Tag Archives: Georgia Tech

Retract of a Retract, Paul Johnson MUST Go. No, Really

The last few weeks have put me back on the fire Paul Johnson train, and really, I never should have gotten off. I was blinded by the bright lights and shiny objects that were distracting us from the truth of this program while we beat Georgia and won the Orange Bowl.

Most defenses of Paul Johnson begin with bringing up the ACC championship in 2009, the two victories against Georgia (one of which occurred in 2008), and the trio of 9 win seasons culminating in a top 25 post season ranking (Two of which came in 2008 & 2009) during his tenure.

That’s wonderful. Except this is college football, where once the players under the old coaching staff leave, they must be replaced by those of your choosing. You cook and buy the groceries in college football. Being able to make gourmet meals out of what someone else brought into the kitchen is nice. But then what? What do you do when you have to buy the groceries and then make the meals? Being the sous chef in someone else’s kitchen is one thing. Running the show yourself is a different ballgame.

And what we’ve found is Paul Johnson does a fabulous job of taking someone else’s ingredients and preparing them in ways far superior to what his predecessor managed to accomplish. We’ve also found that when Paul Johnson buys the ingredients himself, he can’t prepare anything above a mediocre meal found at Applebee’s.

The numbers, simply put, do not lie. When Paul Johnson arrived at Georgia Tech he inherited a pretty talented roster thanks to Chan Gailey’s ability to recruit due to his NFL background and the fact that Tech was one of the upper echelon programs in the ACC. For the first two years of his tenure with guys like Demaryius Thomas, Jonathan Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt, Roddy Jones, Derrick Morgan, Mario Butler and Morgan Burnett, everything was roses, or oranges, as Tech not only snapped a seven-year losing streak to Georgia in year one under Paul Johnson, but also won an ACC championship in year two as they compiled a 20-7 overall record and went 12-4 in the ACC, with the victory over Clemson in the ACC championship game.

But something happened after that. Those players that Gailey recruited were leaving. The cupboard was bare of the talent brought in by Gailey and Paul Johnson was going to have to rely on his own players going forward. To say the results have taken a nosedive off the cliff would be a slight understatement.
Just consider his numbers since beating Clemson in the 2009 ACC Championship game (which, really, doesn’t actually even count anymore, just to throw even more fuel on that fire) in Tampa.

Overall Record: 41-33

Record vs ACC: 25-15 (two ACCCG losses to Florida State)

Record vs FBS Opponents: 34-32

Record vs Power 5 (ND/BYU): 29-31

This does include the first six games of the 2015 campaign, which, with any reasonable look at the next six games and at best one could see Georgia Tech going 3-3 in those games, with the distinct possibility of going 0-6 being a legitimate fear. But yep, you’re reading that right. Against the big boys of college football, the teams that really matter, Paul Johnson, since winning the ACC championship with Chan Gailey’s players, including the Orange Bowl loss to Iowa that season, is two games under .500 against Power 5 teams and BYU and Notre Dame.

And lets not forget who some of these losses came against. There was the loss in 2010 to a Kansas team that is the definition of atrocious program, and finished 3-9 that season. Both BYU losses came against a Cougars team that wound up 8-5. And of course there’s the real kicker, the blowout loss to Middle Tennessee State in 2012. And no, this wasn’t a Middle Tennessee State team that was a mid major school having a banner year. The Blue Raiders went 8-4 that season and lost to Louisiana Monroe and Arkansas State.

And the rivals?

vs Miami: 1-4

vs Virginia Tech: 1-4

vs Clemson: 2-4

vs Georgia: 1-4

And these numbers of course INCLUDE the 11-3 record in 2014 that looks more and more like an anomaly. Can you imagine what these numbers would look like if for giggles we just ignored them (which, you should ignore the outlier when analyzing statistics) and took them out of the equation? Well, imagine no more.

Overall Record: 30-30

Record vs ACC: 19-13

Record vs FBS Opponents: 24-29

Record vs Power 5 (ND/BYU): 21-28

Not to mention, wipe out the only wins against Georgia, Virginia Tech and Miami.

If you look back at Georgia Tech’s recent coaching history, all of it since Bobby Dodd, actually, you can see that Johnson really doesn’t compare all that favorably to the better names on that list. In his first seven seasons Johnson has had three six loss campaigns. Only William Alexander and Bud Carson have more, and once the Jackets drop their sixth game this year, Johnson will tie Carson for the second most six loss seasons in school history. And he’ll have done it in just 8 years on the job by accomplishing the feat in half the seasons he’s been on The Flats.

