Poll time: Is Georgia Tech’s job really worse than Utah’s?

I know this seems like a long time ago but it's possible again at Georgia Tech. (Pictured: Luke Schenscher, Marvin Lewis, circa 2004.)

I know this seems like a long time ago but it's certainly possible again at Georgia Tech. And the answer is: Luke Schenscher and Marvin Lewis, circa 2004, in the Final Four.

After Bruce Pearl finally got smacked by the karma train the other day, I mentioned how Georgia Tech could be hurt by the fact so many high profile jobs were open. The Yellow Jackets may not be able to survive a bidding war for the most attractive basketball coaching candidates for two reasons: 1) Athletic department economics; 2) The $7.2 million contract payoff to former coach Paul Hewitt.

Where does Tech job rank with Arkansas, N.C. State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah?

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But this also is about how good the Tech job is considered. If say, Richmond’s Chris Mooney considers Georgia Tech a better position than Tennessee or Arkansas, money becomes less of a factor. So how good is it? I’ll give you my rankings shortly. But at least one national writer does not rank Tech highly.

Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News ranked six current openings. They are (listed alphabetically): Arkansas, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah. Rank them in your mind and then look at how he stacks them up: 1.) Arkansas; 2.) North Carolina State; 3.) Utah; 4.) Georgia Tech; 5.) Oklahoma; 6.) Tennessee.

Here’s DeCourcy’s comment on Georgia Tech: Upside: Atlanta annually is loaded with superb high school talent. Downside: Higher academic standards, middling interest in program, substandard arena. Tech doesn’t really have a place for at-risk students. If not for the concern about Tech’s academic demands, this job would be near the top of the list because of the great talent the region produces: Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Jelan Kendrick. Should pursue: VCU coach Shaka Smart. What might invigorate the Jackets is Smart’s dynamic style of play – which keeps lots of players involved and contributing – rather than a constant reliance on short-term players and roster overhauling.

DeCourcy’s actually one of the better college basketball writers in the country but he’s off base on a few things here. If there was “middling interest” in Tech basketball, fans and alumni wouldn’t have been so passionate (and occasionally nasty) in their criticism of Hewitt. This is still one of the higher profile programs in the ACC, which is one of the highest profile basketball conferences (even in down years like this).

The “substandard arena” comment doesn’t take into account the planned renovation. And about Shaka Smart: He might be a great coach but a lot of assumptions are being made about a guy who’s only in his second season.

My biggest issue with the rankings is having Utah so high, which is based primarily on the fact that the school is moving into the Pacific 12. It’s still hard to imagine recruits flocking to Salt Lake City, any more than they’re flocking to Pullman, Wash. (Washington State, another Pac-12 school).

Here are my rankings, with a brief comment. Let me know what you think.

1. Arkansas: A lot of money and support, a great tradition under Nolan Richardson and a significantly improved basketball conference. (Update: There are several reports that Missouri’s Mike Anderson will take the Arkansas job and get a seven-year contract worth $2.2 million annually.)

2. Georgia Tech: Great recruiting basis, a fan base thirsting for success again, new practice facility and a renovated arena on the horizon.

3. N.C. State: Money to spend and in the heart of Tobacco Road, but a program that always will be dwarfed by neighbors Duke and North Carolina.

4. Oklahoma: Forever a football school but they’ve had great success under a succession of coaches (albeit some who ended up in NCAA handcuffs): Billy Tubbs, Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel.

5. Tennessee: Baggage aside, Pearl did an amazing job building the basketball program and helped raise the SEC’s basketball profile.

6. Utah: Not saying Utah won’t have an impact but the job isn’t that big yet.

OK, now it’s your turn. How high (or low) should the Tech job be ranked?

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

147 comments Add your comment

junenal

March 23rd, 2011
1:22 pm

junenal

March 23rd, 2011
1:22 pm

on my list, but they haven’t asked me yet……

Aardvark Base

March 23rd, 2011
1:29 pm

I think your rankings are spot on. Does Utah even have a program? Or a recent winning program? Oklahoma and Tennessee also fall in the ranks due to upcoming NCAA sanctions. Arkansas is definitely the top one on the list due to the major money and attention there. I’d put NC State behind Tech because, like you said, get used to a bronze medal if you’re at that program, unless Tim Duncan & Chris Paul are resurrected, and then you’re in 4th place behind Wake Forest.

