Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Georgia or Georgia Tech: Who Has The Better Basketball Program? A Statistical Breakdown

There is not much debate in football between the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets, but who has the dominant program in basketball? The AJC's Jeff Schultz asked this very question in a post Monday.

Schultz concludes that with Gregory's hire at Tech the balance of power has shifted to Athens.  I am not sure how he can conclude that since Gregory has not won or lost a game yet as the Yellow Jackets head coach.

The real question is had the power already shifted to UGA even before Gregory (or whomever else) was hired? Lets take a look at some program and coaches stats.

Recent History:
-UGA defeated Georgia Tech this past season
-UGA has defeated Georgia Tech the last 2 times they've played
-UGA has a better overall record than Georgia Tech this past season (21-11 vs 13-18)
-Georgia Tech has more NCAA Tournament appearances over the last 10 years than UGA (5 vs 3)
-Georgia Tech has more Sweet 16 appearances over the last 10 years than UGA (2 vs 1)
-Georgia Tech has more Final Four appearances over the last 10 years than UGA (1 vs 0)
-Georgia Tech has more NCAA Tournament wins over the last 10 years than UGA (7 vs 1)
-Georgia Tech has a better overall winning percentage over the last 30 years (0.577 to 0.562)
-AP voters think GT is better with more weeks in AP Top 25 over the past 10 years than UGA (46 vs 26)

-Georgia Tech has recruited more McDonald's AA out of high school than UGA (18 vs 8)
-Since 1998 Georgia Tech has recruited more Top 50 high school players than UGA (10 vs 2)
-Over the past 10 years Georgia Tech has had more players drafted by the NBA than UGA (7 vs 2)

The ACC has had 21 more NBA Draft picks than the SEC over the past 10 years
The ACC has had 3 more NCAA Tournament Championships than the SEC over the past 10 years
The ACC has had 6 more Final Four teams than the SEC over the past 10 years
The ACC has had 4 more NCAA Tournament teams than the SEC over the past 5 years

From a program standpoint, it seems pretty clear Georgia Tech has the advantage with 7 NCAA Tournament wins to 1 over the last 10 years as well as advantages in recruiting and conference alignment.

However, the Bulldogs have won the last two in the series and three different UGA coaches were a combined 7-4 against Paul Hewitt.

It is now the off season so regardless of last season's results or the recent history most fans are optimistic about their program's future. What Tech did under Paul Hewitt and UGA under previous coaches has to be taken with with caution as both programs have new coaches (relatively new for UGA).

Here is how Mark Fox and Gregory stack up in overall winning percentage over the last seven seasons.

It seems after some declining years recently, Fox has righted the ship and is on the upward swing.  That continued ascension could depend on whether Juniors Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie return to Athens next seasons. Fox also bests Gregory is overall winning percentage and conference winning percentage. Gregory is going through a declining winning percentage right now similar to what Fox experienced, but can he get it turned around with the more abundant resources available at Tech?

The answer to that question may be the deciding factor in who gains control of the Peach State in the years to come.

(h/t to Statsheet.com for the stats)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tennessee Makes The Right Choice With Cuonzo Martin

Count me on board with the Volunteers choice for their next basketball coach.

Although Cuonzo Martin's resume is short with just three seasons as a head coach it is already filling up with accomplishments.

After a rough first season with the Bears, Martin righted the ship improving their conference standing to 7th in his second season and winning the Missouri Valley regular season title in his third. A four point loss to Indiana State was the only thing keeping Missouri State out of the NCAA Tournament this season.

The former Purdue player spent nine seasons on the bench with Gene Keady whose coaching tree has produced current Boilermaker head coach Matt Painter as well as Vandy's Kevin Stallings, Illinois' Bruce Weber and St. Johns' Steve Lavin. All four of these schools played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee fans expected a big name coach with a lot of wins on their resume. I am going to assume one of those desired names was Shaka Smart.

The truth is we don't know how well Smart will do in the long run. In his two seasons at VCU he has finished 5th and 4th in the CAA. Not exactly blowing anyone away. The NCAA Tournament run is great but George Mason did it a few years back and hasn't come close since. LSU had a great run under John Brady. Georgia Tech made it to the championship game under Paul Hewitt.

As much as Bruce Pearl elevated the Tennessee program he also brought it crashing down. His actions forced Mike Hamilton's hand in firing arguably the greatest coach in UT history.

Vols fans wanted a Rick Pitino type hire who was brave enough to take over Kentucky when the Wildcats were on probation. As great as Pearl was he did not take the program to the level of Kentucky. I know that stings Volunteer fans but it is the truth.

The NCAA is coming and they have shown a recent history of hammering those who lie to the them. Martin did his homework by checking out the possible sanctions and said UT AD Mike Hamilton "has assured me it will all work out."

After failing two recent hiring tests, Hamilton studied up for this one and nailed it with Martin.

from ESPN.com

New Georgia Tech Basketball Head Coach Brian Gregory Interview

With the Voice of the Yellow Jackets, Wes Durham

The full press conference is available here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Georgia Tech 2008 Recruiting Review

A class that was started by Chan Gailey and finished by Paul Johnson suffered a few defections and a few new entries, but remained largely intact on Signing Day.

Rivals rated this class 49th best nationally with one four star, 11 three stars, and eight two star players.

(Player Ratings are from Rivals and score is from career up until now)

Omoregie Uzzi - OL - 4 star
Uzzi redshirted his first year and played mostly as backup in his second season. Last year the Chamblee native locked down a starting position at Guard and looks to be the starter again for RS Junior season.
Score: Meeting Expectations

T.J. Barnes - DL - 3 star
A mammoth player at 6'6", 320 lbs Barnes had college size as a freshman, but redshirted to get in better playing shape. The Enterprise, AL native has started games here and there, but has yet to nail down the starting job at NT. With Al Groh's new 3-4 defense, a player with Barnes' size is a must but the RS Junior needs to step up his play this year for Tech's defense to improve.
Score: Meeting Expectations

B.J. Machen - LB - 3 star
Machen was one of the first commitments of the 2008 class. The Ohio native has yet to see significant playing time outside of special teams.
Score: Needs Improvement

Malcolm Munroe - LB - 3 star
Munroe's career has followed a very similar path to Machen's.
Score: Needs Improvement

Jaybo Shaw - QB - 3 star
Johnson had been recruiting Shaw for the Naval Academy, but the Flowery Branch native decided to commit to Middle Tennessee State instead. When Johnson moved to Atlanta, Shaw did too. He started two games as a true freshman playing very well when Josh Nesbitt got hurt. Eventually, Shaw saw the writing on the wall with Nesbitt cemented as the starter and transferred to Georgia Southern before the 2010 season leading the Eagles to FCS Semifinals.
Score: Exceeded Expectations