But perhaps even more noteworthy is to look at when the six loss seasons occur. Bill Curry lost six or more games three times while he was at Georgia Tech, but remember he went 2-19-1 in his first new years getting the program out of Pepper Rodgers’ wishbone offense (that’s what we have to look forward to once Johnson is finally let go, but that’s an entirely different animal to approach altogether), giving him 2 six loss seasons in his first two years while inheriting someone else’s players and installing his system. Curry won 29 games over the next five seasons (not a remarkable record, by any means) and only had 1 six loss season over his final five years.

Bobby Ross came in to inherit what Curry had left behind and the Jackets promptly went 5-17 in his first two years at the helm. They wouldn’t lose six games in a season again under Ross.

We’re just going to skip Bill Lewis because, well, can’t we just skip the Bill Lewis era? Let’s move onto his replacement, coming into a giant mess. George O’Leary inherited a team that had just gone 1-10, winless against Division 1-A (FBS) competition the year before. O’Leary would start his career at Tech by going 11-11. And having the only six loss season of his tenure.

Chan Gailey arrived in 2002, and as many coaches are prone to do, came with his own system. While using his predecessor’s players, Gailey lost six games in each of his first two seasons. He only lost six in a season once in his final four years at the helm.

And that brings us to Johnson. Johnson comes in, takes over Gailey’s players and wins 20 games. Remarkable. It certainly showed Chan could recruit. The problem is, whereas most coaches start to see more success once they have their players in their system, at leas the successful coaches do, Johnson has done the opposite. He’s reversed the trend. The more of his players he got, the worse the program became. Johnson’s six loss seasons have come in year 3, 5, and 6. And his fourth is going to come in year 8. That would be 4 six loss seasons in six years. The six years after the two transition years where you expect most coaches to struggle the most.

And yet, people will vehemently defend the employment of Paul Johnson. It’s astonishing, really.

One argument people will make is that the 2014 season was one of the greatest seasons in school history. Well, if you consider one of the 25 best seasons in school history to be that big of an accomplishment, then okay. After all, there was no conference championship and there was no national championship. 11 games were indeed won, by playing 14. The winning percentage of the 2014 team was only the 24th best in school history. I’m sure some of Heisman’s, Alexander’s and Dodd’s, even Ross’ and O’Leary’s teams could have benefited from playing an extra game against a patsy to bolster the record. So, you know, the whole double-digit win thing doesn’t really do much for me.

Seven different times Georgia Tech posted a higher winning percentage than it did in 2014 AND won a major bowl game. Take into account two bowl losses and that number moves to nine. And that does NOT include the national championship seasons of 1917 and 1990. So even if you REALLY stretch it out, even with your best argument, 2014 barely makes it into the top ten of Georgia Tech seasons. So, lay off the kool-aid like Johnson had the most amazing year the school has ever seen.

And we can also conveniently ignore the fact that 2015 is shaping up to be one of the worst years in school history. Should Tech manage two more victories and finish 4-8, that will be the 100th best winning percentage in school history. That would mean only 14 years were worse. I think that kind of cancels out 2014. Never mind that I’m not sure I even see two more wins on this schedule. So, if your argument is centered around how great 2014 was, you can stop there.

Others will point to the three trips to the ACC championship game. I’m just going to say right now, if you, in any way, use the 2012 season to argue why Paul Johnson should be here, you probably should never speak about the game of football again; Except to say, “I don’t know anything about football.” Yet, in a season where we only made the conference title game because TWO teams in front of us were ineligible, and a year in which we had to seek a special waiver to make a bowl game because we finished the year 6-7, with only five wins against FBS opponents, people will point to our “bowl streak” and our two trips to the ACC title game in the past three years as reasons Paul Johnson should stay. I suppose fans like that actually deserve the mediocrity of Paul Johnson.

The difference in the mindset of the fan bases in Athens and Atlanta is amazing, when you think about it. Georgia Tech goes 11-3, follows it up with a 2-4 start, and fans are still beating the Paul Johnson drum like Mark Richt beats Paul Johnson. Meanwhile in Athens, despite a 4-2 start following a 10-3 season and top ten final ranking, fans are once again calling for Mark Richt’s head. Baffling, isn’t it?

Maybe Paul Johnson is the genius after all. He manages to be mediocre year after year, yet he takes advantage of the insecurities and inferiority complex within the Georgia Tech athletic department that result in their willingness to hand out silly contract extensions to any coach who ever does anything remotely good.

What happens at Georgia Tech is the Georgia Tech athletic department becomes that guy who is love struck by someone he ultimately can do much better than. And finally, just as that guy decides he’s got to break the news to her that he’s going to have to move on from the relationship, Paul Johnson becomes that girl that gives you the best sex of your life and the next thing you know, you’re at Shane Company’s newest location in Kennesaw buying an engagement ring.