Ramblin' Wreck

March 23rd, 2011
1:31 pm

Agree with your rankings.GT and NC State may be tossups due to NC State’s (rumored) willingness to pony up more cash. Absent that, GT definitely ranked correctly.

juvenal

March 23rd, 2011
1:32 pm

have no recollection of utah doing anything in basketball-capitals to byu’s ‘trotters?

DawginLex

March 23rd, 2011
1:38 pm

Utah lost in national title game to Kentucky in 1998.
They had a great run under Majerus
Not much since he left.

Tech being in the ACC makes it a better job than Utah.

Reality Check

March 23rd, 2011
1:38 pm

JS, you are right about Utah should be last on the list. NC State is a better job than GT, tobacco road is what makes it better. Eventually the tide will turn and NC State will be able to compete with Duke and UNC with the right coach. Coach Pearl did some things wrong but proved that UT is a better job than GT. Would you rather have 20,000 fans coming to the game or 7,500 on a good night? Also, I can not remember the last time GT was consistently in the top half of the ACC they have been a bottom feeder in the conference the last 15 years.

JOD

March 23rd, 2011
1:42 pm

Arkansas??? Really? lol… they are about middle on the list.

JOD

March 23rd, 2011
1:44 pm

Reality Check, needs a reality check… GT a bottom feeder for the last 15 years?… good grief.

Chopper

March 23rd, 2011
1:45 pm

I think Georgia Tech should be first and not just because I’m a GT fan.

GT is a rare commodity that all it needs is the right coach to be a top ten program annually. Arkansas had a great tradtition under Nolan Richardson, but what since? You don’t pluck a ton of top tier talent out of Little Rock. Sure they have resources but if GT is humming on all cylinders it won’t make a difference.

GT is swimming in basketball talent like Florida is in football. There will be new facilities to recruit with. And the chance to compete with Duke and North Carolina for ACC supremacy.

I just think the right coach can make this program one of the best in the country. I don’t know that the other schools just need the right coach to do the same.

MC

March 23rd, 2011
1:46 pm

The same logic applies to GT in this state. Whether or not Mark Fox stays at UGA or not they can pay the freight. Tubby Smith, Dennis Felton, and Mark Fox have proven UGA can recruit this state as. Economics in the long run will be the death knell at GT. Furthermore, GT fans brought it on themselves. Somewhere Dave Braine is laughing his butt off.

Reality Check

March 23rd, 2011
1:48 pm

JOD, research GT’s conference record for the last fifteen years and post back with your response. I do not have facts in hand but would be willing to be Gt’s winning percentage during that time is 40%.

StraightJacket

March 23rd, 2011
1:54 pm

Jeff, Swap Utah and Tennessee and you’ll have this exactly right. Even if the NCAA gives UT the easy way out of its penalties, they’ll still have a road back to be the third wheel behind football and Pat Summitt. Utah edges ‘em out, … but barely.

DeCourcy’s points about Tech were correctly countered by you. Which begs the question:

WHY didn’t call you while doing his homework for this article? Do journalists NOT talk to each other?

William Satterwhite

March 23rd, 2011
1:55 pm

Call me crazy but I would put Utah ahead of Tech, heck, right now Utah might be the top opening available. Keep in mind, this isn’t Mountain West Utah, this is Utah headed into a down Pac-10 without a clear top team at the moment. Utah is a big state flagship school without high academic standards and the hub of a major market- Salt Lake City isn’t Atlanta of course but it’s big enough and there’s also access to California. The only thing about Utah is that it should attract a totally different crop of candidates from the other big openings in that whoever Utah hires is going to need west coast ties to take advantage of the school’s location.

Personally, I’d rank Tech as the 3nd or 4th best job available depending on what goes down at Tennessee.

1.Utah
2.Arkansas
3.Tech/Tennessee (if no probation)
4.Tech/NC State
5.Oklahoma
6.Tennessee (if put on probation)

Never Pick Pitt

March 23rd, 2011
1:57 pm

Jeff, does the Hogs’ tradition really include much outside of Richardson? Seems more middle of the list. I’d have to put the Wolfpack ahead of Tech. Burleson, Thompson, Coach V, some really good teams through the years with a pretty large & supportive fan base.

