Paul Hewitt to George Mason: A good move for both parties

That didn't take long: Paul Hewitt is coaching again. (AP photo)

That didn't take long: Paul Hewitt is coaching again. (AP photo)

Yeah, I’m surprised. I thought a man sitting on a $7.1 million buyout would kick back, work in TV for a year or so — and he’d be good on TV — and then consider his next coaching move. You know, do it the way Steve Lavin did it. But no.

Paul Hewitt, recently of Georgia Tech, has taken the George Mason job that came open when Jim Larranaga left for Miami, which had a vacancy because Frank Haith left for Missouri, which needed a coach because Mike Anderson went back to Arkansas, which started all this by firing John Pelphrey about the same time Tech fired Hewitt. Got that?

My immediate thought: As career restarts go, George Mason is about as a good place as you can find. It’s a brand-name mid-major that has proved it can reach the Final Four, and hiring a former ACC man — a man who led Tech to the 2004 NCAA title game — is a nice get for Mason.

That’s correct. This persistent Hewitt critic has just given Mason a thumbs-up. Because there was a time when I believed he was the next great college coach. He did mostly excellent work his first five seasons at Tech, and I figured it was only a matter of time before he established this as no worse than the third-best program in the Tiffany League on an annual basis.

It didn’t happen, and for the life of me I don’t know why. I’ve never seen a coach of such obvious talent have a program unravel so completely. After three outright losing seasons in four tries, it was time for Tech to move on, and it has. And now Hewitt is moving on, too, and good for him.

He’ll do well at George Mason. The Patriots have almost everybody back from a team that was a creditable No. 8 seed in this year’s NCAA field. (Mason beat Villanova in Round 1 and lost by 32 points to Ohio State in Round 2.) Hewitt proved here he could handle inherited players: He took Bobby Cremins’ leftovers, Tony Akins and Alvin Jones among them, and made the NCAA tournament his first season.

And the best part about George Mason? That’s a school not known for having one-and-dones. Hewitt might not be able to sign the biggest names there, but those players he does sign he figures to keep for four years.

Oh, and one thing more: Hewitt won’t be a stranger to Atlanta. George Mason is in the Colonial League, same as Georgia State. Those teams play every year. Hewitt has even won in the GSU Sports Arena. Might want to keep him away from the Kennesaw State Convocation Center, though.

By Mark Bradley

63 comments Add your comment

J.J.M.

April 30th, 2011
3:01 pm

J.J.M.

April 30th, 2011
3:04 pm

4th and Long Gone

April 30th, 2011
3:13 pm

Congratulations to CPH? We wish you the best.

4th and Long Gone

April 30th, 2011
3:14 pm

That was not supposed to be a question. Congratulations to CPH !!! We do wish you the best.

Gordon

April 30th, 2011
3:20 pm

Mark,

It didn’t happen at Tech because he didn’t do a good job replacing Keener and Warren. At both Siena and the first 5 years at Tech, they did the coaching and he did the recruiting. If he hires good assistants at GM, he will do well. If he doesn’t…well we’ve all seen how ugly that is.

I wish him the best.

ramblinman

April 30th, 2011
3:21 pm

I think he will do a fine job. What always doomed him at Tech was that his teams rarely had a good sense of cohesion and were mature. Too many one and dones disrupting the team chemistry and growth over the years, along with little upperclassmen leaders. That shouldn’t be a problem at Mason, where he won’t be getting the one and dones.

ramblinman

April 30th, 2011
3:22 pm

that should be “immature” not mature

GT Alum

April 30th, 2011
3:22 pm

MB, you addressed what I thought would be the biggest plus for Hewitt in your next to last paragraph. He can recruit the best players he can get to come to that school and still be able to build a program. He never seemed to be able to build a good base of solid players to balance out the one and dones here.

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2011
3:23 pm

First again, J.J.M. You’re hotter than Jamal.

ben

April 30th, 2011
3:24 pm

Say what you want about Paul, but its an undeniable fact that he’s a helluva recruiter. I predict in year 5 of Gregory, people will be complaining about Gregory’s inability to recruit big names. Because that’s what we like to do at Tech- complain that our coaches don’t live up to the UGA / Texas / USC standards. Never mind that we don’t belong in that class, let’s run off another coach with a .600 winning percentage, demanding a .800 winning percentage from the next chump.

Gordon

April 30th, 2011
3:26 pm

So to sum up this particular thread of the coaching carousel, Archie Miller got his first head coaching job because John Pelphrey of Arkansas was fired.

