Monday, January 31, 2011

Stephon Tuitt Talks His Notre Dame Commitment, Georgia Tech Coaches Visiting?, and His Mother's Influence

Blue and Gold Illustrated reporter catches up with Stephon Tuitt at his all star game this week in Austin, TX.

Tuitt talks about his commitment to Notre Dame and his mom coming down on signing day to send in the Letter of Intent.

The reporters asks Tuitt if Georgia Tech coaches visited with him in the last week or not and if there is any chance they may flip him again.

Tuitt also talks about his mothers input into his decision.

I think any chance Georgia Tech had was lost this week when Tuitt decided to go to Austin instead of sticking around his hometown (which is 45 minutes from Tech's campus). The Irish have two other commits in Austin who will likely be in Tuitt's ear if he starts to waver.

Stephon Tuitt Recruiting Update: When Will Tuitt Sign and Will It Be With Notre Dame?

Georgia Tech is still holding out for switching Stephon Tuitt on Signing Day but those hopes are waning by the day.

The Yellow Jackets met with Tuitt this past week for their final visit before he heads off to Austin, Texas to play in a high school all star game.

Notre Dame fans may have gotten a little nervous when news leaked that Tuitt would not sign his Letter of Intent until this Friday.

But according to Irish Illustrated Tuitt says he will send it in from Austin. Of course, he has to his mother's signature on the LOI as Tech fans know very well. No word if his mother is traveling to Austin with him or signing it before.

Either way, it seems odd for Tuitt to be playing in another all star game but when you find out that two other Irish commits are playing in it it should be no surprise.

Notre Dame coaches (and Tuitt's mom) likely wanted him surrounded by future teammates in Texas rather than being just 45 minutes from Georgia Tech's campus where he has visited many times.

This article originally appeared on Chuck

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: Atlanta Media Warming Up To Idea

I first mentioned how Georgia Tech's attendance at basketball games would shape Paul Hewitt's future after the home loss to UGA back in early December.

I felt at that time Hewitt had lost so much of the fan base with that loss to the hated Bulldogs adding on to the last five seasons of frustration the majority were done supporting him.

And looking at the attendance figures since then, I was right.

Now, the Atlanta media is warming up to this idea with Mark Bradley calling out the attendance last week after the home win over Virginia Tech (thought it was odd timing considering the win), this weekend's Sports feature by Tech beat writer Doug Roberson, and today on Atlanta's two sports stations, 790 The Zone and 680 The Fan discussing the matter with callers.

All four have brought to light what I thought six weeks ago. Attendance and revenue, not performance will be the downfall of Hewitt.

Now onto the Maryland game which Tech lost 74-63 moving their record to 10-10 overall and 3-4 in ACC play.

The Terps and Jackets drew a listed attendance of 6,257, which is a 68% full arena.

Averaging around $35 per ticket, the lack of a full Alexander Memorial Coliseum cost Tech $102,690 alone. This figure does not include seat licenses which govern most of the arena, parking, concessions, or merchandise. All of those combined would easily double that total.

If we add Maryland to the running total we come up a total loss of $517,395 in single game ticket sales alone. We are probably approaching the $1 Million dollar mark when you add in all the items I mentioned above.

Back to the assembled Atlanta media. Mark Bradley's column isn't worth talking about much. I think the guy has it out for Hewitt big time and decided to post his column after arguably one of Hewitt's best wins in the last few years. The Jackets pulled away from a team that will likely make the NCAA Tournament and frustrated one of the best players in the ACC, Malcolm Delaney, all night. I wouldn't be surprised if Tech revoked Bradley's media pass after that one.

But a much better piece was done by beat writer Doug Roberson who compiled an AJC survey as well as a survey done by Tech given to season ticket holders who did not renew.

As you would expect, the AJC survey was much more scathing on Hewitt than the survey done by Tech. I think fans feel a sense of reservedness when talking directly to the Tech Athletics Department rather than a media outlet like the AJC.

For what its worth, the Tech survey said the top two reasons for non-renewals were: lack of ability to go to games and lack of ability to pay for tickets. The third was displeasure with Hewitt.

Roberson got some responses from fans surveyed that will raise some eyebrows, including this one which I cannot reason with:
"I finally stopped buying football season tickets last year after 44 years solely because of Hewitt's incompetence," wrote Ray Easterlin, who bought basketball season tickets for 25 years before he said he stopped early in Hewitt's tenure. "It was the only way I could impress on [President Bud] Peterson and Radakovich how strongly I felt about Hewitt. He is an embarrassment."

Really? You didn't purchase football tickets with Tech coming off its best season in 20 years because you wanted to punish basketball?

But back to Roberson's piece, he goes on to point out the financials of Hewitt's contract which in case you didn't know include a rollover clause that renews every April 1 essentially giving the Tech head coach a constant six year contract at approximately $1.25M per year.

I originally thought this would be the last year of Hewitt if the attendance showed like I thought it would but...

In Part Two, I will give three reasons why I think IF Georgia Tech is to get relieve Paul Hewitt of his duties it happens not after THIS season, but after NEXT season.

Running total of lost ticket sales revenue:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
Va Tech $118,895 lost without a full arena
Maryland $102,690 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $517,395 in ticket sales alone

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Georgia Recruiting: Bulldogs Dominate Once Again, Jackets Largely Look Elsewhere

If you thought the last month of recruiting was crazy then you haven't seen anything yet.

Sunday starts a "dead period" in recruiting where colleges are not allowed to contact the recruits (yeah right) leading up to Wednesday's National Signing Day.

