Hope you’re well. Hard to believe there’s just five more days until Georgia Tech will open fall practice. A few things to cover from a week I figured might be a little quiet.
1. Appeal notification sent. Tech will have until Aug. 27 to send in its written appeal, which will be followed by a response from the infractions committee and then a rebuttal from Tech and possibly input from the enforcement staff and another response from Tech, and then an in-person hearing. It could last until early 2012.
Tech indicated it will appeal the findings of failure to cooperate and failure to meet obligations and conditions of membership on the grounds that the infraction’s findings were contrary to the evidence presented. They’ll appeal the vacated ACC title and will have to prove the ruling was excessive and an abusive of discretion.
One thing I found of note was that, at least in its notice, Tech did not choose to appeal the “preferential treatment” violation of Demaryius Thomas, which would seem like a tacit acknowledgement of wrongdoing (or possibly a decision to pick battles). I am quite confident I’m missing something, but you could make the argument that if Tech concedes that Thomas indeed received preferential treatment, then it played an ineligible player in the ACC championship game.
I’d be curious to know which part of the appeal – the findings of impeding the investigation or the vacated title – means more to Tech officials, and to you, for that matter. School president G.P. “Bud” Peterson and AD Dan Radakovich, among others at the school, believe they and Tech have been unfairly characterized and I wonder if having the school’s name cleared is of greater consequence than the restoration of the title. (which I’m not judging, but just wondering.)
2. Todd Spencer suspension. This was a pretty odd deal. As associate AD Wayne Hogan said, coaches had a mistaken understanding of NCAA rules about phone calls and believed they were complying by them when, in fact, they weren’t.
I think this episode was not an insignificant reason why former assistant AD Paul Parker, who was in charge of compliance and offered his resignation in February, is no longer at the school. I wish Parker, whom I found to be a good guy and who was always helpful in my dealings with him, could offer his version of what happened, as every story has (at least) two sides. However, Auburn (where he is now in employ) has chosen to not make him available.
3. NFL signees. The list, as far as I’m aware: Cornerback Mario Butler with the Cowboys, running back Lucas Cox with the Falcons, linebacker Brad Jefferson and quarterback Joshua Nesbitt with the Bills and safety Jerrard Tarrant with the Giants.
It’ll be a tough challenge for each. First, unlike non-lockout years, rookies haven’t had all offseason to learn teams’ systems. Second, because of the compacted schedule, coaches will be far more focused on getting veterans ready than coaching up rookies with a minimal chance of helping the team. Third, the NFL expanded camp rosters to 90 from 80, decreasing the chances of making the roster. For most, if not all, the best hope might be to make their teams’ practice squads.
That said, there’s always a chance, which calls to mind of one of my favorite movies of all-time. The list of players who’ve made NFL rosters in recent years as undrafted rookies is not short, including Mike Cox, J.P. Foschi, Gary Guyton, James Butler, Andrew Economos and Cord Howard.
(I know pointing out inconsistencies in “Dumb and Dumber” is something like pointing out the lack of car-chase scenes in “Citizen Kane,” but you’d think that Lauren Holly’s character would have explained that her husband/significant other had been kidnapped.)
4. More information than you might want about Nesbitt’s situation. The Bills, you’ll remember, are coached by former Tech coach Chan Gailey, who signed and kept former Tech guard Cord Howard as an undrafted rookie last year. Former defensive line coach Giff Smith is also on the staff. The Bills’ website lists Nesbitt as a quarterback and strong safety. Since the lockout ended, Bills have signed New York Jets wide receiver Brad Smith, who played quarterback at Missouri, to a four-year, $15 million deal, and Miami quarterback Tyler Thigpen, another athletic quarterback who played for Gailey at Kansas City.
“The Jets were great with Brad, but he was intrigued with how the Bills want to use him,” Mark Bartelstein, Smith’s agent, told the New York Times, which is itself an intriguing comment.
It would appear that Gailey has Wildcat-type ideas he wants to implement, which would seem to bode well for Nesbitt, though having at least two hybrid-type players ahead of him isn’t great news. Gailey, of course, coached in Pittsburgh and turned Kordell Stewart into “Slash.”
5. Albert Rocker. I spoke with the former Tech linebacker Wednesday evening for a story that is scheduled to run in Sunday’s paper. Rocker, as I mentioned in a previous blog, decided to forego his senior season to take a job with Microsoft. This is not entirely related to it, but here’s a story I imagine that will have Tech folks salivating. Rocker got offers from Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and other schools coming out of high school. He told me that during his recruitment, Steve Spurrier came to his school to offer him a scholarship and ask him to come to South Carolina. Rocker told him thanks, but no thanks.
Though he had yet to commit to Tech – he hadn’t earned the necessary test scores, “I said, ‘I already know where I want to go.’”
More to come as we count down to the start of fall practice.