Archive for February, 2010

Tech’s new recruiter knows Georgia like a native, which he is

Andy McCollum knows Georgia: Born at Kennestone Hospital long before it became Wellstar Kennestone;  grew up off the Marietta square; played at Marietta High in Northcutt Stadium under the famed Ray Broadaway.

“I was a quarterback,” McCollum said, laughing. “Eric Zeier broke every record I had in about five games.”

Mentioning his roots isn’t just a way for McCollum to make conversation. Those roots are essential to his new job. McCollum is Georgia Tech’s recruiting coordinator, hired from North Carolina State to replace Giff Smith, whom Chan Gailey — hey, didn’t he used to coach at Tech? — hired to coach linebackers for the Buffalo Bills.

The consensus throughout college football is that Smith will be missed. He knew Georgia, too, hailing from Cobb County — he played at Pebblebrook — and working at Georgia Southern before arriving at Tech. Smith was the driving force behind the signing class of 2007, which was ranked No. 18 at the time by Rivals.com but has just been re-rated

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After further review, Tech had the No. 3 signing class of 2007

Roddy Jones, 3-star recruit, scores against an unknown opponent. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Roddy Jones, 3-star recruit, scores against a team wearing red. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

These are the kinds of where-are-they-nows I enjoy: Andy Staples of SI.com re-ranks the recruiting classes of 2007 on performance, as opposed to potential, and discovers … knock me over with a feather … Georgia Tech’s was really, really good.

A bit of history: Tech’s class of 2007 was rated 18th-best by Rivals.com. According to Rivals, the Jackets didn’t sign a single 5-star player that year. But when viewing that class today — and many of those players will play for Tech again next season — Staples rates it third behind Florida’s (which was indeed rated No. 1 back then and  included Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap and the Pouncey twins) and Boise State’s (which was rated 68th but has yielded a three-year record of 36-4).

Staples on Tech’s class of ‘07:

“Chan Gailey signed a great class in 2007, only neither he nor anyone else realized just how good it could be. The Yellow Jackets brass …

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Live from Tech: Going for a sweep of the reigning champ

The Jackets ready for the men of Roy Williams. (Evocative photo by Mark Bradley)

The Jackets ready for the men of Roy Williams. (Extremely evocative photo by Mark Bradley)

How strange is this? For Georgia Tech, a home date against the defending NCAA champ has become one of two “should-win” games remaining. (The other involves Boston College.) Most seasons you’re happy — nay, ecstatic – with a split against North Carolina. These Jackets need to beat Carolina just to safeguard what seems to be an invitation to the Big Dance.

As noted yesterday, Tech is in decent shape for a team that has lost three of four and is 5-6 in its conference. But losing tonight could grease the chute toward the no-account NIT. The Jackets still have to go to Maryland and to Clemson, and they’ve got Virginia Tech, which is 20-4, here in the regular-season finale. With Tech’s RPI (29th) and strength of schedule (12th), a 7-9 ACC record would probably be enough. But 6-10 might not.

The good news: The Heels stink. They’ve lost seven of nine, and the victories were against North …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Did the Verducci Effect claim Jair Jurrjens?

Jair Jurrjens delivers, putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jair Jurrjens delivers, thereby putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Was it just happenstance that Dave O’Brien’s report of Jair Jurrjens’ impending MRI coincided, more or less, with Tom Verducci’s annual look at young pitchers at risk? Because, as the SI.com writer notes, Jurrjens was one of those who appeared to have defied the so-called Verducci Effect.

Ten months ago Verducci identified Jurrjens as one of 10 pitchers under 25 who’d increased his workload by more than 30 innings. You can question the methodology — Eric Seidman of FanGraphs did here — but there’s enough data to make the V-Effect worth noting. Writes Verducci:

“In the previous four years, I have identified 34 at-risk pitchers. Only four of them made it through that year without injury and with a lower ERA: [Ubaldo] Jimenez and three studs who did it last year — Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jair Jurrjens. (Jurrjens may not have escaped the effect after all. He reported to camp this week …

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Which team is having the better season – UGA or Tech?

Trey Thompkins battles Gani Lawal. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Thompkins battles Lawal. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This will sound a little weird, but it’s a Bradley post so whaddaya expect? I’m asking a question, the nub of which is: Can a team with an 11-12 record really be having a better season than one that’s 17-8?

Wait, wait. Hear me out. The 11-12 team is Georgia; the 17-8 team is Tech. And to offer a real answer, don’t we have to consider more than just won-lost records? Don’t we have to consider …

Expectations: Georgia was picked to finish last in the six-team SEC East and is indeed in last place at 3-7; Tech was picked to finish fourth in the 12-team ACC and, at 5-6,  stands eighth.

Polls: Georgia has been unranked all season; Tech was ranked 22nd in the Associated Press preseason poll and 20th in the coaches’ poll but dropped out of both Monday.

Personnel: Georgia starts a former walk-on (Ricky McPhee); Tech starts three McDonald’s All-Americans (Gani Lawal, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Favors).