Steven Sylvester - LB - 3 star
Sylvester played as a true freshman seeing action in every game. As a sophomore he started 8 games and locked down the OLB position full time in 2009. Sylvester figures to be one of Tech's best pass rushers this coming season.
Score: Exceeding Expectations

Richard Watson - RB - 3 star
Watson may finally get his shot at starting this season after sitting behind Jon Dwyer and Anthony Allen the last three years. Since he has the most experience on the roster we should finally find out if Watson was simply stuck behind two NFL players or just isn't that good.
Score: Meeting Expectations

Brandon Leslie - DB - 3 star
Leslie was an interesting recruit considering he came all the way from Fresno, CA. He was never able to crack the two deep and transferred out.
Score: Did Not Meet Expectations

Jon Lockhart - RB - 3 star
Lockhart was recruited as a DB by Gailey, but switched to A-Back under Johnson. Unable to crack the lineup there he has moved to WR without much luck either.
Score: Needs Improvement

Nick McRae - OL - 3 star
McRae has been a backup his entire career, but did start one game this past season. The Dublin native could be in the mix for a starting job at Guard or Center this coming season.
Score: Meeting Expectations

Embry Peeples - RB - 3 star
Peeples played in the first game of the 2008 and has started off and on for the last three seasons at A-Back. Peeples is probably the best receiver at the A-Back position.
Score: Exceeding Expectations

Marcus Wright - RB - 3 star
Wright was originally going to be redshirted his first year but injuries forced him into action. He has never locked down a starting position, but has remained very much apart of the rotation. A non-football injury this past season ended his year early, but he will again be in the mix this coming year.
Score: Meeting Expectations

Rashaad Reid - DB - 2 star
When depth became an issue at CB, Reid played alot as a true freshman and even started a few games. A move to Safety buried Reid on the depth chart, but he should have as good of a chance as any to start this season.
Score: Exceeding Expectations

Kamaron Riley - WR - 2 star
Riley was one of the many Hawkinsville, Ga players sent to Atlanta during the Gailey years. However, he was never able to crack the depth chart and transferred out.
Score: Did Not Meet Expectations

Daniel McKayhan - WR - 2 star
After redshirting his first year, McKayhan has been a backup for his career thus far. He has a chance to be a starter this year at WR and as a punt returner.
Score: Meeting Expectations

Phil Smith - OL - 2 star
Smith committed to Tech after Johnson's arrival and has been a part time starter the last two seasons. With the departure of both tackles, Smith figures to have the inside track to a starting job in RS Junior season.
Score: Exceeding Expectations

Cooper Taylor - DB - 2 star
Like Reid, Taylor was forced into action his first season but eventually got buried by depth. In the middle of last season, Taylor decided to transfer out eventually landing at Richmond. Based on his two star rating out of high school, Taylor's play up until his transfer had to be considered a pleasant surprise.
Score: Exceeded Expectations

Antonio Wilson - DL - 2 star
Wilson only played one season of high school football and only four games in that season cut short by an auto accident. However, the Decatur native did not crack the two deep and decided to leave the football team, but remains enrolled in school.
Score: Needing Improvement

Tevin Washington - QB - 3 star
Like Shaw, Washington was courted to Tech by Johnson to run his style of offense. After serving as a backup for two seasons, Washington was pressed into action at Virginia Tech because of Nesbitt's injury. He started the final four games of the season and will be the leader at the position heading into Spring Practice.
Score: Exceeding Expectations

Quentin Sims - WR - 2 star
Sims was the lowest rated recruit in the 2008 class according to Rivals. He redshirted his first year and spent the next two as a backup at WR, playing a handful of downs per game. Sims decided to transfer out following this past season.
Score: Met Expectations

Previously, I have taken a look back at the 2006 and 2007 (Part I) (Part II) recruiting classes and today its the 2008 class.

This article was also featured on ChuckOliver.net

Monday, March 21, 2011

Georgia Tech Coaching Search: New Candidates Emerge But Has A Decision Already Been Made?

When Paul Hewitt was notified his contract would not be renewed I initially put together a list of five candidates to consider.  Anthony Grant became a candidate bringing up the discussion of whether Georgia Tech was a better program than Alabama. With the search now a full week gone by more candidates are starting to emerge.

Craig Neal, Assistant New Mexico
Affectionately known as "Noodles", Neal played at Georgia Tech under Bobby Cremins. Neal has ridden with Steve Alford at Iowa and now New Mexico. Like most fan bases, the one at Georgia Tech seems to elevate Neal's resume because of his alumni status. In my opinion, raising a candidate's resume simply because they are an alumnus is a recipe for disaster.

Mark Price, NBA Shooting Consultant
Price is probably Georgia Tech's most successful basketball player in the NBA, but he has very limited coaching experience. His head coaching experience consists of Georgia High School Class A (lowest level).

Donnie Tyndall, Head Coach Morehead State
When Tyndall took over Morehead, the Eagles were one of the ten worst Division I programs according to the RPI. Three years later, Tyndall had Morehead in the NCAA Tournament (hear Tyndall on Atlanta radio last week).  His team made a second appearance in three seasons this year upsetting Louisville in the first round before losing to...

Chris Mooney, Head Coach Richmond
Mooney has his Richmond Spiders team in the Sweet 16 this season. Under his watch, the program has experienced increasing win totals the last three season.

A hot rumor around Atlanta is that the Tech job is Mooney's to turn down. If Tech fans are worried about simply hiring the hot coach, Mooney was apparently the top choice if Hewitt had left for St. John's last season.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Last 7 Seconds of Butler-Pitt NCAA Tournament Thriller: Did The Refs Get It Completely Right?

As I watch this ending again, two things strike me:

1) Why wasn't Pitt awarded three foul shots when Butler's Shelvin Mack fouled Gilbert Brown with 1.4 seconds left? The refs arm clearly goes up after Brown releases the shot and no "wave off" is given.

2) On the flip side, why wasn't Butler awarded three shots too when they were fouled on the missed free throw?

I think both foul calls were correct, but based on the replay it looks like Pitt should have gotten three shots instead of two.  The back ref does not make a definitive call either way for three shots given or to wave off the shot. 

If you remember the controversial Rutgers-St Johns Big East Tournament game ending, the refs  could not review the St. Johns playing stepping out of bounds or the clock because no definitive call was made on that play.

Fans complain when refs swallow their whistle late.  These refs did the right thing and called the game for all 40 minutes, but shouldn't they also have to make definitive calls for all 40 minutes too? 

Why can refs change or add onto/subtract from their calls in the final seconds, but not go to the video monitor to review foul calls earlier in the game?  Wouldn't those calls be just as important?

Despite how crazy the ending was and how the refs may have botched it, I want to give Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens some major kudos for how he kept his poise at the end of the game and especially after. In the post game interview you could tell how relieved he was with the win, but also how bad he felt for Pitt.

