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 fell short of the NCAA tournament — it was beaten in the Atlantic 10 final by Chris Mooney’s Richmond — with a talented roster. Indeed, freshman point guard Juwan Staten had already announced he was leaving, owing to differences with Gregory. If you’re hearing sighs of “good riddance” regarding Gregory emanating from southern Ohio, there’s your reason. His last team was a relative dud. But it still went 22-14.
Gregory has a chance to make Tech a habitual winner, and that would be a departure. Not since 2005 have the Jackets had back-to-back winning seasons, which is the reason there was a job here for Gregory to take. He will bring a consistency that this program, for reasons unclear, had come to lack. Indeed, the greatest criticism of him in Dayton was that his teams played the same way all the time. After years of wild mood swings, that sort of sameness could become a blessing at the Flats.
Could the Jackets have waited on Gregg Marshall of Wichita State or even Shaka Smart of VCU? Sure, they could have. But there would have been no assurance either man would have taken this job, and to have gone deep into April without a coach would only have devalued Tech’s position. And clearly money was an issue; Tech could never have outbid North Carolina State or Oklahoma or Missouri for the last Hot Coach standing.
We’ll discuss this more as the day goes along, but for now it’s enough to say: Tech has a coach. He might not be the hottest or youngest coach around, but he’s a pro. And now the Jackets move forward.
By Mark Bradley