Monday, April 21, 2014

How Georgia, Georgia Tech Are Like Alabama, Auburn

Or for the college basketball flavor: How UGA and Ga. Tech are like Kentucky and Louisville.

The Peach State colleges may not have had the same success as their neighbors to the West in football or to the North in basketball, but they are in professional golf tournaments.

Take this stat from @RivalsCup (a great follow if you are a fan of the PGA Tour and/or college golf) following this past weekends RBC Heritage won by Georgia Tech alum Matt Kuchar.
Rivals Cup tracks money won and FedEx Cup points of each college golf program on the PGA Tour.  Last year, Georgia Tech finished first in money won with Georgia finishing second.  So far in 2014 its the Bulldogs at number one with the Yellow Jackets number two.  Both programs have 10 alumni who have won money on the PGA Tour this season.

This past weekend, the current college squads at Tech and Georgia squared off in Match Play with the Jackets winning 5-1.  Both teams are ranked in the top six nationally with the NCAA Championship starting in about a month.

Monday, April 14, 2014

ACC Football: Ranking Coaching Jobs From Worst To Best

A league that has taken its lumps over the last decade may be on the rise again led by BCS winner Florida State, supported by a consistent Clemson program, and elevated by the addition of Louisville.  Those three schools are at or near the top of my best jobs ranking for the ACC. 

14. Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons just had arguably their best coach in the modern era retire - Jim Grobe. Even after winning the ACC in 2006 he found it very hard to sustain that anywhere near that level of success mostly in part to the small size of the school - 2nd smallest in FBS - and therefore lack of recruiting or fan footprint.  Dave Clawson takes over this season and will have his work cut out to get Wake back to bowl games.

13. Duke

A lot like their NC private school brethren, Duke suffers from a small student body and fan support for the football program.  What David Cutcliffe did this past season was remarkable when you look at Duke's history in modern college football.  The national name recognition from basketball does help some though.

12. Syracuse 

The Orange were once a relative power in the Northeast going to bowl games nearly every year.  Many top New York kids are now looking South to play their college football which has hurt their recruiting territory, but the 'Cuse can be a viable program in the ACC and their top notch Communications school helps much more than you realize. 

11. Boston College

BC is another private school - in fact the bottom 4 on this list are all private - limited by alumni size and fan footprint.  The Eagles are in probably the biggest pro sports town in the country too which hurts with gaining attention from sidewalk fans.  But BC has had more success as of late than most of the former Big East and more national recognition in part because of its success versus Notre Dame.

10.  Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia is a good, but not a great state for recruiting.  Despite being the flagship university they are overshadowed in football by rival Virginia Tech. Since George Welsh left the program has struggled to achieve sustained success.  The necessary elements are in place to be a bowl team more years than not.

9. NC State

The Wolfpack are usually in their neighbors shadows on the athletic fields despite a large alumni footprint.  NC State has won seven ACC Championships, but most of those came in the 60s.  I think the Athletic Department can't decide if it wants to go full bore into football to gain a leg up in the Triangle or hold onto its basketball roots and that in-decision hurts football which could be strong.

8. Pitt

The Panthers programs was one of the best in the nation during the 70s and 80s, but bad coaching hires and population shift away from Western Pa. and NE Ohio have severely impacted their recruiting efforts. Like BC, Pitt is overshadowed by their  hometown pro team.  Still, recruits and coaches will take a second look because of their history and playing in a pro stadium could turn some recruits and coaches on to them.

7. North Carolina

The state is very underrated in high quality football talent -so much attention is placed on basketball, but football players are very abundant. The right coach can be very successful due to that talent base - see Mack Brown.  Basketball success helps the name recognition, but it also hurts sustained popularity as once November starts the majority of the fan attention moves towards the hardwood. 

6.  Georgia Tech

The school is located in a hotbed of talent, but academic restrictions and limited curriculum make it impossible to keep up with the surrounding SEC schools.  The campus setting in Atlanta can be a blessing, while also being a curse.  College and pro athletes love the city, but like BC and Pitt the athletic programs are overshadowed sometimes by their pro neighbors.

