Brian Gregory fired — OK, Mike Bobinski, let’s see what you’ve got

031616 Atlanta: Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory coaches his team to a 81-62 victory over Houston during their first round NIT basketball game on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory won 21 games this season, including two in the NIT, but that wasn’t nearly enough to sway athletic director Mike Bobinski. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Sometimes turnarounds come too late. Sometimes the coach who lost so much in his first four seasons and was hired by somebody else can’t possibly accomplish enough to save his job in Year 5.

Brian Gregory won a lot of games and earned a ton of respect this season — from the players who played for him, to the people who worked for him to the media vultures who had long ago buried him. But it’s clear now that realistically nothing short of an NCAA tournament run was going to keep Georgia Tech Athletic Director Mike Bobinski from firing Gregory this season.

Nothing.

So on Friday, Bobinski, who came from Xavier and fashions himself as a “basketball guy,” took his first step toward putting his stamp on something at Tech. He fired Gregory after a 21-win season with two years left on the coach’s contract — because the only realistic alternative would have been giving Gregory an extension, and that just wasn’t going to happen on Bobinski’s watch.

Gregory worked hard to improve the foundation of Tech’s basketball program over the past few years. He had the benefit of a senior-laden class this season. But Bobinski had “fire” on his mind after last year’s grease fire of a season (12-19, 3-15 in the ACC) and it would’ve taken something extraordinary this year for him to come off that.

When Tech started this season 3-9 in the ACC, his fate was sealed. It didn’t matter how many games the Yellow Jackets won in the NIT.

“If you are in the NCAA tournament, that could have changed the thinking, but I’m not sure,” Bobinski said.

There’s your ringing endorsement.

Gregory never really had a chance. Now Bobinski has his.

He better have a plan.

Bobinski, in his fourth season at Tech, called the firing a “difficult decision.” Maybe on some small level. But he believes the Jackets can compete at a level in ACC basketball that they haven’t in years, and he believes that wasn’t going to happen under Gregory.

It’s important to understand that Bobinski believes he has a certain level of expertise in basketball. Xavier, his former job, is consistently one of the strongest mid-major programs in the country, an NCAA tournament team in 14 of the past 16 years. (I’m sure Musketeers coach Chris Mack will be among the most lists of speculated candidates, as will the usual suspects: Jeff Capel, Mark Price, Craig Neal and Tommy Amaker.)

But as someone familiar with the basketball landscape, Bobinski must also realize Tech is not viewed as a destination job like maybe it once used to be. It has the advantage of being an ACC program in a recruiting-rich city. But it’s also a program in an athletic department that is forced to squeezed nickels, competing in one of the toughest conferences in the nation and against some of the best coaches in history.

Tech’s athletic department coffers aren’t stuffed like Big Foot’s over in Athens. The school still owes former coach Paul Hewitt $2.7 million over the next three years and Gregory $1.3 million over the next two.

But Bobinski believes the impact of those economics have been overstated by the media. If that’s true, there are only two possibilities:

• He believes boosters will have him covered.

• He is going to hire a coach at discount. But if that’s the case, how difficult will it be to raise the stature of the program, improve recruiting and achieve a higher level of success? Unless the athletic director just happens to pick the the right young and inexpensive coach.

This will be the first major coaching hire of Bobinski’s career, and he needs to make it work. He wasn’t comfortable that Gregory could get the job done in coaching or recruiting, nor did he believe it would be healthy to rely heavily on transfers, as Tech did this season.

“You may have a chance to bring a highly skilled player back to Atlanta, but that is not something you can do every year,” he said.

Gregory did good work this season. But he was hired by former Athletic Director Dan Radakovich and he didn’t do enough to earn the benefit of the doubt from his successor.

When I spoke to Gregory at length a week ago, his team was coming off an NIT win over Houston, win No. 20. It was a significant moment for a program that had achieved that only once in the previous eight seasons. Several of the coach’s family members and friends joined Gregory in a postgame press conference to celebrate the moment.

But Bobinski wasn’t there. It’s never a good sign when the athletic director keeps a relatively low profile in these situations, and to say Gregory didn’t feel supported would be an understatement. His didn’t like being forced to twist in the wind, or that stories of his job security took the focus off his players.

“You have to fight those (negative) thoughts,” he said. “But I never want to fight it for personal reasons. I want to fight it for these guys. … I’d say I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that my story of uncertainty would overshadow the players.”

Bobinski believes Tech can do better. Now he has a chance to prove it.

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25 comments
Lee Bentley
Lee Bentley

You don't build basketball programs in four years,21 games that's dam good.maybe the wrong man got fired.good luck coach were ever you go,hopefully right here in the acc and stick it in techs ear

Attack-U-Dawg
Attack-U-Dawg

His fate was determined when the DAWGS beat the crap out of them back in December

Kîren Kîren
Kîren Kîren

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Jay E Mensching
Jay E Mensching

I have always been a Gregory fan! A true gentleman !

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

@peanutgallery peanutgallery=peanut gallery

                     No one cares about the peanut

                                        gallery!

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

As AD at Xavier, MBob was responsible for hiring 3 HC's for MBB - Thad Matta, Sean Miller and Chris Mack.  That is a heck of a track record. 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@DawgNole @PaulinNH  He hasn't made a hire yet - he gave (correctly in my opinion) Gregory time to get it done - now we have to see who he can hire.

RunnerKirk
RunnerKirk

Wish they could get Greg Marshall, but that's probably not realistic.

slydawg
slydawg

Unfortunately, he has coached his way to a major program opportunity, like Carolina (when Roy retires). If Tech wasn't strapped with buyouts, then maybe

LuxLucisofVerum
LuxLucisofVerum

This is so funny - Richt NEVER got this kind of defense from the AJC and he did much more to deserve a defense than Gregory. So now Schultzie is playing the indignant defender of the falsely oppressed and dismissed / laughable.....get real. 

Peachs
Peachs

I love these third party explanation, like its your mess, now live in it.  There wasn't a journalist in the state of Georgia that wasn't riding the mediocre performance, of either major program in the state. Now it's he said, instead of here are the facts.


Tech basketball needs a PR savvy coach.  You got the best conference for basketball in the country coming through here ,and not many people, until this NCAA run, realizing it. People ,from other schools, have asked me time and time again, when I attend games, why does Tech have such a weak crowd support. Remember the ACC is in major metro areas, so the other schools have the same head winds we do and people from other schools find buying good seats at Tech games easy. 


Gregory didn't have a home for his team for a while, then they came back to a new place and it was never the same. When Carter left it was his death sentence, and I guarantee, some of this played in Carter's decision.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Your only as good as your last day...........good luck to ya coach.

TOJacket
TOJacket

And before DawgNole(Mrs. Landers) points it out.........it's you're not your stupid!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Don't forget to insert a space after "DawgNole," and commas after "you're" and "your."

Other than those unforgivable errors, you earn a passing grade on today's lesson--so far.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@LOGS1973

Who needs old logs?

Help yourself to DawgNation. I reject coercion (joining FB) as a prerequisite to commenting.

DrTruth
DrTruth

Bobinski said finances are always a factor but "we're not going to be constrained by that in our search."


Pretty bold statement from an AD that still owes $4 Million to coaches who are no longer coaching at GT.  Hope he really means it.

DrTruth
DrTruth

Rick Pitino, hookers & all....If he will walk away from the 10-yr, $50 Million contract.  GT would be competitive in recruiting and ACC play from day one.

Peachs
Peachs

@DrTruth if Donald Trump can be president, Rick Pitino would be more of the trend in world, than a rogue.