ACC HOOPS #1

March 23rd, 2011
1:58 pm

1. NC State: passionate fans, two national championships, money to spend, great facilities
2. GT: the last two coaches reached the final four. New arena coming, with essentially a built in mulligan year next year. The ACC seems to acquire a lot of hardware even in ‘down’ years. Win here and you can win the big one.
3. Arkansas: history, passionate fans, but hoops will always be second in the SEC. Plus the West has a national reputation for being terrible. See Alabama.
4. Utah: Salt lake city is a great city for hoops. Money probably not an issue.
5/6: Tenn and OK are a wash. NCAA issues automatic for these two.

D A DoubleU G

March 23rd, 2011
1:59 pm

Tech will land a good coach. As much as I hate Tech athletics, they truly are an underachieving bunch.

The city of Atlanta should be an appeal to basketball players. Football, I feel like kids want a more traditional college town as opposed to inner city sirens 24 hours a day. But that is just my opinion.

The ACC may not be what it was 10 years ago, but that only means it is a sleeping giant. The ACC still has the appeal to any coach looking for a job. Tech basketball will be rebuilding figuratively and literally next season, but I do not expect them top stay down long.

As hated as the rivalry seems to have become the last few years, I think fans of both programs can admit a couple things. A) Tech basketball is a sleeping giant that won’t be down long, and B) UGA football is a sleeping giant that won’t be down long.

Good luck on your coaching search. The right man or woman will be found.

JasonGT

March 23rd, 2011
2:05 pm

Reality Check… 2004 we were in the championship game. NC State’s last claim to fame was in the Jimmy V. era. We havent been a consistent program recently, but that’s why the fans are angry and that’s why we got rid of Hewitt (great man/horrible game time coach.) If you’re claiming our conference record is around 40% then you’d be correct, but total record is still a winning record even with horrible coaching. We even destroyed UNC this year so you should check your facts… bottom feeders for the last 15 years, come on.

Matt Stigall

March 23rd, 2011
2:07 pm

That writer is sorely off base and didn’t even fact check his article. For a national publication, that is insulting. Thank you for pointing him out, Schultzie.

1. We are getting a new arena
2. If a coach wants to look at the academic requirements as a negative, then he isn’t a good fit for GT. Some coaches will look at that as a negative to the program, others will think of it as a positive and be proud of that fact. I want the latter.
3. Middling fanbase? We are three years removed from a season ticket base that had a waiting list. A successful coach fixes this immediately.

All Tech has to do is dangle the carrot of new arena, ACC basketball, Atlanta (both market and recruits) and what little cash we do have and a worthy coach will be honored to coach here.

ACC HOOPS=#1

March 23rd, 2011
2:08 pm

1. NC State: 2 national championships, passionate fans, money, great facilities, ACC wins hardware even in ‘down’ years
2. GT: the last two coaches reached the final four. When have we had a problem recruiting? New arena on the way with a built in mulligan year next year. Best conference.
3. Arkansas: tradition, passionate fans but hoops will always be second to football. The SEC west is terrible and even if you win it you aint dancing (see Alabama)
4. Utah: great city actually and they love basketball
5/6: Tenn and OK: Prone to NCAA issues, always

dawgfan

March 23rd, 2011
2:08 pm

Can’t see how Yeck and NCSU aren’t the top two; they’re in the top conference. Arkansas? Really?

JasonGT

March 23rd, 2011
2:09 pm

Also in an ACC “down year” 3/4 teams sent to the tournament are in the sweet 16, the big east sent 11 teams (I believe) and they only have 2 teams alive. Talk about an overrated conference. Any ACC job trumps most jobs in college basketball. Get the fans excited again and a new coach will be able to easily fill the arena and take it back to the days where you used to have to get in like 3 hours before a game to even have a chance of getting into the arena…

JasonGT

March 23rd, 2011
2:10 pm

line not like *

Never Pick Pitt

March 23rd, 2011
2:20 pm

Jeff, ESPN is reporting that Anderson to the Hogs will be announced today.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=6249515

So, where does Mizzou rank?

GTJeff

March 23rd, 2011
2:21 pm

I said get rid of the BB program & concentrate on our football program. I could give a rats behind if we win a NC in BB every year for the next decade.

D A DoubleU G

March 23rd, 2011
2:21 pm

I know Techies are extremely proud of their aspirations to be engineers ( we are reminded every time an ATHLETIC debate comes up), but it takes a fool to not realize the typical prima donna HS athlete looking at colleges these days is putting athletics #1, and trying to set up an easy course to the pros. A large majority of these kids like to set up a very easy workload off the field/court as well.