This Was The Best Thing To Happen To Wake Forest Basketball All Season

From SI.com

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Best Pictures of the NCAA Tournament First Round

Including an under basket view of Matt Howard's tip in with the opposite basket and time in the distance to give Butler the win.

From SI.com

Friday, March 18, 2011

UGA Head Coach Mark Fox Discusses His Bulldogs And The Washington Huskies

Georgia Basketball Head Coach Mark Fox was on both Atlanta sports stations this week talking about how his team reacted when they saw their name in the bracket, what an NCAA Tournament bid means to recruiting, and how the Bulldogs are preparing for first round opponent Washington.

790 The Zone Interview
680 The Fan Interview

Bruce Pearl and Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton Are Not on the Same Page

This past Monday, Bruce Pearl was on Atlanta's 790 The Zone talking about his journey to Tennessee and where he has taken the Vols program (6 straight NCAA bids).

At the end of the interview, one of the hosts (Nick Cellini), asked Pearl if he thought how he did in this year's Tournament would determine if he would be back in Knoxville next season.

Pearl's response was "I hope it doesn't determine my future as to whether I'm back...it could determine my future as to a lot of things, but not whether [I'm back]...the people at Tennessee have been very supportive...our President has been out front...the Athletic Director has been out front..they want me to be the coach a long time and I want to be the coach a long time."

Then on Wednesday, Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton goes on Knoxville radio station WNML-AM and said "The jury is out with what's going to happen on that. He knows that, by the way,".

If Bruce Pearl had missed two of the last three NCAA Tournaments or had the 40th highest active winning percentage (Pearl currently ranks 4th), I don't think much discussion is needed to determine his future. But that fact is that none of those statements describe Pearl.

Who knows what statements describe Pearl right now.

Pearl Interview Audio

Morehead State Upsets Louisville: Head Coach Donnie Tyndall On Atlanta Radio

earlier this week...At that time Tyndall said a win over Louisville would be the biggest win in school history.  Well, it happened.

790 The Zone Interview audio

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Success In The NCAA Tournament By Seed Last 10 Years

It is not too surprising that #1 seeds have the highest chance to make the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final 4. The 2 and 3 seed lines fall accordingly to their ranking as well.  But then it gets interesting..

5 seeds fare that much better than 4 seeds of getting to the Sweet 16 at a rate of 42.5% to 35%.  That stat would make a 5 seed a very tempting choice to advance if only their first round game against the 12 seed wasn't so tough.  12 seeds have gotten to the Sweet 16 one out of every fives times since 2001 or about half as often as 5 seeds.

If you are an 8 or a 9 seed heading into March, you are better off tanking it to move down to 10 line.  10 seeds make it to the Sweet 16 more times than 8 and 9 seeds combined. 
Chart from BusinessInsider.com

NCAA Tournament Bracket Edge: Does UGA Gain An Advantage Because of Jet Lag?

Each year as we fill out our brackets we always look for that one stat that may give us the edge we need to win our pool. We look at RPI, FG%, and Coaches records among other things.

One thing that you may overlook is distance traveled by each team. In the NFL you always hear of west coast teams struggling when they come east because of the travel distance and time difference.

The team that has to travel the farthest according to this chart from BusinessInsider.com for their first round game is 7 seed Washington. The Huskies will trek 2,811 miles from Seattle to Charlotte for their first round game against the 10 seed Georgia Bulldogs.

Conversely, UGA has the 8th shortest distance to travel at just 193 miles.
One break the Huskies did get is their game time of 9:45 ET as opposed to the dreaded Noon start. 

Georgia Tech Coaching Search: Is Anthony Grant Considering Leaving Alabama?

After just two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Alabama's Anthony Grant may be considering leaving the Tide to take the Georgia Tech job.

The rumored reason for his possible departure is that Grant is tired of being second (or may third behind Spring Football) fiddle in the Alabama Athletic Department.  If Georgia Tech was able to match Grant's $1.8 Million salary he would leave.

I really had not considered a name like Anthony Grant in my original coaching candidates because 1) I didn't think Grant would be interested in leaving Tuscaloosa after just two seasons 2) I didn't think Tech had the money to pay for him.

One the second one, Georgia Tech is having to pay former coach Paul Hewitt $120,000 per month over the next five years (around $7.2 Million total).  The Yellow Jackets have also been paying former football coach Chan Gailey's buyout the last three years with one more to go.   Current football coach Paul Johnson makes about $2.3 Million per season.  All of this comes from an athletic department that basically broke even last year.

Hewitt's yearly salary was about $1.3 Million.  Georgia Tech has some very wealthy alumni, but the question is will they pony up the additional money needed to afford a guy like Grant? 

More importantly from Grant's perspective is would be is he taking a better job at Tech than he has now at Alabama?

I decided to look up some key statistics for each program to see how they stack up. Both schools have good highlights in their basketball history

Which school has the better program - Alabama or Georgia Tech?
Ga. TechAlabama
National Titles00
Final 4 Appearances2 (last 2004)0
Elite 8 Appearances4 (last 2004)1 (last 2004)
Sweet 16 Appearances7 (last 2004)8 (last 2004)
NCAA Tournaments16 (last 2010)19 (last 2006)
Conf Championships4 (last 1993)6 (last 1991)
Reg. Season Champs3 (last 1996)7 (last 2002)
McDonalds All-Americans189
Players Drafted (last 10 years)75
Wins (last 5 seasons)94111
Weeks Ranked (last 10 yrs)4689

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Great Moments In NCAA Tournament History

as told by legos. Be sure to check out the signs in the background from the fans.

(h/t Sports By Brooks)

Here are some more great moments from SI.com

What are some of your greatest tournament memories?

Monday, March 14, 2011

10 Thoughts on the SEC and the NCAA Tournament

1. Why were Kentucky and Florida two seed lines apart? Still haven't seen an article on it, but many Kentucky fans tweeted last night quoting NCAA Selection Committee had finished seeds on Saturday and did not take into account Sunday games.

2. Kentucky vs West Virginia could be a very intriguing second round matchup. One of those border rivalries that we never seem to get enough of.

3. Would Wildcat fans be happy with Sweet 16 exit? It is going to be really, really tough to beat Ohio State in Cleveland.

4. Billy Donovan had to do a double take when he saw Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans as the 10 seed and possible 2nd round matchup in his bracket.

5. The Sweet 16 game in Florida's bracket could be a rematch with BYU. The Cougars beat the Gators in the 1st round last year in Jimmer Fredette's coming out party.

6. Vanderbilt always seems to find itself with one of the toughest power conference vs mid-major matchups. Last year Murray State upset the 'Dores in the 1st round.

