Hewitt fires back at criticism

With his Yellow Jackets safely in the NCAA tournament and his contract rolled over for another six years Tuesday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt fired off at what he thought were unfair shots taken at him this season in the media.

He said he resents the suggestion that the reason he’s still coaching at Georgia Tech is because it would have cost too much to buy out his contract.

“I think it’s pretty cheap that anybody would make an issue out of it,” Hewitt said. “I think it’s really underhanded. It’s the lowest form of journalism there is. … I really resent the hell out of somebody trying to insinuate that it’s like I’m stealing money from somebody and that the only reason I have my job is because of this contract.”

Hewitt has a six-year deal with an automatic rollover, which is triggered each year 30 days before April 15. Tech would have had to notify Hewitt by Tuesday if it planned to terminate his contract, or it would have cost an additional $1.375 million on top of the $7.1 million required to buy him out.

Any doubt about Hewitt’s future at Tech was all but erased last week when his Yellow Jackets won three times in the ACC tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament. Tech (22-12) plays against Oklahoma State on Friday in Milwaukee. But it became all but official Tuesday with the passing of an annual deadline.

“There was no action taken, as has been the case since the contract was signed,” Tech associate athletics director Wayne Hogan said Tuesday. “Today is business as usual. We move forward.”

Hewitt wasn’t quite ready.

He said criticism over his on-the-court strategy is one thing, but he has had fans ask him to his face if he kept his job because of his contract. He said those fans are getting their information from the media, including the AJC.

“If we’re going to put information out there, put it in its proper context,” Hewitt said. “Don’t throw this contract thing out there like I walked into somebody’s office with a gun and a mask and said ‘Hey you better sign this.’ We all knew what we were getting into.”

Hewitt signed his contract after Tech made the Final Four in 2004 when Dave Braine was athletics director. He said at the time he had two other college coaching offers.

“Not that it’s important to anybody, but I could have made at least a half million dollars more going some place else,” Hewitt said. “But I felt really strong about the philosophy and the mission at Georgia Tech. And I thought it was really cheap and deceitful, really, to act like I pulled one over on somebody. And that’s the way it was presented.”

“… I didn’t pull one over on anybody,” he continued. “We went into this agreement eyes wide open both sides. And if Georgia Tech doesn’t want me to be their basketball coach, that’s their decision. I’m confident enough in my ability because of how hard I’ve worked and my reputation in the game, I think I’d have a decent chance of landing another job some place else.”

But if left up to him, Hewitt said, he didn’t want to go anywhere. “I like it here,” he said. “My family likes it here.”

Hewitt came under fire after a last-place finish in the ACC last season at 2-14 and took his share of heat through a seventh-place finish in the ACC this season at 7-9. Athletics director Dan Radakovich acknowledged as such last Thursday in his bi-monthly e-mail to Tech fans and alumni.

“Please understand that I hear all of the comments and opinions about our men’s basketball program. …,” wrote Radakovich, who alluded to the financial part of the equation as well. “… There are many parts to any discussion, issues which are visible and not so visible. By now I’m sure you know that there are factors which make our men’s basketball situation unique.”

Radakovich said both in that e-mail and in a response to a media query last Tuesday, he would “not get into a discussion regarding the evaluation of a program while there are still significant games to be played and goals to be reached.”

Hewitt said at no time this season has he asked Radakovich about his job security. He did call Radakovich after hearing about his response to the media query on Tuesday, but Hewitt was upset only that reporters asked about his job status.

“To blow it into something that was almost a national story, and I’ve got recruits calling me, ‘Coach what’s going on?’ I thought that was really cheap,” Hewitt said. “Unless President [G.P.] Peterson or Dan Radakovich says ‘Hey look, we’re not sure if we want this guy to be our basketball coach, why make a story out of it.”

The job discussion is all but moot now with Tech heading to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in 10 years.

“Should we have been there more? Yeah, no question,” said Hewitt who is 176-143 at Tech, including 67-93 in the ACC. “I think acceptable would have been seven or eight, but five out of 10 is pretty doggone good.”

107 comments Add your comment

Jeff

March 16th, 2010
4:58 pm

“I was taught a long time ago by my parents you work very hard, you get what you deserve.”

Yes Coach…and your record at GT shows you do not deserve to be our Coach.

Just saying..

March 16th, 2010
5:01 pm

The fans who underwrite those millions have a legitimate right to offer their views, in print as well as the box office. And if the team they see on the court looks undercoached in some regard, SUCH AS INBOUND PLAYS, they offer those views in whatever forum is readily available. That’s part of the deal.

