Archive for March, 2011

Could the Chick-fil-A Bowl replace the Fiesta in the BCS?

I'm pretty sure I know which way the cow would vote. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

BCS-wise, I'm pretty sure I know how the cow would vote. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A column back in 2004 prompted the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s president to threaten never to offer this correspondent a game credential again. The threat, never carried through, was a response to this writer’s claim that the game was third-tier — not to say third-rate, I stipulated then and stipulate now — and therefore would not find a place in the BCS rotation, which was due to expand by one.

(My definition of tiers: First were the BCS games themselves; second were the New Year’s Day games [Cotton, Capital One, Outback, et cetera]; third was the Chick-fil-A and its ilk. The Independence Bowl would be 10th-tier.)

But now it’s 2011 and Gary Stokan and I have since actually exchanged something approaching pleasantries, and now I’m posing the question I dismissed back when: Might Atlanta’s bowl actually make the leap to Tier 1?

I ask because the BCS is the process of distancing itself from the Fiesta …

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Not just new, Fredi Gonzalez is also different (which is good)

Fredi Gonzalez had nothing to do with this banner, either. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Fredi Gonzalez likewise had nothing to do with this banner. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

First thing you notice is that coaches no longer have lockers in the main section of the Braves’ clubhouse. And you think: “Aha! An example of how Fredi Gonzalez has changed things! He’s sequestering players from coaches!”

Er, no. Said Gonzalez: “That’s a design thing. I had nothing to do with it. They needed some room [in the main clubhouse] for all the call-ups, and rather than have them double up, they put lockers in the coaches’ room.”

Here Gonzalez smiled. “I wish I could take credit,” he said. “Might make me sound like Bill Belichick.”

The Atlanta Braves, as you’ve heard, are under new management. Fredi Gonzalez, once Bobby Cox’s third-base coach, occupies Bobby Cox’s office, which has also changed. Although Gonzalez had nothing to do with this re-do, either.

Before he left for spring training, a lady from the front office told him she’d been given license to redecorate. “She had a …

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Hoop scoop: Gregory, Shumpert, Royal, Neal and Kennesaw

Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich with his real new coach. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich with his real new coach. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Basketball-tinged items of interest to me, and I hope to you:

• Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich, speaking of Brian Gregory: “He’s real. We’ve got a football coach [Paul Johnson] who’s real, and we’ve got a basketball coach who’s real.”

• As regards the Hotness Factor: Had Gregory’s Dayton team beaten Richmond in the Atlantic 10 final, Gregory would have made the NCAA tournament for the third time. Had his team won a game in the Big Dance — A-10 teams were 3-3 in NCAA play this March — he’d have been seen by more folks as a rising star for the simple reason he’d have been seen by more folks. And maybe his hiring would have been met with more enthusiasm in the Tech ranks. Or maybe he’d have been so hot Tech could no longer have afforded him.

• Speaking of Richmond: Chris Mooney’s interview with Tech was conducted via telephone Sunday. And Tech wasn’t at all surprised when news of …

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Tech’s Brian Gregory: Not a hot guy, but he’ll bring the heat

He's coming here to go to work. And there's work to do. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

There's work to be done. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

We’re human. We all do it. We watch the NCAA tournament and we’re smitten by the Hot Young Coach of Cinderella U. And — let’s be honest — it would have been more fun if the man behind the microphone Monday had been Shaka Smart, tapped to bring his VCU brand of giant-felling “havoc” to downtrodden Georgia Tech.

But the glow of March eventually fades, and even the hottest hottie has to go back to work. And sometimes hotness isn’t transferable. In 2007 Todd Lickliter left Butler after two Sweet 16 runs for the lure of Iowa’s bigger money and wider stage. He lasted three seasons. In 1999 Dan Monson exited Gonzaga after an appearance in the Elite Eight. He resigned from Minnesota in 2007, having never lifted the Gophers to the Big Dance.

Brian Gregory is neither hot nor all that young. (He’s 44.) He arrives at Tech having done good work at Dayton. Had he done great work there, he’d have been at a bigger job and therefore …

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Upset! A sports writer (though not this one) wins the Fiasco!

These guys messed up everybody's brackets again, our winner's included. (AP photo)

These guys messed up everybody's brackets again, our winner's included. (AP photo)

The 24th annual installment of Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco proved, to put it kindly, the most challenging yet. Our champion is Chris Lewis, a sometime writer from Garfield, Ga., who triumphed over 5,763 other entrants despite having filled out a bracket so pockmarked he gave up on it.

“I hadn’t even revisited [the Fiasco site] to see how I was doing,” Lewis said Monday. “I figured my bracket was shot. Thank goodness for upsets.”

Lewis won despite picking only half the correct Final Four. (He had Connecticut and Kentucky.) He won on a tiebreaker, having gotten 25 of the 32 first-round games correct. Far from being a bad bracket, his was sagacious enough to earn Lewis the coveted winner’s Final Four sweatshirt/hoodie and a 32GB iPad with 3G and WiFi capability.

Did Lewis already have an iPad? “No, sir, I don’t,” he said. “This is unbelievable. I’ve never won anything in my life.”