Yes, there are a handful of Tech athletes who love the workload, and do well with it. However, Tech fans/students/alums need not try to close their eyes and act like the demanding work in the classroom is not a deterrent to a large part of the 5 star athletes out there.

It’s just the way it is.

If I were a Techie, I would have cringed the minute Georgia State announced they were starting a football program. All it is going to take is GSU using their football team to get them into a big conference such as the Conference USA or the Big East, and kids who still want the Atlanta experience, will then have another option, still getting big time exposure and a MUCH easier classroom demand.

(and before you rip me, I am well aware the ACC is more prestigious than any of the two conferences I suggested. But you get my point….. i hope)

cattledawg

March 23rd, 2011
2:23 pm

Paul in RDU

March 23rd, 2011
2:24 pm

Jeff,
You could move some teams up or down a notch but I won’t argue with your rankings.

I will argue with ththe use of the word always in this statement about NCSU though
“a program that always will be dwarfed by neighbors Duke and North Carolina.”
Since Valvano was forced out, NCSU has been dwarfed by the neighbors but it was not always that case. When he left NCSU had more ACC championships than Duke (and 1 less than UNC) and as many NCAA championships as UNC (with Duke having 0). As UNC found with Doherty and Duke when Coach K was out for most of one year, having the right HC is more important than anything.
Coach K is 64 and Roy Williams is 60 – there could be a great opportunity for NCSU to get back on top.

ArkyTech

March 23rd, 2011
2:26 pm

Wow, Jeff, I actually agree with you! ;-)

Paul in RDU

March 23rd, 2011
2:27 pm

Was that the real D A DoubleU G at 1:59?

Definitely a kinder, gentler post

D A DoubleU G

March 23rd, 2011
2:30 pm

Yes, it is me.

I have decided the childish finger pointing is getting old. I will attempt to speak logically from now on. I found myself getting upset at teenagers who post on here, and that is not healthy.

I am very capable of debating any issue with Georgia or Georgia Tech. I am a UGA student, my girlfriend is a UGA alum, and my father and mother are UGA alums as well. So I am the pure definition of a blind homer, and proud of it.

Believe me or not, but this is the new D A DoubleU G.

JSS

March 23rd, 2011
2:31 pm

“a significantly improved basketball conference.”
I still haven’t stopped laughing… Two words: “Auburn Basketball!”

And Jeff Schultz for shame: you know good and well that Utah was, reestablished, could be one of the great jobs in America. Utah has one of the great traditions in NCAA lore. The first truly integrated teams to win the NCAA, they had Asian-Americans on the the 1944 team including a player who been in an internment camp. They’ve been to the NCAA more than only two other Western teams (UCLA and Arizona). Oh I strongly recommend the documentary: ‘Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story.’

There is a reason why the Utah Stars (old ABA team) and the Jazz have been wildly successful. Utah is basketball crazy thanks the Utes! That is a great job, especially if you win!

G

March 23rd, 2011
2:33 pm

If the interest was there than why did fans stop coming? Don’t believe Tech is a better job than NC State, it may be equal but not better. OK is a better job based on fan base, conference and money. Not saying the conference is better than ACC, though it is close, but it is easier to turn things around and win at the same time.

1. Arkansas – big upside
2. NC State – same as your description of Arkansas
3. OK – easier to turn around and win, money and fan base
4. GT – Atlanta, facility, but not a great fan base and not much money
5. Utah – great area, up an coming conference, great fans
6. Tennessee – nobody wants that job

D A DoubleU G

March 23rd, 2011
2:33 pm

Mark Bradley…..

I highly doubt Pat Summit would EVER leave the Tennessee Lady Vol program, and she shouldn’t.

But is there ever a case during her tenure that a Men’s team has flirted with her in the manor of coaching consideration??

Earlier in her career I could see it happening….. because of her tenure and age though, I doubt any pursuit will be made, again, if it ever took place.

Your thoughts?

JSS

March 23rd, 2011
2:35 pm

“Believe me or not, but this is the new D A DoubleU G.”
Son, have you been OK? Well, good luck with that, I wish you the best with the effort!

First sensible discussion on a tech ajc blog/article

March 23rd, 2011
2:37 pm

I can’t believe it. Both tech and uga fans making good points in a civil discussion on a tech ajc blog/article comments section.