Tech Student

March 16th, 2010
5:02 pm

Hard work doesn’t guarantee success on the court. You’re judged by your success on the court, Hewitt.

ScooterBump

March 16th, 2010
5:04 pm

Coach Hewitt doesn’t have much reason to be shooting his mouth off in such a brash manner. Give his team of players to Coach K, or Bill Self, or Petino, or about 20 other coaches out there and GT would be ready to make a legitimate run to the Final Four. He’s had a lot of success at recruiting, but doesn’t seem to be able to do much with all that talent.

Greg

March 16th, 2010
5:05 pm

Coach Hewitt, the only reason you still have your job is because of your contract. There. It’s not just the media saying it.

Your contract was awarded in the good faith and expectation of continued success. That success has not materialized in any substantive form. Therefore, your contract is called into question. No big deal.

wesleywhatwhat

March 16th, 2010
5:10 pm

it gets worse and worse, doesn’t it?

Brunswick Tech

March 16th, 2010
5:12 pm

the only reason I have my job is because of this contract. I’m stealing money. FIRE HIM NOW

TomB

March 16th, 2010
5:15 pm

If I were DRad now, I would be hitting up all the donors hard to get rid of this guy. Before, it wasn’t personal. I liked Hewitt personally even if I wasn’t fond of his production as a basketball coach. Now its personal, and I think his recent reactions to journalistic criticism shows absolutely no class whatsoever. Journalist do what they do, but in this case they just stated the obvious. He should just shut up and coach and maybe we would have more than just one winning ACC season.

thrash223

March 16th, 2010
5:17 pm

CPH if you did not have such a protective contract you would most likely not be retained. Stop playing the 7 million dollar victim and just win basketball games.

Our talent is top 10 in the nation. Yet we are consistently hampered by dumb turnovers, sloppy play, missed FT’s, and an offensive strategy that does not align our players strengths.

But I guess all that is the media’s fault too.

Not Disappointed

March 16th, 2010
5:18 pm

Keep winning Coach Hewitt!

Old Fashioned

March 16th, 2010
5:19 pm

Why doesn’t he try to explain the consistently lousy free-throw shooting,difficulties with inbounding,excessive turnovers? Can anybody pin him down for some answers? Remember,these are his recruits. Is he receptive to hiring new assistants?

Not Disappointed

March 16th, 2010
5:20 pm

Leave the arrogance at home. You have a good crop of boys, which as getting better. Let’s go Jackets!

white & old gold

March 16th, 2010
5:21 pm

TomB – Please tell me what is wrong with his comments. People who call themselves “diehard Tech fans” have been criticizing the heck out of him. He has come out and publicly stated he resents that. That a problem?

It’s these Tech fans that give us Tech fans a bad name sometimes. Either simply be quiet & support the team, or don’t call yourselves fans. That’s it.

TMAC

March 16th, 2010
5:21 pm

why doesn’t he just be quiet and coach the team? He is hurting the program and alienating the fans with his words more than anything else. Just be quiet, Hewitt and be a leader.

damngooddawg

March 16th, 2010
5:23 pm

Good Luck in the NCAA. Do good! ……I can’t believe I said that….but I mean it!

Alabama Jack

March 16th, 2010
5:24 pm

Hey D Rad, its obvious there are far better coaches on this blog. Grab one of them, since they know everything, will work for peanuts, and obviously have lots of free time.

stinger

March 16th, 2010
5:24 pm

i cannot remember the last time i saw a coach dance with the media like this. clerly, the media gets a kick out of the attention they are getting here and are going to keep poking him. hewitt’s reaction has surprised me, as i thought he would be above all this. i believe it shows a certain degree of insecurity.

Jacket Backer

March 16th, 2010
5:25 pm

hewitt will be gone after next season!…..

Mark

March 16th, 2010
5:25 pm

Alright Coach, give up the $7M buyout and see how long you are the coach at Georgia Tech. The fans are absolutely correct in saying you are only the coach here after all these miserable years because it cost too much to terminate the contract. You are lying to yourself to think otherwise.

Dawglasville

March 16th, 2010
5:30 pm

If Hewitt loses in the first two rounds this year and runs out another .500 ACC record next year this thing is going to turn into a blood bath.

Basics

March 16th, 2010
5:31 pm

What’s the deal with missed free throws?

JW

March 16th, 2010
5:31 pm

white & old gold

Well said

Angus

March 16th, 2010
5:31 pm

Like throwing gas on a fire.