Gordon

April 30th, 2011
3:29 pm

ben,

We do belong in that class in the sport of basketball. And I think Gregory will recruit just fine. By the way, the last 6 years Hewitt had an overall losing record, so I’m not sure where the .600 winning percentage comes from.

GTBob

April 30th, 2011
3:48 pm

Best of luck to CPH at George Mason. I honestly wish he does really well there and leads them to great success. Things weren’t working for him at GT but hopefully a fresh start will get him back on track.

GT Alum

April 30th, 2011
3:49 pm

ben -

Hewitt’s overall winning percentage at Tech was 54% and dropping. His ACC winning percentage was 41%.

Also, there were 2 halves to his career:

2000-2005: Overall – 59%; ACC – 49%
2005-2011: Overall – 50%; ACC – 34%

So, actually, most Tech fans (and MB) loved Hewitt when he was a 60% overall and around .500 in the ACC coach. It was win he started only winning half of his games and 1 of 3 in conference that he wore out his welcome.

GTBob

April 30th, 2011
3:56 pm

Because that’s what we like to do at Tech- complain that our coaches don’t live up to the UGA / Texas / USC standards

Those are three really weird teams to pick when talking about basketball standards.

G

April 30th, 2011
4:01 pm

Who cares. Why is this news for Atlanta?

Sandyspringsjacket

April 30th, 2011
4:13 pm

Yup, he passed on St Johns because his family wanted to stay in the ATL, not because he wanted the huge buyout. I don’t blame him, but he is not an honest or likable person. JM will be sorry. He will win next year with the other guys players and slowly drain the life out of their program. GM will fade away and never be heard from again under him.

No motion offense, no time outs left at the end of a tight game, press when you are 15 points down and less then 3 minutes in the game, In bound passes. calling TO 10 seconds before the TV time out. Great memories coach, foul shooting, no game plan, on and on. Don’t freeze your arse off in DC CPH!

Jackets 2011

April 30th, 2011
4:20 pm

@G.
Because he was here for 11 years.
And both Cremins and Hewitt had defenders who got drowned out by the ugliness of the haters.
And don’t try to say Cremins didn’t get run off and it wasn’t just as ugly.
I saw some of it and I’ll give an account but I really don’t want to go there.
Maybe there ought to be a better way to get coaches to move on.
Cremins should have stayed at SC.
That was the right move.

GT71

April 30th, 2011
4:52 pm

Wish him luck. Glad he’s gone.
GM will need luck. Hewitt is not personalble, proved that w/o a really good #2 (and 3,4) he’s not capable of real-time ooaching or good critical thinking with 4 minutes to go, down 3. In that situation, his teams wind up with an ‘L’ and by 12. At least his GT teams the last 3-4 years.
And recruiting? Yes, but they all seem to be so much better in HS. Put great athletes in hos ’system’ and they regress. Kinda like UGA football in that respect.
But here’s to the man – he didn’t cash the checks on the way to the golf course.
And we suppose we don’t have to pay all that $$$, now that he’s remarried….do we?

Gordon

April 30th, 2011
4:58 pm

Hewitt’s employment status has no effect on what Tech owes him.

Tucker

April 30th, 2011
5:14 pm

Sadly under the new basketball scheduling format just announced by the CAA, George Mason and Georgia State will only play once a year in the regular season for the next three years.

Mark Richt

April 30th, 2011
6:04 pm

Does George Mason have a football team that is hiring?

Randy Carson

April 30th, 2011
6:08 pm

Ben-

David Glen of the ACC Sports Journal rates the Tech job as the third best in the ACC – behind you know who. The right coach will take us back to the top for an extended run, I hope Gregory is the guy to do it.

For now, I’m sick of one-and-dones…so, if Gregory is not a great recruiter, who cares? I think you can build a solid team with Juniors and Seniors who have played together for three years…just look at Butler and VCU. One more thing for those of you who are too young to remember…nobody had ever heard of a slow white kid from Oklahoma or a skinny black kid from New York until they had been playing together for awhile. Neither one of them was a 5-star prospect.

PJ and BG may build teams the same way…B+ to A- talent that doesn’t sign with an agent after a single season. No highs, no lows, and steady as she goes. We’ll see.

Hayseed Dixie

April 30th, 2011
6:22 pm

Mark- no need for the disclaimer: you were right when you said he was the hottest young coach in the nation and you were right when you said he’d lost it.

People are funny. And this isn’t the first/last time.