The state of Georgia is usually loaded with talent and this year was no exception.

Needing a great recruiting class after a very disappointing season, Mark Richt has locked up 21 commitments from the Peach State and is still waiting to hear from one of his top targets RB Isaiah Crowell. The Carver-Columbus product will decide on Wednesday between UGA and Alabama.

Georgia has gone all out for Crowell and used a new tactic some say was used on them to flip Da'Rick Rogers last year as noted by Ricky Dimon of GPB Sports

"The Bulldogs appear to be using the same tactics to lure Crowell as Tennessee employed to snag Rogers last year. Rogers flip-flopped to the Vols after they got a commitment from Calhoun quarterback and good friend Nash Nance. Perhaps Richt took notes, because he recently offered a scholarship to Carver-Columbus defensive back Quintavious Harrow, Crowell’s best friend since kindergarten.

“People are going to have their opinions about why Georgia offered Quintavious,” Carver-Columbus head coach Dell McGee told the AJC. “All I know is that he is getting a free education at a great institution along with the opportunity to play football in the best conference in the nation. To me, that’s priceless.”

This could be the class that gets Richt off the hot seat and back into the SEC race every year.

While UGA has done very well in the Peach State this year, Georgia Tech has not fared as well with just 10 in-state pledges. 

“They have really not done a good job recruiting what is the fourth-best state in the country for football talent,” [Scott] Janovitz said of the Yellow Jackets. “They have either missed on guys they should have offered or they offered and did not recruit hard enough.”

Tech offered or pursued very hard some of the top prospects like Nick Marshall, AJ Johnson, Thomas O'Reilly, James Vaughters, Brian Randolph and Stephon Tuitt all who are likely to sign elsewhere on National Signing Day.

I don't think the Jackets staff worked any less hard than last year when 14 of their 18 signees were from Georgia.  This is the highest number in many years as Chan Gailey had a more regional/national recruiting strategy.

When Paul Johnson arrived at Tech he wanted to move the recruiting more in state and why not when Georgia is a top five producer of FBS signees each year.

The problem with that is many kids grow up UGA fans over Tech and the Yellow Jackets recent history with the Bulldogs has not given many recruits to switch their allegiance.  In fact, I think Tech's dismal record against the in-state team has also pushed kids who might not be UGA fans to favor schools nearby like Auburn or Alabama or Tennessee or FSU. 

Some will say Georgia Tech's class was disappointing this year, but when you look at their recent classes it doesn't seem to be any worse (except 2007).

The reason Tech's class is so disappointing is because they were hoping to use the ACC title from 2009 and the 20 wins in Johnson's first two seasons as a springboard to a great class this year, but it never materialized. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: AJC's Mark Bradley Takes My Idea To The Big Stage

Mark Bradley takes a page out of the book I have been writing since the loss to UGA by bringing up why the empty seats at Alexander Memorial Coliseum is what is hurting Paul Hewitt's employment stability the most.
(Bradley's article)

The man not on Hewitt's Christmas card list continues...
"But D-Rad isn’t stupid, nor is he blind. He has to see that interest in Tech basketball is at a low not seen since the few folks who deigned to grace Alexander Memorial Coliseum in the final days of Dwane Morrison wore bags on their heads."

Just for the record, the announced attendance at the Virginia Tech game was 5,794. With 3,397 unsold seats at roughly $35 a pop, $118,895 was lost in ticket sales alone.

More from Bradley...
"This mounting apathy comes at a perilous time. In April, Tech will begin a $45 million renovation of Alexander. Next year’s Jackets will play 10 games at Philips Arena and the rest in the Arena at Gwinnett. How many among a diminishing number of Tech patrons will be willing to make the trek to unfamiliar buildings? And how, if interest doesn’t pick up by November 2012, will it be to unveil a refurbished coliseum that few care to visit?"

This is why Tech will not make a decision on Hewitt until after next season. No matter how this season ends up, Tech will not bring in a new coach to play a dead home schedule that will not be well attended either way.

More from Bradley...
"Granted, $7 million is a lot of money, but Radakovich must weigh that outlay against the price of standing pat. Down the road, how much more than $7 million would it cost Tech to keep an unpopular coach whose teams can’t be said to have overachieved since the golden run of 2004? At what point must an AD, hat in hand, call on donors and ask, “Can you spare a million to help us make a fresh start?”

I doubt Radakovich will go the donor route again after getting burned by those big donors who said they would buy out Chan Gailey.

All in all, the win over Virginia Tech was a very impressive one considering how Tech played in their last game, who Va. Tech has beaten, and how well Iman Shumpert played (which give Mark credit as he also writes about here).  The 800 lb elephant in the room is winning a road game (or two) for Hewitt.

Running total of lost ticket sales revenue:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
Va Tech $118,895 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $414,705 in ticket sales alone

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thoughts On The USC Hearing With NCAA: Trojans Appeal Sanctions

Late last year, HBO's Real Sports did a show on their "stories of the year" and one of them was on USC's sanctions including an interview with then head coach Pete Carroll.

Last Sunday, USC went to Indianapolis to present their case for reduced sanctions in front of the NCAA Appeals Committee.