This isn’t to bash Paul Johnson, or to say he’s the worst thing to ever happen to Georgia Tech. He’s a fantastic chef who can take someone else’s ingredients and do amazing work with them. But when asked to buy his own groceries, the meals he turns out are pedestrian, at best. Occasionally he’ll stumble upon something great that makes you give him a second chance running the restaurant. At this point, it’s time to cut bait and find someone who can consistently produce a better product, it’s just that simple.

Even if Johnson somehow wins 3 of the final 6 games this year, the bowl streak would come to an end. Even more interesting would be that over the last six seasons of his tenure at Tech, Johnson will have amassed 44 wins.

Chan Gailey’s career win total at Georgia Tech before being fired after six seasons?



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Filed under Coaches on Hot Seat, College Football, Fire Coaches, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

I Was Flat Wrong

You all know how much I love being wrong. Oh, wait, that must be someone else. I hate being wrong. I hate it more than just about anything. I hate being wrong so much I’ve become very good at not being wrong. No, that’s not me being arrogant, it’s just that in most cases, I try not to open my mouth and say anything unless I know for certain that I am right, or feel very, very strongly about my opinion and have something factual to put behind it. It’s also because even if I am wrong, often I can still convince the other party that I’m not. This I deem both a phenomenal gift, but an even deadlier curse. Anyway, I digress.

When it comes to Paul Johnson…..

Yes, Paul, it's all gravy now. You got me. I was wrong. Way wrong.

Yes, Paul, it’s all gravy now. You got me. I was wrong. Way wrong.

I was flat wrong.

No two ways about it. Shove this crow down my face, I have earned it. Boil it, fry it, stew it, whatever you want to do it, I’ll take it. And I’ll take it with a smile on my face. See, I do HATE being wrong. But I like winning a little bit more than I like being right. This is a trade-off I’m okay with.

I’ve been calling for Johnson’s job for over two years now. I think the Labor Day game against Virginia Tech and the atrocious in game strategy is when I decided I didn’t want him around anymore. And once I came to that conclusion I went looking for other reasons to validate such a stance. And I found them. Oh, boy did I find them. I found plenty. From his gruff personality, to the way he sometimes treats his players, and even the media, to his in game decisions on 4th down, to his recruiting, I found plenty of reasons he should not be the head football coach at Georgia Tech. The horrible quarterback play at an offense so dependent on a good quarterback, and the only one that he ever had that could run the offense beautifully was a guy he didn’t even recruit. The defense, it could never excel under Paul Johnson (which I’ve explained my theory on this). And then there was the record. The record that reeked of mediocrity. The same mediocrity that got Chan Gailey fired. Oh, sure, we were still the second best program in the Coastal, which, if you had told me would be the case when he was hired, I’d been on board. But today, being a superior program to Miami just doesn’t have the same pizzazz it once did.

After getting beat by Ole Miss in the bowl game last year, and subsequently seeing the starting quarterback transfer to James Madison, I thought, there’s no way he comes back after 2014. Absolutely no way. And that’s perfectly fine by me.

Then we struggled to beat Wofford.

After that we needed a late game comeback to survive Georgia Southern.

Yep, Paul Johnson has to go. The Virginia Tech win was a nice surprise, and the record was pretty, but I was still skeptical. And Virginia Tech and their inability to score a touchdown against Wake Forest later on this year proved such skepticism was alright.

But then came Miami, where we physically dominated the Miami Hurricanes, a team with supposedly far more talent, and far more athletes. I started drinking the kool-aid. I started thinking, hey, we might be on to something here.

Then the Paul Johnson led Yellow Jackets that I expected when the year began returned. In August, I honestly thought we’d struggle to win five games and make a bowl, and I thought our only shot at avoiding last place in our division was to beat Virginia. My expectations were low.

I was at Bobby Dodd Stadium for the debacle against Duke where the body of Justin Thomas was replaced by Reggie Ball. I watched against North Carolina as the 1999 Georgia Tech defense re-emerged and watched as they sat helplessly by as our ACC championship hopes that I had been tricked into believing were a real thing, seemed to vanish.

Something happened after that North Carolina game though. Paul Johnson proved his worth as a coach.

Four weeks. Four wins. None by fewer than 22 points. In back to back ACC road games the Jackets hung 56 on an opponent, doubling up Pittsburgh, and doing even more than that against North Carolina State. In between, a thoroughly dominating 35-10 victory against Virginia. Still though, even at 8-2, the season felt empty. The loss to the two squads in blue from the state of North Carolina stung. We still had Clemson and Georgia left, 8-4 was still very possible. In fact, needing Duke to lose twice to win the division, 8-4 seemed far, far more likely than going to Charlotte to play Florida State.

And Paul Johnson kept coaching. Did the injury to Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson help? Well, it didn’t hurt. Regardless, any time you whip Clemson 28-6, you feel good about yourself. Add to that, a 9th win, when I wondered if we would even get to six, no complaints here.