I predict middling to above average work at George Mason. If Hewitt was going to be anything other than a footnote, he would’ve done it by now.

you can't fix stupid

April 30th, 2011
6:48 pm

Absurd comments from ‘Hewitt Fan’ coming in Five … Four … Three …

JL

April 30th, 2011
7:07 pm

When you play 30 games, and you get to schedule 10 out of conference cream puffs, having an overall sub-500 record is pretty difficult to imagine. Doing it 3 out of 4 years is incomprehensible. Anyone who doesn’t think he should have been fired is delusional. It’s 2011, not 2005.

4 ncs are better than 1

April 30th, 2011
7:12 pm

Ben @ 3:24,
Are you trying to say GT BB is not in the same class as uga BB???????? What an idiot. It’s the other way around.

4 ncs are better than 1

April 30th, 2011
7:16 pm

Ben,
Also, if you were refering to FB uga does NOT belong with USC and Texas, my friend. They actually take their top five recruiting classes and win National Championships!

4 ncs are better than 1

April 30th, 2011
7:17 pm

One more thing Ben, GT FOUR LEGIT NCs IN FOOTBALL TO uga’s one!!!

Larry

April 30th, 2011
8:01 pm

Where or who is “George Mason”

Jeff

April 30th, 2011
8:56 pm

To ben at 3:24 p.m…. THANK YOU! Well-said. I don’t have a particular side of this argument, since I’m not a GT alum, but I appreciated the brutal honesty of your statement: “Because that’s what we like to do at Tech- complain that our coaches don’t live up to the UGA / Texas / USC standards. Never mind that we don’t belong in that class, let’s run off another coach with a .600 winning percentage, demanding a .800 winning percentage from the next chump.”

Too many Tech fans do EXACTLY that. They bitc* and moan about not being an “elite” NCAA athletic program, and let some quality coaches and assistants get away. The fact of the matter is that EVERY Tech fan needs to read and repeat your middle statement, when they try to compare the Jackets’ football and basketball programs to the usual national leaders in recruiting and success: “Never mind that we don’t belong in that class.” THANK YOU. That is an HONEST way to look at things.

Tech is a very good school. Usually, it’s athletic teams are very good. Occasionally, there is a “great” in there, but usually good. And instead of being satisfied with that and trying to catch its in-conference top rivals like UNC and Duke, too many Tech fans fret about losing to Georgia and then try to find ways to run down UGA and come up with the most clever insults to hurl at Bulldog fans.

If Tech spent a little less time worrying about Georgia’s teams and a little less time battling an inferiority complex, they would step back and realize that, all in all, from basketball to baseball to tennis to football, Georgia Tech is a pretty good program in a pretty good league. The school will never have the donations, massive stadiums, huge fan bases, and on-field success as some national powers like Texas or Florida or Georgia or USC or Ohio State or Kentucky, but Tech is a different type of school and has a less-concentrated fan base. That’s just the way it is.

So Tech fans should take a cue from some of the GT and UGA athletes — whether it’s kids who played HS basketball together and now play for the in-state rivals, but they still show respect and shake hands on the court after a game, or whether it’s the VERY classy GT baseball players who have shown friendship and support for the paralyzed Georgia baseball player, I think the fans should follow that example, stay above the name-calling fray, and take GT athletics for what it is — a pretty good program for a selective, downtown, engineering school.

And good luck to Hewitt — the guy is a great recruiter and I hope he has a lot of success at George Mason.

DP

April 30th, 2011
9:13 pm

Paul Hewitt is a “coach of such obvious talent”? I watched his usually talented teams play like they’d never been coached for most of the last 5-6 years. I don’t see how hiring a coach who’s demonstrated he can’t coach is a good move for George Mason or anybody else.

pen gets last word

April 30th, 2011
10:05 pm

MB, you just had to throw that last jab in huh? You almost disguised this as a positive article about CPH.

Bright Idea

April 30th, 2011
10:10 pm

Why so many references to UGA in this blog? Hmmmm…………some kind of complex maybe?

Jacket Backer

April 30th, 2011
10:23 pm

I actually agree with most of what Jeff said…Still, I’m glad Hewitt is gone. It was not working for him at Tech anymore and it was clearly time for him to leave. Amazingly, we still have to pay this buyout even though the man has a job at another school. This has to be the worst contract ( from the school’s standpoint) in the history of college athletics.

Jimbo

April 30th, 2011
10:37 pm

The only reason George Mason hasn’t had one and dones is because they haven’t successfully recruited any players good enough to be one and dones. Sorta like calling the team that has never played a game, ‘undefeated’.