Here are my thoughts on the Trojans case:
  1. Reggie Bush's Car. The NCAA levied the sanctions on USC not because the Trojans knew what was going, but because they "should have known when presented with obvious clues".  In Bush's sophomore year he begins to drive a nice car.  The NCAA thinks USC should have known something was up.  That is a very slippery slope in my opinion that could borderline on racism.  What if Clay Matthews had showed up with a better car one fall or Matt Leinart?  You could say they came from families that are better off, but again how do you really know without proof which the NCAA has never shown?  Now it is true that Bush never filled out the compliance form section and USC never followed up.  Maybe if he had just lied then it would have never been an issue?
  2. Pete Carroll.  Where is the punishment for him?  He moved on to coach the Seattle Seahawks this year.  Again, according to Andrea Kramer's reporting the NCAA never said USC knew about it, but "they should have known".  I would think Carroll would fit in the category of "they".  Instead, the current administration, staff, and players are left holding bag.  And mind you, USC dismissed the AD in charge during these infractions, they have a new head coach, and none of these players were on the Trojans roster in the questioned years.
  3. Agents.  Again no repercussions for them in this matter.  By giving money to college athletes the only thing the agent will ever have to answer to is their conscious. SI did a great piece on a former agent who admitted to paying multiple players over multiple years with no punishment.  That has to change or the agents will get even more out of control than it already is (see the North Carolina suspensions from this year). 
  4. Paying Players.  This will continually come up no matter if you pay them or not.  If you pay them it will be constantly debated of how much they should get paid?  Should different sports get paid different amounts?  How do you account for living expenses in Los Angeles vs Iowa City? It would be Title IX x 100.  I am in the camp of players should not be paid.  They are receiving compensation in other forms already.  They get a free education (though many don't even care about this), free food, free rooms, and some of the best facilities in the country to hone their craft. 
  5. Auburn and The Newton's.  This year the NCAA had proof that Heisman Winner Cam Newton's father (Cecil) solicited money from Mississippi State. No proof has been shown that Cecil Newton solicited money from the school his son ultimately attended, Auburn, or that the Newton's accepted any money from anyone (though the FBI is still involved).  USC has a reason to be upset about this because the NCAA has never tied Reggie Bush to any of the money, just his family.  What if Reggie Bush did not know his parents were accepting money?  Seems hard to believe that Bush wouldn't know right?  That is what we said about Cam Newton too, but the NCAA found otherwise.

You have probably heard the old line about the NCAA being so upset with violations in Kentucky's basketball program they were going to put Cleveland State on probation for two more years.

Judging by the USC sanctions levied in the Summer hard line stance the NCAA took at the beginning of the season with players from UNC, Alabama, and UGA among others for agent interactions/accepting money, I think the NCAA heard the message that they "protect the high revenue schools" and wanted to show their power and influence.  

USC had a very strong case to present for reducing their sanctions, but looking at the NCAA's history and seeing their stubborn ways continue recently, I highly doubt the Trojans will get any relief. 

NCAA Findings on USC (pdf)

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Chip Towers of the AJC Talks Georgia, Georgia Tech Recruiting

This past Friday on 790 The Zone's Barnhart and Durham.

Towers talks about his night in Valdosta covering Malcolm Mitchell's announcement to UGA in the local Hibachi grill.

He also discusses Tech's class with some nice words about "filling holes". Most Yellow Jackets fans are disappointed in the lack of star power and immediate impact guys in this class, but I have never heard a reporter covering recruiting having anything negative to say about a program's class. Maybe Towers is right about Tech, maybe he is not. We won't know for three to four years.

Audio Link

UGA Commitment List

Georgia Tech Commitment List

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

SEC Basketball Power Poll Week Ending 1/23

1. Vanderbilt
The Commodores were the only good team that didn't lose this week.

2. Kentucky
John Calipari did not erupt in a profanity laden outburst when I rated Kentucky second.

3. Florida
The Gators defense was very good holding their opponents to 83 points total this week.

4. Tennessee

"Is Tennessee a better team with Tony Jones on the sideline than Bruce Pearl?" - Signed: The NCAA

5. Georgia
Mark Fox's team missed out last week at home making this Tuesday's game against Florida that much more important.

6. South Carolina
The Gamecocks would be the favorite in the West this year.

7. Alabama
Alabama is the best of the worst this year.

8. Arkansas
Before 40 minutes of hell comes back, maybe Arkansas should first concentrate on playing for 20 minutes.

9. Miss State
Miss State has failed to erase the bad memory of Hawaii yet though home wins over Vandy and Florida this week would certainly help.

10. Ole Miss

Rebels notch their first SEC win over LSU after four straight losses.

11. LSU
Somewhere in Arkansas, John Brady is laughing.

12. Auburn
Auburn beat FSU who beat Duke. Therefore by comparative logic...

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Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: Single Game Seats Now Available

The Yellow Jackets fell to 2-3 in ACC play and 9-9 overall with Saturday's 72-64 loss at Virginia.

Tech notched two ACC home wins last beating North Carolina and Wake Forest in blowout fashion. The win over the Demon Deacons was Tech's largest ACC win ever.

But fans are still staying away from the gate as evidenced by Alexander Memorial Coliseum being just two-thirds full (6,062 out of 9,191)to watch Tech play Wake. Those unfilled seats cost Georgia Tech $109k in ticket sales alone!

With a road win this past Saturday, which would have been the team's first of the season, you could see the fan support show up for a crucial home game against Virginia Tech. But the loss in Charlottesville likely closed the wallets again.

The Athletic Department has recognized the sagging demand and is putting all remaining ACC home games out for single game ticket sales.

I can't remember the last time single game tickets were made available this early in the ACC season. Maybe in the late 90s when Cremins was struggling near the end of his run?

On the Georgia Tech Athletics website the graphic displayed behind the link to the single game tickets tells the story.
Jason Morris goes up for a dunk with a back drop of empty seats. Image from GTAA, Paul Abell
Running total empty seats is costing Tech in ticket sales.
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $295,810 lost in ticket sales alone

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Georgia Tech Recruiting Stories at

Been away for a little bit, but I have written a few stories for the Georgia Tech page at Chuck Oliver's site.