7. I was shocked to see Georgia as a 10 seed. Since Alabama didn't get in, head to head must be fairly low on the NCAA Selection Committee's list.

8. UGA fans will have a tough ticket in Charlotte with Duke and UNC in the building.

9. Tennessee vs Michigan is my favorite opening game of the Tournament. Two teams that could get hot and make a run or fall flat on their face in their first game.

10. My predictions for how far each team will get:
UGA - 2nd round (round of 64 is 2nd round this year)
Tennessee - 3rd round
Vanderbilt - 3rd round
Kentucky - Sweet 16
Florida - Elite 8

Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson Argues With Atlanta Sports Station Host Over Recruiting

Maybe you missed this last week, but Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson got into it with 680 The Fan midday host Matt Chernoff over Johnson's "policy" on what a commitment means in the world of football recruiting.

The center of the argument is whether Johnson's "No visit policy" after a commitment to his program is hypocritical since the Yellow Jacket head coach continues to recruit players after they commit elsewhere. Johnson says he does not view a player as "committed" if they are taking visits whether that be to Tech or elsewhere.

As far as players committed to Ga. Tech taking visits elsewhere, Johnson says he does not have a problem with that but he tells that player that Tech is not committed to them anymore either. Tech will continue to recruit other players for that spot just like the original player is allowing himself to still be recruited.

Johnson says his main issue is with commitments taking visits elsewhere on the weekend before National Signing Day leaving him no time for a replacement as Tre Jackson did this past year and Dontae Aycock in 2008.

After Johnson and host Matt Chernoff are done arguing, Chuck Oliver does a nice job to rescue the interview by steering the conversation back to actual football.

Do you think Paul Johnson's "policy" is hypocritical or not?

Audio (right click to download)

2011 NCAA Tournament: 10 Thoughts On The ACC

1. I think Gene Smith was lying when he said winner of Duke-UNC game was not for a number one seed. If Tar Heels had won then the Blue Devils really would have still been a 1 seed after losing the regular season title, conference championship, and 2 out of 3 to Carolina? But this isn't the first time Gene Smith has lied this week. Or in the past 6 months.

2. If UNC gets to the Sweet 16 (and I think they will) Kendall Marshall will have to be able to penetrate on Syracuse's zone (assuming Orange hold serve as well). North Carolina does not have the perimeter shooters to simply pass the ball around the outside.

3. Duke has the weakest 2-4 seeds in the Tournament. I am not sold on San Diego State against tough competition in back to back to back games. UConn moved up several seeds because of their past five games and Texas...well they look like they are heading for another end of the season implosion. I would be shocked if Duke doesn't make the Final 4.

4. Clemson being one of the last two teams in was a little surprising though as Doug Gottlieb pointed out they had 0 wins over the RPI top 50.

5. The Tigers and UAB got shafted with their game times. They have to play Tuesday's play in game and the winner has to turn around and play again Thursday at Noon.

6. FSU as a 10 seed was surprising. I guess the committee thinks Chris Singlton is not going to play at all.

7. I thought Virginia Tech deserved to get in over UAB. I am sure Seth Greenberg did too.

8. Speaking of Greenberg...How warm is his seat in Blacksburg? I mean eventually you have to play in an NCAA Tournament right?

9. The NCAA Tournament thought the SEC East was tougher than the entire ACC this year. That does not happen very often (or ever).

10. My picks for how far each team advances:
Clemson - 2nd round (that's round of 64 this year)
FSU - 3rd round
UNC - Elite 8
Duke - Final 4

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Head of NCAA Selection Committee, Gene Smith, Takes His Job Very Seriously

and this picture proves it.
Or maybe he just told this joke..."Hey Jim, Seth Greenberg and Virginia Tech are in the NCAA Tournament.." [pause, then laughter erupts]

This picture was on the front of the NCAA's website.  You think they could find a better one considering all the criticism they are taking for this bracket.

Alabama Left Out of NCAA Tournament: Head Coach Anthony Grant's Reaction

or what I imagine it was...

Current NCAA Basketball Referee Ted Valentine Names His Favorite Coaches

In an interview with the Charleston Post and Courier, NCAA Basketball official Ted Valentine was asked who his favorite coaches were.

Instead of declining to answer the question so as not to insinuate any favoritism, Valentine actually gave the names of his favorite coaches many of whom are still active.

Valentine's favorite coaches are: Gene Keady, who used to be at Purdue. Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Gary Williams (Maryland), Jimmy Calhoun (Connecticut). Coach K (Duke's Mike Krzyzewski) is a blue-collar guy. Leonard Hamilton of Florida State. When the game is over, it's over.

In Valentine's words his favorite coaches are "blue collar-type guys...They're not on the phone whining and crying about some controversial thing."

In case you were wondering, Valentine has officiated seven games this season involving one of his favorites Tom Izzo. All-time Valentine has reffed 39 Duke and Maryland games involving two more of his favorites, Mike Krzyzewski and Gary Williams.

I wonder why Bob Knight did not make this list?

(If you ever want to look up a particular refs stats for foul, technicals, etc Statsheet.com is a great resource)

Georgia Tech AD Discusses Paul Hewitt Dismissal and Future of Basketball Program

Georgia Sports Talk has the audio (right click to download)of Tech Athletic Director Dan Radakovich's press conference discussing the firing of Paul Hewitt and future of the Tech basketball program with the media.

Highlights of Radakovich's comments and Q and A:
-Radkovich discussed firing of Hewitt with school president last week and president concurred
-Remainder of Hewitt's contract will be paid out on a monthly basis for the next five years
-Firing was because of more than just wins and losses
-Eddie Fogler, former Vandy and South Carolina head coach, will assist in coaching search
-Tech AD looking for a coach to energize the fan base
-Radakovich not necessarily looking for certain amount of experience as head coach or assistant
-Tech would like a head coach to be named prior to the Final 4
-Yellow Jackets do not have a "cap" they can pay a new coach
-Tech AD thinks new arena, new practice facility can be selling points for new coach
-Wants new coach to use Final 4 as time to fill out staff
-Ga. Tech AD already has a few names in mind
-Hewitt will earn around $7.2M over the next five years
-Hewitt was not shocked to learn the outcome of Tech's decision

More from Georgia Sports Talk

Re-ranking Georgia Tech's 2007 Recruiting Class

Georgia Tech's 2007 class looked very good on Signing Day and for the most part its members delivered on that promise. This group was the core of teams that won 20 games in 2008 and 2009 and an ACC title.

The class had numerous four and three star players as well as a few two stars according to Rivals.com. How did these players actually turn out though?

I attempted to re-rank the players in this class using two components: 1) how much of an immediate impact did a player make? 2) how much of a contributor were they throughout their career.

Most of this class has moved, but a handful of fifth year seniors will make up the roster in 2011. The players who will be taking the field this season will have their re-ranking based on their career to this point.

