I’m going to type something that I understand probably will upset a majority of the Georgia Tech fan base: I wouldn’t have a problem if Georgia Tech decided to bring Brian Gregory back for another season.
(For the record, I also would understand the “Fire Gregory” side of the debate. I don’t relish being in the middle on this issue — it’s not ideal for a sports columnist — but I’ve never been one to take a side just for the sake of click bait. I know — that shocks you.)
So back to Gregory. This will be a difficult decision for athletic director Mike Bobinski, who, honestly, hasn’t had to make a lot of difficult decisions since he took over for Dan Radakovich. Here’s a few of factors he’ll consider:
• Tech doesn’t exactly have the funding to pay three men’s basketball coaches next season — the remaining time on the contracts of two fired coaches, Gregory and Paul Hewitt, as well as whatever new coach they bring in, possibly after hiring him with a Groupon. That doesn’t mean an angry, deep-pocketed booster couldn’t be located to write a check. It also shouldn’t suggest money should be the determining factor in keeping a coach. But it is a factor.
• I’ll probably get into this more in a column later in the week, but the truth is that many coaches don’t consider Tech a great job anymore, even with the school being in the ACC and located in Atlanta. Gregory wasn’t the Jackets’ first choice after Hewitt was fired. Some of their early choices hung up the phone. To get a proven coach and one who could excite the fan base and recruits, Tech would have to pay big money — and it doesn’t have big money.
• I’m not sure four years is enough time to judge Gregory. Yes, I know he went 3-15 in the ACC this season. Yes, I know he went 0-11 in ACC games decided by five points or less or in overtime (which might be the most improbable statistic of all; usually a team will at least trip into a few close wins.) But to be fair, Gregory has done a really good job cleaning up the off-court mess he inherited, primarily in the area of academics and dealt with some recruiting limitations early given Hewitt-related probation. There’s at least a foundation in place to have some success now.
• Does that foundation guarantee improvement? No. Gregory needs players. Injuries in the 2013-14 season destroyed what would have been a pretty good team. If that had happened, we wouldn’t even be having this debate this year. This year’s team never was going to be great, and it got worse when the best would-be returning player, Robert Carter Jr., surprisingly transferred to Maryland. But if this season’s team had one impressive trait, it’s this: The players played hard. That’s a credit to them but also a credit to Gregory for holding them together. If the players didn’t like Gregory, they wouldn’t have given that effort down the stretch.
• The Jackets have most of this year’s team back next season, including Marcus Georges-Hunt, Charles Mitchell, Chris Bolden and Quinton Stephens, four of their top five scorers. It doesn’t seem outrageous to me to give Gregory another year, especially given the backdrop of finances and the potential job search.
I know. That doesn’t play well with the torch-carrying masses on message boards or in social media.
In the end, coaching is a results-driven occupation. Gregory’s four-year record is ugly: 55-71 overall, 19-51 in the ACC. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see him fired.
But I feel comfortable typing this: It’s a decision Bobinski has been trying to avoid.
Meanwhile: What to think of Georgia going into the SEC and (likely) NCAA tournament? Click here.
•Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Georgia erratic but ceiling high in tournament — AJC: NCAA tourney: Dogs should be in, Panthers must do a little more — MyAJC: Georgia State at center of state’s hoops’ rebirth — AJC: Jim Boeheim’s arrogance catches up to him — AJC: Erving says Hawks should do better job embracing their history — MyAJC: Hank Aaron knows exactly how Dominique Wilkins feels — MyAJC: Despite loss, Fox has Georgia pointed in right direction — AJC: Mark Fox deserved contract extension (which he finally signed) — AJC: Falcons, Ndamukong Suh and waiting on fake noise penalty — AJC: Falcons’ payroll slash continues — Blalock, Douglas released — AJC: Steven Jackson expected to be missing piece, but he wasn’t — MyAJC: Can Kevin Seitzer avoid being Braves’ next scapegoat — AJC: Freeman on ’14 roster: Heyward leading off not well-constructed lineup — MyAJC: By any name, Braves need a different Upton — AJC: How long should Braves give Upton to show improvement? — MyAJC: Braves have issues but McDowell not one of them — AJC: I still can’t talk to Roger McDowell without thinking of ‘The Second Spitter’ — AJC: Poll: Are expectations for Braves too low, high or about right? — MyAJC: Will Gonzalez be given some latitude during Braves’ rebuilding? — MyAJC: Falcons’ roster gutting could have big names — AJC: Data show Falcons got least (10-22) from most ($279.3 million) — MyAJC: Georgia shows why we still can’t assume success — AJC: Are Hawks getting Ray Allen? Odds site makes them favorite — MyAJC: Private agendas still at play in Hawks’ offices — AJC: Tiger Woods seems in danger of missing Masters (again) — AJC: Trade likely means Hawks are planning for something — MyAJC: Kyle Shanahan, the coach’s son, has absorbed a lot of jabs