That afternoon Virginia Tech rose from the ashes, took advantage of a shocking miss by a reliable Duke field goal kicker and suddenly, suddenly there was a chance.

A week before Thanksgiving North Carolina went out and endeared themselves to Tech fans everywhere, absolutely steam rolling Duke, sending the Jackets to Charlotte for the third time in the past seven years. Not exactly bad for a guy I wanted fired.

There was still the matter of the Georgia game though before that. And in the second half, much like against Miami, Georgia Tech took a bigger, more talented, more gifted physically football team, and whipped them. Yes, the game went into overtime, yes it was a thrilling contest. But in the second half of that football game, the Yellow Jackets physically dominated. They did what well coached teams who play hard, play physical, an execute did. They whipped a physically superior bunch.

So this Saturday night, in about 33 hours, Georgia Tech will take on another physically superior football team. Will the results be the same? Who knows.

But whatever the results are, if you’d told me in August we’d be playing unbeaten, and defending national champion Florida State for an ACC championship, with an Orange Bowl pretty much already ensured at 10-2 (and I’ll just ignore that somehow, that it would require an act of God, we actually still have a fleeting chance at playing for the national championship), having beat Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson, AND Georgia, I’d have called that beyond a dream season. In fact, that goes so far beyond anything I could have dreamed up, I probably would have suggested you admit yourself into a mental institution.

But beyond that, regardless the results Saturday night, Paul Johnson proved me wrong.

I think I want you stay. I’m sorry. Forgive me, please?

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We do it for…


For every non Braves fan who thinks it’s a racist hand thing, and for the Braves who become sick when they hear the chop now, we do it for you.

For the Eagles who couldn’t make a 43 yard field goal,

For Miami, who choked a huge lead away,

For Clemson, who couldn’t be beat in regulation, but could in extra time,

For Louisville, teased by the mob,

For Notre Dame and curious offensive pass interference calls, we do it for you.

For Savannah State, who never should’ve endured such humiliation,

For Florida who had to have Will Muschamp,

For Mark Richt, we do it for you.

For Jordan Lynch and your career ending that way,

For Joe Hamilton who should’ve had a Heisman,

For Calvin Johnson having to endure Reggie Ball, costing you a Heisman too,

For Reggie Bush having to give his Heisman back, we do it for you.

For every Tar Heel or Auburn fan who has heard a program like Florida State take shots at your program,

For the programs who don’t just say they have integrity, we do it for you.

For people who hate Danny Kannell and his SEC hatred,

For Dillard’s,

For every Publix, or Kroger, or Food Depot who has been stolen from, we do it for you.

For the kid who is told he can play on defense but wants the ball, to play quarterback even, we do it for you.

For so called basketball schools,

For Vanderbilt and Northwestern, we do it for you.

For all who have been called a nerd,

For the forty year old virgins, we do it for you.

For those who hate the Florida State fan with Cowboys hat and Yankees jacket, we do it for you.

For those sick of seeing them squeak by everyone, we do it for you

For any girl who said no and nobody listened, we do it for you.

America! We do it for you!

But most of all, for you desperate for a magical moment sports fans in the state of Georgia, we do it for you.

More than that, for you cursed Atlantans, we do this for US!



I’m a ramblin’ wreck from…

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Your College Football Viewing Guide

Early Games

1. Oklahoma vs Texas 12:00 ABC

This is THE game this weekend, per many of the national media experts and pundits. Personally, I’m not sure I’m drinking the kool-aid. I don’t particularly find Texas a very impressive football team. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong this Saturday afternoon, but I would actually be very surprised if they were able to play with Oklahoma for four quarters.

That said, it’s still the Red River Shootout, it’s still a rivalry game, and it’s still two of the nations most polarizing programs. So it clearly takes the cake as the early game to watch on Saturday.

Who knows, the Texas pass defense has been outstanding this year, will it be enough to slow down the prolific Oklahoma passing attack led by Landry Jones? It’s going to have to be. Otherwise Oklahoma will win this one going away.

2. Maryland at Georgia Tech 12:00 ESPNU

Maryland has one of the weaker run defenses in college football, while Georgia Tech possesses one of the most dynamic ground attacks in recent memory. You put the two together and we should see quite a few points put up by the Yellow Jackets.

The question will be how many will they allow Maryland? Since their season opening victory over Miami the Terps have been anything but impressive. They scored a mere 7 points against Temple, and only 28 against the mighty Towson Tigers. They will certainly need far more than that to keep pace with the Yellow Jackets. Don’t count on it. Expect Tech to creep closer to the top ten this week.

3. Florida State at Wake Forest 12:30 ACC Network

The Florida State national title campaign is no longer in play, but the Seminoles still are hoping to contend for the ACC. Granted, Clemson getting past Virginia Tech puts Florida State in a very unenviable position in still needing two more Clemson losses.

