Five more years for D-Rad, the Tech AD who’s a true ’star’

You knew Dan Radakovich had won over his constituency when, only months after he’d arrived, Georgia Tech folks were worried he’d leave to go back to LSU. You knew he’d swayed the electorate when Taz Anderson, the former Jacket football captain who’d campaigned hard for fellow alum Bill Curry as athletics director, said of D-Rad the AD: “We’ve got ourselves a star.”

There might be better ADs in this land of opportunity, but there are no better fits. Radakovich is a man who fuses number-crunching — “If there’s one thing Tech people understand, it’s business,” said Chan Gailey, who never quite understood Tech people — with grass-roots politicizing.

“No e-mail goes unreturned,” said Wayne Hogan, Radakovich’s able aide-de-camp. “No phone call goes unanswered. And in this age, that takes some real doing.”

But D-Rad does it. He works 14-hour days as a matter of course. He sees not only the bottom line but the Big Picture. He defuses issues before they become issues. He connects in a way a 21st Century leader must. He has a regular column on RamblinWreck.com, and his annual state-of-our-sports address is available via Webcast. And he does answer those e-mails, which his predecessor Dave Braine couldn’t bear even to read.

D-Rad took over in February 2006 at a time when Tech sports was in trouble both financially and philosophically. Braine had left behind an unpopular football coach (Gailey) with a fat new contract and basketball coach (Paul Hewitt) with an even worse contract. In four-plus years Radakovich has calmed the waters so deftly that even those who consider Hewitt a serial underperformer are confident the AD will make the correct call at the proper time.

Tech, as has been noted, isn’t Georgia. The Bulldogs roll in dough. The Jackets must fight the professional sports teams in the crowded Atlanta market for every dime, and the Falcons and Braves aren’t constrained by Title IX. And then, 2 1/2 years into D-Rad’s term, the economy cratered. A struggling athletics department with a less creative AD might have had to shed a sport or two, but this guy is remarkably skilled at pinching pennies. (Heck, he even rented out the athletic director’s luxury box at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.)

Oh, yeah. Almost forgot. He also hired Paul Johnson. D-Rad canned Chan 51 weeks after the Jackets had played in the ACC championship game and anointed a guy who ran an old-timey offense. In the clear light of hindsight, both moves seem no-brainers. Neither was. On the contrary, both were bold choices. Gailey had never had a losing season, and Johnson’s greatest success had come at Navy. But of such decisions are fortunes changed and stars made, and Radakovich went 2-for-2.

Had he done nothing else except hire PJ for GT, D-Rad would have earned the five-year extension — his deal runs through 2015, which still isn’t as long as Hewitt’s unceasing contract — Tech awarded him Tuesday. But it’s hard to imagine an administrator of this rank doing nothing else. In the academic year just completed, Tech teams won 72.7 percent of their games, which is a credit to many but mostly a credit to the man in charge.

Tech folks can be finicky. They like who they like, sometimes for reasons unclear to those of us on the periphery. (It was always a mystery how quickly and how deeply Tech people disdained both Braine and Gailey.) But when you’ve sold this crowd, you’ve done something. And you knew Dan Radakovich had swayed the masses when you began to hear Tech’s Old Guard suggest that he is, with all due respect to Bobby Dodd and Homer Rice, the finest AD the Institute has known.

126 comments Add your comment

F-105 Thunderchief

June 29th, 2010
2:30 pm

F-105 Thunderchief

June 29th, 2010
2:31 pm

Good move for Tech. The guy’s a star.

Best of Atlanta

June 29th, 2010
2:32 pm

————————————–
……Nesbitt for Heisman……
————————————–

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

June 29th, 2010
2:32 pm

DADGUM late again

Mark Bradley

June 29th, 2010
2:32 pm

The “f” in F-105 again stands for … how many times have I used this line? Three?

Kudos.

F-105 Thunderchief

June 29th, 2010
2:34 pm

Who’s counting? But you used it … wait for it … first!

wxwax

June 29th, 2010
2:34 pm

Mark,

The best soccer players from all around the world — the very best — are in Atlanta for an All Star game tomorrow night at Kennesaw State.

Your editors have decided that the game doesn’t exist. Not a single blessed word on this sorry excuse for a sports page.

Is it because the players are women? Are your editors prejudiced? Do they not see that interest in soccer is at an all-time high in the United States?

These women, including Hope Solo for the United States and Marta from Brazil, are outstanding.

