Should Georgia Tech make a coaching change for its men’s basketball program?

Georgia_Tech_Yellow_JacketsGood evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fans.  What. A. Day.  The ACC had two ten match-ups this past Saturday, including #10 Notre Dame at #4 Duke and #9 Louisville at #3 Virginia.  More of those to come.  See Ben Swain’s post below:

Games vs. top 8 ACC teams remaining: Duke 5, Notre Dame 4, Louisville 4, UNC 3, Virginia 3.

— Ben Swain (@TheBenSwain) February 8, 2015

 That’s pretty damn good.  And you can bet that many other ACC men’s basketball programs are well on their way to becoming ranked teams.

However, Georgia Tech has quite a ways to go to get back with the rest of the ACC men’s basketball programs.  When Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were playing earlier this week (a game that the Hokies won on ESPNU’s Big Monday), Jeff mentioned that Georgia Tech might find itself in a dilemma if the Jackets did win in Blacksburg.  To be fair, the Jackets were playing better basketball as of late.  But I argue that Georgia Tech was not in a dilemma at all – the Jackets were defeated by a new group of players – and some of the left overs from the James Johnson era who were former walk-ons.  Even if the Jackets would have won that game, I argue that a change is necessary (you can see that Virginia Tech is playing with much more energy now that it has in four years – and will be even better when the recruits come in next year – sometimes you need to make a change just so the fan base gets excited again).   Jeffery Fan,  All Sports Discussion site owner, and friend (@TalkinACCSports), wrote a terrific blog post (and he was 100% on the mark) on whether Georgia Tech should hire a new basketball coach (and who the potential candidates might be).  Jeff’s post with insight into the potential hires, such Mark Price and Craig Neal, was terrific.  Price and Neal, who would excite the donor and alumni base, should indeed be part of an A List when Georgia Tech searches for a coach.  Not to disappoint my friend, Jeffrey, but I know Ben Jacobson (he was my next door neighbor in high school and I still golf with him in the summer when I fly back to the Midwest), but I think Wisconsin is the only job he would move for.

I mentioned to Jeff that I was going to create my own list for the Georgia Tech search.  He said to me:

@hokiesmash Just no Shaka Smart types, he’s not coming lol…

— Jeff or Jeffrey Fann (@TalkinACCSports) February 7, 2015

Jeff brought up an interesting question in my mind.  I’m one who is of the opinion that you have to shoot for the stars when you hire a coach – because you never know what’s going to happen.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think Virginia Tech would get a coach of Buzz Williams caliber.  But Virginia Tech somehow got that done.  Even if your A List coach says no, I think you have to ask to show the alumni that you are trying.  Of course, there are two schools of thought on that.  If the A List candidates keep saying no, some think that devalues your coaching job.  Nevertheless, I think you shoot for the stars in this search.  Without further ado, I’ll drop some additional candidates that Georgia Tech should consider in its search:

 The “A” List

 Look, I know the A List guys are almost 100% usually gonna say no (keep in mind, these guys are about 99.9% gonna say no) – but you got tell the alumni that you at least tried to get one of these guys.

  1.  Shaka Smart ­– From 2009-2010 to 2013-14, Smart and his Havoc have run up a 137-46 record while head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University.  His Rams have made a Final Four – and four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.  Yes, he’s likely to say no – but you gotta ask.
  1. Gregg Marshall –  Marshall, in his eighth season at Wichita State, was consensus National Coach of the Year and brought the Shockers to a Final Four in 2013 and 35 wins in 2013-14 (at a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament).  Over the last four years, the Shockers have won at a higher rate than any other program in Division I with an .834 winning percentage, including a 121-24 record.  Again, yeah, he’s likely to say no – but you make him say no.

  1. Scott Drew – If you’re looking at an A-List candidate that I believe is possible, Georgia Tech should contact Baylor University Men’s Basketball Coach, Scott Drew (h/t @zstubbs).  Drew recorded six 20-win seasons, six postseason appearances, and a Big 12-best and school-record 17 postseason wins. Drew got the Bears to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2010 and 2012, the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2014, and the 2013 NIT championship (which Baylor won). Look, Drew can recruit elite talent to Waco, TX – it’s gonna be much easier for him to do that at Georgia Tech (he probably won’t have to leave the City of Atlanta to recruit – yes, I’m being facetious).  I’m sure Scott Drew would love to coach in the ACC.  Atlanta >>> Waco.

    @hokiesmash Recommend taking Scott Drew into consideration. He could recruit an amazing front court to the ATL.

