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 NCAA tournament. (And it is possible to get Tulsa to the NCAA. Nolan Richardson did it. J.D. Barnett did it. Tubby Smith took it to the Sweet 16, and Bill Self to the Elite Eight.) Wojcik was also part of the only North Carolina staff, meaning Matt Doherty’s, to get fired over the past half-century.

I don’t know why Tech would have interest in Wojcik. Maybe Fogler, once a Tar Heel assistant, sees something in this former Tar Heel assistant. Even if that’s the case, I can’t imagine a scenario in which Wojcik would be Tech’s first choice or even its third. He just seems like someone to interview while you’re waiting to interview somebody else.

That said, I’m beginning to think there could be a way for Craig Neal — who was interviewed Wednesday and whose candidacy I advocated – to become the next Tech coach. I’m not sure Noodles would be the first choice, but he might well be the third. Or the second. (And his tactic of saying he would seek to hire Mark Price as his assistant was rather inspired, don’t you think?)

One thing more: In Radakovich’s latest “Good Word” on RamblinWreck.com, he offers this intriguing sentence: “While there are no guarantees in this difficult world of coaching searches, I still feel strongly that we might be able to have a new coach selected before next weekend’s Final Four in Houston.”

Key word: Might. Previously Radakovich had said he wanted to have a coach by the time the Final Four commenced, and I outlined Tech’s rationale the other day. But I interpret the word “might” as D-Rad’s nod to reality: Chris Mooney and Richmond are still alive in the NCAA tournament — the Spiders play Kansas tonight — and Gregg Marshall and Wichita State have advanced to the NIT semifinals, which will be staged Tuesday in Madison Square Garden.

I still believe Mooney and Marshall are the two leading possibilities at Tech, but there’s a chance the Jackets wouldn’t be able to talk to either before the Final Four. Which might, to invoke the (good) word of the day, render Radakovich’s target date null and void.

By Mark Bradley

218 comments Add your comment

Reggie Ball

March 25th, 2011
10:49 am

What about Luke Schenser?

markmjtx

March 25th, 2011
10:51 am

Hope they go with Neal.

greenjacket

March 25th, 2011
10:51 am

mark, how would you rank Mooney vs Marshall?

markmjtx

March 25th, 2011
10:51 am

Hey, look who is first!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 25th, 2011
10:53 am

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
10:55 am

I’d take Mooney over Marshall.

markmjtx

March 25th, 2011
10:55 am

If it is between Neal and Wojcik, I am picking Neal. I pick Mooney over Marshall.

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
10:56 am

Kudos, markmjtx.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 25th, 2011
10:58 am

yes the mark price name drop was a brilliant marketing move , but it would bring excitment to the fanbase .

JM

March 25th, 2011
11:00 am

Mooney sounds like a coach with everything GT is looking to find. Hope the interview goes well, when it occurs.

Gordon

March 25th, 2011
11:00 am

Mark,

You answered my first question already, saying you’d take Mooney over Marshall. I’m wondering why? I think Marshall has a longer track record of success.

Second, if Mooney loses tonight, and has an interview in the next few days, do you think Radakovich would wait to interview Marshall before making his final decision, or go ahead and try to lock up Mooney right away?

Gordon

March 25th, 2011
11:03 am

Mark,

Can I ask why you would take Mooney over Marshall? It seems like Marshall has a longer track record of success and is a less risky hire.

Also, do you think Radakovich will wait to give Marshall an inteview assuming Mooney loses tonight and has a good interveiw in the next few days?

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
11:05 am

Can someone tell me why they’d pick Mooney over Marshall, especially you Mark?

Thanks

ormewood

March 25th, 2011
11:05 am

Mooney is impressive. His teams play hard and appear to be well-coached. What about Shaka Smart?

Biff Pocoroba Fan Club

March 25th, 2011
11:06 am

Won’t Mooney be courted by those other big time schools seeking a coach, OK or Tenn or whoever else? He will likely follow the money (Tech can’t compete with those other schools) and then Neal will fall into Tech.

P R I C E

March 25th, 2011
11:06 am

I do not care for these tournament darlings. Every year, there will always be a handful that are in the spotlight.

What I do know with Neal/Price is their hearts would be in it. Nothing and I mean nothing and no one could bring back the ambiance of what Tech basketball use to be better than these two. How anyone could think these two would be incapable of winning 20 games or more is beyond me.

Hammonds, Ferrell, Anderson, Scott, Oliver, Mackey, Dalrymple, Salley, Neal and Price, etc…these players and more could tell you what it was like playing at the Thrillerdome with standing room only crowds screaming as if every game was the National title game. GT winning on last second shots by these players.

