Saturday, February 22, 2014

Georgia Tech Basketball: Yellow Jackets Look To End Skid Against Clemson Tigers

One side of this picture has enjoyed their head to head meetings/Orangeandwhite.com
If it's possible to have a big game when you are 13-13 overall and 4-9 in ACC play, then Georgia Tech has one Saturday vs Clemson.  Brian Gregory played the first 10 ACC games with just nine scholarship players and has played at times with just seven scholarship players.

The Tigers are fighting to get on the NCAA bubble in what has been a surprising season thus far for Brad Brownell's picked to finish 14th in the preseason.   Five points about Saturday's Noon matchup between the Tigers and Jackets. 

1. Clemson is looking for its 9th consecutive win over Georgia Tech.
In addition to the current streak, the Tigers have won 14 of the last 17 meetings.  Clemson has the lowest all-time winning percentage in ACC games all-time (35%) yet hold a 41-31 advantage over GT in regular season ACC games.  Clemson also leads the all-time series 64-59.  Even Bobby Cremins was only 19-21 vs Clemson.  Your average fan would never guess this series record or even the recent dominance as Tech is perceived to be the much stronger program due to their higher level NCAA Tournament success.  The exact opposite is true in football where GT holds a 49-27-2 series lead. 

2. Is Brad Brownell doing a good job or is Brian Gregory doing a bad job?
According to VerbalCommits.com, the average recruiting ranking for the Tigers is 2.8 out of 5 stars whereas the Jackets rank on average 3.4. Despite this recruited talent advantage Gregory is 0-5 vs Clemson while Brownell is 7-0 vs Georgia Tech.

3. If it seems like Clemson wins ALL the close games against Tech it's because they do
The five Gregory coached losses to the Tigers have come by 2,19, 3,3, and 4 points or an average of 6 points.  The average drops to 3 points if you exclude the biggest loss.  Georgia Tech has really struggled offensively against the Tigers failing to score more than 62 points in any of the last seven meetings.  Defensively, Tech has held Brownell's club to an average of 58 points so expect a low scoring game Saturday.

4. Close losses are not just relegated to games against Clemson.
According to @MattThompson87 in games decided by 5 points or less (i.e. the Clemson series) GT is just 16-35 since 2006.  If you remove the 2nd Round NCAA Tournament year of 2010 the record drops to 8-30.  The Tigers are favored by one point Saturday.

5. Does this game have significance for Gregory's future at GT? 
This game is not a make or break for the third year coach; he will back next season.  But, going 0-6 versus your biggest ACC rival adds to the sour taste the 2013-14 season has had.  The biggest complaints against Gregory are his lack of player development.  Losing for the sixth straight time to a squad with perceived lesser talent only add to this charge.

Clemson SB Nation Blog Shakin The Southland has a great writeup on how the Tigers won the first meeting of the season here and mentions the Ken Pom projected score of 57-55.  How would Tech fans handle ANOTHER close loss to Clemson?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Georgia Tech Baseball Opens Season With Come From Behind Victory (And Other Baseball Notes)


Georgia Tech rallied to beat Old Dominion in their season opener Friday 6-5.  They will face Radford today while ODU plays VCU in the "Battle of Midtown"

One of the most interesting nuggets from this article was that this is the first time in 21 seasons Danny Hall's club has not been ranked in the preseason.  Many GT teams have failed to live up to preseason expectations so it will be interesting to see how this team responds. 
AJC: 8 Things To Know About Georgia Tech Baseball

College Baseball Daily ACC Preview (here is the SEC one as well)

In addition to starting the season unranked for the first time in 21 seasons, GT was picked to finish 4th in the Coastal Division by the ACC Coaches behind Virginia, UNC, and Miami.

And one more preseason NCAA Tournament projection from College Baseball Daily has Georgia Tech sneaking into the Tournament as a 3 seed much like Baseball America

Friday, February 14, 2014

Baseball America Tabs Georgia Tech For NCAA Field, UGA On Outside Looking In

The college baseball season opens this weekend as much of the South is still thawing out from a "historical" ice storm.