    — Alexander Stubbs (@zstubbs) February 5, 2015


The “B” List

  1. Chris Mack – Xavier head coach Chris Mack has recorded a 111-57 (.661) mark overall and is 4th on Xavier’s all-time wins list after his first five seasons.  Mack has brought the Musketeers to the NCAA Tournament in four of his first five seasons at the helm, including the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 2010 and 2012.  Mack was tutored under terrific Xavier head coaches, including Skip Prosser and Sean Miller.  This is a coach with substantial experience who knows how to win (his team is likely headed to the NCAA tournament again this year).

  1. Jeff Jones – Why not bring Jeff Jones back to the ACC?  Jones has been a head coach at three schools, including the University of Virginia, American University, and Old Dominion University (ODU).  His teams advanced to 10 postseason appearances (one at ODU, six at Virginia and three at American University), including a 1995 NCAA Elite 8, a 1993 NCAA Sweet 16 appearance and an NIT championship in 1992 while at Virginia. Jones has a 211-183 record at American for 13 years and 146-104 as head coach at the University of Virginia.  Jones’ teams played hard-nosed defense.  Is he too boring for Georgia Tech?

  1. Bobby Hurley – Bobby Hurley is in his second season as head coach of the University of Buffalo men’s basketball team.  In 2013 – 14, Hurley led Buffalo to their first ever outright MAC East Division title.  Hurley was named a finalist for the Joe B. Hall Award, which is given to the nation’s top first year head coach.   Buffalo won 19 games in Hurley’s first year as head coach.  I believe the instant name recognition would allow Bobby Hurly to be in the mix for recruiting talent.  Does he have enough head coaching experience?

The “C” List

The C List – yes – these guys have some ethical baggage – maybe they have too much baggage for Georgia Tech’s Athletic Director to consider – but they are very good coaches – and they win.

  1. Tim Floyd – Tim Floyd has a record 409-232 record in 20 seasons as a college head coach (at Idaho, New Orleans, Iowa State, and USC). His teams have made eight NCAA Tournament appearances and four trips to the NIT.  Floyd led Iowa State and USC to the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and 2007, respectively.  Floyd has  twelve 20-win seasons under his belt.

  1. Larry Eustachy – Larry Eustachy wins wherever he goes.  He got Iowa State, Southern Mississippi, and Colorado State to the NCAA tournament  (and these are not easy coaching jobs).  Last year, Eustachy became the only head coach in NCAA Division I history to lead five different programs – Colorado State, Southern Miss, Iowa State, Utah State and Idaho – to 24 or more wins in a single season.  It takes a grinder to win at these places.  Georgia Tech needs a grinder.  Is he too old for Georgia Tech?  That’s the question in my mind – but he’s a winner.

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  1. RamblinRed says:

    Some good names on there and some ridiculous one.
    GT will not hire anybody who is not squeaky clean – this isn’t UNC, GT expects its kids to go to class and take calculus. So Scott Drew, Tim Floyd and Larry Eustachy are all complete no gos.

    I would love to get Gregg Marshall – wanted to hire him 6-7 yrs ago. Very unlikely but would love to get him. Smart would be a big hire as well.

    Remember the current AD at GT is Mike Bobinski from Xavier (former head of the NCAA Selection committee) – he hired both Thad Matta and Chris Mack. He also kept Sean Miller there as long as he could.

    I think the B list would include Mack and some coaches like Mike White and Steve Prohm, maybe Archie Miiler

    GT’s coaching search really comes down to when can they pay for a coach. The whole reason they hired Gregory was because he was cheap. At the time they had to deal with both Chan Gailey and Paul Hewitt’s buyouts. Radokovich just wanted to hire someone cheap who would clean up the academic mess Hewitt left behind and represent the school well.

  2. Hokie Smash says:

    RamblinRed – thanks for the comments – @TalkinACCSports suggested Archie Miller, too, but thought GT might have second thoughts given that GT just tried someone from Dayton. I can see Mike White – could he recruit? Chris Mack would be a good hire – he consistently gets Xavier into the NCAA tournament. Steve Prohm also a good suggestion.

  3. Will says:

    There is no question but that Brian Gregory HAS to go. Good man. Poor coach.
    Coach Ron Hunter of Georgia State, should be high on the list of posssible replacements for Gregory. Hunter has a .775 record, can coach –especially at the end of ball games where Gregory is so lacking and he can definitely RECRUIT in in these days of ‘transfer-on-demand’ athletes. Ga Tech Bobinski prides himself his ability to hire good basketball coaches from his expereince prior to Tech. He’d be remiss if he did not at least talk with Hunter. Firing Gregory by or at season’s end is as certain as the Sun.

  4. Hokie Smash says:

    Interesting comment, Will – hadn’t thought of Ron Hunter – thanks for reading the post and commenting.

  5. Hokie Mark says:

    Is it time for a change? Yes – at least a year too late, in fact.
    Who can they get? Depends on how much they can spend. Your “A” list guys would be great, but after them it starts to be a big unknown…

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