Hope to write more this coming week...Anyways here the links to stories from this week in case you missed them.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

What To Make Of Georgia Tech's Blowout Win Over North Carolina

Here are some random thoughts on the Yellow Jackets unexpected butt whooping of the Tar Heels.

-GT beat UNC by 20 points snapping a three game losing streak of their own and snapping the Tar Heels five game winning streak

-Paul Hewitt has a winning ACC record against Roy Williams. How many coaches can say that?

-The AJC's Jeff Schultz sums up Tech's up and down season pretty well here and manages to avoid Roy Williams' chainsaw in the process

-The 58 points were UNC's lowest ever under Roy Williams

-The Tar Heels NEVER led in the game

-Even the student half court shot went in... it was Tech's night

-I have never seen UNC look so slow and unathletic

-I said at the beginning of the year, Tech will go as far as Iman Shumpert takes them which was 30 points on Sunday night

-Shumpert reminds me of a poor man's Nolan Smith, but last night he was like what I thought he can be (Greivis Vasquez)

-Tech has beaten UNC four times in a row, including defeating the Tar Heels in all three meetings last year
From the box score...
-UNC shot just 28% from the field including 5 for 25 in the 2nd half

 -North Carolina made 17 more free throws than Tech..and still lost by 20

-Yes, the Heels had 18 turnovers, but 13 of those were forced by Tech steals so it is more of good defense by Tech than bad offense by UNC

-Tech fans have to be excited about Shumpert playing for 36 minutes after watching him struggle through cramping problems for most of this season

-Maurice Miller was second in minutes for Tech; this is a good sign

-Brian Oliver continues to struggle shooting hitting just 3 for 11 but he rebounded nicely leading the team with six

-The second half vs UNC was almost a complete reversal from the second half against Clemson last week; both opponents shooting efforts were historic (Clemson - good, UNC - bad)

-I see one thing that is killing UNC's chances of becoming an elite team -the play of their guards.  The current players are nowhere near the level of the Raymond Felton's, Ed Cota's, Wayne Ellington's of the world

-Ballyhooed freshman Harrison Barnes continues to struggle hitting just 3 of 13 shots

-Transfer Justin Knox, whom Tech pursued last off season, played 15 minutes ending with four points

-Tar Heel Fan brought up a good point about panicking over a 20 point loss to the second worst RPI team in the ACC.  The real time to panic would be if UNC loses to Clemson at home on Tuesday night breaking a 54 game winning streak in Chapel Hill against the Tigers

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: UNC Game Brings 88% Full Arena

In my continuing attendance watch on Georgia Tech's season, I take a look at the attendance for the Sunday night game against the Tar Heels.

Alexander Memorial was as full as it has been since the Georgia game  with 8,125 showing up to watch Tech take on UNC making the arena 88% full.  

Normally, UNC draws a very good crowd with a large alumni base here in Atlanta plus many more sidewalk fans.  The powder blue crowed looked especially large this time with what appeared on TV to be 50% of the fans in attendance.  Jeff Schultz of the AJC was there and he says 33% so we can go with that figure.

Yes, the arena was more full than it has been for recent home games but you would expect that with an ACC game and especially one featuring UNC.  If Tech was say 11-4 heading into the game I think it would have been a sellout, but they aren't and it wasn't.

So taking into account that tickets were $35 apiece and with 1,066 seats empty that equals $37.310 lost revenue in tickets sales alone. You can easily double that with lost parking, concessions, and merchandise sales.

But Hewitt seems to be coming around as to why Alexander Memorial Coliseum isn't full as the AJC's Jeff Schultz illustrates.

Hewitt isn’t happy with the empty seats. But he also understands why.

“We have some guys here who deserve people’s support,” he said, “but I guess we just have to go out and show it.

“We haven’t produced. We gotta produce. We’ve got to string some wins together and people will show up.”

Sounds like Hewitt may be finally understanding that winning happens then the bandwagon fills up. Not the other way around when you have had disappointing teams in four of your last five seasons.

I have some thoughts up on the game itself here

Running Season Total:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $186,295 in ticket sales alone

Breaking Down Cam Newton's NFL Draft Stock...

That is what Fox's Charles Davis did with Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham last Friday.  I thought Davis did an excellent job at explaining the biggest obstacle facing the Heisman winner and how there may not be a clear answer to that question before the NFL Draft.

Auburn Fans at Wal Mart, NFL Draft Early Entry Analysis, and Vanderbilt Lowering Academic Standards?

Three links for easy reading...

-Stat guru Phil Steele breaks down the teams hurt/helped the most with the NFL Draft early entry deadline now passed.  Alabama checks in on both lists.

-Deadspin has pictures of Auburn's BCS Championship Trophy with fans at Wal Mart.  I have to believe they found the 44 worst pictures and posted only those in true Deadspin form, but those 44 confirmed the suspicions of everyone who lives above the Mason/Dixon line.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Georgia Tech - North Carolina: Basketball Attendance Watch Continues

Paul Hewitt's Yellow Jackets are 7-8 on the season and in addition to struggling on the court they are also struggling at the gate.

Sunday night's opponent, the North Carolina Tar Heels, represent one of the best home games on Tech's schedule this season and a chance to finally fill the "Thrillerdome"

Thus far this season I estimate the lost money due to poor attendance to be around $148,510 in TICKET SALES ALONE.  If you add in parking, concessions, and merchandise the number is probably double that or more.

