It’d be better for Hewitt and Tech if the two sides part ways

Who wouldn't want to go where he'd feel wanted? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Even millionaire coaches need to be loved. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It would be better for both parties if Paul Hewitt leaves. Better for Georgia Tech, which would be free of an increasingly unpopular coach and his onerous contract, but also better for Hewitt, who could return to New York as the people’s choice. As coach of St. John’s, he wouldn’t be viewed as the guy who hasn’t really delivered since 2004; he’d be the man from Queens come home to save the Johnnies.

There was a time when Paul Hewitt seemed the savior of Tech basketball. In his first season he took Bobby Cremins’ remnants and turned them into an NCAA tournament team, and in 2004 he took a team of his own creation to the championship game. And for all those who’ve looked at Tech lately and decided Hewitt cannot coach his way out of a paper bag, the memory of 2004 stands as a golden counterpoint: That team was a triumph of coaching.

I’ve said it before, but here it is again: I don’t know if any other coach could have taken Tech further than Hewitt did in 2004, but I can think of three dozen who could have done better since. Tech hasn’t finished above .500 in its conference or reached the Sweet Sixteen over the past six seasons. His record over his first five seasons was 96-66; his record over the past five is 81-78.

Even more distressing has been Hewitt’s penchant for seizing every crutch. Tech’s too young. Or it’s overscheduled. Or it has injuries, or academic issues, or players who’ve left early. Or it’s just “snakebit.” This willingness to explain away mediocrity has always seemed bizarre, given that the 2004 Jackets were handed a gold-plated excuse — leading scorer B.J. Elder sprained his ankle in Tech’s third NCAA game and didn’t score another point until the final against UConn — and persevered.

There are no perfect collegiate teams. The aim isn’t to see who can cry the deepest river but who can maximize what it has. Thad Matta took an Ohio State team without a true center — or even a real forward — and won the Big Ten; Hewitt took a team with the nation’s best complement of big men and finished seventh in the 12-team ACC. On Sunday, Matta’s team spotted Hewitt’s eight points and won by nine.

Hewitt wasn’t Chan Gailey, who was unpopular among Tech fans from the start. Hewitt was warmly received at the start and beloved after the Final Four, but there was never a follow-through to the daring deeds of 2004. It took Jacket backers a while to get impatient, but they’re there now. They’ve seen the same game lost the same way too many times over too many winters, and they’ve read about his never-ending contract and they wonder if the underachieving will ever cease.

This gifted team was Hewitt’s last best chance to persuade his doubters, and all it did was give rise to deeper doubt. If he couldn’t win big with Derrick Favors and Gani  Lawal, what will happen next season when both figure to be gone? Will it ever get better for Hewitt than this? And is 23-13 good enough?

St. John’s isn’t a better job per se, but for Hewitt in 2010 it’s a better situation. He can leave the ACC, in which he has a career record of 67-93, and try the Big East, for which he has great affection. (He was an assistant at Villanova under Steve Lappas.) He can charm the New York media, which has the reputation of being nasty but is a pushover for a return-of-the-prodigal yarn, and he’ll recruit well and have the Red Storm back in the Big Dance soon enough.

Six years ago there seemed no better fit than Paul Hewitt for Georgia Tech, but today the two need fresh starts. No coach wants to fall into the disfavor of his constituency, and no constituency wants to root against its coach. But that, sad to say, is the reality at Tech. Paul Hewitt wasn’t Chan Gailey, but Paul Hewitt has become Chan Gailey.

567 comments Add your comment

Liz

March 23rd, 2010
4:25 pm

First again?

Mark Bradley

March 23rd, 2010
4:27 pm

Wow. I’m in awe, Liz. A daily double of kudos.

SC Ace

March 23rd, 2010
4:29 pm

Mark Bradley

March 23rd, 2010
4:30 pm

Actually second. I don’t count myself, SC Ace.

Justin

March 23rd, 2010
4:32 pm

Agree on all counts MB.

Herschel Talker

March 23rd, 2010
4:32 pm

MB:

Obsessed are ye? Perhaps you should focus on the superior coach in the state, Mr. Fox.

Mark Fox > Paul Hewitt

third

March 23rd, 2010
4:33 pm

SC Ace

March 23rd, 2010
4:33 pm

Well it’s a lame for me to get excited about second or third…

The real question I’d like to see you address: Who IS the right fit at Tech?

Herschel Talker

March 23rd, 2010
4:34 pm

Fire Mark Richt!

Fire Booby Cox!

heartofdarkness

March 23rd, 2010
4:34 pm

So you are agnostic on this, eh Mark? In New York, you are likely to be able to find some solid college guards as well.

