AD Radakovich leaves, and a wobbly Tech takes another hit

Hat's all, folks. Dan Radakovich is a Tech man no longer. (AJC file photo)

Hat's all, folks. AD Dan Radakovich is a Georgia Tech man no longer. (AJC file photo)

In the grand scheme, this might turn out to be good for Georgia Tech. Who among us can know the future? But in the here and now of a football season gone unbelievably sour, seeing Tech’s athletic director hop in a car and motor 125 miles up I-85 to take the same job at a conference rival looks really, really bad. It looks as if Dan Radakovich is ducking out on a program in disarray.

For better or worse, most athletic programs go as football goes. The best move Radakovich made at Tech, or so it seemed, was to hire Paul Johnson to coach football. Now we’ve been given cause to wonder if Johnson’s success was but a two-year blip. Picked to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division, the Jackets dumped their defensive coordinator in mid-season and just lost to BYU – that’s three home losses this year, two against non-BCS conference schools – to fall to 3-5. And now the man who hired Johnson works at Clemson, of all places.

Those who know Radakovich always believed that when he left – and those folks were never under any illusion that Tech would be the final stop for someone so ambitious – it would be for a big-time SEC school. Given that Clemson has more fans and a much bigger stadium than Tech, this isn’t what you’d consider a lateral move. Still, it’s close enough to make Tech folks wonder where their beloved Institute ranks in the firmament of college athletics.

Only three years ago, Tech beat Clemson to win the ACC championship. That sweet victory was later vacated due largely to Radakovich’s bungling of an NCAA investigation involving $312 of clothing. The subsequent four-year probationary term was the first indication that this AD, who had been seen in this and other sectors as a deft administrator, might not have been quite so savvy.

And now, even as he heads up the road to Death Valley, we have further cause to wonder. Tech is set to open its refurbished basketball arena, the McCamish Pavilion, and that renovation was championed by Radakovich. But there’s no guarantee Brian Gregory, the coach Radakovich hired after finding the money to buy out Paul Hewitt, will win big enough to fill the new place. (Season-ticket sales for Season 1 in McCamish have been slow, as you’d expect coming off an 11-20 season.)

Facility-wise, Radakovich did well for Tech: He got a lot of stuff built. He also moved to fire Hewitt and Chan Gailey, coaches who’d won but who’d left their constituency wanting and expecting more. But the longer it takes Gregory to win and the longer it takes Johnson to correct all that has gone wrong in his program, the more it will reflect on the AD who just split for Death Valley.

A friend of Radakovich’s suggests his leaving is “a natural progression” – that Radakovich felt he’d done as much as he could do at Tech. But with football in decline and men’s basketball in rebuilding mode, the eyeball diagnosis is of an athletic program on wobbly legs. There’s no buzz, pun intended, around Tech sports, no sense that this always-difficult sell in a crowded metropolitan market is carving out a deeper niche. On the contrary, the Tech footprint keeps shrinking.

Which brings us to this: The next AD needs to be more a promoter than a money man. (Radakovich was the latter, not the former.) The next AD must find a way, assuming one exists, to make Tech more appealing to both moneyed alums and Atlantans who might never have taken a class at the Institute.

This is an awfully big city. Surely some folks out there might be willing to spend a bit of disposable income on a college football or basketball game if they felt it was worth their investment. Gregory has become an ardent and upbeat salesman for his program, but Johnson isn’t what you’d call a PR ace. (Neither were Gailey and Hewitt.) Somebody needs to take this athletic department and broaden the narrowing brand.

Which brings us to Wayne Hogan: He was Radakovich’s deputy, his eyes and ears, and he’s surely worth consideration as Radakovich’s successor. Hogan was the PR man at Florida State when the Seminoles and Bobby Bowden rose to national prominence in a famously amiable way, and he was the AD at Montana for nearly a decade. Hogan isn’t a numbers-cruncher, but surely the Institute – which is, after all, a school steeped in math — could find enough of those. What Tech needs more in its next athletic director is someone with a feel for the product and how best to market it.

