Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paul Hewitt's Performance Has Given Georgia Tech No Other Choice

Three years ago, Georgia Tech Athletic Director made the biggest decision in his short tenure thus far in by firing Chan Gailey.  Rumors had surfaced mid season as to what Gailey's future would be working for an AD who did not hire him and coming off a controversial contract extension given by the previous AD.

On the Monday after a sixth straight loss to Georgia, Radakovich told Gailey he was being dismissed as head coach of Georgia Tech.  Gailey told Radakovich he disagreed with the decision, but accepted it.  No one who follows Tech athletics ever questioned Gailey's character, just the results.  The newly fired coach still attended a luncheon with fans just a few hours later when word of his dismissal had not yet fully reached the masses. 

Under Gailey, fan support was waning after numerous 7-5 seasons that always ended by losing to the Bulldogs and with dwindling ticket sales, the lifeblood of any athletic program, the new AD's hand was forced.  Radakovich had to make a move to stop the bleeding in the cash cow of the athletic program.

Radakovich will again be facing a huge decision,  a program changing one in a few months. 

Georgia Tech basketball has struggled the past five years to generate any kind of consistent success, much like how the football program was under Gailey, and subsequently confidence is rapidly waning in the head coach to turn the program around. 

Tuesday night's loss was a microcosm of what Georgia Tech basketball has become.  Alexander Memorial Coliseum was filled to only 75% of its capacity for one of the top home games of the year against in state rival Georgia and a quarter of the fans were rooting for the Bulldogs.

Like Gailey, Tech head coach Paul Hewitt was also not hired by Radakovich and was given a very controversial contract awarded by Gailey and Hewitt's former boss, Dave Braine.  Again like Gailey, Hewitt is a man of high character.  But Tech fans want more than just excuses of having "young teams" and "breaks not going their way".  They want results just like they did with Gailey.  When they didn't get those results they made their voice heard with empty seats and forced Radakovich's hand.

Up until last year, the Tech basketball program was still profitable, but with a 75% full arena against Georgia and now a second consecutive loss to the Bulldogs, it will be near impossible to increase sales for what looks to be a very rough ACC season.  Georgia Tech is not a big university with an unlimited budget in terms of athletics.  They are still paying for Gailey's contract, have one of the highest paid football coaches in the conference, and a football stadium expansion still unfunded leaving the department strapped for cash. 

Its clear Radakovich has high hopes for the future of Tech Basketball.  The "Thrillerdome" is getting a major renovation that will be complete in two years. 

But the arena improvements will require money that will have to come from a re-energized fan base.  That means a complete reversal from where the program is currently headed. 

A complete reversal will be expensive for a cash strapped Tech athletic program, but may be necessary to stop the current loss of money.  Hewitt's contract stipulates that Georgia Tech must pay the remainder of his deal - 6 years at approx. $1.3 M per - if he is relieved of his duties.  To add insult to the matter, the contract rolls over each year so the total amount having to be paid in a firing does not ever lessen.

Three years ago, Radakovich didn't think Gailey was the man anymore to turn the football program around and his hand was forced.  Come March, I think Radakovich's hand will be forced again. 

2 comments:

  1. The real shame is there is decent talent on this years team. With a quality a coach, I think they could be a NCAA Bubble team, but the final 3 minutes where Hewitt was coached into the ground by Mark Fox, are proof positive a change should be made. Can GT $$$ afford it?

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  2. Can they afford not to is the real question?

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