JM

March 23rd, 2011
2:39 pm

I really have never thought Arkansas was as good as they could be in the SEC. At one time it made much more sense for them to be in the Big 12. But that conference has taken a step back. Arkansas is on the fringe.

JSS

March 23rd, 2011
2:39 pm

Some woman is going to have to take the chance one day… Summitt has the demeanor to coach the male game. Can she out recruit Billy Donovan or Calipri? Now that would be interesting! I know she can not do a worse job than those folks at Auburn and South Carolina!

JSS

March 23rd, 2011
2:47 pm

Here’s a role reversal for you…
Coach Summitt comes to your house and sits down with a Momma, Grand momma, Sister, and a Pops (yeah stop laughing). She lays that TN accent on and tells them: “You know that I’ll make sure that your baby gets a education and stays out of trouble as if he were my own son!” Game over!

Ed Zachary

March 23rd, 2011
2:49 pm

TomB

March 23rd, 2011
2:58 pm

Jeff, even in a so called down year, the ACC has the most teams(3) in the sweet sixteen. The experts are almost always wrong – just look at the Big East this year. The selection committee is run or influenced by these so called experts. How else do you explain the Big East this year?

Your list is about right, maybe Oklahoma should be a little higher. Mike Decourcy having Utah third on his list should tell you all you need to know about these so called experts.

Merlyn Brown, IE 1960

March 23rd, 2011
2:58 pm

Why not women’s basketball coach Michelle Joseph for head men’s basketball
coach? She obviously knows how to coach the details/fundamentals of basketball.
What else does it take? Men coach women’s basketball, but are there any women who coach men’s basketball @ the college level? Just wondering.

D A DoubleU G

March 23rd, 2011
2:59 pm

I am telling you……..

I am surprised nobody ever wanted to take a chance with Pat Summit……..

Maybe it’s not too late, Tech. Go get her!!!!

Come on man

March 23rd, 2011
2:59 pm

GA State doesn’t have any football tradition. They will not get more/better recruits than Tech. Period. Thanks for you’re input but FAIL

D A DoubleU G

March 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

Come on man,

Is that the same way University of South Florida felt a few very short years ago??

USF was ranked as high as #2 just a couple years ago. They are EXTREMELY similar to Georgia State in terms of size, academics and inner-city (Orlando) location.

All they did was join the Big East, and now there are one of the more respected “dark horse” teams out there.

Deny it all you want, but in the near future Georgia State will without a doubt be more of a threat to Tech athletics than you want to admit. It’s only a mater of time before a large conference comes a callin’.

D A DoubleU G

March 23rd, 2011
3:09 pm

I am not attempting to be a bully here…..

Just addressing my thoughts on the area of the article talking about Tech’s academics being a “set back”, and supporting my thoughts with an arguable opinion and possible future scenario.

They do teach us how to write at UGA, believe it or not.

Luke

March 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

I actually agree with D A on this about Ga State, they will be a team to contend with give them a four or five years or so.

Will they be able to contest Tech with recruiting? Not likely. The only reason I say that though is because of the fact that the students who would go to State would go to UGA beforehand. How many recruits seriously consider between Ga Tech and UGA alone and don’t pick UGA? Few and far between. The biggest problem is the lack of campus lifestyle at State. There is no “campus”. Players want to be the “it” on campus. Walk into a fraternity party and everyone turns heads. State, unfortunately, doesn’t have that style being immediately downtown.

Academics really has nothing to do with recruiting, it just comes down to where they want to be. The leftovers in between will go to State. And I’m sorry, but you are really senile if you think a recruit is going to pick State over Tech.

Bob

March 23rd, 2011
3:26 pm

Kind of a silly question. Utah has an outstanding basketball tradition. From the days when the NIT was THE Championship tournament through the NCAA tournament period the Utes have a great history. Is it better today? Maybe and maybe not, but overall the Utes are at least the equal to Tech and most likely a bit higher on the pecking order.

Gordon

March 23rd, 2011
3:26 pm

I believe Tech has an upper limit of 2.1MM to spend on a basketball coach, so they aren’t as poor as Jeff thinks. Also, I believe Hewitt is being paid from donations just as Gailey is, so neither has an effect on the operational budget. I think Jeff’s ratings are about right, and he was right that DeCourcy missed on several points about Tech in his sloppy article.

The Antibuzz

March 23rd, 2011
3:40 pm

Any sane person would rather live and drive in Salt Lake City than in Atlanta.

Atlanta is a third world dump.