Which brings us back to football: Johnson’s stylized offense wasn’t an easy sell even when his teams were winning, and it will become a massive impediment if Tech continues to lose. The Jackets’ recruiting under Johnson has been tepid at best, but it isn’t in Johnson’s nature to do things any way but his. The biggest move Radakovich made was hiring this football coach. The biggest decision the next AD could face is what to do about this football coach.

By Mark Bradley

274 comments Add your comment

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American)

October 29th, 2012
1:08 pm

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American)

October 29th, 2012
1:09 pm

Not a good few days for Ga Tech. Good start to the week for me.

Radakovich

October 29th, 2012
1:15 pm

Time to get out of this dump and not letting the screen door hit me in the rear.

This place is going down hill. I need to get somewhere decent.

You are welcome for Paul Johnson and hey, only three more years of NCAA probation.

See you, suckers.

Technically Correct

October 29th, 2012
1:18 pm

[...] more here: AD Radakovich leaves, and Georgia Tech takes another hit ← Back to Home Tags: dan, hire, hired, jackets, johnson, man, radakovich, season, [...]

yabbo dabba doo

October 29th, 2012
1:24 pm

damon evans may be interested

zgoldatl

October 29th, 2012
1:25 pm

Outside Observer

October 29th, 2012
1:27 pm

Wayne Hogan is certainly an energetic individual. He is very passionate about what he does, and I think he would make a fine athletic director, if for nothing else his excitement about the program.

Mark Bradley

October 29th, 2012
1:29 pm

Hayseed Dixie

October 29th, 2012
1:29 pm

Hey Dawg Trolls-

Remember before you post- our former AD is headed up the road in a Mercedes to a probably better paying job.

He is NOT handcuffed in the back of black-and-white with his mistress headed to the county drunk tank.

How soon you classy guys forget.

SEC

October 29th, 2012
1:30 pm

Clemson counts as an SEC school. They are arguably more SEC than half of that conference.

Atlanta is Corrupt

October 29th, 2012
1:34 pm

Time to give up football, level the stadium, build a parking deck, reduce student fees, and support only intramural sports! Tell the NCAA to take a hike, we quit!

Aaron

October 29th, 2012
1:34 pm

NEVER EVER call Clemson an SEC school. That disrespects everyone in the SEC.

Steve

October 29th, 2012
1:34 pm

Hayseed Dixie needs a hug.

misterwax

October 29th, 2012
1:34 pm

sad state of affairs….and the folks who said paul Johnson won with Gailey’s recruits would be correct…letting the 2 OL grad seniors trnasfer to GSU was the first sign it was going to be screwed up for a while…. they needed that experience and they tossed it away.

Chris

October 29th, 2012
1:34 pm

Mark…Any other potential candidates? I agree with Hogan b/c of the PR factor you mentioned, but someone still has to have a hand in raking in $$$$ b/c the Pavilion didn’t come cheap. Add the renovations to other sports and people want to see their money is well invested for both the short and long term.

JB

October 29th, 2012
1:38 pm

Horse is out of barn with Johnson. Tech has seen as good as it’s going to get. Those stud skill players Gailey left and D1 defensive players are gone. I’ve watched “his ” players all the Tech people told us to wait for while panting to just watch and see…..Well, We’ve seen them. Who thinks next year is much better?

okiemon

October 29th, 2012
1:39 pm

Good column, Mark. Leaves me with the feeling that, as dark as it looks in Tech athletics right now, the dawn is coming. The smaller-money sports -golf, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball – are all in, or will soon be in, great shape. We just need to get the 500 lb gorilla turned around, and the right AD can do that.

rxdawg79

October 29th, 2012
1:40 pm

@Hayseed: Why would a UGA fan be the least bit upset that your now ex-AD is gone? We’d prefer that he stay on and hire more folks like CPJ. Maybe he’ll do to Clemson what he’s done to GT.

