficient, thorough process. A good list of quality candidates with varying types of experience and expertise. Then sealing the deal with the best candidate quickly and efficienctly.

Interesting article on what makes a good head coaching job. I'd say we fare well on most areas on the list.

The All-American list is out and you have:
P: Durant Brooks 1st Team
K: Travis Bell Honorable mention
RB: Tashard Choice Honorable mention

In addition, the AP All-American team is out and we had two guys there as well - Durant Brooks (2nd team - huhhh?), Vance Walker (3rd team defense).

Way to go guys!!!

Evidently nobody is going to be moving Paul Johnson's cheese for quite awhile. Details about his contract are out now. Check it out here. Honestly, it seems like a better deal for GT and a better deal for PJ.

PJ's former followers send their well wishes and thanks.

However, to pay for all this - we've started a new campaign.

ESPN tells us who wins the annual Navy / Notre Dame awards: PJ gets Coach of the Year (between those two teams), and there's this:

Biggest Surprise: Navy's offense. It really shouldn't be a surprise by now, but Navy continued to mass-produce yards and points in a season when it had to. Kaheaku-Enhada and stable of backs helped the Mids to another ho-hum 8-4 season. Seven players rushed for more than 450 yards and five touchdowns. Navy scored 30 points or more in all but two games and eclipsed 45 points five times. Other surprises include Notre Dame's pass defense (third nationally) and Irish converted defensive end Trevor Laws.

Watch it right here folks. This would be the game where PJ trounced Youngstown State coached by some hack named Jim Tressell. If the link below doesn't work - click here.

Uploaded by draglimited

The SEC / ACC Debate

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the ACC is better than the SEC. It's not. However, the dude over at "ACC Football Report" has put together a pretty telling argument based on facts that certainly should knock down the SEC in terms of their national image as by FAR the best conference. At the same time, it casts a stronger light on the ACC than anyone else in the media is willing to do............ all based on facts. I'll pull out the ACC/SEC comparisons, although he ranks all the major conferences:

The first premise is that the best way to rank conferences is to look at how they fared against teams outside the conference. So with that:

(Data taken from story above)
1 First, non conference records:
SEC...40-8 (.833)

On the surface, the SEC looks dominating. But you have to go deeper:

2. Combined records of non-conference teams played
ACC...253-243 (.510)
SEC....229-230 (.499)

So the records of the teams played by the ACC is slightly better than the SEC, but not by a mile

3. Percentage of non-conference games played on the road
ACC...20/48 (41.7%)
SEC...8/48 (16.7%)

Ok, the first MAJOR difference. The ACC played by far more road non-conference games than any other conference in the country and the SEC played the fewest of any. You can see the full chart in the story above, but the bottom-line is that the SEC was not willing to travel away from home to play non-conference games. The ACC clearly showed a willingness to take risks and travel.

4. Percentage of non-conference games played against BCS opponents
ACC...22/48 (45.8%)
SEC...14/48 (29.2%)

Another stark contrast. The ACC not only went on the road more than any other conference to play non-conference games, they also played more "quality" opponents while doing it. The ACC faced more BCS opponents than any other conference in the country. The second closest was Big East at 15 games. Only the Big 12 faced fewer BCS foes than the SEC.

5. Conference record against BCS opponents
ACC... 11-11 (.500)
SEC... 7-7 (.500)

So it's a dead heat except than the ACC put their necks on the line more often.

6. Details of non-conference wins / losses:

ACCWINS- Connecticut (@Virginia), @Rutgers (Maryland), Texas A&M (@Miami), @Colorado (Florida State), vs.Alabama (Florida State), @South Carolina (Clemson), @Vanderbilt (Wake Forest), @Northwestern (Duke), Pittsburgh (@Virginia), @Notre Dame (Boston College), @Notre Dame (Georgia Tech)

ACCLOSSES- West Virginia (@Maryland), Georgia (@Georgia Tech), @LSU (Virginia Tech), @Oklahoma (Miami), @Florida (Florida State), @USF (North Carolina), Connecticut (@Duke), South Carolina (@North Carolina), Nebraska (@Wake Forest), Louisville (@NC State), @Notre Dame (Duke)