First things first though, Florida State needs to take care of a Wake Forest team who is an overtime loss to Syracuse away from being unbeaten themselves. The Demon Deacons have shown an ability to fling the football all over the field, throwing for 316 yards per game. Having seen what Clemson’s attack did to Florida State’s defense, Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price has to like his chances to put up some points.

E.J. Manuel though will be back at the helm for Florida State, and that might be the difference that elevates Florida State past Wake Forest. However, a loss, which is possible on the road, would leave the ‘Noles below .500, and leave fans realizing Florida State may still be a lot further away from being “back” than they thought when the season began.

Kentucky at South Carolina 12:00 SEC Network

Connor Shaw takes over for the beleaguered Stephen Garcia at quarterback for South Carolina, but it really shouldn’t make much of a difference. Kentucky is a really bad football team who faces serious offensive challenges. Yes, the Gamecocks might still be suffering a late down from blowing their 4th quarter lead against Auburn last week, but it shouldn’t keep them from easily disposing of a bad Kentucky team.

Louisville at North Carolina 12:00 ESPN2

The Tar Heels will look to move to 5-1 by taking on a Louisville team that has losses to Florida International and Marshall. The Cardinals are one of the worst offenses in the country, and going up against North Carolina’s front seven doesn’t figure to cure what ails Louisville. Expect the Heels to roll, and possibly make an appearance in the top 25 next Monday.

Afternoon Games

1. Florida at LSU 3:30 CBS

This one tops the list for reasons similar to Oklahoma and Texas being the must see game of the early games. It’s simply put, two huge programs going at each other. The problem is, it’s not two equal teams.

With Jeff Brantley out, the LSU defense is absolutely salivating at the thought of welcoming a young freshmen quarterback who looked completely lost and out of place at home last weekend against Alabama. Jeff Driskell should be better than he was a week ago, but that won’t be enough.

The Tiger defense is downright nasty, and Tiger Stadium isn’t the place for a freshmen to make his first start. The Gators will be lucky to make this a competitive game in the 2nd half, and a loss here will leave their SEC title hopes on life support, as they still have to play Georgia and South Carolina.

For LSU it seems more and more like theirs is a one game season, the Alabama game. This tilt with the Gators should not be anything more than a small speed bump on their way to an epic showdown with the Tide.

2. Miami at Virginia Tech 3:30 ABC

The Miami Hurricanes season quite possibly hangs in the balance in this matchup with Virginia Tech. The Hokies were the chic pick to win the ACC, but have been less than impressive thus far in 2011. The loss to Clemson last week seemed to bring to light the fears Hokies fans may have had about their team.

Offensively they could do nothing right, and while they weren’t bad defensively, they weren’t good enough to keep their team in the game.

The key will be which Jacory Harris shows up. If it’s the good Jacory Harris, Miami has a real chance to steal an upset victory and re-enter the ACC title race, despite their early season troubles.

However, if Harris doesn’t play well and the Miami offense can’t get them a lead early, the lack of confidence permeating throughout the Miami program and team could spell trouble for the Hurricanes, and Miami could find itself at the very bottom of the ACC before the second week of October gets here.

3. Air Force at Notre Dame 3:30 NBC

Notre Dame is arguably a far better football team than their 3-2 record would indicate. Turnovers are killer, and nobody knows this quite like Brian Kelly’s Irish squad.

Defensively Notre Dame has held their last three opponents to 13 points or fewer, so the defense has begun to turn things around lately as well.

However, if there’s one thing the Irish are susceptible to it’s a lack of discipline. And a lack of discipline can get you hurt badly by an option offense such as the one Air Force runs. If Notre Dame can avoid defensive lapses, and protect the football, the Irish should win, and win easily.

But that’s a couple large ifs, ifs I’m not sure Notre Dame is ready to consistently answer to.

Arizona State at Utah 3:30 FSN

The Sun Devils have separated themselves from the rest of the Pac-12 south crowd, however, if there’s one serious hurdle for them to clear, it’s likely going to be the Utes of Utah.

Utah gave USC all they could handle in a losing effort, but the Utes are still 0-2 and seeking their first conference win. Playing at home could be a huge benefit for the Utes, so don’t expect Arizona State to just march through them like they aren’t there. However, do expect the Sun Devils to move to 3-0 and further elevate themselves in the Pac-12 race.

Iowa at Penn State 3:30 ESPN

With home games looming against Northwestern and Indiana, followed by a road trip to Minnesota, this game is exceptionally huge for Iowa. A win here, and it’s extremely likely they will enter the Michigan game at 7-1 with an unblemished Big Ten mark and find themselves squarely in place to contend for a division title.