Bring Price and Neal into the mix, and that “revival” would break out once more.

Those that were there know what I am talking about.

Even Bobby Ross said “GT is a basketball school” when he left to coach the Chargers, even though he would have left anyway.

You can hire all the Marshalls and Mooneys you want, but neither is fit to carry Mark Price’s shoes and never will be. I will always appreciate what Bobby Cremins did for GT. Price and Neal could continue that.

BTW, why doesn’t AJC get Bobby’s opinion on this matter?

Gordon

March 25th, 2011
11:07 am

I agree with Tech Forever. Why pick Mooney or Marshall, who has a better long term track record. Mooney (and Shaka Smart) may turn out to be great coaches, but Marshall has proven he is over a much longer period of time.

Gordon

March 25th, 2011
11:08 am

Should be “Mooney over Marshall”.

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:08 am

Let’s note that Marshall hasn’t had Wichita State in the NCAA tournament in four tries. He won big at Winthrop, less big at Wichita State.

juvenal

March 25th, 2011
11:11 am

er, Mark-Reggie was 1st……

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
11:12 am

P R I C E

So you’d prefer someone who’s never been a head coach EVER over someone whos’ coaching their team in the Sweet 16 as a head coach or has been to multiple NCAA Tournaments as a head coach because “their hearts would be in it”? That could only mean you don’t think Hewitt’s heart was in it too. That could also only mean that when Tech hired Cremins, someone with absolutely no ties to Georgia Tech who was a “tournament darling”, you felt like his heart wasn’t in it either. Right?

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
11:15 am

Mark

So you’d weigh one season as more important than a total body of work?

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:19 am

Kudos to Reggie, then. (I didn’t notice his post because it got caught in the spam filter.)

tech rules

March 25th, 2011
11:19 am

what about john pelphrey? would he come to tech and would we want him?

Gordon

March 25th, 2011
11:20 am

“Let’s note that Marshall hasn’t had Wichita State in the NCAA tournament in four tries. He won big at Winthrop, less big at Wichita State.”

But the Missouri Valley Conference is a one bid league. One average day in the post season tournament (or one great day by your opponent) and you don’t go to the NCAA that year. We got stuck with Hewitt because of one or two great days back in 2004, and I would hate to see us not get a great coach because of one or two average days now. His win totals at WSU are 11, 17, 25, and 27 (and counting). The entire body of work is what counts. What if Mooney and Smart just have a special group of seniors?

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:20 am

Let’s look at it this way: Which is more impressive — making the tournament at Winthrop, which is a smaller mid-major, or doing it out of the Atlantic 10 and then reaching the Sweet Sixteen?

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 25th, 2011
11:23 am

Craig Neal is the ticket.

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:24 am

Pelphrey? Why would you want somebody who just got fired?

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:27 am

And the Missouri Valley hasn’t always been a one-bid league. It had four in 2006.

T-Bone

March 25th, 2011
11:35 am

If the Butler guy won’t leave, then Mooney (but I’m still not sure his Princeton-esque offense will draw the top talent). After that, I say take a chance on the Noodles/Price connection.

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:37 am

Something else to remember: We don’t know if Mark Price would accept Craig Neal’s offer to be an assistant coach.

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
11:39 am

Mark

What’s more impressive to me is making the tournament repeatedly at Winthrop and then bringing a program in a very difficult league back from the brink of ruin to post nearly 30 wins in year 4. Moreso than parlaying a very good 2007 recruiting class into two great seasons (granted Richmond plays in equally as tough or maybe even tougher league). My issue with Mooney is simple, he’s never had to deal with a program in the dumps. He took over Air Force when they were riding high and Richmond’s cupboard was far from empty although Wainwright is horrible. Next year, if he stays at Richmond, will be the tell-tale of how good Chris Mooney is coaching a team losing 4 Senior starters. Marshall has already succeeded coaching that team.

Another reaosn is Mooney has not pedigree at all. He basically runs Carril’s offense with a little bit of Bzdelik injected into it. I’ll take Kresse over that combination every time. Lets remember Winthrop was 7-20 the season before Marshall took over and went 21-8 in his 1st season. And then continued on to 7 NCAA Tourneys in 9 seasons. I don’t care what league you’re in when you come in and go from 7-20 to that……you can flat out coach.