Here is a breakdown of estimated ticket revenue losses starting with the UGA game where any hope for this season and Hewitt was likely lost. 
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena

Now, its true that if Tech beat Georgia then they would only be 8-7, but you have to understand this fan base to know how important beating the Bulldogs.  In can could put a damper on otherwise great seasons (see GT football in 2009) and put a great exclamation on others.

I am not the only one noticing the attendance woes.  Macon Telegraph beat writer Coley Harvey throws in a jab to the "home crowd" likely in attendance at Alexander Memorial Coliseum to see Tech and UNC.
" For whatever reason, the road has been unkind to the Yellow Jackets this season. Discounting the three neutral site games they’ve played this year, the Yellow Jackets are winless in opposing arenas this campaign. Although they are at home Sunday -- where they are 5-2 -- the environment may have a bit of a road feel. Many Tar Heels fans are expected to fill the Coliseum, making for a more hostile than usual welcome at home."

Not a great endorsement of the kind of crowd Hewitt and his team are attracting these days.

If the Tar Heels do come into Atlanta and come away with the "road" win it will break a three game losing streak.  

For all of his troubles against the rest of the ACC, Hewitt has a very respectable record of 7-6 against Roy Williams winning all three matchups last season. 

Hewitt previews the UNC game with Atlanta media

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Georgia Tech Should Not Expect Stephon Tuitt To Switch From Notre Dame (UPDATED 1/18) number one prospect in the state of Georgia is committed to Notre Dame but has left the door open to Georgia Tech, his early lean, with an official visit scheduled this next weekend.

Tuitt has visited Tech's campus many times and was thought to be the headliner for this Jacket recruiting classs, but he pulled a surprise committing to the Irish after an official visit to South Bend.

What would it take for Tuitt to switch?

Dabo Swinney Fast Approaching Tommy Bowden Level of Sucess At Clemson

In two plus seasons as the head coach at Clemson, Swinney has a 13-9 record in ACC games hurt by a 4-4 record in 2010.  That winning percentage is only slightly better than Tommy Bowden's.

Swinney has already completed part one of the typical job removal by hiring a new offensive coordinator.  Most coaches only get one opportunity to do that before they are next on the chopping block.

Swinney does have one thing on his resume that Bowden doesn't. An ACC Championship Game appearance. 

But is that enough to save him if he goes 7-5 and/or loses to South Carolina again next season, Clemson fans?

On a slightly related note, people close to Rich Rodriguez say he is likely to take a year off and look for a head job after next season with the South being a likely destination.  Rodriguez cut his teeth in FBS as Bowden's offensive coordinator at Tulane and Clemson, where he coached Woody Dantzler, before taking the West Virginia job.

Best and worst ACC conference records in BCS era
coach W L %
coach W L %
Frank Beamer 49 11 81.67
Ted Roof 03 33 08.33
Bobby Bowden 71 26 73.20
Carl Franks 03 25 11.11
George O’Leary 22 10 68.75
Mike London 01 07 12.50
Paul Johnson 17 08 68.00
Tommy West 01 07 12.50
George Welsh 16 08 66.67
Fred Goldsmith 02 14 12.50
Jimbo Fisher 06 03 66.67
David Cutcliffe 05 19 20.83
Jeff Jagodzinski 11 07 61.11
Jim Caldwell 09 23 28.13
Dabo Swinney 13 09 59.09
John Bunting 13 27 32.50
Larry Coker 14 10 58.33
Ron Vanderlinden 13 19 40.63
Tommy Bowden 43 32 57.33
Jim Grobe 30 43 41.10

A Glimpse Into The Miss State Basketball Road Trip From Paradise To Hell

Andy Katz gives an inside view to the Mississippi State road trip that went from an exhibition game in Jackson, MS to the Bahamas to Hawaii to a brawl between roommates in the stands, including an interesting revelation from Bulldogs head coach Rick Stansbury on the troubled Renardo Sidney

Audio Download

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Recruiting Is Old News. Lets Move to 2012.

In Decatur this past Saturday there was an "East vs West" game between the top juniors in the state of Georgia.

One that stood out is Harris County's defensive lineman Jordan Jenkins.

And just who is Jenkins considering at this point?

Why College Coaches Leave For The NFL Despite Sketchy History Of Success

Colin Cowherd may be on to something here when it comes to why very successful college coaches leave for NFL jobs.

Also, I wonder how much the opportunity to coach against Pete Carroll and Seattle twice a year played into Jim Harbaugh's decision to go to San Francisco. Their last meeting wasn't too cordial and that seemed to bother Carroll a lot more than Harbaugh.

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First Year Coaches Have A Tough Time Recruiting No Matter The Name Or The School

As evidenced by Florida's re-recruitment of one of the top players in the nation, DE Ray Drew.

"For a while, it seemed as though Florida was a legitimate option for Drew. He had developed a solid relationship with tight ends coach Brian White, but after the resignation of Urban Meyer and the massive staff changes, Drew dropped the Gators from consideration.

Even with White remaining on staff, having less than a month to get to know new coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Dan Quinn, Drew said there doesn’t seem to be enough time to really get to know Florida’s new coaches."

Should Georgia Tech Fans Be Worried About Vad Lee's Twitter Comment?

One of the Yellow Jackets top commits tweeted this during the BCS Championship Game last night.

vadlee02: I would love to play for both of those programs! #fitsmeperfect

Now, most of the "rumors" surrounding Lee's recruitment have him possibly switching to North Carolina or NC State, but what if Auburn offered?