AlabamaRamblinwreck

March 16th, 2010
5:32 pm

Why is he never put in the hot seat? Why does the local press avoid asking the hard questions? Why does your team not seem to improve in the turnover area or the FT shooting area? Why do you use your last timeout so early in the 2nd half so often? Why can you not wait for the TV timeout when it is less than a minute away? Why does the team continue to have issues in-bounding the ball? On offense, why so much dribbling and not so much movement without the ball with crisp passing and great screens?

GT

March 16th, 2010
5:34 pm

I must not know basketball. That I will give Hewitt. I haven’t a clue how they win, but what scares me is I don’t believe Hewitt does either.

AlabamaRamblinwreck

March 16th, 2010
5:35 pm

You guys who continue to support this coach: You can be a “diehard fan” and alumnist of your school, but tell the truth about your coach. Paul Hewitt is a plain awful at game coaching, especially half court offense.

what?

March 16th, 2010
5:36 pm

white & old gold – let me get this straight. I’m a Tech grad, twice. I’ve watched nearly every one of Coach Hewitt’s games at Tech. So as a fan, my two options, even when I witness overwhelmingly poor execution of even the most basic basketball fundamentals, is to “be quiet & support the team” or stop calling myself a fan? That sounds like something a child would say. How old are you anyway?

Ramblin Reck 80

March 16th, 2010
5:41 pm

If Coach Hewitt resents that people are saying that the only reason he keeps his job is because of his contract, then he should re-work his contract, eliminate or greatly reduce the buyout clause, ask for a higher annual salary that is incentive-laden and based on successful performance. That should eliminate the criticism, pay him more money if he wins, and have him lose his job if he fails. Everybody would be better off. Then he could SHUT UP about the media and just coach!

Scott

March 16th, 2010
5:41 pm

@white & old gold – what a load of bs. We’re all Tech fans here. We’re not fans of Hewitt. He’s had 10 years at Tech and what has he done with them? Last year was an absolute embarrassment and this year, with all the talent he had on the court, he still couldn’t get into the top half of the ACC.
I don’t know how he got to the Championship game in 2004. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know either.
If he can’t get these guys to win games, what top recruit will want to come to GT in the future just to see their talent go to waste?
Did I mention 10 years?

JW

March 16th, 2010
5:46 pm

what?

Were you in Greensboro? I am a tech grad as well and I was there and I am shocked at how self-rightous ‘fans’ like you are but still never make the commitment to put ‘butts in the seats’ to support our team….and this is not just basketball, but ALL GT sports.

I know you’re going to say ‘I was there in Greensboro’ because clearly I can’t verify that but the fact remains that OUR team IS IN THE F’N ncaa tourney and they did make it to the ACC Tournament CG and WE SO CALLED TECH FANS were FAR out numbered but just about every other ACC tournament participant with the exception of Miami

Now I hope with all this talk (and especially since you are a two time GT grad so that definitely means that you have the means to do so) that your @ss will be the building on Friday at 7:15pm to support our boys!

MalibuGT

March 16th, 2010
5:52 pm

i don’t know if CPH was always so thin skinned to criticism, but i cringe when i hear his reaction to it. That is part of the business he is in.

I’d rather hear him acknowledge the issues and humbly commit to getting better (yes…after 10 years some skepticism as to whether that will happen).

I haven’t decided about next year’s season tickets, but i’m leaning towards not renewing.

GT76

March 16th, 2010
5:58 pm

Carroll Rogers…..

Why don’t you ask him to try to explain the consistently lousy free-throw shooting,difficulties with inbounding,excessive turnovers? Can you pin him down for some answers?

They set an ACC tourney record for turnovers I hear. They are a horrible free throw shooting team. These are direct reflections on coaching.

For now though…let’s pull for the Jackets! Maybe the players can overcome their coaching. Maybe Hewitt can overcome his recent stupidity.

Mark (a different one)

March 16th, 2010
6:03 pm

2001 8-8 NCAA 1st Round 0-1
2002 7-9
2003 7-9
2004 9-7 NCAA Finals 5-1
2005 8-8 NCAA 2nd Round 1-1
2006 4-12
2007 8-8 NCAA 1st Round 0-1
2008 7-9
2009 2-14
2010 7-9

Total 67-93 42% NCAA’s 6-4

One winning conference record in ten years.

During the same period, Coach K was 120-40 in the ACC, with nine winning records and one at .500.

The question is will it get better? Everyone jumped on Mark Richt last year for UGA’s ‘poor’ football record but he took steps to turn things around and drive the program forward. He sold his AD on his plan and he is executing the plan. Will it work? No one knows.