5. Louisville

The buying power of their athletic department puts Louisville higher than their historical success would.  Charlie Strong did not immediately accept the Texas job.  That should tell you what Louisville is able to accomplish for its coaches and programs. 

4. Virginia Tech

Like their in-state brethren they are in a good, not great state for recruiting. The distance from the SEC actually helps keep most of the top talent home.  Up until a few years ago, the Hokies had the longest streak of 10+ wins in the nation.  When Frank Beamer steps away it will be interesting to see which direction the program goes as the location is not a natural for a top 20 program as they have been under Beamer. 

3. Miami

The Hurricanes have my second highest ceiling as a program in college football, but the program is going on nine years without a MNC run and the fan support can be dismal when a non-power is the opponent.  You won't find a better local area for recruiting in the country though and the fans will come when the 'Canes are winning.

2. Clemson

The Tigers have very strong fan support from one of the smaller Top 20 programs in terms of alumni base.  South Carolina, while small on numbers, is packed with top level talent on a per-capita basis.  Clemson can also reach into neighboring Georgia and North Carolina to pick talent off.  Fan expectations are high though and many coaches in the past have not met them. 

1. FSU

The Seminoles also rank near the top for programs with the highest ceilings.  FSU has just about everything going for it that a top high school athlete would want - homegrown talent, history of winning, large fan base - and those advantages are very big over just about every ACC school.  Any shortcomings the Seminoles have are only against programs outside the ACC.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who Will Be The New Georgia Tech Basketball Assistant Coach (UPDATED) ?

Georgia Tech posted a job yesterday for an Assistant Basketball Coach.

(You can search for the job here Req #0169677)

On the Yellow Jackets staff currently is Chad Dollar, Josh Postorino, and Billy Schmidt.  Director of Player Development is Bruce Evans though I would imagine his job posting would be classified as such.

Or is this posting for the Women's program?

Any Georgia Tech "insiders" know more?

***UPDATED: Ken Sugiura, the Georgia Tech beat writer for the AJC is reporting Josh Postorino is the assistant departing Atlanta.  My early guess for a replacement is Amir Abdur-Rahim.  The Wheeler High School alum was the Director of Player Development for the Yellow Jackets in Brian Gregory's first season before being hired away as an assistant coach at College of Charleston.  Abdur- Rahim, whose brother is former NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim, has ties to the Wheeler basketball program where the number one prospect in the state will be a Senior next year, Jaylen Brown.  Brown is the top recruit on Tech's board for the 2015 class and Gregory along with assistant Chad Dollar have been recruiting Brown since they arrived in Atlanta.   

Monday, April 7, 2014

What Is Former Georgia Tech DB Jerrard Tarrant Up To?

After leaving the Yellow Jacket program following his Redshirt Junior season, Jerrard Tarrant has struggled to catch on the in NFL.  He was invited to the New York Giants camp and played in all four preseason games but was cut by the team prior to the regular season. The Carrollton, Ga. native can still be found around Ga. Tech athletics events from time to time.

Tarrant has recently caught on with indoor football team in Dalton, Ga.
Jerrard Tarrant had not played organized football in three years.

But after returning to the field for the Georgia Rampage’s season opener last month, he didn’t appear to lose anything from his days playing for the Georgia Tech football team.
“He just knows where to be at all times,” Rampage coach Mark Bramblett said. “You can’t coach that. It’s just something they know. Not only can he cover good, but he can lower the boom on someone, too, when he needs to make a tackle.”
Tarrant's memorable punt return for a touchdown vs Clemson in 2009.

Georgia Rampage: Former Yellow Jacket catching on quickly

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Did Refs Miss Game Changing Call In Kentucky Wichita State Game?

With 7.2 seconds remaining in the game and Kentucky up 1, the Wildcats' Andrew Harrison dribbled the ball up the court guarded by Wichita's State Ron Baker.  A foul was called on Baker whose Shockers needed to stop the clock.  Almost simultaneously as the foul was called Harrison lifted his elbow into Baker's head based on the picture below.

 The referees have the opportunity to review calls like this on the monitor but chose not to.  A flagrant 1 call on Kentucky would have given Wichita State two free throws and the ball.  