Mark Bradley

March 23rd, 2010
4:34 pm

Let’s see if there’s an opening before we go wild with speculation, SC Ace.

Bob in SF

March 23rd, 2010
4:35 pm

Jawja Dawg fans need to enjoy the excellent Mark Fox while they can before he Tubbys them.

TomB

March 23rd, 2010
4:35 pm

Oh you’re in trouble now Mark. I agree with all your points by the way. He’s had his chance.

Mark Bradley

March 23rd, 2010
4:36 pm

Not really agnostic, heartofdarkness. I think it would be better for both Paul Hewitt and Georgia Tech if he takes the St. John’s post. But I think there’s a chance he’ll stay.

StingerSplash

March 23rd, 2010
4:38 pm

I’m beginning to have doubts about myself. I find myself agreeing with Mark Bradley far too often.
All kidding aside, you’re dead on MB — except I had concerns about CPH’s ability even during the 03-04 season. There was also something missing, an attention to detail or fundamentals, even during that one great season.
But that team may have been the harbinger of college basketball in the modern era. A point guard who could drive, distribute and shoot (Jack). A deadly outside shooter (Lewis). Another guard who could slash and drive and was serviceable at running the point and shooting from the outside (Bynum). A guard who could post up smaller guards or drive around bigger defenders or step out and hit shots (BJ Elder). No dominant big man but a center who could get rebounds and make free throws and find open people. Active, agile, athletic defenders who weren’t great shooters or ball handlers but could get up and down the floor (Moore, McHenry and Muhammad) and had no regard for their body hitting the floor and one who could absolutely finish with the best of them (Is’mail, again).
It was, save for Bynum and Schenscher, a bunch of guys between 6-3 and 6-7 who could do a lot of things, some of them very well and some better than others.
Sounds a lot like the team Tech just ended its season against.

Cheese

March 23rd, 2010
4:39 pm

Assuming Hewitt leaves and im for letting him go without paying us anything. How about we go after?

- Northern Iowa, Ben Jacobson
- Cornell, Steve Donahue
- Minnesota, Tubby Smith
- Vanderbilt, Kevin Stallings

All run offensive systems, Stallings I think is building Vanderbilt into a program similar to Duke just smart basketball.

Georgia Bulldog

March 23rd, 2010
4:41 pm

Paul
Please don’t go.We want you to stay! You are exactly like the Tech people. They look good initially but fade quickly

Jesse Stone

March 23rd, 2010
4:42 pm

a box of rocks > Herschel Talker

Eman

March 23rd, 2010
4:43 pm

Favors is likely gone but Lawal needs to stay because he may be a second round pick this year. If he improves his game lets say 16 and 10 then he could be a top 15 pick in next year draft.

Mark Bradley

March 23rd, 2010
4:43 pm

You need to seek professional help, StingerSplash, if you agree with me.

Blewitt agian

March 23rd, 2010
4:44 pm

If he was smart he would go. Think it was rough for you this year Paul? Wait until next year when Favors and Lawal are gone. Finish last in the ACC next year and I doubt your phone is ringing of the hook with job offers.

Cheese

March 23rd, 2010
4:45 pm

Eman,

Lawal is NBA ready- he has post moves, and plays good defense, he can’t really improve his draft stock anymore

Favors, though he could play defense in the NBA pretty effectively, hasn’t totally developed offensively, he would be taken hire on potential alone.

T-Bone

March 23rd, 2010
4:45 pm

Mark, Let’s just say that D-Rad does something rad (get it? D-Rad doing something Rad). Who would you like to see coaching the Jackets? You mentioned three dozen who could have done better. What are your thoughts? I don’t think he’ll go (based on Doug Roberson’s article), but a man can dream, can’t he?

Hamad Meander

March 23rd, 2010
4:46 pm

Why? Hewitt delivered this year. Anytime a team makes the NCAA tournament and wins a game in it, it should be deemed a fairly successful year. He accomplished more than Roy Williams at UNC did this year. College basketball is a weird sport these days – you go and recruit the best players and they are gone after ONE year. You recruit the ones that will stay a while and you don’t have the talent to compete.

I still say that Georgia Tech should be happy to have a coach that can bring in players like Derrick Favors and be competitive in the tournament. There are plenty of major schools that haven’t even been to the tournament in years such as Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn – pretty much all of the SEC WEST……

saban

March 23rd, 2010
4:47 pm

Georgia Tech tried to recruit me to run the basketball team.

Offered me 5 Million a year.