SECWINS- Virginia Tech (@LSU), Florida State (@Florida), @Georgia Tech (Georgia), Oklahoma State (@Georgia), Kansas State (@Auburn), Louisville (@Kentucky), @North Carolina (South Carolina)

SECLOSSES- Missouri (@Mississippi), @West Virginia (Mississippi State), Clemson (@South Carolina), USF (@Auburn), Wake Forest (@Vanderbilt), vs.Florida State (Alabama), @California (Tennessee)

7. Combined record of BCS opposition
SEC...106-64 (.624)
ACC...152-114 (.571)

Here the SEC has the advantage, showing that on average, they faced slightly better BCS teams than the ACC.

8. Percentage of games against I-AA teams:
SEC...9/48 (18.8%)
ACC...7/48 (14.9%)

The SEC played two more serious cream puff games than the ACC did. However the 9 games by the SEC places them with the most of any conference, while the ACC has 2nd fewest with the PAC10 only playing 2 IAA teams.

9. Conference records against non-BCS teams (IA like WAC/CUSA, etc , IAA)
SEC...24-1 (.960)
ACC...15-4 (.789)

So the SEC pumped up their schedule against a bunch of creampuffs, then went out and killed them. The ACC schedule fewer of those games and managed to lose 4 of them (Duke to Navy, UNC to East Carolina, NCST to UCF, UVA to Wyoming). In addition, most of these games were home games for the SEC

10. Combined records of non-BCS teams
ACC...101-129 (.439)
SEC...123-166 (.426)

A bit of a wash here. The ACC played fewer non-BCS teams and the ones they did play had a slightly better record than the SEC.

At the end of the day I still vote the SEC as the best conference. They do have some of the best teams. However, the got there largely by playing weak non-conference slates, rarely going on the road and then relying on the "we beat each other up in this conference argument" to hold the day. Kind of the same story as ACC basketball. And you know what - it works! It works for ACC hoops and it seems to work for SEC football.

The guy in the article concludes that the ACC is the 2nd best conference going into bowl season. You can argue semantics, but at the end of the day, the SEC is not overwhelmingly the best conference - but they are the best.......... and the ACC is clearly better than people want to give them credit for.

Maybe the most obvious conclusion is that the ACC does not know how to "play the game" in terms of building national prominance. Playing tough opponents outside your conference makes for great football, great money and great fun. But it is not rewarded in terms of conference image, media bias and the bowl selection process. Only the loss column is really looked at when managing the polls. Well, I take that back. The bowl selection process clearly is focused on money and not losses. Regardless, taking these kinds of risks during the season is just not worth the payback.

Interesting stuff for sure................

Where are you on the ACC / SEC argument?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Night Buzz

Former GT All-American George Morris, an AA LB on the 1952 national championship team died today of a heart attack.

A lot of our coaches had nice things to say about Morris:

Dan Radakovich said. "From the very first day that I came to Georgia Tech he extended his hand of friendship and was always there to help and support the program. George loved Georgia Tech and always wanted what was best for Georgia Tech. He was one of our greatest ambassadors."

Bill Curry:
Tech player/head coach Bill Curry said. "Coach Dodd always told me and he never wavered from it: George Morris was the best football player that he ever coached. And George did everything he could do to live up to that legacy."

Chan Gailey:
"George was a great friend but he was more than that," Gailey said. "This is not just a great loss for Georgia Tech football. This is a great loss to the Institute."

George O'Leary
"Everybody knew George and everybody liked George," O'Leary said. "He lived life to the fullest. He was a great help to me."

Rest in peace Mr.Morris. You were a cherished member of the Tech community.

Well, the latest rumblings are that most of the offensive coaching staff has been let go. Not a surprise by any means, but certainly sad. Just the reality of life as a coach. In addition, some rumblings that Jon Tenuta won't be retained either. Face it, most of us think it would be great to have JT keep running the defense, but it just rarely happens with key players of an outgoing staff. Just a rarity. Here's a guy getting buzz as a possible DC.

Since the news of Coach Gailey's firing, schools have been descending on our recruits like white on rice. Some of the schools poaching the most include North Carolina, Alabama and Maryland. At the end of the day, there is nothing you can count on until signing day is over and done. It's going to be a wild ride with probably more disappointments than good news. That's just the reality of coaching changes.