What do you think? Should the refs have called a flagrant foul on this play?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 Names For The Next Auburn Basketball Coach

Tony Barbee was not delivering on the $92.5 Million investment Auburn/
 Multiple reports are stating Auburn Basketball Head Coach Tony Barbee has been fired after four seasons. 

Auburn is by no means a basketball powerhouse and fan support is very low right now.  But here are five names which can help bring the basketball program back to a competitive level in the SEC.

1. Bob Hoffman, Mercer
Mercer won the A-Sun Tournament and tied for the regular season championship this year.  But the Bears have enjoyed increasing success over his time in Macon.  Hoffman has 61% winning percentage and 64% in conference.  His ties to the state of Georgia will help with recruiting a critical area for Auburn's success.

2. Brad Brownell, Clemson
It seems hard to believe a basketball coach in the ACC would leave for the SEC but if Auburn throws some of their football money Brownell's way he will listen.  As one of the lowest paid head coaches in the ACC with an above average record Brownell is due a raise.  Can Clemson pay that considering what they just gave Dabo Swinney?

3. Ron Hunter, Georgia State
After toiling at IUPUI for many years, Hunter has Georgia State vying for a NCAA Tournament bid after winning the regular season title in the Sun Belt.  More importantly, Hunter has connections in the talent hotbed of Atlanta where Auburn must succeed in recruiting to return the program to prominence.

4. Mike Young, Wofford
Young took over a struggling program and has taken it to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last five seasons.  This is while going head to head for a single bid in the Southern Conference with one of the most underrated coaches nationally, Bob McKillop at Davidson.  All three of the Terriers NCAA appearances all-time are under Young.

5. Bruce Pearl
Pearl is the ultimate wild card for any program looking for a coach.  He took Tennessee to six straight NCAA Tournaments but he has a NCAA "show cause" until August 23rd of this but that that doesn't preclude him from being hired; it simply means a hiring institution must "show cause" for why the sanctions against Pearl should not follow him to his new job.  So what if Auburn goes under a one year post season ban for hiring Pearl?  It is not as if they have been missing out on much as of late.  Another plus for Pearl is he made a living off recruiting Georgia for players to build his post season teams.

If AD Jay Jacobs wants  Pearl he may to fight off Boston College who is on the verge of firing Steve Donahue.  Pearl is a Boston native.

Whomever Auburn hires must have recruiting ties to the South.  Ties to the state of Georgia and specifically Atlanta would be a major plus.

Who do you think Auburn should hire? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Would UGA Basketball Be On The NCAA Tournament Bubble If They Had Beaten Georgia Tech?

Mark Fox didn't think the loss to Ga. Tech was funny and especially not now/AP
 The Georgia Bulldogs hoops team finished the SEC regular season in a tie for second place with preseason number 1 Kentucky by virtue of winning 8 of their last 10 games.

In a normal year, tying for second in the SEC would be a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament.  But this season the conference is down ranking last of any of the seven major conferences in RPI.  Also, anytime UGA's NCAA Tournament chances are discussed the conversation ends with their poor showing in the non-conference part of their schedule where they were just 6-6. 

The Bulldogs RPI is in the 70s, which is off the NCAA bubble, largely because of these two factors.

One of those six losses was to in-state rival Georgia Tech back on November 15.  The Bulldogs were down by five at halftime, down by 17 early in the second half, and spent nearly the entire second half in a double-digit deficit before pulling within nine in the last minute.  The loss was the third straight to Georgia Tech.

After that game, everyone in the crowd thought the team with NCAA Tournament aspirations come March was Georgia Tech, not the Bulldogs. 

But a multitude of injuries sank the Yellow Jackets season and their RPI to the 160s at its lowest point this season.  Ga. Tech currently ranks 149th after defeating Syracuse and Virginia Tech this past week.

After frustrating non-conference results UGA's RPI was in the low 200s and it seemed like a foregone conclusion Mark Fox would be fired, maybe even before the season ended.

Bolstered by a 12-6 league record the Bulldogs have moved their RPI all the way up to 73 and still have a chance at the NCAA Tournament, but will need to do it the old-fashioned way by winning the SEC Tournament.