Jesse Stone

March 23rd, 2010
4:47 pm

Lawal has post moves, but in the NBA he will be a weak 6′9″ with horrible hands, no ball handling skills, with a tendency to fall to the court with slight contact. Gani has Turkish Basketball League written all over him.

Ax

March 23rd, 2010
4:48 pm

Bradley:

You are right, but you are a jack ass for how you write your opinions.

Read and learn and try to do better…..

justin

March 23rd, 2010
4:49 pm

Would GT let Hewitt go for free? I can’t imagine them throwing away good money. If they won’t, how much would SJU have to pay to make it worth his while?

Jesse Stone

March 23rd, 2010
4:49 pm

Hamad- Making it to the tourney is akin to making a bowl game. It’s not a great accomplishment, especially an at-large 10 seed.

Cheese

March 23rd, 2010
4:50 pm

Whether he stays or goes, We will be better next year because college is more of a backcourt game anyway. Our guards: Miller, Shumpert, Oliver, Rice, Udofia, peacock replaced by K. Holsey, the third best recruit that didn’t play, and Miller 6-11 center who redshirted because of Favors and Lawal

BO

March 23rd, 2010
4:50 pm

Come on MB…can you please write on another sports topic?!?! This makes about 30 articles you’ve written about PH in the last 3 weeks!! Seriously…writing 3 articles a day on the same topic is ridiculous! That horse is good and dead now.

I agree that this team has been making the same mistakes year after year…but it seems to me that this is more personal with you than you’re willing to let on. Just admit that you personally want to see the man fired and get it over with.

Old School

March 23rd, 2010
4:51 pm

Try to be unbiased with you Mark when commenting on your columns, and this was a good one. I like your line:

“St. John’s isn’t a better job per se, but for Hewitt in 2010 it’s a better situation.”

Better situation for Georgia Tech, too. Considering his 10-year record in conference play and against the sub-par round ball program at UGay and his totally unacceptable “lifetime” contract, I am thankful for the possibility that St. Johns may end our misery and save us a basket full of money. We may pay a lot on an annual basis for his replacement, but I pray that DRad will not sign a “Braineless” deal that locks us in for millions if things don’t work out.

Good job, Mark. Don’t always agree with you, but you turn out excellent stuff that is never mundane.

Mark Bradley

March 23rd, 2010
4:51 pm

Thank you, Old School.

Eman

March 23rd, 2010
4:52 pm

Cheese- Do you really think that Lawal would be a first round pick? D Blair was not a first round pick and he is way better than Lawal. He will not be a first round pick this year. Favors is alot better than Lawal. He may not have many post moves yet but he has super athletic ability in which Lawal does not have. Also, He is a better defender than Lawal.

Stockdog

March 23rd, 2010
4:53 pm

Fortunately for the Dawg-Nation, Hewitt is going to stay at Tech and continue his below average to mediocre run. If he wants to continue getting paid for 7 more years, with only Mark Bradley on his a$$, he will stay. IF he wants to get paid for only 3-4 years before getting run off by 30 media members he will go to New York. I think he stays. His thin skin can take Mr. Bradley, but the New York media would eat him alive. There is only 10% chance that he leaves tech. Great for us Dawg fans.

Jesse Stone

March 23rd, 2010
4:53 pm

BO- It’s newsworthy….and you added to the number of posts.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 23rd, 2010
4:56 pm

Hewitt said he plans on being the coach at ga tech , isn’t that what they all say before they bolt ? but if tech had made a run to the final four or the title everybody would be screaming for him to stay and cussing St Johns . I for one and probably the only DAWG fan that likes to see tech basketball do well hope he takes the job in new york.

Old School

March 23rd, 2010
4:58 pm

Mark, is it true that if Hewitt does leave of his own free will that he wants his $3.5 million that is due to Tech to go to you?

Incidentally, that clause in his contract is something of which I was not aware until day. I know it is pretty standard in the last 2-3 years, but not 6-7 years or go and certainly not in Hewitt’s contract with Tech. Interesting. If he does go and you were Tech would you want the $3.5 million, negotiate a deal, or bid him farewell free of charge?

Justin

March 23rd, 2010
4:59 pm

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

March 23rd, 2010
4:59 pm

I disagree with this one Marko.

Hewitt is the coach at a school that just does NOT have big name recognition. Any player that goes to Tech and shines…will most likely leave for the NBA immediately after.

With that said, I do believe that the role players that he brings in are just horrible. #11 on this year’s team was…well, lets just say that he could have used a redshirt. However, Paul kept going to him, over and over and over…when he should have stuck with the guys that were performing.

I don’t believe that Tech will be better served with a new coach, however. A little fire under Hewitt, yes. But bringing a new leader brings great risk for this program. Ask UGA how that all worked out with Dennis Felton.