In terms of recruits publicly confirming their verbal commitments, here's what is public:

QB Sean Renfree - no longer committed. Looking elsewhere
WR Chris Jackson - visited Alabama but says he's 100% committed to GT.
WR AJ Jenkins - had already decommitted prior to coaching change. Committed to Illinois last weekend.
RB Embry Peeples - still committed
C Nick McRae - talked to PJ, but unsure of commit; wants to meet PJ - MD, NCST called
SLB Malcolm Munroe - will wait to see if coaches BJ and Jeep Hunter are retained, then decide
S Brandon Leslie - says 100% committed
MLB TJ Pridemore - still committed, but waiting to see staff changes, SC, MD, TN, WV have called
CB Rashaad Reid - no word
CB Jon Lockhart - no word
S Cooper Taylor - no word
WLB Steven Sylvester - "shocked", listening to NCST, 'Bama, UNC
FB Richard Watson - still 100% committed, but says other schools haven't called
WLB B.J.Machen - no word
CB Kameron Riley - no word

It turns out that every major fanbase seems to have a a contingent of Paul Johnson fans who want him at their school. I've already documented the Nebraska and Clemson homages to PJ.

Turns out there is a Michigan guy who was so adament about hiring PJ he posted this incredible tribute to why he's the right guy for the Wolverines. Once he found out that GT snagged PJ while his Michigan AD was out windsurfing, he wrote this.

By most accounts, Paul Johnson wasn’t even among the list of 30 coaches who Martin wanted to talk to. Considering Michigan’s organizational arrogance, the
fact that it didn’t contact Johnson was no surprise. Georgia Tech did what Michigan was too afraid and small-minded to do, which was contact and then hire one of the best coaches in football. That concept—that truly revolutionary concept of hiring a great football coach—has apparently been lost on some. Georgia Tech didn’t beat Michigan to the punch like we saw LSU do in the Miles situation. Johnson didn’t shun Michigan like Greg Schiano did. For anything like that to have happened, Michigan would have needed to first show the competency necessary to even acknowledge Johnson’s existence. Michigan simply chose to ignore him. While the search has turned into a nightmare amongst the fan-base and alumni, Martin and Michigan always had the answer sitting right in front of them. As long as Johnson was available, Michigan’s search was never in danger. Just because the majority of the fan-base didn’t know it, didn’t make it any less true. Johnson was Michigan’s Jim Tressel or Urban Meyer—or more appropriately, a combination of the two. This search didn’t reach “inept” status in my mind until Georgia Tech proved to be more competent than Michigan. Sure, Michigan could’ve handled the Miles fiasco better. But, the situation never needed to be “Miles or bust.”

Meanwhile the dudes over at EBSBS gave GT their endorsement for hiring PJ. Then today there was this ode to our geekedness;

Here's another nice article on PJ:

Watching this guy run a program has been a treat. Johnson is a witty, no-nonsense, straight shooter who doesn’t hesitate to criticize players or himself. His organizational, game-planning, teaching and motivational skills were firmly in place the day he took the Navy job six years ago, following a ridiculous, 62-10 run at Division I-AA Georgia-Southern.

As head coach, offensive coordinator and play-caller at Navy, Johnson has always impressed me with the way he adjusts from quarter to quarter, series to series, play to play. So much of the Mids’ success has been predicated on putting the option in the quarterback’s well-schooled hands. But so much has involved Johnson’s ability to adjust and impose his will as an instinctive play caller unafraid to listen to his gut.

My favorite image of Johnson during his 43-19 run over the past five years is him standing on the sideline with arms folded, without a script, sometimes with his headset hanging around his neck, watching the game, reading the game, feeling the game.

Here's an interesting site on the Multiple Option Offense.

Here's an article written in Nov 2006 when UNC was looking for a new head coach. PJ's name came up in that search. Here's a quote from the new head coach at Navy, a PJ protoge:

"He's always been able to adjust to wherever he is ... and to whatever players he has," said Navy offensive line coach Ken Niumatalolo, who played quarterback at Hawaii in the late 1980s, when Johnson was an offensive coordinator there.