Paul Hewitt needs to show that he has the passion to make the hard choices and execute a plan for improvement. If Radakovich is convinced Hewitt’s the man, he is joining him in the boat. They need to execute. This should come as no surprise to either of them. Patience is wearing thin.

Road Scholar

March 16th, 2010
6:20 pm

Coach, why don’t your players besides Lawal look you in the eye when they come off the floor? Why haven’t you changed lawal’s free throw shooting ?

legalbuzz

March 16th, 2010
6:26 pm

Hewitt is daring GT to fire him, give him his 7M, let him get hired by another school at 1.5M, and get stuck paying someone like Ron Jirsa 200K to coach the program…..since we aren’t going to do that…we continue on and hope he keeps winning…

All I'm Saying Is...

March 16th, 2010
6:29 pm

What CPH was saying is if you guys want to criticize his record, his play-calling, his coaching, etc. then that’s fair and fine but don’t suggest that the only reason he has his job still is because of the contract and don’t suggest that the only reason he has the contract he has is because he forced somebody to give it to him.

GTech awarded him the contract based on his performance up until 2004 and that’s not CPH’s fault.

Furthermore, GTech can fire him whenever they so choose. So what you need to do is lobby the AD to get somebody else by sending emails and/or making phone calls or not attending games.

ALSO, IT IS DOWNRIGHT STUPID FOR ANYONE TO STATE COMMENTS LIKE “IF BILL SELF OR COACH K OR PITINO” HAD CPH’S PLAYERS THEN THEY WOULD DO A BETTER JOB BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW NONE OF THOSE GUYS ARE WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR TO BECOME GTECH’S COACH.

The better question is do you want to pay the money to fire CPH and who can you realistically hire and is that person likely to do a better job going forward over the next five years?

My answer is give me some names of some realistic candidates who would take the GTech job.

Don’t throw out stupid ideas like Coach K, Rick Pitino, or Bill Self because none of them are trading what they have for a gig with GTech.

If you think you can get a coach like UGA hired, then fine but frankly I don’t see where that guy or someone like him is a step up.

If you simply are tired of Paul Hewitt and want someone fresh, then so be it and say that directly as that’s a fine reason as any although somewhat foolish financially and otherwise.

Who would you hire?

Big Al

March 16th, 2010
6:34 pm

Hewitt is only mad because we called him out on his contract?! Nothing else raised his blood pressure? He’s done…. Please GT, start the short list of coaches for interview next year. PLEASE get rid of Hewitt. 67-93 for the last 10 years!!!!!!!!! GT deserves better than this!

ACC Fan

March 16th, 2010
6:38 pm

Everyone, go back and read GT76. Best of all comments and my thoughts exactly.

Red Lawson

March 16th, 2010
6:41 pm

It is beautiful reading the insects’ remarks about their pathetic coach. (By the way, we really enjoyed watching this year’s Tech-GA game in Athens the same night the football bugs got squashed in the Orange Bowl.)

Billcanoe

March 16th, 2010
6:41 pm

Get off Paul Hewitt’s back. This guy has done a helluva job at Georgia Tech. The numbnuts idiots in the media and on these blogs need to get off his case and support the Jackets as a home town team. The media, in particular, goes bananas over Georgia going 16-16, or whatever they did, and Georgia tech is 22-11 and a 10 seed in the NCAA’s. Is this kind of coverage sane or rational? I think not. Get a life.

4 Jacks

March 16th, 2010
6:43 pm

I have been a Tech fan all my life. My first time inside Grant Field was 1960 when I was 7 years old. I did not attend GT, but have loved them for over 50 years. However, these self righteous GT “fans” calling out others for expressing their views on the program and the coach is pathetic. And GT wonders why it can’t fill up the stadium or arena. I quess if you did not attend GT you should not express the problems they have with coaching, and make no mistake, Tech basketball has a coaching problem if they can only have one year out of ten of being over .500 in conference play. Mr. Hewitt had a great opportunity to hire an assistant coach this past year. He could have gotten someone with maybe 20 or more years experience that might really help the team. What does he do, he hires a former player that has no real basketball coaching pedigree at a major school. In other words he hires a yes man. But what do I know, I did not go to GT, I have only paid for tickets, watched and sometimes lived and died with wins and losses. Some Tech fans need to get off their high and mighty attitudes if they ever hope to attract the fan that did not attend school at GT. It is sickening to hear what they think of us “sidewalk” (I hate that term) fans that have been fans all our lives but because of circumstances did not get to attend this fine institute. Oh, and just one question. Is ten years of under performing something all you self righteous GT grads would put up with from your employees? Sorry, 8 out of 10 years. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.