Player development: Georgia guard …

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Tech’s out of the Top 25, but it’s not yet on the bubble

Paul Hewitt: "Please take me to the dance." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Paul Hewitt to Iman Shumpert: "Please take me to the dance." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

I keep hearing folks say Georgia Tech is in danger of missing of the NCAA tournament. It isn’t yet. Should the Jackets lose every game from here on, they won’t make it. But they won’t lose every game. (I feel very confident about this.)

Tech’s RPI is 29. If you’re a team from a major conference and you’re in the top 30, you’re a lock. (Yes, even if you go 7-9 in league play, which could happen. The Jackets are 5-6.) In his latest installment of Bracketology on ESPN.com, Joe Lunardi has Tech as a No. 9 seed, which isn’t bad for a team that has lost three of four.

Forget the Associated Press and coaches’ polls. They don’t register with the NCAA committee. (Good thing, since Tech just dropped out of both. In the former, it received only one 25th-place vote.) As esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach notes in ESPN’s Bubble Watch :

“Tech seems to be in OK shape. The Jackets have five wins …

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5 warning signs as these Hawks seek to move upward

Here's Jeff Teague. Haven't seen much of him lately. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Here's Jeff Teague. Haven't seen much of him lately. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A stipulation: The Hawks are having a sunny season and have a chance to play deeper into the playoffs than they have in 40 years. “We’ve closed the gap on the top three [teams in the East],” Mike Woodson said last week, and they’ve gained so much ground they’ve become the fourth in a Big Four. That said …

When you step up in class, even the tiniest flaw can become major. And here, as they go forward, are five warning signs for these Hawks:

1. The bench is basically two guys plus Mo. Remember when we thought the Hawks actually had a second unit? That lasted about 10 days. Jason Collins has worked 17 minutes this season. Joe Smith averages 9.2 minutes per game, Jeff Teague 9.7. (Not-so-fun fact: The rookie Teague, whom Mike Woodson claims to like, averages nearly six fewer minutes than did Acie Law, whom Woodson didn’t much like, in his rookie season.) Mo Evans worked 23 minutes a game last …

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Extra! Extra! Persistent pothole wins the Daytona 500!

I’m not a big fan of pranks. (I’m basically a humorless old coot.) But I laughed out loud about 6:15 Sunday night. While waiting through the second televised pavement malfunction, I clicked on the Wikipedia entry for the Daytona 500. As the 2010 winner, some devious gearhead had already entered “Pothole.”

Under “make of car,” the listing was “Hole.” Under “car number,” the listing was “2.”

I’m sorry. For reasons unclear, I found that hilarious. Maybe because I use Marietta Street to get downtown and nearly lose a hubcap on a weekly basis. Maybe because it seemed rather incongruous that the self-appointed Great American Race could be halted — for 2 1/2 mind-numbing hours! — by the not-so-great American pothole. But it was most amusing watching Fox fill (and fill, and fill) to the point that a third delay would surely have prompted Chris Myers to tell the story of how Jim Mora screamed at him at halftime of a Falcons-Panthers game in 2004. (Haven’t heard that one, have you?)

I’m …

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Again we ask: With Tech struggling, where’s the coaching?

Paul Hewitt hugs Will Bynum in 2004.

Paul Hewitt embraces Will Bynum after the guard's twisting layup beat Oklahoma State at the 2004 Final Four. (File photo)

In the cold light of hindsight, it’s easy to rip Dave Braine for awarding Paul Hewitt what was essentially a lifetime contract in April 2004, but you know what? Were I Georgia Tech’s athletics director, I would’ve, too. The Jackets had just returned from San Antonio after playing for the NCAA championship, and there wasn’t a more impressive young coach anywhere than Tech’s.

Hewitt had taken his team on a breathtaking five-game run — each could have been lost in the final minute — and he’d done it despite losing his leading scorer to a sprained ankle in Game 3. (B.J. Elder wouldn’t score another point until the title game against Connecticut.) That spring offensive was a triumph of willpower and chemistry and inspired shotmaking by Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum, but it was also a triumph of coaching.

At that moment, nobody thought to ask, “What if this is as …

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My dumb little ACC power ratings put Tech in the front four

Ga. Tech was better than Va. Tech last season. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Ga. Tech beat Va. Tech last year. Might not happen this time. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Earlier we presented Heather Dinich’s ACC power ratings, as compiled on ESPN.com, for the 2010 football season. Now, purely as public service, come the Bradley power ratings. (The BPR, not to be confused with Dick Vitale’s BDI, which stands for Bald Dome Index.) Ms. Dinich and I agree on the top three. Then we diverge. Here goes:

1. Virginia Tech: Apart from the rearranged-for-TV Labor Day game against Boise State in D.C., the Hokies’ schedule doesn’t kick in until November. Then they play Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami back-to-back, with the latter two coming on the road. They can take two of those three.

2. Florida State: The Seminoles will go one of two ways post-Bowden — they’ll either fall apart or they’ll regain a sense of discipline and rise again. I’m betting on the latter because there’s too much talent here to dismiss, and the final days of Saint Bobby were simply a …

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