"He knows how to win."

In addition, PJ had this to say about his offense:

"What's great about this offense is that you can emphasize whatever best fits your people," Johnson said. "... If you've got a great quarterback, of course you're going to throw; that's what you do to win. If your personnel is better rushing the ball; that's what you do, because that's what you do to win."

It wasn't until Johnson was in his first stint at Georgia Southern, as a defensive line coach then offensive coordinator, that he visited Mouse Davis, considered the father of the run-and-shoot offense. After that, Johnson started incorporating run-and-shoot principles, mixed with option, into his offense.


"And that's kind of how it evolved, through the last 18 or 19 years," said Johnson, who is 33-24 in his fifth season at Navy. "Sometimes we'd throw the ball a lot; sometimes we ran. We just adapted to what what we had."

Here's what his brother had to say about his future (keep in mind this was last year):

Tim Johnson, however, said he doesn't think two I-AA championships ultimately will be enough for his brother, as much as he loves coaching the Midshipmen.

"At some point and time -- this year, next year, 10 years from now -- my guess is he wouldn't mind coaching at another level," said Tim Johnson, now the town manager for Belhaven.

He, too, declined to discuss his brother's possible interest in the UNC opening, but he added:

"I really believe if Paul had the talent that's at Carolina right now, they would definitely be going bowling this year ... and maybe playing for the ACC championship."

Maybe he's a little biased, he admitted, being a brother and all.

Then again, Tim Johnson still remembers those plays drawn in the mud four decades ago.

"You just knew then, he was meant to coach."

Meanwhile, here's a mutt-take on the hire.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What's Buzzin'

Thinking through how the coaching search and final tally ended, I have to say I am impressed. After clarifying the dollar value of Paul Johnson's contract, I'm even more impressed. PJ's contract was originally reported a $14M for 6 years, or about $2.3M per year. The day before I had written that I did not believe GT needed to match SMU's offer of $2.0 - $2.2M. We all know that GT is a better job than SMU or Duke. I was also banking on PJ's competitive spirit.

When I heard $2.3M per year, a part of me was disappointed in both PJ and D-Rad. However, when it was later clarified that the contract was for 7 years and "a little more than $11M", my faith was strengthened on two fronts. First, it clearly tells me that PJ truly is about the winning. He is truly interested in championships and not about the mighty dollar.

Check out what his AD at Navy had to say the day he learned PJ was resigning from Navy:

This is a job that Paul just wanted to take. It’s not a matter of anything we can do. We have already, over the last six years, expressed what the academy is all about. It has nothing to do with money. In the meantime, the overwhelming amount of emotion and support that was expressed as recently as the Army-Navy game was fresh on his mind. There’s not much you can say when you’ve been part of something as special as that… you can feel it, you can sense it, you can understand it because you’ve lived it. That experience, coupled with hours of discussion and rationalizing why he should stay, his justifying why he should stay or why he should leave. It all boils down, in my mind, to one thing: Paul has a personal ambition to prove to the college football community that he can succeed at the highest level. He believes the (Georgia Tech) job is the highest level. I happen to believe there is not a better job in the country than the one here at the United States Naval Academy. But we can debate that. This is about Paul. It’s not about houses or cars or dollars or total packages; it’s not about Annapolis or the beauty of the neighborhood; it’s not about the support, encouragements and enthusiasm of the fleet; it’s not about an institutional commitment from the Naval Academy. It’s about an ambition. Paul has to take his expertise and compete in a different arena. And I respect that, I truly do. I know Paul had a number of opportunities and I told him, this is the one I can understand. The other situations didn’t make sense. In his mind, this is about professional advancement. It ultimately boils down to what Paul Johnson wants for Paul Johnson and Paul wants that challenge. I can respect and appreciate that.

Reading that combined with his updated salary figures tells me a lot about Paul Johnson the man. You know, people will joke that we were only competing with SMU and Duke for the guy. However, this guy has had hundreds of opportunities to leave and he could have been at a high profile school already if he wanted. Make no mistake about that. Hey, while every coach in the country has a "" registered with their name, there aren't many coaches that have". PJ has two of those:

Now, in terms of deal-making, knowing that we were able to get PJ for about $1.6M per year strengthens my faith in Dan Radakovich. I said the day before we heard the numbers that we should not have to match SMU to get this guy........ and we didn't. We got him for lower than the going rate for BCS coaches, which seems to start at about $1.8M these days. So kudos to D-Rad for being prudent, playing his cards right, and getting the guy he wanted. Kudos to PJ for proving that you really are about the championships and winning games.