If so, Tech fans would likely have nightmares of Dontae Aycock all over again.

Georgia Fans Should Put Down Sharp Objects Before Reading This

According to this chart of the by BCS Central blog, Ron Zook now has a higher winning percentage in SEC games than Mark Richt.

coach W L %
coach W L %
Urban Meyer 38 13 74.51
Brad Scott 00 08 00.00
Nick Saban 56 20 73.68
Ed Orgeron 03 21 12.50
Gene Chizik 12 05 70.59
Woody Widenhofer 04 28 12.50
Les Miles 34 16 68.00
Robbie Caldwell 01 07 12.50
Phillip Fulmer 62 30 67.39
Gerry DiNardo 03 13 18.75
Jim Donnan 16 08 66.67
Bobby Johnson 12 52 18.75
Ron Zook 16 08 66.67
Guy Morriss 04 12 25.00
Mark Richt 55 28 66.27
Sylvester Croom 10 30 25.00
Dennis Franchione 10 06 62.50
Rich Brooks 18 46 28.13
Steve Spurrier 51 32 61.45
Hal Clay Mumme 08 16 33.33

In case you are confused by the records of Jim Donnan or Steve Spurrier, these records are based on the BCS era only (i.e. 1998 and on).  Also, it only includes the top eight and bottom eight records so no Mike Shula, Mike Dubose, etc

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Auburn AD Jay Jacobs Gets His Revenge

Cue "fan at the airport" video one more time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Will Duke Ever Lose? First ACC Basketball Rankings of the Season

First ACC basketball rankings of the season and as no surprise, Duke tops the list. This ranking is a compilation of the season thus far.  Future rankings will be more of balance between week to week and seasons total.

1. Duke
The Blue Devils not having Kyrie Irving is only fair to a down ACC at this point.

2. North Carolina
Tar Heels are certainly talented and playing better and more together as the season has gone on.

3. Maryland
Life after Greivis Vasquez isn't quite as bad as initially thought.

Alabama Fans Rooting For Auburn In BCS Championship Game For State, Conference Pride?

I find this very hard to believe.

"Lifelong University of Alabama football fan Todd Smith will swallow his Crimson Tide pride Monday.

  It doesn't matter that Auburn University made a stunning comeback in this year's Iron Bowl. Or that few teams draw his ire more than the Tigers. When Smith and his colleagues at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center are sneaking peeks at the score of the BCS National Championship Game between Auburn and the University of Oregon Ducks, Smith will quietly be cheering for the Tigers to bring the national title back to the Yellowhammer State for a second straight year. 

  "Any time Alabama gets beat by a certain team it leaves a sour taste in your mouth," said Smith, 39, of Mount Olive. "But they're from the state of Alabama and I'll pull through and pull for Auburn."

Of the two dozen Alabama fans polled for this article, slightly more than half were willing to set aside their Crimson Tide allegiance. The rest refused, under any circumstances, to support the Tigers.

I wonder who Paul Finebaum is pulling for?

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New Head Ref Steve Shaw In Favor Of Making SEC Officials 'Media Friendly'

Steve Shaw, a 15 year ref in the SEC, has been named Head of SEC Officials taking over for Rogers Redding.  Shaw discussed his new responsibilities and priorities with Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News  

The most interesting part I thought was Shaw's idea of communicating with the media more.

Shaw said the trend in officiating is moving toward a more transparent model.

"There was a day when the conference didn't comment and the officials were never allowed to comment," he said. "Now, in certain bowl games, we allow pool reporters to ask questions about certain plays.

"One of the things I really want to do is I want us to be media-friendly. That doesn't necessarily mean we'll always put any discipline on the front page of the paper. But I do think we need an air of transparency and we have to figure out, how does that grow over time? That's something I'm really looking forward to as our profession evolves."

Note: The SEC Office cordially asks fans to direct all threats to Steve Shaw, not Rogers Redding, for blown SEC calls; Redding has moved on.

Paul Johnson End of the Year Press Conference

As you probably noticed, the video cuts off at 12 minutes just when it started to get juicy.  Johnson takes responsibility for the teams shortcomings this year, but that also means he is charge of fixing them.  In a nut shell, that means better recruiting and more motivation from his staff. GT site has the full audio here

The AJC's Doug Roberson has a two part interview here. And here.

As does the Macon Telegraph's Coley Harvey.

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John Calipari Says Georgia Was Tougher, More Aggressive In Win Over Kentucky

Kentucky suffered its first loss of the season Saturday at Georgia, but it was the way it happened that has head coach John Calipari so upset. Rich Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal describes Cal's mood.

There were many things that annoyed Calipari as his team was outscored 19-12 over the final seven minutes. Shot selection. Careless passes. Defensive brain cramps. You can place checkmarks next to the usual items that make coaches howl.

But this is the thing that really galled Calipari: Georgia was tougher. Nastier. More determined. The aggressor.

Calipari cannot accept that. Won't accept it. He'll shuffle his lineup before he accepts it. Especially from his upperclassmen.

“If you're not ready for that, why did you come here?” Calipari wondered after the game. “You've got to play through it, figure it out. We didn't get to the line.”

When asked about the Wildcats motivation, freshman Brandon Knight responded with:

“Today they were more physical,” Knight said. “They wanted it more than we did.”


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Recent Georgia Tech Stories Written For

I have been pretty good about posting stories I am writing for the Georgia Tech page at but have slacked off in the last few weeks.

Here they are:
Stats tell depressing tale for Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech should expand options, not reduce standards

How Jim Harbaugh leaving Stanford could help Georgia Tech

Independence Bowl Wrap: Where Have I Seen This Before?