Paul Hewitt to George Mason « Kory Keys

April 30th, 2011
10:44 pm

[...] It’s a George Mason team that many project to be a preseason Top 25 selection for the 2011-2012 season. Factor in that with Hewitt’s ability to recruit and an argument could be made that George Mason’s hiring of Hewitt could be one of the best additions of the offseason. Even the AJC’s Mark Bradley said the same. [...]

Hewitt Fan

April 30th, 2011
10:51 pm

Good luck coach..I am happy you got out of the coach K conference..You will win and win big..no more refs decideing the games…

KYDawg

April 30th, 2011
10:58 pm

Do they play UCF?

hewitt now

April 30th, 2011
11:05 pm

hewitt gets $7.2 million in cash and immediately signs a new long term deal with george mason for more millions? His agent should be wearing a cape with a big S and not a suit.

Paul in RDU

April 30th, 2011
11:44 pm

I am a little surprised that Hewitt returned to coaching so soon – I thought he would sit out a year and weigh his options. I guess coaching really does get in their blood and they have to get back in the game.
Good luck to him.

sports

May 1st, 2011
12:27 am

$7.3 million…unbelievable! What will those idiots pay theis caoch when he bolts…$9 million.

GTBob

May 1st, 2011
1:02 am

Jeff, Tech basketball fans could care less about losing to UGA. The Tech/UGA game is a meaningless side show in basketball. What we care about is the fact that we have had 4 losing seasons in the past 6 years and have only had one winning record in the ACC in the last 11 years. We aren’t begging for UNC/Duke standards. We would just like to be a little more competitive then we are. If you think we are unreasonable for expecting better then that then whatever. If you think losing all the time is ok, then you are a loser by definition.

Mark Bradley`s Booster

May 1st, 2011
3:47 am

Good for Hewitt. Glad to see him land on his feet and far enough away from Atlanta so that he can get on with his life without anymore unjustified personal insults. Its o.k. for the fans to express their opinions about his coaching but he took far more abuse than he should have about his personal life.

NoDawgsAllowed

May 1st, 2011
7:26 am

And so begins George Mason’s descent back to irrelevance in college hoops. Couple of years of (non)coaching from ol’ Useless & they’ll be in the middle of their conference pack. Couple more years without correcting their new problem & they’ll be in the bottom of that same conference.

KevinM

May 1st, 2011
8:13 am

What’s the irony in all this is that in today’s CBB George Mason is a ’step-up’ from GT. Hewitt gets 7.2M, a promotion to play Ga. State and VCU, and he might possibly can win with someone else’s recruits again.
Talk about a charmed life…I am sure Mark will be following his career; in fact, he might make it one of his goals to keep us informed.

And Larry, George Mason is in Fairfax, Virginia. Since their FF appearance in 2006, (more recent than Tech), George Mason has brought in $650M to its campus and has added 31! new buildings to its campus.
An amazing job that Coach Larranaga did while he was there.

Uncle Fester

May 1st, 2011
8:54 am

I’ll bet his new contract looks very different from his old. Only GT would be stupid enough to offer such a ridiculous deal.

Nativebird

May 1st, 2011
9:18 am

For such a supposedly “classy” organization, the Braves sure do have their gaggle of jerks, McDowell being just the latest. Let’s see: Rocker the racist, Smoltz suing his neighbor over a tree, Glavine blisters the org who paid him a hundred million on the way out of town, Chipper knocking up anyone in an orange short-short; Andruw underwriting the gold clubs VIP room; and now McDowell apparently hating his inner desires and Lowe revealing the Low that he is. So get real Atlanta; it’s clear that Schuerhol’z organization is the class in cover-ups and spin, not class.

Joey

May 1st, 2011
9:31 am

Only in sports and Hollywood can you be deemed a failure, but keep getting money thrown at you.

I don’t begrudge Hewitt. I wouldn’t pass the money up either if offered. It’s just the system that amazes me.

Even the Mark Fox new contract thing. First of all, I really, really like Fox and I think he is an excellent coach, but he has one good season after one losing (albeit improved) season, and he gets a $400,000 raise from the $1.3M salary he agreed to, just 2 years ago?

I guess if he had won the SEC East, or actually won a game or two in the NCAAs, he would have gotten Mark Richt money . . .

hewitt's money

May 1st, 2011
9:38 am

the morons that run the Tech athletic dept that negotiated that terrible contract with hewitt should be incarcerated and forced to pay back all that buyout money. It’s one of the worst sports contracts I’ve seen in 20 years.