Both Georgia and Georgia Tech are in rebuilding modes entering the season. The Yellow Jackets played in a Regional Final last season but lost their top bats and bring back a young pitching staff. Meanwhile in Athens, the Bulldogs start anew with new coach Scott Stricklin takes over for the fired David Perno. Stricklin was an assistant at Georgia Tech from 2002-2004 and gained the reputation as a monster recruiter. He came from Kent State where as Head Coach he took the Golden Flashes to the CWS in 2012.

Baseball America released a preseason NCAA field of 64 which included the Jackets as one of the last teams in but left out the Bulldogs.

Georgia Tech opens the season with a home tournament against Radford, Old Dominion, and VCU. Georgia starts at home against Georgia Southern in a double-header Saturday with new energy surrounding the program.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The 10 Best Head Coaches In College Football

Having a great head coach is almost always the difference between a good program and a great one.  I could see each one of my top 10 head coaches winning a MNC at their current school and expect it if they are at one of my top programs with the highest ceilings.  Below is my 2014 off season top 10 head coaches.  
 

10.  Gus Malzahn, Auburn

While Auburn had been reeling in top ten recruiting classes year after year leading up to this season, it takes a special coach to take a program from 3-9 one year to within four points of a MNC the next.  Malzahn's biggest task now is keeping it going with a target on his back.  He will have to fight off negative recruiting how his offense does not simulate the NFL.

9.  David Shaw, Stanford

The Cardinal have the most beautiful combination of academics, athletics, and campus life in major college football.  If I have a son with an offer to play at Stanford they will without questing be getting an official visit.  However, those academics can be tricky as the pool of recruits is so small compared to your national rivals.  If Shaw can get Stanford over the hump into the MNC game in the playoff era his stock goes WAY UP in my mind.

8. Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Two BCS titles and a two undefeated seasons gets you on this list no matter how many detractors you have.  Meyer was the spark to the dominance of the SEC in the BCS era.  The Buckeyes won 24 straight on Urban's arrival though lost the last two.  If their is a school outside the sun belt that can keep with the SEC, FSU, Texas, Oklahoma, etc its Ohio State with Meyer at the helm.  

7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

For a while it looked like the Oklahoma program was regressing.  The win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl was big it was really culmination for what you could argue was the best program throughout the BCS era.  The Sooners finished with the second most BCS bowl appearances with nine (tied for first if you vacate Ohio State 2011 Sugar Bowl) and tied for the most BCS title game appearances with four. In his 15 seasons in Norman, Stoops has 12 double-digit win seasons.

6. Art Briles, Baylor

The former Texas HS coach has turned a long dormant program into a Big 12 champion.  Baylor is a small, Baptist school surrounded by football behemoths in their own state yet it was Briles who led the best program  this year.  While I don't doubt he has gotten significant help from school administration to better support football it still takes convincing kids to come to a program that only made it in the Big 12 because the Governor of Texas at the time of the conference forming was a Baylor graduate.  It will be interesting to see if Briles can maintain close to this level of success, but for now he has earned this spot. 

5. Jimbo Fisher, FSU

The most recent and last BCS title winner checks in at number 5.  Fisher did not build what FSU is today-Bobby Bowden did that-but he revived the program back to national prominence that everyone tried to model in the 90s.  Fisher ranks high on my list because of his ability to follow a legend.  Ask Ray Perkins or Ron Zook about how easy that is.  Maybe the most impressive thing about Fisher is how he went toe to toe with the SEC on the recruiting trail and won those battles at a time when it seems all prospects care about is the league they play in and not the program (check out Kentucky's most recent on field records and recruiting rankings if you don't agree)

4. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

A slow riser, Dantonio had his best season yet in East Lansing capping off a Big Ten title with a Rose Bowl win over Stanford accomplishing both wins as an underdog.  While Michigan State has some football history, it is overshadowed by its in-state neighbor Michigan and must rely heavily on players from Ohio where the Buckeyes many times get the pick of the litter (and what they don't get usually Michigan does).  With a new contract and what appears to be the best DC in college football it will be interesting to see if the Spartans can maintain their success. 