By the way, as we watch the public humiliation resulting from the hiring processes at Arkansas and Michigan, I can't help but say to myself - our guy did quite a job on this one. D-Rad fired Coach Gailey on a Monday and 11 days later announced he had hired his guy and he is one that fans have gotten excited about. Props to D-Rad.

By the way, Paul Johnson was NOT the highest paid employee in the federal gov. He was not an employee of the government, but an employee of the NAAA - their athletic dept - a private org.

If you follow any of the discussion boards, you are going to read so many rumors your head will spin. However, here's a fact - people just flat out lie to feel important. Then someone on another site reports that same news as if they broke it to feel important. The truth is that there is a lot of factual information that gets reported on boards, but discerning fact from fiction is a challenge and mostly a useless exercise.

So over the next, then month, then year, you are going to hear a lot of stories and rumors about de-commits, transfers, coaching departures - you name it. Take 99% of it with a grain of salt. Then throw out the other 1%.

New news from Navy - it appears that their current DC Buddy Green will stay and that their other top assistant Irvin Jasper will stay as well and be promoted to Navy's OC. He would have been a good one to come to Tech as QB coach, but looks like he just got a promotion.

At this point, it appears only slot backs coach Jeff Monken, wide receivers
coach Brian Bohannon and offensive line coach Todd Spencer will bolt for Georgia

The coaching staff should become clearer this week. Don't get your hopes up that Coach Tenuta stays, although it is a possibility. Don't get your hopes us that Giff Smith stays, although he probably will. Just don't get your hopes up too much about anything. It's a crazy life being an assistant coach, but we should know something pretty quick.

Apparently, PJ will be flying in Monday to the ATL, and will meet with the current Jackets staff. My guess is things will become clearer after that.

In addition, this is the last week for coaches to make off-campus visits, so PJ will be visiting key recruits this week.

So what is the attitude of our players as they prepare for the bowl game? I can't imagine that their focus is strong. Their world just got turned upside down and they finished finals. It had to be a crazy couple of weeks.

There is every reason to believe that the Jackets will get beat by Fresno State. ESPN talking heads all think so. What's it going to be ?

I had some interesting comments on Friday from fellow ACC people I work with. My former boss (Purdue grad but follows Clemson bigtime), came in to my office, shook my hand, and said "Congralations for having a team that will not accept anything less than the highest level of winning. He spouts off Tommy Bowdens record:

Years coached: 9
ACC title appearances: 0
ACC championships: 0
10 win seasons: 0
BCS Bowl appearances: 0
BCS Bowl wins: 0

He says "You guys just played for the ACC title last year and it wasn't good enough and you did something about it. You should be excited to root for a school like that". Now, what you have there is a frustrated Clemson fan.

Another Clemson grad was shaking his head a bit. While he thought PJ was a good hire, he can only imagine the guy moving the needle to maybe an average of 8 wins a year. Of course, an average of 8 could mean a few over 10. Of course, 8 wins a year sure means better bowls, and maybe, just maybe that extra win comes against you know who.

UGAg fans can't be feeling too good about the situation. They're not going to back down until we win a couple games against them (and rightly so). However, the guy who hasn't beat them in 6 years just left town. The applecart has been upset. Doesn't mean we'll win, but he sure can't do any worse and he has a nice track record against arch-rivals.

Well, as usual, you've got the "good cop, bad cop" routine.

Barndardt says PJ will get the job done - positive spin.
Bradley says PJ is the right fit for the Jackets- positive spin.

Then there is Jeff Schultz. I blasted a story he wrote a few weeks ago for spinning a scene in a lunchroom as a writing gimmick in order to convince Tech fans there was a spat between D-Rad and Gailey.

Then prior to Coach Gailey's firing, he wrote a story telling D-Rad to get on with it and let Gailey go - "What's left to evaluate? Make a decision and move on" he wrote.

