I’m not covering the Orange Bowl. I’ll be in Athens tonight watching Georgia and Georgia Tech play basketball. But I found it amusing to note that, once again, ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. has picked against the Jackets (in football, not basketball).
A review (and all these links require registration): Scouts Inc. picked Miami over the Jackets in September and was correct; it picked Virginia Tech over GT in October and was incorrect; it picked Clemson over the Jackets in September and also in the ACC title game and was twice wrong. Now it likes Iowa to win 28-24 tonight. And that’s legit: This will be a difficult game for the Jackets, and a lot of people are picking against them.
What’s of greater interest is that Scouts Inc. again gives the edge in coaching to Tech’s opponent. And maybe that’s also fair: Kirk Ferentz is well regarded in the business. Scouts Inc. did the same for the Virginia Tech game — again, Frank Beamer is a proven commodity — but it also gave Clemson the nod in coaching for the ACC title game, and I can’t imagine too many folks see Dabo Swinney as more established than Paul Johnson. (Interestingly, Scouts Inc. rated Tech’s coaching as better than Clemson’s in September. Guess Dabo had a better season than Johnson.)
Maybe I’m being unfair: Scouts Inc. did pick Tech over Georgia and give Johnson the edge over Mark Richt. (Georgia won, as I recall.) But when I see a category breakdown so imbalanced — the Jackets are rated above Iowa at only three of eight positions (quarterback, running back and, interestingly enough, special teams) — you’d have to think the coach of the presumed lesser team has done something right to get his side to 11-2 and a BCS bowl.
And maybe this expression of non-love for PJ simply balances the scales: I’m aware that many among you (read: Georgia fans) believe we at the AJC have fallen all over ourselves in our admiration for the Tech coach. And I’ll concede to a bit — OK, maybe more than a bit — of gushing on my part. Still, I think the man has done a fabulous job. He’s 20-6 in two seasons and has won his conference. As I recall, we around here also sang the praises of Richt when he went 21-5 and won his league in his first two years on the job.
But enough of that. I close with two notes: Scouts Inc. isn’t to be confused with ESPN’s ACC blogger Heather Dinich, who has also picked against the Jackets a few times but likes Tech tonight. (Also by the score of 28-24.) And Mr. Always Wrong — that’d be me — likes the Jackets to win twice this evening. First at the Stegasaurus, then at Land Shark Stadium.