Lewis, 42, lives on …

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Georgia Tech’s new coach: Unsexy-yet-solid Brian Gregory

New man in town: B.G. of GT (AP photo)

Talkin' 'bout the new man in town: B.G. of GT (AP photo)

On Friday night Georgia Tech denied it had made an offer to Dayton’s Brian Gregory. By Monday morning Tech apparently had. The Dayton Daily News reports that Gregory has accepted the job.

And I know what you’re saying: This isn’t the sexy hire. This is actually the anti-sexy hire. Gregory is neither hot not particularly young. (He’s 44.) His teams haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2009. But sizzle is no longer the issue. The question now: Can the guy coach?

The answer: Yeah. He did good work — not great work, but good — at a mid-major that takes roundball very seriously. (Check back and you’ll note that the Dayton Flyers were the NCAA runners-up in 1966-67, Year 1 of Lew Alcindor’s reign at UCLA.) He learned under Tom Izzo, who’s among the very best, and his teams bear that signature Izzo toughness. This is not a terrible hire by any means.

Neither, it  must be said, is it a slam dunk. Gregory’s last Dayton team …

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Georgia Tech’s thinning search: Is anyone left? Why, yes

Shaka Smith and his VCU victors: Can Tech afford to wait on him? (AP photo)

Shaka Smart and his astounding VCU victors: Can Tech afford to wait on him? (AP photo)

We’ve been saying for a while that Georgia Tech would have to focus on a mid-major coach due to money, or the lack thereof. Trouble is, this looks more and more like the wrong time to be hiring a mid-major coach. Because Chris Mooney just re-upped at Richmond. Because Cuonzo Martin just made the leap from Missouri State to Tennessee. And this leaves the Jackets … where?

Maybe with Gregg Marshall of Wichita State, whose Shockers are still playing in the NIT. Maybe with Brian Gregory of Dayton, although the reaction Friday night to a series of Tweets indicating Tech had already offered Gregory the job was so negative it had to give pause. Maybe even with Doug Wojcik of Tulsa, although I can’t believe he’d be received any more positively than Gregory would.

And what of Shaka Smart? The VCU wonder — no coach in NCAA history has ever had to win five times just to reach the Final Four — has at …

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It’s a Braves’ new world, but they’ll again be dealt a wild card

OK, so there's one thing that hasn't changed. We call him Chipper. (AP photo)

OK, so there's one thing about the Braves that hasn't changed. We call him Chipper. (AP photo)

The Braves are about to play games that count, and somehow the whole thing seems a bit off. Opening Day isn’t on Monday but on Thursday, and it isn’t even in April. The Braves will play seven games elsewhere before they get around to playing a real game here. And that’s just the logistical stuff. Other oddities:

Somebody else is going to be managing this club. This isn’t breaking news. We had a year to prepare for Bobby Cox’s retirement and an offseason to get ready for Fredi Gonzalez. That said: When the Braves play Thursday in Washington, D.C., it will mark the first time they’ll work for someone other than No. 6 since June 23, 1990. Know how long ago that was? The No. 1 album was “Step by Step” by New Kids on the Block. The No. 1 download on iTunes was … well, nothing. iTunes didn’t exist.

The Braves will be under new management in more ways than one. Fredi G. won’t be as much …

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Tech’s search: Craig Neal, Doug Wojcik and D-Rad’s timetable

Craig Neal (foreground): In with a chance at Tech? (Photo courtesy of the University of New Mexico

Craig Neal (foreground): Is the Georgia Tech man in with a chance? (Photo courtesy of New Mexico)

Georgia Tech has begun its interviews, and there has been much debate over whether one of the projected interviewees would actually be interviewed. It was Tweeted on Wednesday that Doug Wojcik of Tulsa would be granted an audience with the Tech committee. (Yes, Tech has a committee, although athletic director Dan Radakovich and consiglieri Eddie Fogler are the guys who matter.)

Later that day Wojcik told the Tulsa World  he hadn’t heard from Tech and described the Twittered reports as “hilarious.” Well, Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News reported Thursday that Wojcik would indeed be interviewed, and DeCourcy isn’t known for flights of fancy.

So let’s just assume Wojcik has had some manner of contact with Tech. And now we ask: What exactly would the Jackets see in Doug Wojcik?

Beats the heck outta me.

He has been at Tulsa six seasons and hasn’t yet lifted the Golden Hurricane to the …

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Is Tech a bad job? Note all the Georgia products still dancing

Kevin Anderson, then of Peachtree Ridge, now a Richmond Spider. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Kevin Anderson, then of Peachtree Ridge, now a Richmond Spider. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

There are those who say Georgia Tech isn’t a good job. And then we note the word “Georgia” in the school’s name. And then we note the following:

• Kevin Anderson is a Richmond guard who was the Atlantic 10’s player of the year last season and was first-team all-conference this year. He scored 25 points in the Spiders’ NCAA tournament upset of Vanderbilt and 14 against Morehead State. He’s from Atlanta. He played three years at Whitefield Academy and spent his senior year at Peachtree Ridge.

• Jeremy Lamb is a UConn wing who, as a freshman, has scored 30 points in the Huskies’ two NCAA victories. He’s from Norcross. He played at Norcross.

• Chris Singleton is a Florida State forward who returned from a broken foot to score five key points in the Seminoles’ NCAA victory against Texas A&AM and who worked 10 minutes in their upset of Notre Dame. He’s averaging 13 points. He made the all-ACC …

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