3. Nick Saban, Alabama

Saban is a great coach.  Three MNC in five seasons is remarkable and the Tide are the gold standard in college football right now.  The only reason he is not #1 or #2 is because he is not doing something that hasn't already been done at his school.  Bear Bryant was Nick Saban at Alabama before Nick Saban and made the Crimson Tide a household name in CFB.  However, Alabama will be in the hunt for another MNC next season and another MNC will certainly reshuffle my list. 

2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

Nearly every SEC coaches list you will read will have Saban ahead of Spurrier. Why?  Because Saban has more BCS titles (3 to 1). I understand that argument but why I have the Ol' Ball Coach is because what he has transformed programs into.  At Duke he tied for an ACC title, something the Blue Devils had not accomplished in 27 years.  Before he returned to his alma mater, the Gators had zero 10 win seasons and zero SEC Championships.  Two seasons later, the Gator had an SEC trophy on their mantle.  He never won less than nine games in his 12 seasons in Gainesville and finished with nine 10 win seasons.  His success at South Carolina has taken longer but is nonetheless as remarkable.  The Gamecocks had a losing all-time record before Spurrier arrived.  They had never beaten in-state rival Clemson five straight times until Spurrier did it this past season.

1. Chris Petersen, Washington

The Huskies scored a major coup (especially when compared Pac 12 rival USC) when they landed Petersen.  The former Boise State coach has an 89% winning percentage in eight seasons as a head coach losing only 12 games, four of which occurred this past season.  While Petersen took over a program that had winning seasons, that culture was developed in part when he was the OC.  You could make an argument his success at a non-BCS school (two BCS bowl appearances, two wins) was a driving force behind the fall of the system.  I highly doubt we will ever see this level of success at a non-BCS school for a long, long time and that is why he tops my list of the best college football coaches.   

Now that Petersen is at a BCS school with resources he will need to impress quickly to maintain the top spot among college football coaches.

5 College Football Programs With The Highest Ceilings

Coaches are fired every year because athletic departments perceive those coaches to not be reaching the program's ceiling of which they lead.  To succeed to the highest level in college football you need talent, first and foremost.  

I don't care how good of a coach you are if you don't have talent (either recruited or developed) you simply will not win consistently.  It helps to have a big fan base to help woo top flight talent but location is also a big draw to be able to play in front of friends and family.

These five schools have some combination of fan support and/or rich recruiting base which put them in a category all by themselves in the elite of college football.  One of these five programs has played in 13 of 16 BCS Championship Games.

5. Florida

Located within a talent rich state in the best conference in the country give the Gators great potential.  The advantages are big but so are the expectations. Since Steve Spurrier brought his alma mater to college football's elite and finding a long term program leader has been tougher than other elite programs. 
  

4. USC

The Trojans are the only historical and modern football program of success west of Texas.  Southern California enjoys a talent base almost as good as South Florida though much more spread out.  When that talent is harnessed this Pac 12 school can compete with anyone the SEC brings on.    

3. FSU

The Seminoles of the 90s were the program the top of the SEC have modeled themselves after in the 2000s.  While they don't have the SEC to sell they do sit in talent rich triangle of Florida, SW Georgia, and SE Alabama.  And playing in the ACC will give FSU more chances to be undefeated and their name will get them in top four on that record.   

2. Miami

It goes back to Howard Schnellenberger and the "State of Miami".  When the Hurricanes have Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties on lock down they are on top of the college football world.  The fan support is certainly not to the level of other elite programs, but when this program is winning the Hurricanes are the hot commodity on South Beach.

1. Alabama

No program enjoys 365 days of fan support like the Tide.  While the in-state isn't enough to dominate on alone it is a very good start and Bama's recruiting reach can be as wide as their fans are rapid.  Add these advantages to playing in the best conference in the country and you can see why the Crimson Tide have the highest ceiling in college football.