Penn State owns one of the best defenses in all of college football and they know they need all the early season wins they can get. They close the season with the likes of Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The possibility exists, that despite the greatness of their defense, the Nittany Lions could lose their final four games. Having already been beaten by Alabama, a loss to Iowa could leave Penn State staring down the barrel of a .500 season.

Night Games

1. Auburn at Arkansas 7:00 ESPN

Auburn’s surprising victory over South Carolina last week in Columbia enabled the Tigers to serve notice they’re still going to have something to say about who wins the SEC West. That said, the task this weekend may be even tougher.

Auburn’s defensive shortcomings are no secret, and only the ineptitude of South Carolina’s offense was able to mask them last week. Arkansas does not suffer from a lack of offense and will force the Tigers to try and keep up in what should be a high scoring affair.

Arkansas thrashing at the hands of Alabama may have made them the forgotten team in the SEC West race, but a victory over Auburn would enable them to keep hope alive. A home loss though to the Tigers and Arkansas’s season will be off the tracks before the weather turns cold.

2. Georgia at Tennessee 7:00 ESPN2

The Auburn victory over South Carolina coupled with the Alabama throttling of Florida was the perfect medicine for Georgia. Georgia now enters the rest of their SEC slate in a great position to still win the SEC East.

However, losing in Knoxville would end those dreams just as quickly as they flared back up. Georgia is still a young team, and playing on the road in Knoxville will not be an easy task for a team that is remarkably inconsistent from quarter to quarter.

The Georgia defense has shown great improvement under Todd Grantham, and will almost surely make Tennessee one dimensional. If Georgia can get out to an early lead they will be able to unleash the pass rush on the Volunteers and ultimately pull away.

However, if Georgia’s forced to try to use their offense to play catch up at any point to Tennessee, that may be a task too daunting.

3. Ohio State at Nebraska 8:00 ABC

The Buckeyes are quickly becoming a major dumpster fire, and it will likely get worse this week on the road against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are one ticked off bunch after the egg they laid against Wisconsin. They know their Big Ten championship hopes can ill afford another loss, so expect a fired up Nebraska squad to come out to the “Sea of Red”.

As for Ohio State, their season has already begun to see the wheels fall of, and it figures to get worse. The mess that has become their athletic department has certainly trickled down to the on field product as well. With Illinois on the road, and Wisconsin to follow, the Buckeyes mess may just be beginning.

Texas A&M at Texas Tech 7:00 FX

The Aggies desperately want to get back in the win column, suffering consecutive close losses to Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Both are fine teams in their own right, and there is no shame in losing to either team. However, for A&M, the fear of a hangover from two tough losses is very real, and it’s amplified by the fact that they are on the road in a conference game.

Texas Tech is a quiet 4-0, perhaps it’s because they weren’t exactly impressive in their wins over Nevada and Kansas, but 4-0 is still 4-0, and the offense is still averaging over 47 points per game. They’re probably going to need all 47 to hang with Texas A&M, but a victory over the Aggies would be a huge boost for Tommy Tubberville’s team.

TCU at San Diego State 10:30 CBS College Network

The Aztecs don’t just have goals of making a bowl this season, they firmly expect to compete for a conference title. TCU’s loss to SMU further illustrated that these Horned Frogs aren’t the same ones of years past, and aside from Boise State, leaves an open space at the top of the Mountain West conference.

With Boise positioned for a BCS bowl bid, the number two team in the Mountain West could be primed to slide into their place in the bowl pecking order. A win at home over TCU would point San Diego State in the right direction and serve notice to Boise that there fiercest competition might just be from southern California.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Sports

Hawks, the Worst Team I’ve Ever Cared About

I’ve lived in Atlanta all of my life, safe to say, I’ve seen some really, really bad sports teams. However, the 2010-2011 basketball season is shaping up to take the cake.

While I won’t touch too much on them, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were easily one of the worst major conference teams in all of college basketball. Hell, as evidenced by their loss to Kennesaw State early on in the season, they were simply one of the worst teams in the nation, period. But that story has been told.

There is a basketball story that reeks of far more ineptitude and sadness than the Georgia Tech story does. It’s the story of the Atlanta Hawks.

As has been stated, I’m an Atlanta sports team, I’ve seen plenty of horrible sports teams. The Falcons, until the Arthur Blank era, were putrid. The Atlanta Braves were a wreck throughout the 80s, and had a rough spell lately before rebounding the past two years. I won’t even start with the Thrashers.

However, this Hawks team may very well be the most disappointing, and disgusting, sports team I’ve ever watched.

Yes, they are still in 5th place in their conference. Yes, they are returning to the playoffs for a fourth straight year. Okay, and?