Jackets need help from Buffalo Bills? (Giff Smith)

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Kentucky Tops First SEC Basketball Power Rankings of the Season

First SEC basketball rankings of the season submitted to the SEC Power Poll. This ranking is a compilation of the season thus far.  Future rankings will be more of balance between week to week and seasons total.

1. Kentucky
This Calipari team is nowhere near as talented as last year's but still looks to be the best in the SEC in the long run this season.

2. Vanderbilt
Commodores fail to take next step towards becoming a great team. They have to learn to win on the road more.

3. Florida
Florida is 12-3 and everyone seems to care much more about who Will Muschamp will hire as his assistants.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ohio State Officially Submits Appeal To NCAA For The 'Tat 5'

Buckeyes are hoping to get the suspensions reduced due to this argument from AD Gene Smith:

"OSU had not done an adequate job of explaining to them previously that they were not allowed to sell items such as gold pants and championship rings awarded by the school while they still had playing eligibility, even though technically the items belong to the players."

Georgia Tech Basketball Has Fallen Off The Map In Its Own City

Four instances as proof.

1. Yesterday, the AJC's website has a UGA-Kentucky game tracker link under "Headlines". No mention of Georgia Tech - Boston College game anywhere on the home page.

2. In today's paper, UGA's win is on the front page of the sports section. Tech's loss to Boston College is buried on page 8 of the sports section.

3. The AJC didn't even send the Tech beat writer to Chesnut Hill instead using a Boston Globe writer.

4. Finally, even cyberbully Mark Bradley who loves poking Paul Hewitt and just about anything bad in Atlanta sports didn't even give Hewitt a mention in his column today.

Paul Hewitt's Post Game Comments

Paul Hewitt Interview from Jan 6 on Atlanta's AM790 The Zone

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Auburn - Oregon BCS Championship Game Prediction

As much as everyone is looking forward to the Tigers and Ducks, sadness will ensue shortly after for me watching the end as college football will be done for eight months.

When: Monday 8:30 ET
Where: Not Phoenix, but Glendale
Line: Aub -2 (open -2.5)

Heading into Sunday night's Fight Hunger Bowl, I am 24-8 in my bowl picks with a 9-4 record in ACC and SEC games.

Here are the three areas I look at when making my bowl picks.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Boston College - Nevada Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Prediction

The Eagles and Wolfpack play Sunday Night in the appetizer to the BCS Championship Game on Monday in the appropriately named Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.  If these two teams ever dreamed of lining up on the same sideline in a football game then their dream has come true in 'frisco.  

When: Sun 9 PM ET
Where: 'Frisco, CA
Line: Nev -7.5 (open -9.5)

Through the Cotton Bowl, I am 23-8 in bowl games including an 8-4 mark in ACC and SEC games.

Here are the three main areas I look at when making my bowl picks.

Auburn's Road To The BCS Championship Game - Slideshow

The Tigers had their closest contest against Clemson back in September
SI Slideshow

Kentucky Comes to Athens To Face Upstart Georgia Bulldogs

The class of SEC Basketball, the Kentucky Wildcats ,will face off against a team many see as a challenger to the Wildcats throne - the Georgia Bulldogs.

A couple of questions leading into Saturday's game in Athens:

1) Are UGA fans even into basketball right now? The disappointment with the football team's end to the season has taken any attention away from the basketball team that is 11-2.

2) Do all the close games (though they have won almost all of them) make UGA fans nervous about how good this team really is? The Bulldogs have two likely first round draft picks on this team.

3) How do Georgia fans feel about finishing 18-12 and just 6-10 in the SEC leaving them out of the NCAA Tournament? That is what a respected basketball stats site has the Bulldogs finishing

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kentucky vs Pitt BBVA Compass Bowl Prediction

A cat-tastic bowl game between the Wildcats and the Panthers as we wind down the bowl season. 

When: Sat 12PM
Where: Birmingham
Line: Pitt -4 (open -2.5)

Heading into the Cotton Bowl Friday night in bowl games I am 22-8 with a 7-4 record in ACC and SEC games.

Here are the three main areas I look at when making my bowl picks.

Who Has The Better Team?
Pitt ranks 42nd in the season ending Sagarin ratings with a Big East respectable 48th ranked strength of schedule. 

Kentucky ranks 66th with the 61st ranked strength of schedule.  That low of a schedule ranking shows how down the SEC East was this year.  The Wildcats were 1-3 vs the top 30 while the Panthers were 0-3.

UK's offense was very good this year scoring 33 points per game and 437 yards per game good for 13.3 yard per point.  However, the Wildcats will be without starting QB Mike Hartline was is suspended for the bowl game.  Pitt wasn't as explosive but was nearly as efficient with a 14 yards per point average.

Where Pitt has the advantage is on defense giving up 20 points per game and 299 yards.  UK had one of the more porous defenses in the nation giving up a point for every 12 yards allowed.
Edge: Pitt

Which Team Will Be Better Prepared?
Kentucky has a first year head coach Joker Phillips. 

Pitt has an interim coach Phil Bennett coaching the team though former head man Dave Wannstedt has been involved in bowl preparation.  Bennett has head coaching experience at the FBS level at SMU but never took them to a bowl game.  Wannstedt was 1-1 in bowl games as Pitt's head man.
Edge: Even

Which Team Will Be More Motivated?
This Pitt team has had to go through a lot since their last regular season game.  Their coach resigned, a new coach was hired, and then fired after a felony charge.