Morgan Burnett - DB - 4 star
Ended up starting as a CB during his freshman season making the biggest immediate impact of anyone in this class. Burnett went on to earn All-ACC honors and All-American honors in 2008. He left following his Junior season of 2009 for the NFL selected by the Packers in the 3rd round earning a starting job before a knee injury sidelined him for most of the season. Burnett made the biggest immediate impact in this class.
Re-ranking = 5 star

Derrick Morgan - DL - 4 star
Morgan played as a backup his freshman year, but did see significant action. The Pennsylvania native was Tech's most surprising get of the class considering the competition for his services (Ohio State, Penn State, Miami). Morgan eventually grew into the top defensive player in the ACC and was a 1st round selection by the Tennessee Titans this past season.
Re-ranking = 5 star

Jonathan Dwyer - RB - 4 star
Dwyer was a backup to future NFL back Tashard Choice but played in games one through four, but as the season progressed Dwyer's time was limited lessening his overall impact in year one. As a sophomore the running back from Marietta won ACC Offensive Player of the Year. As a junior he again gained over 1,000 yards and again garnered All-ACC honors. Dwyer left early for the NFL and was selected by Pittsburgh in the 6th round.
Re-ranking = 5 star

Joshua Nesbitt - QB - 4 star
The Greensboro, Ga. native came to Tech to play in a pro style offense but in his second season found himself starting as an option QB. Nesbitt had some impact his freshman season as a "change of pace QB" (I still don't know what that term really means) but was not a significant contributor. However, he piloted Tech to nine wins in sophomore season and 11 in his junior year including earning 1st Team All-ACC honors. His senior season was cut short by an arm injury, but he still finished with the ACC's all time rushing record by a QB. Nesbitt's inability to fully develop the passing game is the only thing holding him from a fifth star re-rank.
Re-ranking = 4 star

DJ Donley - WR - 4 star
Many wanted Donley as a DB, but he wanted to play WR and therefore Tech won his services. Yes, he played as a freshman but he didn't contribute very much and left after one season not wanting to play in Johnson's offense.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Willie White - WR - 4 star
Redshirted his freshman season. As a redshirt freshman played in three games, but never caught a pass. Transferred out after 2008.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Nick Claytor - OL - 4 star
Claytor's production was hampered by injuries for most of his time, but when he did play he was a very serviceable lineman. However, he was never lived up to his potential out of high school and left Tech following his redshirt junior year for the NFL where he will likely be a free agent.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Mario Butler - DB - 3 star
Played on special teams and as a backup CB his true freshman year. Turned into a three year starter at cornerback, but lacked many plays of significance to move his ranking up.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Jerrard Tarrant - DB - 3 star
Redshirted his first year and sat out his second due to disciplinary issues. The Carrollton native played one seasons at CB before switching to Safety in 2010 all while returning punts. Tarrant was probably Tech's best play maker on defense this past season.
Re-ranking = 4 star

Brad Jefferson - LB - 3 star
Played as a backup in his freshman season. Injuries kept from starting most of 2008, but nailed down a full time job the last two seasons. Jefferson was a solid, but hardly ever spectacular player.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Kyle Jackson - LB - 3 star
Jackson was a 5 star recruiter for Tech earning the nickname "The Ambassador" for his efforts. Redshirted his first season, but played and started some his second year. Never really fully recovered from a foot injury suffered before his RS Sophomore season.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Steven Threett - QB - 4 star
Enrolled early but transferred to Michigan during fall practice before ever playing a down for Tech.
Re-ranking = N/A

Logan Walls - DL - 2 star
Redshirted his first season. Played as a backup mostly in 2008 and 2009, but turned into a starter in 2010 and will battle with T.J. Barnes and Shawn Green again for the 2011 job. Normally I would rank starters at least a 3 star, but the lack of production and performance at the NT position is casting down owning a starting position here.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Joseph Gilbert - OL - 2 star
Redshirted his first year, but started 12 games in 2008 and was a full time starter again in 2009. After graduating in three years, transferred to Georgia State to pursue and MBA due to Tech's MBA program requiring work experience for admittance. His absence was definitely felt this season.
Re-ranking = 4 star

Jason Peters - DL - 4 star
Peters redshirted his first year and played as backup mostly in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, the Louisiana native started at DE. Heading into this final season Peters will be the starter again, but has lacked significant play making ability expected thus far.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Michael Peterson - DB - 3 star
Peterson has played as backup CB his entire career starting a handful of games. The Tampa native graduated in December and it is not known yet whether he will come back for a fifth year or not.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Albert Rocker - LB - 3 star
Rocker came to Tech as a linebacker but also played some on the defensive line due to injuries. Never became a starter at either position though.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Clyde Yandell - OL - 3 star
Yandell had NFL OL size as a freshman, but when Johnson arrived in 2008 he struggled to grasp the new blocking techniques. Mostly a backup his entire career he, like Gilbert, transferred to Georgia State for this last season after earning his undergraduate degree.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Tyler Melton - WR - 2 star
Melton signed in 2007, but an injury forced him to gray shirt and enroll in 2008. He earned a part time starting role at WR in 2008 as a true freshman and started most of 2009. Melton's role as a starter was diminished in 2010, but he figures to be back in the mix for next season.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Roddy Jones - RB - 3 star
Jones redshirted his first season, but has been a starter the next three. The A-back's best moments so far came in 2008 (UGA game), but as a three starter he has been a player Johnson can almost always count on.
Re-ranking = 4 star

Original Rankings:
5 stars (0)
4 stars (8)
3 stars (10)
2 stars (2)

Post Rankings:
5 stars (3)
4 stars (4)
3 stars (6)
2 stars (6)
N/A (1)

My re-ranking actually moves more four star players down to the three and two star level than remaining the same or moving up to five stars. I think this helps make the point that to have as successful seasons as Georgia Tech did in 2008 and 2009 you need top level talents like Burnett, Morgan, Dwyer, and Nesbitt.

Since the 2007 class, Georgia Tech has fallen short in recruiting this kind of top level talent and that bare cupboard was one reason why Tech's record fell to 6-7 this past season.

This is part three of a five part series chronicling Georgia Tech's recent recruiting classes. Part I focused on the 2006 class and Part II touched on how the 2007 class came together.

This article originally appeared at ChuckOliver.net

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Georgia Tech Basketball Coaching Candidates: 5 Names To Consider

Who will the next coach at Georgia Tech be? With the firing of Paul Hewitt, here are five names the Yellow Jackets might consider for their job opening.

Scott Drew - Baylor
Rebuilt the Baylor program from nothing after the shooting death of Patrick Dennehy by a teammate. The NCAA didn't let the Bears play any non-conference games the following season and subjected the program to numerous other sanctions due to violations by former coach Dave Bliss.