Paul is a winner…he took the squad FURTHER THAN ANY OTHER GT COACH. Dosen’t that mean something? So Marko, would you still have this stance if he HAD won it all back in 2004?

Nick

March 23rd, 2010
5:00 pm

Agreed. I’m a Tech fan but Dustin Ware (Georgia’s point guard) went to my school and is a good friend so I watch Georgia play a good bit. Mark Fox is great a UGA, I wish Tech can get someone like him.

Mark Bradley

March 23rd, 2010
5:00 pm

You made me laugh, Old School.

I’d say there’s a chance Tech would take a good deal less than $3.5 million. But that’s me speculating.

BO

March 23rd, 2010
5:01 pm

Jesse…its not that I don’t agree. I’m as frustrated as the next man…but I also think that the number of articles written on this topic has exceeded its importance.

I don’t agree with Mark saying that this team has all of this talent. Just because a kid is a McDonald’s All-American doesn’t make him a great college player. Favors will be a good pro…but Lawal and Shumpert are both garbage! This team is a second tier team as far as talent and they played like it.

lanier

March 23rd, 2010
5:02 pm

Hewitt has become stale which also happened to Cremmins. Stale doesn’t work in sports where your results are available to everyone. Bye Paul

Michael

March 23rd, 2010
5:06 pm

From the New York Post moments ago St. John’s is expected to interview Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt tomorrow, The Post has learned.
As reported exclusively in today’s Post, Hewitt has emerged as a leading candidate to replace fired coach Norm Roberts. St. John’s athletic director Chris Monasch received permission to speak to Hewitt at 11:45 this morning.
A highly placed source said Hewitt sat atop a List Monasch and Father Donald J. Harrington agreed upon before the university president left for a board of trustees meeting in Rome.
Another source told The Post if it is decided Hewitt is the right hire and a deal is reached, St. John’s could announce it before Harrington returns. A former Big East coach told The Post that Hewitt will be well-received.
“He’ll be great for the players that are there and he’ll be great going forward,” said the source. “Paul is a player’s coach. The kids will take to him.”
Hofstra’s Tom Pecora and Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg remain candidates.
On Georgia Tech’s flagship radio station in Atlanta, it was reported AD Dan Radakovich was not happy with restrictive contract Hewitt received under for AD Dave Braine. Radakovich according to the station described it as a “golden” contract.
Radakovich described Hewitt’s contract as a unique situation, and that because of financial concerns, the university has decided it would look for candidates at the mid-major level.
As also reported exclusively by The Post, St. John’s reached out informally to Billy Donovan. The Florida coach opted to stay in Gainesville and sources said no formal numbers were discusse

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/college/basketball/st_john_will_interview_hewitt_on_VtJqX97VEO6yuRazFYaeGM#ixzz0j2IBwtvQ

I am concerned about Drad’s admission that we would only look at mid majors because of cost.

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

March 23rd, 2010
5:07 pm

oh yeah…and when he leaves and the Ramblin Wreck go 8-22, or some craziness like that…you should take solace in knowing that a pretty good coach was run off, really in large part, by your hyper-criticism of the guy.

Good coaches are hard to find Marko. GA Tech could never land John Calipari or anyone in the same league. Got lucky with Cremins, and Hewitt. Time will tell sportswriter.

freshd

March 23rd, 2010
5:08 pm

Only a fool would leave and leave a 7 million payout if he is fired on the table and then have to pay GT a 3 million buyout to go coach another team. Then again, only a fool would have offered a 7 million severance payout in the first place. Would you leave 7 mil on the table MB. Are you secretly working for the fire PAUL HEWITT bloggers.

Old School

March 23rd, 2010
5:09 pm

Frederick (Bailey) Douglass: Three questions-
1) are you a Tech fan?
2) if you are and you say “I don’t believe that Tech will be better served with a new coach” then are you satisfied with Hewitt’s overall record in his 10 years?
3)Because of 2004, how long does and at what cost does Tech and its fans supposed to feel obligated to Hewitt? His $1.6 million annual/$7 million buy-out auto roll-over contract all withstanding.

And to answer your questions: yes, I would feel the same way if he had beaten UConn in ‘04.

Tech Master

March 23rd, 2010
5:09 pm

Even if hewitt wants another job, his agent and lawyer will work tech for a few million in buyout money to make him go away, which is a smart move. They hold all the cards because of that terrible rollover deal.

Jesse Stone

March 23rd, 2010
5:10 pm

Schumpert a great player? No. Does Schumpert have the potential to be a really good one? Yes. Maybe someone will come in and realize he’s not a point guard.