The AJC’s silence on the game is pathetic. Kick your lazy editors a kick in the ass for me.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

June 29th, 2010
2:36 pm

You have a good AD and head coach congrats Tech fans .

Best of Decatur

June 29th, 2010
2:39 pm

__________________________

…Reggie Ball for Heisman…
__________________________

go tech

June 29th, 2010
2:46 pm

Mark, thanks for bringing up a point that too often goes overlooked. That is that DRad made the extremely difficult and risky moves of letting Chan go and bringing in CPJ. They were risky, but extremely successful moves; and I am glad to see DRad recognized for such great vision.

TechGrad

June 29th, 2010
2:53 pm

It’s a tossup who the better hire was – Johnson or Drad. Both are turning out to be excellent contributors to GT athletics.

layinlow

June 29th, 2010
2:57 pm

No matter how big of a star RAD may be, he cannot find a reasonable way to shed Paul Hewiitt and his deplorable contract. With that wretched contract Braine left a stain on Tech that ajax can’t srub away.

Paul Johnson was a decent hire but the jury is still out. He is 0-2 in bowl games and plays in a down conference since he has been at Tech. I’m looking to see how well he does now that Miami and Fla st seem to be on the rise. Now that UGA has Grantham instead of ole Willie how well will Tech fare against the dawgs going forward? How well will Johnson do with his own recruits, because chan may not have been able to coach but he sure left behind some studs. This season will begin to measure the true talent of Johnson. I predict Tech loses at least 4 games this year and Tech fans start to come down from their PJ induced high.

T3

June 29th, 2010
2:59 pm

Braine set the entire GT program back 10 years.

D-Rad is business savy, and fan-friendly,
and GT is very lucky to have him.

T3

June 29th, 2010
3:01 pm

TechGrad:

D-Rad was the most important hire.

Without D-Rad, there’s no Paul Johnson on staff.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Mike DeVine. Mike DeVine said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich: He's a true star in his business. http://bit.ly/dtO74m [...]

T3

June 29th, 2010
3:08 pm

BTW

Johnson has achieved MORE in 2 Years…with “Chan’s recruits”…
than Chan EVER achieved with his own recruits…in 7 years.

GT Alum

June 29th, 2010
3:10 pm

MB, you guys really have trouble figuring out why Tech fans quickly soured on a coach who couldn’t beat UGA, whose teams had a history of collapsing late in the season and was supposedly an offensive guru and solid recruiter but the only quarterback he had who kept his job regressed over the course over his career?

Before Gailey came in, Tech had a great bowl record and was one of the second tier ACC teams behind FSU. Gailey had the misfortune of coming after O’Leary – a coach that was beloved by Tech fans and who was in no danger of getting fired, but he didn’t particularly improve Tech’s fortunes (Tech had been second in the ACC under O’Leary. There just wasn’t a championship game to call attention to it.), and, in some areas (rivalry game, quality of bowls and bowl results), the results weren’t as good.

Tech fans were really looking for the football program to continue to build. Just holding steady would’ve been a bit of a disappointment, and regressing in key areas was unforgivable.

CPJ

June 29th, 2010
3:11 pm

T3

June 29th, 2010
3:13 pm

Once upon a time, GT had Steve Spurrier as the
QB Coach under Pepper Rodgers.

After Pepper, GT chose to hire Bill Curry, a fine man, but with ZERO head coaching experience, over a Heisman Trophy-winning QB from Florida, with a proven track record.

GT finally got it right with D-Rad.

Tech

June 29th, 2010
3:13 pm

With all of this conference expansion talk going on, I’d wouldn’t rather have any AD in the country than Dan Rad at the helm. Whatever decision he feels is the best for Tech, I’ll support no matter what. I kind of wish this article wasn’t written because Tech folks know we have the best AD in the country, we just don’t want to make it public. No doubt he’ll leave one day and be a conference commissioner, I just hope it’s a conference Tech is in.

layinlow

June 29th, 2010
3:36 pm

No wonder O’leary finished second in the ACC. Florida st. was in the middle of a 14 year run where they never finished below #4 in the final polls. If Johnson had to go against those seminole teams he would be second as well. I don’t care what anybody says, timing has a lot to do with success. Stockton and Malone would have had multiple championships had they not played in the MJ era. I believe Johnson’s early success at Tech has much to do with timing. He came into the ACC when the conference was down. we shall see how he fares now that FLA st. and Miami seem to be gainig traction.