They also are the holders of the three worst home losses suffered by an NBA team this year. Yes, you heard that correctly. The same Hawks team that once made Philips Arena a very difficult place to play, to the tune of just a mere seven home losses ALL of last year. They’ve managed to lose 6 in the past 18 days.

This is a team with an All-Star at guard, an All-Star in the post who might be the 2nd best such player in his conference at his position (and that is while playing out of position), an all-star talent at the other forward position (who ultimately, is a microcosm of all things wrong with this team), the reigning Sixth Man of the Year winner, and a former number two draft pick. They have a young, fast, defensive minded, explosive point guard, and off the bench some veterans with some playoff experience. Yet, no team in the league loses in such brutal ways as often as these Hawks do.

Please, someone explain.

Here’s what I’ll explain, blow it up. All of it. There are the positives to this collection of players as mentioned before, but there are a lot of negatives too.

I’ve addressed the issues with Josh Smith, and they only seem to be manifesting, and even spreading to other players on the team. His disease is infecting the rest of this squad, and making him a captain prior to the year only made it even easier to immediately get to the heart of the squad.

Joe Johnson, well, I’d prefer not to speak about him. His contract given appears more and more each day as one of the worst contracts handed out in Atlanta professional sports history. He still dominates the ball too much. People can argue his assists are up, ok sure, I still see too many possessions consist strictly of Joe Johnson dominating the basketball. J.J., there is no “M” as your first initial, quit thinking there is.  Hopefully the impending labor strife with the NBA and new CBA will rescue the Hawks from themselves here. If there was a way to be rid of this contract, the Hawks would be dumber than even I think they are not to explore it.

Marvin Williams is a nice player, but he will never, ever, ever, be worthy of his number two overall pick. And this is only magnified considering the caliber of player drafted behind him. What’s worse for Atlanta, his trade value has only decreased. The day his contract becomes an expiring contract will be a day of much rejoicing in Atlanta, if of course management makes proper use of such an early get out of jail free card.

Jeff Teague must just be the worst practice player since Allen Iverson. Seriously, can anyone else explain the baffling decision of Larry Drew to play him so sparingly, and inconsistently. Isn’t it just common knowledge that sometimes you have to go through growing pains with young players, take the good with the bad? We don’t get to see much good with Teague because his opportunities come so infrequently. When he does get on the court, we’ve seen him put it all together at times with magnificent games, and at others, seen the obvious talent, athleticism, and skill set that could make him a very solid NBA point guard come in flashes.

Apparently in practice he just looks like Jordan Crawford or something.

Oh, wait, Jordan Crawford, the rookie that Larry Drew refused to play, despite having a team that struggles to put the ball in the basket, who averaged 24 points per game in his last three games as a starter in Washington, that Jordan Crawford? Oh, yeah, about that….

Sure, there’s Al Horford, but really, what is he? Other than perhaps the most under-used, most out of position played, elite NBA player in recent memory? He’s still stuck at center, and he’s still one of the last options for the Hawks offense. Never mind the fact that he’s arguably the Hawks best offensive player, he’s far down the list on the pecking order. Joe has to get his, Josh Smith is going to take his, and from less than desirable spots on the floor, and then Jamal Crawford is going to come in and want his. So who cares if Horford is in the process of going 6 for 7 from the field, those other guys need to be shooting their jump shots.

Al Horford has become the really pretty soap in your grandparents bathroom that you’re not allowed to actually use.

As for Larry Drew? Well, I just thought Paul Hewitt was bad. Yikes.

This isn’t a team who suffered a catastrophic injury (such as Jamal Anderson or Michael Vick for the Falcons), or who suffered through some horrible injury luck to their entire team (the 2008 Braves) or just a roster devoid of talent. This is a team that’s been relatively healthy, has been together to grow together for a few years, and has plenty of talent. Yet it has managed to embarrass this city in ways not seen since the summer of 1996.

For all of the individual talents, and the positive things each can bring, there are the negative aspects to this collection of talented players. And therein lies the problem, this collection of players just simply will not work. It will never work. The sooner they give up on that, the better.

The worst part however is that I don’t think they even really care. The Hawks teams of the 80s, and then the one of the mid 90s were a similar bunch. A good team, but not a great team. They couldn’t ever quite get completely over the hump. However, you rarely, RARELY found yourself questioning the desire and effort of those teams. The same can’t be said of this bunch, and that is the difference, and that is reason number one to find the self destruct button and send these pieces scattering around the league.

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Paul Hewitt Cannot Return

I had a really nice, long, well thought out piece planned on the absolutely atrocious ineptitude of Paul Hewitt, but all that did was annoy me, so I decided to make it shorter, and hopefully sweeter.

In short, Paul Hewitt can return to Georgia Tech for a 12th season. He just can’t. Not if we are to believe Georgia Tech athletics actually care about winning something besides football.