If we look at what is hurting Georgia's chances of an at-large bid it is that nasty non-conference record.  The loss to Georgia Tech is one of the worst based strictly on RPI.

But what if UGA had beaten Tech?

The website can forecast such a change in history.   

If Mark Fox had notched a win over Brian Gregory, UGA's RPI would jump 15 spots up to 58.  This RPI would put Georgia on the NCAA bubble. Jerry Palm's bracketology as of March 9 has Arkansas as one of the last four teams in the Tournament and the Razorbacks RPI ranks 62nd.  

College basketball detractors say the sport's importance has been watered down by not enough games mattering like they do in football.  I think UGA hoops 2013-14 season is a great counterpoint to that argument and one Fox will harp on to his team all offseason.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

AJC [Lack of] Coverage of Georgia Tech Upset Win Over #7 Syracuse

The Georgia Institute of Technology, located in Atlanta, Ga, scored their biggest basketball win of the season (maybe even the last four seasons) beating 7th ranked Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on the Orange's Senior Night.

Yet trying to find coverage of the Yellow Jackets win in the "hometown" paper I had to dig through headlines of Vince Vaughn visiting Atlanta, a radio DJ [possibly] losing his job, and "More breaking news at" headlines.

Here is a screenshot of the front page at Midnight, only 3 hours after the Yellow Jackets scored one of the biggest upsets of the season in college basketball.

Here is a screenshot of the front page of the page.

Not one headline mention of the school located a few miles from downtown Atlanta even in the Sports front page!

There is a headline about Michael Jordan playing baseball 20 years ago and "5 tips for getting to Wednesday's soccer match".

Honest Question: Did someone at Georgia Tech royally piss off the AJC?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Top Georgia High School Basketball Coach Dishes on UGA Hoops

After a humbling non-conference portion of the season, Georgia basketball has rebounded in SEC play with eyes on a top four conference finish and a double-bye in the SEC Tournament. 

I doubt even the most optimistic UGA basketball fan thought Mark Fox would have his club vying for a NIT bid after their November performance including losses to Georgia Tech, Davidson, and Temple and the perceived lack of talent on the roster - the Bulldogs average star ranking is 2.6 which is second worst in the SEC.

Like much of the SEC as of late, basketball success has been a struggle for the Bulldogs.  The Georgia Sports Blog did a nice post on the recent history of the program. Fox's detractors have consistently pointed to his lack of success on the recruiting trail as the reason for the program's most recent slide.

Former Milton coach David Boyd dished on the current state of the UGA program and their recruiting efforts to the AJC:
‘’It’s very very simple. What my players have told me in the past is they aren’t going to Georgia because they perceive it to be considered second-class to football. If Georgia can defeat that perception, that basketball is second class, then they will come, and they will come in droves. It helps that Georgia now has a couple of Miller Grove players there, Kenny Gaines from Whitefield Academy, Charles Mann from Milton. It helps to have that Georgia flavor to the team. This year is going to really catapult Georgia into some great things.’’
What are your thoughts?  Do you see Fox's recruiting starting to turn around based on this season?  Can football and basketball both have large followings in Athens?

Georgia Tech, Georgia Battle It Out For 2014 Recruits

Unlike college football, college basketball has two signing periods. An "early signing period" in November and a "late signing period" starting on April 16.

The Bulldogs have just 1 scholarship to give out in 2014, but have 7 offers out according to  The Yellow Jackets have 3 spots available for 2014 after dismissing Solomon Poole earlier in the season.  Both programs are also loading up for a huge 2015 recruiting year in the state of Georgia where 7 prospects are already ranked in Rivals Top 150.

In addition to several 2015 prospects, Mark Fox and Brian Gregory are now going to head to head for Jackson Davis of Lexington, Kentucky who was offered by both programs last night.   Davis is ranked as a 3 star by and ESPN .

Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory was in Lexington last night to watch Davis along with assistants from UGA.

In addition to the battle for Davis, the Jackets also recently offered 3-star F Matt Cimino who has had an offer from UGA since mid-January.