With the way he rebuilt a program with less resources than Tech, Drew would be at the top of my list but a recent NCAA violation with his top player is reason for pause.

Chris Mack - Xavier
Xavier has their coach leave seemingly every other season (Thad Matta - Ohio State, Sean Miller - Arizona) but they continue to win and are a factor in March nearly every year.

Mack is an Xavier alum so he may be less likely to leave than the others.

Rick Byrd - Belmont
His Belmont team has won 4 of the last 6 Atlantic Sun championships. Over that six year span his program has never finished worse than second in their league. In 2008, his Belmont team came within two points of upsetting #2 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

However, Byrd will be 58 in a few weeks so his tenure at Tech could be short.

Reggie Theus - Asst Minnesota Timberwolves, former New Mexico State head coach
Theus turned around a NM State program who went 6-24 the season before his arrival. In his first season he led the aggies to a 10 win improvement and the following season they won the WAC Championship with a 25-9 record.

The former UNLV player has offers to move up in the college ranks but instead chose the NBA.

Cuonzo Martin - Missouri State
Martin played at Purdue under Gene Keady whose coaching tree includes current Boilermaker coach Matt Painter, Vandy coach Kevin Stallings, and St. Johns coach Steve Lavin. At only 39, you would think Martin would be looking to move up in the coaching ranks.

His Bears placed 10th in the Missouri Valley his first season, 7th in his second, and won the regular season title this year. The one failure on Martin's record is losing in the conference championship this season, but Missouri State still has a chance at an at-large bid.

A loooong shot on this one but worth a phone call the way his team finished last season and is heading this season....Jay Wright from Villanova.

Candidate Anthony Grant: Comparing Alabama vs Georgia Tech Programs (Mar 16)
New Candidates Emerge But Has A Decision Already Been Made? (Mar 21)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Beginning of the End of Georgia Tech Basketball Under Paul Hewitt

When things go wrong we try to pinpoint a moment in time when the tide turned.

Georgia Tech fans could look back to the 2008-2009 season when the Yellow Jackets went 12-19 and 2-14 in ACC play, but they would be short sighted.

The day,  and really the play, where the fortunes of Tech Basketball under Paul Hewitt changed was on January 1, 2005 in Lawrence, Kansas. Ironic that Tech's football season this past year took a wrong turn on that same campus? Maybe the Jackets should never return to the Sunflower State. Anyways...

On New Years Day 2005, many television sets in Atlanta and around the state of Georgia were glued not to a college football game, but to a basketball game pitting two top 10 teams.

The Yellow Jackets had become the darlings of the Peach State after a run to the National Championship Game the season before and were returning the bulk of that team the following season. Head Coach Paul Hewitt had turned down overtures from the NBA and high profile college jobs signing a six year deal worth about $1.25 Million per year which included a yearly rollover provision to keep him at Tech.

Georgia Tech fans would be lying to you if they said back in 2004 they were upset about the contract. Hewitt had just taken them to the brink of a national championship and was a top coaching candidate for numerous college and pro jobs. The man had brought Georgia Tech back to the national spotlight something not seen in nearly a decade. But as always, hindsight is correct and now the deal looks like one of the worst ever written in college athletics because of how the last six seasons have transpired.

Back to that New Years Day in 2005.

Tech was facing number two Kansas in an Elite 8 rematch from the previous NCAA Tournament where the Jackets prevailed in overtime to advance to the Final 4.

Hewitt's team came out of the gate on fire building up a 10-4 lead at the first TV timeout. The Jackets would extend that lead all the way 14 with 11:29 to go in the first half.

However, the second play following the under 12 media timeout would redirect the course of Georgia Tech basketball under Paul Hewitt.

B.J. Elder, the team's leading scorer from a year ago, was on a fast break after a block by Ra'Sean Dickey when he pulled up lame right under the Kansas basket grabbing his hamstring.

The teams would go back and forth for the next few minutes, but the Jayhawks ended the first half with a 16-7 run to close the gap to seven.

Just five minutes into the second half Kansas had cut Tech's lead to just three, but Kansas never secured a lead of their own in the second half. Only a game tying three pointer with 1:30 to go, one of seven made by the Jayhawks in the second half, would tie the game and send it into overtime.  Kansas took their first lead of the game with 1:44 to go in overtime eventually winning by two.
from ESPN Game Flow
Georgia Tech would go on to play for the ACC Championship and make it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. But the Jackets disappointed through much of the regular season finishing up 11-10 after the New Years Day loss at Kansas.

Since that day in Lawrence, the Jackets have been just one game over .500 (102-101) under Paul Hewitt and have missed the NCAA Tournament four times while making just two.

SEC Basketball Tournament Predictions

Thursday Games:
#4E Georgia over #5W Auburn 1:00 PM
#3W Ole Miss over #6E South Carolina 3:30 PM
#5E Tennessee over #4W Arkansas 7:30 PM
#3E Vanderbilt over #6W LSU 10:00 PM

Friday Games:
#4E Georgia over #1W Alabama 1:00 PM
#2E Kentucky over #3W Ole Miss 3:30 PM
#5E Tennessee over #1E Florida 7:30 PM
#2W Miss State over #3E Vanderbilt 10:00 PM

Saturday Games:
#2E Kentucky over #4E Georgia 1:00 PM
#5E Tennessee over #2W Miss State 3:30 PM

SEC Championship:
#5E Tennessee over #2E Kentucky 1:00 PM

Why not?

ACC Tournament Predictions

Thursday Games:
#8 Virginia over #9 Miami 12:00 PM
#5 BC over #12 Wake Forest 2:30 PM
#10 NC State over #7 Maryland 7:00 PM
#6 Va Tech over #11 Ga Tech 9:30 PM

Friday Games:
#1 UNC over #8 Virginia 12:00 PM
#5 BC over #4 Clemson 2:30 PM
#2 Duke over #10 NC State 7:00 PM
#6 Va Tech over #3 FSU 9:30 PM

Saturday Games:
#5 BC over #1 UNC 1:00 PM
#2 Duke over #6 Va Tech 3:30 PM

ACC Championship:
#2 Duke over #5 BC 1:00 PM

Why not?

ACC Tournament Records By Coach: Virginia Tech Fans Have Reason To Worry

Not surprisingly Mike Krzyzewski leads all current coaches with 49 wins to just 17 losses, but how do coaches on the hot seat like Sidney Lowe and Paul Hewitt stack up?  What about perpetual bubble team Virginia Tech under Seth Greenberg?