The Pitt Panthers say they want to win this game for their coach, but I wonder how strong that feeling will be without him on the sidelines. 
Edge: Kentucky

Although UK QB Morgan Newton played and started as a true freshman he has thrown just seven passes this season. 

Also, the Pitt offense is centered around a great running game.  Rush defense is the Wildcats defensive weakness.

Pitt 28 Kentucky 23
Confidence: 18

Mark Richt End of Year Press Conference

"I'm glad 2011 is here, and I'm excited about that," said Georgia coach Mark Richt Wednesday in a media session wrapping up 2010 and looking ahead to 2011.  "Last year was not anywhere close to what we expect and certainly well below the standard of what Georgia football is all about.  I'm not happy with what we went through but we'll be better for it in 2011."

Going into the offseason, Richt said he is looking to create momentum in the program.
"One of the biggest things I am going to be looking for is effort in the team and everyone around here," he said.  "We need to do what we do well and do it full-speed.  As a head coach, that's the number one point of emphasis that I am going to watch for."
"We need to play a game like this against a highly-regarded Boise State to start the season because it creates some excitement around the program," said Richt.  "We play them and then South Carolina the first two games of the year so we will find out in a hurry where we stand.  When I announced it to the team, they lit up and you could see the excitement immediately."

He added his thoughts on how the Georgia football program will continue to prepare its student-athletes for life after football.

"We have a small window where we need to take care of our student-athletes and help them grow mentally, physically and spiritually," said Richt.  "We need to help them get a degree, to try and win championships and for some of them to get ready to play in the NFL.  But most importantly is preparing all of them for life after football." 

He was especially pleased with how redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray led the offense.  Georgia finished 34 points shy of setting a school record for points in a season, averaging 32.1 points a game.

"For the first time around, Aaron Murray handled himself well, gained confidence as the season went along, he was a leader who made plays," Richt said.  "He's got `it' and I believe we can win with Aaron."
When talk turned to any underclassmen entering the NFL Draft, Richt indicated that he has talked to all of the juniors and none of them have made their decision yet.

"It's a huge decision in their lives," Richt said.  "If they come back, they need to come back 100 percent motivated that this is the best place for them and to get us back on top in the SEC's Eastern Division.  They can be leaders and improve their trade and mature as men.  They better be ready if they do go out because it's a business."

Video Link 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

LSU - Texas A&M Cotton Bowl Prediction

Hide your kids, hide your wife, because they rapin eyerbody up in here college football is back again with the wannabee BCS Cotton bowl pitting the Tigers of LSU against the Aggies of Texas A&M.

When: Friday Night 8:00 PM ET
Where: Jerry World
Line: LSU - 2 (open -1)

Through the Sugar Bowl, I am 22-8 in bowl picks with a 7-4 record in the ACC and SEC.

Here are the three areas I look at when making my bowl picks:

Who Has The Better Team?
LSU out gained their opponents by an average of 153 yards per game while A&M had a negative yards per game advantage of 19 yards.  With that yardage disparity you would think A&M would have a great turnover margin to get to 9-3 but they were -2 on the season.  The Tigers were +5.

For as much grief as they took, the LSU offense was one of the most efficient in the nation scoring a point every 11.7 yards.  This means they are taking drives for seven points instead of three and getting good field position from their defense.  A&M was a respectable 14.2 yards per point.

Defensively, A&M was slightly more efficient at 17.6 yards per point, but LSU was not far behind at 16.7.

LSU is ranked 11th in the Sagarin facing the 24th ranked schedule while Texas A&M comes in just two spots behind at 13 due to their 11th ranked strength of schedule.  The Tigers are 4-2 against the Sagarin Top 30 while the Aggies are 2-3

I am a little surprised A&M's schedule rated tougher than LSU coming out of the SEC West with a non-conference win over West Virginia.

But I give the Tigers the edge here because of who they beat and how tough they played the others- beat Alabama, beat Miss State, beat Florida, lost by seven at Auburn, lost by eight at Arkansas.
Edge: LSU

Which Coach Will Have His Team Better Prepared?
Les Miles is 5-3 in bowl games and 4-1 at LSU.

Mike Sherman is 0-1 in bowl games in his first college head job losing last year in the Independence Bowl to Georgia.  Sherman's rebound this year surprised me as I didn't know if he could adapt to the college game this quickly after spending the last 11 years in the NFL.

You can fault Miles' for a lot of things but you usually can't for lack of effort from his team.
Edge: Slight LSU

Which Team Will Be More Motivated?
A&M will be playing in front of a mostly home crowd in Dallas a city usually dominated by Oklahoma or arch rival Texas.

The Tigers' players will have to block out the rumors surrounding their head coach possibly leaving for his alma mater (Michigan) up until game time.
Edge: Slight Texas A&M

LSU RB Stevan Riddley was ruled eligible for the Cotton Bowl giving the Tigers their leading rusher back after being ruled ineligible in early December.  This is great news for an offense averaging 182 yards per game on the ground and just 155 through the air.

I think Riddley's running combined with a fierce Tiger pass rush will propel LSU to victory in a very close game.

LSU 24 Texas A & M 23
Confidence: 16

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What A Difference Two Years Makes For Auburn

Two years ago Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs arrived on a plane back from hiring Gene Chizik and was greeted loudly at the airport with screams of "5 and 19"

Fast forward to this week and the Tigers are arriving in Phoenix on a bigger plane for a bigger game.  In two seasons at Auburn, Chizik is 21-5 though you won't find any proof of anyone thinking he could accomplish that feat, myself included.

Auburn arrives in style aboard a Delta 747
Auburn arrival gallery