Sure, Paul Hewitt coached this team to a national final, a chance at a national championship. But in reality, we all know the truth, Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum took that team to the final. Looking back on that team, they should have been better than they were. There were a lot of games lost during the regular season during their two year run that better coached teams don’t lose.

The year following the magical run to San Antonio, remember, Tech started the year ranked third in the nation, then went on to finish just .500 in ACC play and lose in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Yes, a team that just a year ago was playing for a national championship, and returning most of it’s key contributors, and was arguably MORE talented found a way to lose MORE games.

Of course it should be noted, the Final Four team managed to barely finish above .500 themselves in league play, at a pedestrian 9-7.

Take for a minute, will you, and examine the number of regular season wins in ACC play for Paul Hewitt’s Yellow Jackets during his tenure, leading up to this, his 11th season. Beginning with the 2000-2001 season, Tech’s ACC win total reads as follows: 8, 7, 7, 9, 8, 4, 8, 7, 2 and 7. Ten years, only once did Hewitt finish above .500.

Perhaps Hewitt should ask Chan Gailey what a bunch of .500 ACC seasons did him. Ask Mark Richt what one or two .500 or worse conference play years did for his place in the eyes of Georgia faithful.

Think about that again, TEN years, one time above .500, and even then, it was simply 9-7. And yet this man is still employed? Tech’s listless performance in Blacksburg gave this year’s squad their seventh ACC loss, ensuring their 10th year in 11 where they will fail to win more than they lose in ACC play.

And again, this man is employed? 67-93. Just let that soak in, 67-93. That’s a winning percentage of .419. Who in the world of sports today keeps a job with a winning percentage of .400? Who keeps a job anywhere with a track record like this? We aren’t talking about a blip of two bad years where the winning percentage drops. This is over ten years.

Even prayer hasn't allowed Paul Hewitt to avoid losing 60% of his ACC games

In ten years he’s had six full recruiting classes come and go. And he’s got a .419 winning percentage. We aren’t looking at a small sample size here. Paul Hewitt is actually one of the longer tenured coaches in the nation outside of the holy trinity of coaches of guys like Calhoun, Boheim, Izzo, and Krzyzewski.

And it’s not been for a lack of talent, either. Chris Bosh? You heard of him? He played for Georgia Tech. Didn’t even play in an NCAA tournament game.

Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum have both gone on to play in the NBA, and Anthony Morrow has become one of the NBA’s best three point shooters, yet together they couldn’t win more than eight ACC games in 2005.

Point guard Javaris Crittenton and forward Thaddeus Young were both selected in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft. NCAA tournament wins? Zero.

Derrick Favors just went third in the NBA draft, fellow forward Gani Lawal was also drafted. Yet, despite being teamed with guys like Brian Oliver, Glen Rice Jr, and Iman Shumpert, they couldn’t finish above .500 in the ACC.

Shumpert will surely be drafted, as he’s quite possibly one of the most underrated players in college basketball. Unfortunately he’s trapped in the obscurity of playing for Georgia Tech, and he’s even worse, hampered by the inability of Paul Hewitt to create any type of offense that is able to work consistently.

But Paul Hewitt is still employed. He loses 60% of his games, and now the school wants to make $45 million renovations to the arena in which he does his wretched work? How do you sell that to a fan base and alumni? I know we really stink, and I know we are keeping the man responsible for our futility, but we need $30 million dollars so we can give him a better place in which to work. Yeah, sounds like an excellent plan.

There can be an argument made that Paul Hewitt is the worst division one college basketball coach in the nation, and very little argument can be made that’s he’s not at least in the bottom 30. Besides, anyone who is deemed a bigger failure than Hewitt surely has not been employed for over a decade.

And it’s not as if there’s any reason to believe things are going to get better. As of today, over the last three plus years, Tech is an atrocious 16-42 in ACC play. Yes, you read that correctly.

Remember that winning percentage of .419 I was talking about for his career? Well, that’s a shining mark considering what he’s been in the last third of his tenure. The number has dropped to .276, and with the way this current team has been playing, it’s going to continue to drop.

I wonder how long Paul Johnson would have his job if over four years Johnson went 8-24 in ACC play, which would be a similar mark to what Hewitt has compiled. My guess is, not very long. In fact, my guess is that Johnson wouldn’t be around long enough to compile such futility.

It’s also probably worth noting, Bobby Cremins, now at College of Charleston, is 63-27 in conference play since taking over in 2006-2007, with only one fewer NCAA tournament victory than Paul Hewitt in that span.

If Georgia Tech cares anything about basketball, and anything about not asking for money to support a program they clearly don’t support themselves, Paul Hewitt needs to go, the day after his team makes a quick exit from the ACC tournament.

Wow, it appears my Hewitt rant went as long as his career has gone.

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