Steve Donahue, BC, 0-0
Brad Brownell, Clemson, 0-0
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke, 49-17
Leonard Hamilton, FSU, 5-8
Paul Hewitt, Ga Tech, 9-10
Gary Williams, Maryland, 17-19
Frank Haith, Miami, 5-6
Roy Williams, UNC, 9-5
Sidney Lowe, NC State, 5-4
Tony Bennett, Virginia, 1-1
Seth Greenberg, Va Tech, 3-6
Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest, 0-0

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Did Former UGA Player David Pollack Really Commit NCAA Violations In Recruitment of UGA Signee Ray Drew?

The Georgia Bulldogs reported five NCAA rules violations to the SEC today surrounding the commitment ceremony of heralded recruit Ray Drew.

Present at Drew's ceremony in Thomasville, Ga. were former UGA players Randall Godfrey and David Pollack.

UGA is reporting this because in their words “The violation involves prospective student-athlete (PSA) Mr. Ray Drew and two former letter winners who appear to be representatives of the University’s athletics interests.”

However, UGA does not deem Pollack and Godfrey to be representatives of the school "until they commented on Drew after he had already announced his decision to sign with the Bulldogs. Therefore they could not have influenced his decision."

David Pollack's twitter account suggests otherwise.

Leading up to Drew's announcement on January 28 and before the official signing of his Letter of Intent on February 2nd, Pollack sent the following tweets concerning the prospective student athlete:

Jan 23
Also on Jan 23
So Pollack actually has commented on Drew before his announcement or more importantly his official signing with Georgia.

Today, in response to the reporting of the violations Pollack said the following:
“I think it’s important for everybody to know I didn’t have anything to do with Ray’s decision,” Pollack said. “He didn’t talk to me about his school choices; he didn’t ask me, ’should I do this or should I do that? All he said is he wanted me to be part of his signing when it happened.”

However, Pollack fooled two of the biggest names in football recruiting, Chad Simmons and JC Shurburtt, when it comes to his ability to get kids to UGA.
Whether he "influenced" Drew or not he certainly knew his decision before Drew actually announced.
Did David Pollack really go all the way down to Thomasville fully expecting Drew to announce Auburn or LSU just as likely as Georgia?

Alabama Basketball Fans Have Sypathy For Rutgers - Tim Higgins Blows Another Call

In case you missed it today (and those who work during the day probably did) St. Johns defeated Rutgers in (what I think is) the 2nd round of the Big East tournament. St. Johns and Rutgers played by what all accounts was 40 minutes of a great basketball game, BUT the officials decided to ref only about 39 minutes and 57 seconds.

Watch here and see what I mean...

The announcer nails it and Tim Higgins and the other two refs don't. The St. Johns player clearly commits a traveling violation with about 2.5 seconds left and then steps out with about 1.7 seconds. Higgins, the ref on the left side of the screen right in front of the St. Johns bench, is in perfect position to make the call but doesn't.

Right after the buzzer you can see Higgins walking off the court without even looking at the monitors for a replay.

The head of NCAA officiating was upset at the no-call, but has no jurisdiction over the referees continuing in the Big East.

Nearly all referees nowadays are simply contractors working for different conferences. Conferences do not have their own referees like in football so there is no one to answer to and when you have no one to answer to there is no consequences for poor performance.

But I didn't have to tell Alabama fans all this.

Sports By Brooks also has a great slo-mo and close up of this blown call.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Georgia Tech Attendance Watch: 2nd Largest Crowd of the Season Watches Final Game Ever in Alexander Coliseum

Georgia Tech defeated Miami on Sunday in the final game ever at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in front of the second largest crowd of the season 8,025. Only the North Carolina game (8,125) drew more.

Still with 1,166 unsold seats, Tech lost about $40,810 in ticket revenue alone not to mention other streams including parking, concessions, and merchandise.

The Miami game puts the lost ticket revenue at around $935,815 for the season. You could probably double this number if you count in seat licenses along with the other revenue streams available at each game.

Although the Yellow Jackets came into the game off a big win Thursday night at Wake Forest, the larger crowd is most likely due to the game being the last at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tech brought back numerous former letterman and their families to enjoy their old stomping grounds one last time. The Jackets were even offering tickets for $12 to faculty and staff the week of the game.

While the basketball arena is renovated next season, the Yellow Jackets will play off campus at the Gwinnett Arena and Philips Arena.

Paul Hewitt gets paid around $1.375 million dollars per year with a contract that Tech has the option to roll over one year every March 16. If they do not extend the contract by that date then Hewitt is automatically terminated and he is paid for the remaining five years on his deal. If he is released anytime after March 16 then a sixth year must be paid out.

I do not expect any news to come out of Georgia Tech regarding Hewitt's future until after the Jackets are eliminated in the ACC Tournament (and if they win it then I definitely don't expect any news).

The question Athletic Director Dan Radakovich has to wrestle with is the lack of attendance, and therefore lack of revenue, hurting the program more going forward than the amount paid to Hewitt each year as part of his buyout?

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
Clemson $104,020 lost without a full arena
Florida St $115,115 lost without a full arena
Chattanooga $30,585 lost without a 75% full arena
Virginia $127,890 lost without a full arena
Miami $40,810 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $935,815 in ticket sales alone

Sunday, March 6, 2011

SEC Power Rankings Week Ending March 6th

Due to several teams suffering major setbacks in the last two weeks, I have to severely back up from my NCAA Tournament projections a few weeks ago regarding the status of Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. As of now, only three teams look like "locks" for the NCAA Tournament.

Those other three mentioned above are all squarely on the bubble now. If UGA gets past Auburn in the first round, we could have a NCAA Tournament bid on the line when Georgia meets Alabama. The Vols may have to get past the Gators in the second round due to a very poor finish to the regular season.

1. Florida
Gators are by far the SEC's best chance to make it to the Final 4.  Sorry UK fans I just don't trust Calipari.

2. Kentucky
Wildcats with three really good wins down the stretch before heading to "Catlanta" next week.

3. Alabama
Did the Tide have that great of a week? Nope but it wasn't as bad as Vandy, UT, or UGA.

4. Vanderbilt
Commodores had two really good chances to improve their seed this week and failed both times.

5. Georgia
Bulldogs are living dangerously on the bubble. UGA will get a rematch with Alabama if they can get past Auburn in round one.

6. Tennessee
Thank goodness for strength of schedule or else the Vols would be nowhere near the bubble.

7. Miss State
Congrats Rick Stansbury you just finished 2nd in the West. Your Prize? You will be a double digit underdog in the second round of your own conference tournament!

8. Ole Miss
Rebels season ending win over the Razorbacks gives them the nod here.

9. Arkansas
John Pelphrey had an ad taken out against him in a local paper. That is so 1990s. Billboards, people.

10. South Carolina
I wish Darin Horn could coach as slick as his hair looks.

11. Auburn
Congratulations Auburn. You beat LSU in football and basketball this season.

12. LSU
The Tigers have exactly one basketball win since Les Miles interviewed for the Michigan job.

Chuck Smith's Month After Firing From Tennessee Press Conference... As Traffic Passes By In The Background

The former Volunteer great says the decision to leave Knoxville was not his and he would like to coach at another SEC school. Smith also apologized to Tennessee recruits whom he promised he would coach.