Gordon

March 25th, 2011
11:40 am

Good points, Mark. But Winthrop made the tournament 7 times in 9 years! They weren’t good before and haven’t been good since. Watching WSU these last 3 games (destroying Nebraska, beating VT in Blacksburg which something Hewitt never did, and comfortably beating Bobby’s very good CofC team) has convinced me that the Missouri Valley deserved should have been a two-bid conference this year.

I like Mooney and won’t be disappointed if he is hired, but I think Marshall’s long term record is more impressive than an unexpected sweet 16 run (with the second win over a 13 seed). If he beats Kansas tonight I’ll eat my words.

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:42 am

I also think Mooney might be a better fit with Georgia Tech than Marshall would be.

gcs

March 25th, 2011
11:43 am

Craig Neal gets my vote.

.

T-Bone

March 25th, 2011
11:45 am

Mark, what fo you think about Mooney’s Princeton-esque offense? Is it too slow or methodical to draw top talent?

T-Bone

March 25th, 2011
11:45 am

Obviouslly should be “do” not “fo”.

BigTimeTECHFan

March 25th, 2011
11:46 am

Mark, Are any schools looking at Hewitt, my guess is if Smart and Moody move on to other schools Hewitt may replace them. He would do nice job and build up his resume again.

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:48 am

And I don’t think we can say Richmond was riding high when Mooney took the job. It had made the NCAA twice in 14 years (and once in seven).

And we can’t compare the Big South (Winthrop’s league) to the A-10. In the A-10 you’ve got Xavier, Temple, Dayton and St. Joseph’s.

Mark Bradley

March 25th, 2011
11:52 am

That is a legitimate question, T-Bone. Richmond averaged 70 points, 133rd best in the nation.

Still, that’s better than Georgia managed with two NBA-type talents on its roster.

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
11:53 am

BigTimeTECHFan

If Hewitt takes another job he loses his buyout. He won’t coach for at least three more seasons. He’ll get a TV gig and once that income matches or exceeds what he’ll lose by coaching again then he’ll leave TV and go back to coaching….or just stay in TV if he likes it.

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
11:54 am

Mark Bradley

I didn’t say Rochmond was riding high. I said the cupboard wasn’t bare…..and it wasn’t.

Seymour Heiny

March 25th, 2011
12:01 pm

Jerry Tarkanian or Jim Harrick!

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
12:03 pm

Mark

You’re right you can’t really compare the A-10 to the Big South, but you also can’t discount those 9 seasons to the point that it essentailly never happened which is what you’re doing. Especially when in those 9 seasons Marshall and Winthrop also beat Missouri, Clemson, Georgia, Providence, East Carolina (three times), Marquette, Mississippi State, and Notre Dame, and gave a host of other big 6 conference teams a great scare.

Paul in RDU

March 25th, 2011
12:03 pm

Tech Forever,

Are you sure about Hewitt losing his buyout of he takes another job:? My impression is that he will continue to receiv it no matter what – like Gailey at Buffalo.

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
12:07 pm

Let me ask this question. If Richmond loses by 30 tonight and Wichita State wins the NIT does that make a difference? What is Richmond loses by 30 and VCU makes the Final Four?

Tech Forever

March 25th, 2011
12:10 pm

Paul in RDU

Gailey kept his buyout because he moved on to an NFL job. I don’t know for sure but my guess is that it’s a standard buyout and says if he takes another college coaching position he loses the buyout. One thing I do know for sure is that Hewitt’s not going to get an NBA head job and he won’t make as much as his buyout pays him if he takes an NBA assistant job. Nah….I’ve thought all along he’ll be on TV next year; knowledgeable, articulate, good looking, and in the world of TV being black doesn’t hurt. He’ll be great at TV….if he does it.

btgt69

March 25th, 2011
12:16 pm

Now that dook is out of the tournament, D Rad can announce Coach K as our next head coach.

Brainiac

March 25th, 2011
12:16 pm

There is no clause in Hewitt’s contract that his buyout is affected in any manner if he gets another job. Radakovich was asked this twice at the Hewitt-fired press conference. He made it clear. Hewitt gets every bit of the $7.2 mil. No matter what.

Aardvark Base

March 25th, 2011
12:21 pm

I love how Reggie Ball got First up at the top. Just know that if he’d gotten 4th, he would have thought he was 3rd. My only comment is this- if we hire Craig Neal or Mark Price, who have almost no significant head coaching experience, then the rich big-mouth alums who are behind it deserve what we get. There is no reason to think they will succeed at this level, and no reason to think they can recruit. It would be an ignorant fan-driven move, and that is a terrible way to make a decision.