TomB

March 16th, 2010
6:44 pm

White and old gold, that is hypocritical crap you are selling. Is this what happened before Gailey was fired. All those Tech fans just remained quiet and supported the football team. Right? Give me a break. Fans have a right to say they’re disappointed in the product, in this case the coach. The fans are complaining for a reason. Based on the merits(wins vs losses) this coach has underperformed. One winning ACC season in ten years is not what Tech fans are used to nor should they settle for this kind of performance. Calling Tech fans out because you disagree with them doesn’t make you right. Anyway, Hewitt was not complaining about the fans. If you’ve been following and read the article, you would know he is blaming Mark Bradley and the AJC which he has no right doing in my opinion. No class on his part.

GTPhenom

March 16th, 2010
6:50 pm

Whoa, hold up, there are people on here saying A) Real Tech fans need to get off Hewitt’s back and B) Hewitt has done, and I quote, “A helluva job.”?!? Yeah, I think you guys are freaking insane. First of all, for the people saying a real fan should shut up and not complain, and just “watch the team,” I suppose you were a huge Gailey supporter, seeings as he at least got us to a bowl game every year, right? Hell no. Hewitt is of the same mold as Gailey. First of all, his comments are uncalled for. The media is going to be the media. If the players can ignore it, why in the hell can’t the coach do it? Hewitt is milking this contract for all it is worth. Once again, Billcanoe, you represent someone who hasn’t watched any GT B-Ball. It is not that GT isn’t doing SOMETHING, it is that they are underperforming in ENORMOUS standards. ONE winning year in the ACC does not cut it. ONE!!!! Get it through your thick skulls people. Hewitt is not going to cut it. What do we do next year when we DON’T have this talent. Know, I will support this team til the bitter end, but I will not forget Hewitt until he PROVES he can take care of business. Nuff Said.

Pompano

March 16th, 2010
6:58 pm

The frustrating thing with Hewitt is that he consistently fields teams with low basketball IQ’s. Turnovers, poor free-throw shooting, blown defensive assignments at critical parts of games, poor decision making. We have probably lead the ACC since Hewitt took over in blown leads during the last 3 minutes of games. He’s lost too many winnable games – not a big-game coach – especially to teams with inferior talent.

TomB

March 16th, 2010
6:59 pm

Doesn’t someone with a million dollar plus annual salary to coach college basketball have a lot of nerve to complain and be offended because someone said he wasn’t worth the money? Think about it. Just how arrogant is this man? Did he not read DRad’s statement the other day? Not a ringing endorsement of your coach to say the least. If someone(AJC) made this statement, was not he or she just pointing out the obvious? This is not going to help his cause.

GTPhenom

March 16th, 2010
6:59 pm

And the even bigger pompano, is that all these things are things that coaching can correct. But has it ever been fixed. Not to my knowledge.

Delbert D.

March 16th, 2010
7:01 pm

“in a response to a media query”

Nobody deserves to be called that. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

Jack G.

March 16th, 2010
7:01 pm

I dont know why everyone is Ticked at CPH. Braine is the culprit here.
However, Braine wasnt the onlyculprit. Someone else had to OK CPH’s contract.

So what do you do? You cant get to the real culprits, they are gone. The only thing to do is bite the bullet and eat the payout.

The alternative to the buyout is a badly coached team and lots of seats with no butts in them.

Rad should issue a position statement so folks can move on —-put up or shut up.

GTPhenom

March 16th, 2010
7:02 pm

TomB, I am in complete agreement with you. For the longest time, I just kept saying, ok, we’ll see about next year, or, “At least he is a good, humble man.” That went out the window for me after last season, and even more so, this season has killed me. And now I bring his character into consideration. Anyone with a little common sense knows to just ignore the media, and yet he is out there getting into public arguments with them. It shows he is obviously paranoid and insecure about something.

collegeballfan

March 16th, 2010
7:04 pm

“Our talent is top 10 in the nation.”

Whoever believes this is living in LaLa land. Tech has talent of a top 25 team but nowhere near a top 15 team. Look at the individual players.
Look at the 9 to 10 best players. How many are NBA bound this summer? One, maybe two. That is it. Top ten talent? You are dreaming!

Remember Cremins? He used to put five starters on the floor all bound for the NBA.

Is Hewitt a real good offensive coach? No, in my opinion. He is a terrific defensive coach. Tech plays superb defense. But the Tech offense sucks. He needs to fire someone and hire a strong offensive coach.

My opinion, that and one dollar will get you a cheap cup of coffee.

P/S – Nice column Carroll!