The most important part was when Smith denied rumors he had an altercation with UT DC Justin Wilcox. Smith was a very good recruiter for the Vols so he will be missed in that area, but obviously head coach Derek Dooley felt that value was not enough to keep Smith over Wilcox.

It brings back the old recruiting vs strategy argument. After watching Auburn this year and what they with just a few new additions it seems like recruiting may be the more important of the two right now.

Part I (about 12:30)

Part II (about 12:00)

Friday, March 4, 2011

New To College Football? Not Sure Who To Root For? Maybe This Will Help

(click on the image for an enlarged version)

Original link

How The 2007 Georgia Tech Recruiting Class Came To Be

The 2007 signing class was one of Georgia Tech's best ever. After several mediocre classes in a row, the Yellow Jackets signed a consensus top 20 class that proved to be even better. How it came together was part aggression by the staff, part position fits, and part laziness from rivals.

Not Being Afraid
In his four previous signing classes, Chan Gailey had largely recruited outside the state of Georgia selling his NFL ties to players in Texas, Florida and the mid-Atlantic Region. At the time, the Georgia Bulldogs were winning at a pace not seen since the early 80s and largely because of the talent they recruited in the Peach State. Gailey decided not to go head to head on many in state players with the Bulldogs figuring the school in Athens would win nearly every battle.

Maybe it was the seat warming up, maybe it was bringing on new assistants with more ties to Georgia, but the Yellow Jackets set their sights high very soon after signing day in 2006 offering as many of the top players in the state as they could that would qualify academically.

In 2006, Giff Smith was named Tech's recruiting coordinator. Smith was from Mableton and played college ball at Georgia Southern. Another key member, Geoff Collins, was hired in 2006 as Director of Player Personnel. Collins grew up in Conyers and was also a member of Tech's staff during three very good seasons in 1999-2001.

Even with more emphasis in state, Tech was not afraid to go against heavyweights out of the state. The Jackets continued to recruit players like Derrick Morgan, one of the top players in Pennsylvania. Normally when schools like Ohio State, Miami, and Penn State are in the fold the Yellow Jackets would bow out figuring their chances were slim. But Tech's staff kept on the eventual NFL First Round Pick and secured his commitment after Morgan had visited all four.

Smith and Collins spearheaded much of this class, but they needed help from someone who could truly connect with high school players.

Kyle Jackson from Union Grove HS was one of the first players to commit to the 2007 class, but his recruiting did not stop until signing day.

Jackson set out to help the staff in any way he could to sign the best possible players connecting with other recruits on visits to the Tech campus nearly every weekend as well as continuing the communication away from Atlanta.

Every recruiting season you hear of players saying they are recruiting other guys to join them in places like Athens, Tallahassee, or Tuscaloosa and finally Tech had one of their own doing the same. You can never underestimate the help a current high school player can have in influencing other players to join him.

Position Fits
High school football is full of great athletes who end up playing different positions in college. But sometimes you get players who are set on playing a particular position at the next level, especially with quarterbacks. Such was the case with eventual starter Joshua Nesbitt.

The 2009 All-ACC 1st Team QB grew up Greensboro, Georgia deep in Bulldog Country. UGA offered Nesbitt, but as a defensive back a position he also played at Greene County High.

It is not very often the second rated QB in the state (some guy named Cameron Newton was #1) looks hard at Georgia Tech, but the dual threat ignal caller saw an opportunity to play QB and history showed Gailey would play freshman which Nesbitt liked very much.

Another highly touted player Tech landed was D.J. Donley who again hailed from a stronghold in UGA recruiting, Charlton County. Donley played at the same high school as the Bailey brothers who went on to fame in Athens and the NFL. Though a prolific WR, most schools saw Donley as a defensive back with serious pro potential. But Donley was only interested in playing offense despite the likes of FSU, Florida, and UGA all offering as a DB. Tech offered the chance to play wide receiver which he did his freshman year.

Thanks Neighbor
Recruiting is not easy for Tech. I could make a list of all the perceived negatives including academics, lack of majors, lack of girls, small stadium, etc. When your neighbors give you some help then you better take advantage and Tech certainly did.

Caleb King was all the rage in 2006 with some saying he could be the next Herschel Walker. Naturally, Georgia was recruiting King and due to depth on the current roster at the running back position was going to take just one player here.

That left the number two rated running back in the state, Jonathan Dwyer, up for grabs. Rivals and Scout will tell you that Georgia offered Dwyer but his recruitment was haphazard at best by the Bulldogs staff who had their eyes set on King.

Tech's biggest competition for Dwyer was FSU. The Seminoles prowess on the recruiting trail was far from what it was in the 90s with constant rumors of Bowden's retirement every season. That lack of effort in recruiting showed up in their records over Bowden's final seasons.

Morgan Burnett was another player the Bulldogs did not put full effort into. Part of it may have been that his brother Cap played in Athens and the UGA staff figured Morgan wouldn't dare go elsewhere. The other part may have been that another stud safety named Reshad Jones had arrived the previous year.

The rumor has been floated in subsequent years that the Georgia relaxed in their recruiting the state after huge successes early in Richt's tenure combined with a recent ability to attract top talent nationwide like Matt Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, and Kade Weston.

Another four star player Jason Peters had an unlikely recruiting battle erupt between LSU and Georgia Tech. The defensive end was from Baton Rouge and long favored the Tigers, but when Les Miles told Peters he would have to gray shirt, Jason turned his eyes to Tech. Miles has since learned his lesson on shoving kids away before National Signing Day.

And with Nick Claytor, whom Rivals ranked as the 10th best in the state, Georgia never really seriously pursued the Gainesville lineman.

The 2007 class was the centerpiece of the 11 win, ACC Champion team in 2009. Rivals originally ranked this class 18th nationally while Scout ranked it 15th nationally. But in a recent re-ranking ESPN gave Tech their 6th best class of 2007 ahead of heavyweights like Ohio State, USC, and LSU.

While this staff deserves credit for the 2007 class by changing their recruiting tactics they also got some help from others and timely luck in the process. It should not be surprising recruiting fell off some after Geoff Collins left for Alabama (and now co-defensive coordinator at Miss State) and is still recovering from the loss of Giff Smith after last season. New recruiting coordinator Andy McCollum showed some promise in year one, but better results should be expected going forward with a full recruiting year under his belt.

This is part two of a five part series examining Georgia Tech's recent recruiting classes. Part One looked at the 2006 class.

This article was originally featured at ChuckOliver.net