JacketFan86

June 29th, 2010
3:36 pm

D-RAD is without a doubt a true business-savvy AD. Perfect for Tech as you said Mark. Great Article. and Great Man!

Dan

June 29th, 2010
3:38 pm

Layinlow, the jury is out on every coach in America. That’s the nature of the business. If CMR has another 5 loss season, he’ll be a year from being unemployed.

And the fact is CPJ is recruiting at roughly the same rate as Gailey. We don’t get many 5 star guys – never have. But we play smart and hard. Further, the offense CPJ runs will get better, not worse, when he gets his guys in there. He doesn’t need 5 star guys because the offense is based on creating one on one matchups in space. Under those circumstances, give me the 5′6 175 pound kid who can run over the guy who just runs through people.

And D-Rad has been nothing short of a complete success. He took calculated risks and has been rewarded accordingly.

Hawks2010

June 29th, 2010
3:39 pm

Good article Mark.
You nailed this one.

Kay

June 29th, 2010
3:40 pm

We just appreciate DRad and CPJ!

v8 cat

June 29th, 2010
3:50 pm

Mark, thanks for this column. D-Rad is the man. I think every real Tech fan admires and respects him. We also thank our lucky stars he came along when it did. Considering all factors (you mentioned the pro team competition) at Tech, the AD job there is one of the toughest in the country. As a die-hard jacket fan, I can relax knowing we have we have this kind of individual running the show.

buzz is wiser

June 29th, 2010
3:53 pm

I’m not old enough to remember Bobby Dodd, but I must admit I am one of those fans that constantly worry about us losing out on a good thing and if so how can we replace it with something better, I think you called it finicky Mark. But DRad is 2-2 right now and I smile as he’s signed on for another 5 years, I even bought my season tickets from those aspire people, another idea of his. Thanks DRad!!!

Hankie Aron

June 29th, 2010
4:04 pm

Coming from a UGA guy, you have to be impressed with D Rad. He’s done a great job. I even like PJ but he certainly has a lot to replace from last year’s team just like UGA did when Stafford/Moreno left for NFL fortunes. Good luck except for UGA game.

Chuck Allison

June 29th, 2010
4:07 pm

DRad must consider moving Paul Hewitt as unfinished business he must deal with very soon.

GT Alum

June 29th, 2010
4:10 pm

layinlow, you’re right in that I really believe that if O’Leary hadn’t left Tech when he did, Tech would’ve won at least one and possibly multiple ACC championships during the Gailey years. FSU dominated the rest of the conference while O’Leary was here, and everyone else was fighting for 2nd.

However, I disagree with your assessment of Tech’s position. If I thought (like you do) that this was as good as Tech can be under CPJ, I would be very worried about the future of our football program. However, we’ve been hearing for the past 2 years that CPJ doesn’t have the right players to execute his offense how he really wants to. Now that his own recruits will be playing, he will be under pressure to get even greater results from the offensive side of the ball.

Also, you mention UGA’s defensive change, but Tech’s defense was pretty porous last season, and they’ve made a change to address that issue as well.

You’re right that CPJ still has a lot to prove, but he’s given Tech fans almost everything they could ask for, and I’m optimistic that Tech can still get better, too.

Tokyo Tom

June 29th, 2010
4:12 pm

wxwax- don’t know about your paper my morning AJC edition had nearly a full page on the All-Star game Wednesday night- and another full page profile on Hope Solo this past Sunday. ( I Hope for many more Solo pictures!)

As for D-Rad- he was the right guy at the right time for Tech sports- which has a positive acrry over for the entire Atlanta sports scene. Class all the way for a classy institution.

gtcivil

June 29th, 2010
4:13 pm

Good column Mark, but is it really a mystery why Tech folks “disdained” Braine and Gailey?

Time Out

June 29th, 2010
4:15 pm

D-Rad is great for low standards similar to the rest of tech athletics.

Hey Dogtards

June 29th, 2010
4:20 pm

@layinlow “I don’t care what anybody says, timing has a lot to do with success.”

Well no $#!# sherlock. If you aren’t the best team of all time, winning a championship in anything will always come down to timing. If you put the 12 best teams that ever existed in the same division, one of them would finish in last place.

Ted Striker

June 29th, 2010
4:26 pm

I don’t get what was so bad about either Chan G. or Dave B. either (aside from the Paul Hewitt contract) either.