Then after the firing, Schultz writes a story blasting the search process, blasting the candidates and shadowing the search as a desparate process to get anyone to even talk to the hiring committee:

The best-laid plans of Radakovich were supposed to go like this: Fire Chan
Gailey and quickly hire a replacement who would create excitement, buzz and
hope. Instead, the Georgia Tech athletics director may have been hit over the
head with the realization that the Yellow Jackets coaching job really isn’t all
that. Or any of that.

After painting Randy Edsell's departure from the process as a slap in the face, he says this about Paul Johnson:

Nothing against Paul Johnson. But he is just Paul Johnson. He is with Navy and
he was at Georgia Southern. That’s it. That’s the resume.

Then he makes it clear that there will be no buzz from Tech fans if PJ is hired:

The irony of waiting on Johnson is that he really doesn’t even fit the prototype
Radakovich laid out two weeks ago at his news conference. Johnson might be a
terrific football coach. But the buzz would have to come later, after the
winning. There’s no sense that the name or the personality of Paul Johnson is
going to sell.

I think it's clear he was wrong. There is buzz. Lots of buzz. It will always take winning to grow the buzz to the next level. Always. But Jeff, the fanbase seems pretty excited wouldn't you say?

Oh, but he's not done. Turns out PJ is hired, and Jeff sees the buzz and he knows he was wrong. However, instead of admitting his mistake he writes this little diddy, with his basic point being - hey, there's always excitement for a new coach when his record is 0-0. Get back to me after he's coached some games. Jeff basically sees it as his job to piss on the Jacket parade. Hey Jeff, thanks for this great insight and revelation:

Smiles. Applause. Hope. This is the way it works on hiring day. A coach is coming off resounding success elsewhere, then walks into the news conference at his next job, looking, sounding, and certainly is introduced as the cure for all that ails you.

Then comes the first game, and the smiles and applause either continue, or the opening kickoff bounces off your returner’s head, at which time the guy who made the hiring crawls under the nearest buffet table.

Meet Paul Johnson. Perfect choice. Start the clock.

Hey Jeff, thanks a bunch. Because if it weren't for you, we would've just stayed in our fantasy driven stupor, dreaming of national championships and titles. Thanks, because none of us really realized that winning games was important. Thanks for reminding us that results count and that he must win games to be successful. I totally forgot that.

For some reason, you just see your role as a writer to rain on our parade, to be the grumpy gus, to piss in our cornflakes. Oh, but you make sure to do it in a way that you think lets you off the hook. Heck, you even tried to use that angle in that latest article:

While Johnson wrestled with his next career move Thursday, I wrote about the Jackets’ protracted coaching search. It seemed odd that a Navy football coach would balk at taking the job, given his options: SMU, Duke, Navy. Predictably, the column struck a nerve in AngryBlogNation. There never was a suggestion that Tech shouldn’t hire Johnson, or that he could not or would not win. He gets what all new coaches get — a blank slate.

Jeff, what's predictable is that you are not using those journalism skills to do anything other than rile up the GT fanbase. If it was so predictable that you would anger blog nation, then why did you do it? Why did you blastr PJ's resume? Why did you do it?

You say PJ's only options were SMU, Duke and GT. Those are the ones you know about. What about the ones in prior years? What about all the ones you never heard about in the media.

What about the fact in the end, PJ took a lot less money than both SMU and Duke offered? Why didn't you pick the angle that I started this column with - that PJ took the GT job for less money because he was interested in one thing - championships. Isn't it noteworthy that he took less money? Doesn't that impress you? Wouldn't that make a good angle?

I guess at the end of the day, once again, you're trying to sell papers, and somehow that involves stirring things up. In that regard, you are one succesful journalist. Zero facts. Zero insight. Zero quotes. Lots of BS. Congrats. Grab your paycheck and look for the next opprotunity. I would say there's probably plenty of good material with Coach Hewitt. Maybe you could kick off the anti-Hewitt campaign. I mean, I bet you've seen D-Rad and Coach Hewitt pass each other in a hallway without smiling. Surely that must mean something? Let us know what you think.

Not sure why I wasted so much time on that, but it's done. I think I'll go take a shower. I feel dirty.