Then again, my dawg is in another fight, one we consistently win.

gt

June 29th, 2010
4:31 pm

Sports writers are a mystery to me. They write about coaches in this modern time like there is a moral motivation to be a coach and that the millions in salary is just background noise. Once there was a commitment to a job not unlike a country doctor or a minister. That left town with the arrival of shady characters that whored out instiutions like John Calipari, Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach. I think that money has even compromised the press which then pretends all is still a black and white movie and leather helmets with Reagan playing the lead.

BartBuzz

June 29th, 2010
4:36 pm

Today is a good day. Bobby Dodd was a great football coach. Dan Radakovich is a great athletic director. It will be hard for him to do better. But I know he will try his best to improve GT athletics. Congratulations D-Rad!

GT Alum

June 29th, 2010
4:37 pm

Well, Ted, that was part of the problem. Dawg supporters loved Chan and Reggie – for obvious reasons.

GT tom

June 29th, 2010
4:41 pm

Dan’s a great guy and I couldn’t be happier that he’s here at Georgia Tech. Great article Mark, and great job student athletes on a 72.7 winning percentage.

Mark Bradley

June 29th, 2010
4:43 pm

Thanks for the kind words, folks. And I understand why Tech folks weren’t crazy about Braine/Gailey at the end, but in my view they weren’t all that crazy about either man at the beginning.

GT76

June 29th, 2010
4:46 pm

And don’t forget all the other sports that Tech is doing well in…Womens tennis, softball and basketball. Men’s baseball and golf to name a few. Georgia Tech competes very well in all of those and more. You have to assume DRad has had a hand in those as well.

If the football team has a disappointing season soon I’ll still be behind Coach Johnson 100%. That’s because I know he truly cares about Tech and that he wants to win badly. Never got that feeling from Gailey. I don’t have that feeling about Hewitt. If Johnson has a down season it will just make him more focused to have a great season the next. By the way a down season is now 6-7 wins, whereas that used to be what Gailey got all the time.

T3

June 29th, 2010
4:47 pm

It was NEVER because of O’Leary.

It was ALWAYS because of Ralph Freidgen.

I wonder

June 29th, 2010
4:59 pm

From PJ, you get the feeling that he despises losing as much if not more than even the most passionate fan. Gailey tried, but when he lost he acted the same as when he won…stoic. For a college football coach I think you need to have at least some fire in you, and Failey had none. Hewitt is just a lost cause who is combative with media and looks to blame everyone/thing but his own inept coaching.

jumbeauxtiger

June 29th, 2010
5:07 pm

Those of us who knew D-Rad at LSU, had no doubt he would do a good job at Tech. He’s a very smart guy.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

Jacket Backer

June 29th, 2010
5:08 pm

DRad is amazing. That is true about him returning emails. He has returned every one I’ve sent him and usually within a couple of hours. The job he has done with Tech’s athletic department hs been nothing short of amazing. I hope he is with us for a LONG, LONG time!

Go Jackets!!

GT Alum

June 29th, 2010
5:10 pm

MB, I think Tech folks were upset about losing O’Leary and not being able to hire Fridge to replace him. There were also some questions about his credentials. His only head coaching experience above Division II was 2 OK years in Dallas. He hadn’t ever had to recruit for a major Division I school. It wasn’t exactly a dazzling hire, and it was well reported that Gailey and Braine knew each other. While that’s not exactly a bad thing, it does open the door for questions about the objectivity of the hire.

As far as Braine goes, I don’t know how folks felt around the beginning of his reign, but I do remember hearing what a genius he was when Tech went to the NCAA championship game in 04. Of course, that was also before he re-signed Gailey, a move that many saw as a gift to his friend more than a well-deserved extension.

Mark Olsen

June 29th, 2010
5:17 pm

“Tech, as has been noted, isn’t Georgia. The Bulldogs roll in dough.”

Well said, Mark Bradley.

supsalemgr

June 29th, 2010
5:34 pm

Bobby Dodd was special in his time. He packed Grant Field and won with 160 pound running backs (Billy Teas) and 200 pound lineman (Larry Morris). But most of all, he was a gentlemen. His biggest misstake was exiting the SEC although I understand the reasoning at the time. Times have changed and Dan R must be respected as Tech does have limitations as Vince Dooley and Joel Eaves changed the world at UGA and in the state of GA.

I am grateful my fellow UGA fans have taken the high road on this particular posting board.

Dawg Fan

June 29th, 2010
5:43 pm

Congrats Tech Fans!! Your AD is a great one and your football program is heading in the right direction. The problem I’m seeing is that your getting out recruited in football by your competition. You can’t afford another recruiting year like last year. just my opinion!