Chris

October 29th, 2012
1:41 pm

At the beginning of the season I sent an email to Radakovich. In a nutshell, Tech has done a lousy job branding itself to the Atlanta market. It raised it’s prices on season tickets, and it’s hurting attendance. They are trying to bleed as much as they can from the loyal supporters. I have been a season ticket holder for years. My kids are now of the age where we could enjoy bringing them to the games. The required “donations” added to the cost of ticket face value makes buying season tickets for a family of 4 difficult.

My suggestion was to drop the mandatory donation, and ask your current season ticket holders if that would entice them to buy more tickets. I know I would purchase 3 more season tickets next year if that were to happen. If you got 15% of the current season ticket holders to purchase 2 more season tickets, it would equate to almost 4,000 tickets purchased. This is a good start to building attendance back up. To do this would be to take a long approach rather than a short one.

Marketing this approach would be advantageous for Tech. You could market Tech as THE place to bring a family to a game. Centralize the marketing around this one idea. There are millions of people in and around Atlanta who are perfect targets for this approach.

Of course this approach was rejected in their email response……”we need the money for facilities blah,blah,blah….”

Tech is a unique institution, and needs a unique approach. You want to bring more sidewalk fans? Make it reasonable for a family to purchase season tickets and market the hell out of it!

Fact check

October 29th, 2012
1:42 pm

Uh, Damon Evans self-destruction was one of the luckiest things to happen FOR (not to) UGA in years. He lost a job for which he was egregiously over-employed. Radakovich is eager to leave, Evans left kicking and crying.

Oh, another difference….yes, Evans embarrassed UGA. TECH is being humiliated…again.

Option Bee

October 29th, 2012
1:43 pm

God help us if Tech hires Wayne Hogan. Go outside, and get new blood. Someone who can promote and knows how to hire good successful coaches and staff! We have had two AD’s in a row who shown fiscal irresponsability, spending Tech into serious debt and drafting absurd long term coaching contracts. Now we will find out if Bud is a worthy president, or a clone of our former President Wayne Clutz…who also bailed out for retirement in Washington. Wayne approved the contracts that almost broke Tech’s bank… Clean house!!! Get the stink off the program.

Bradleyisalwayswrong

October 29th, 2012
1:43 pm

So, big time reporter, did you see this coming? No? Why not? You seem to be an expert on everything and yet, on this one you had no inkling.

Keith Strawn

October 29th, 2012
1:46 pm

Mark, Well done, as always.
You hit the nail on the head in regards to Tech not being a final destination for someone as ambitious as Radakovich. Tech just doesn’t have the juice anymore to keep upwardly mobile football talent. And, let’s be honest, building and maintaining the football program is still Job #1 at Tech. Consider Tech’s last three football coaches with the greatest amount of success — Bill Curry, Bobby Ross, and George O’Leary. They all left Tech for better jobs. Long gone are the days at which Tech will be able to be anything like a preeminent football program.
There was a time when Tech was the school doing the hiring-away. Back in the early 1970s, Tech was able to coax up-and-coming coaching commodity Pepper Rodgers away from UCLA. But that was just a few years after the retirement of Bobby Dodd, and Tech had a much different place in the world of college football.

JB

October 29th, 2012
1:46 pm

Hire the AD from Vandy……….whoops, sorry, they ( SEC school) closed down their athletic administration dept.

JB

October 29th, 2012
1:47 pm

Tech should look to make someone a name, not hire one.

GFY

October 29th, 2012
1:48 pm

What about that rather large endowment the Institute has at its disposal? I hear about it quite a bit from Tech graduates. Can that be accessed for a decent AD & football coach?

JB

October 29th, 2012
1:48 pm

I didn’t know D’rad knew how to sneak bags of money to prospects. Welcome to Clemson anyway.

Mike S.

October 29th, 2012
1:49 pm

I think Option Bee is correct. The program needs a new start, not a promotion from within. Bring someone fresh in to evaluate things and determine what needs to be done going forward. Johnson is running out of excuses. He fired Groh, and the D got worked by a not so good BYU offense. He put Vad Lee in the game during the 3rd quarter, and managed only a FG for the rest of the game. Washington and Al Groh are not the problems with the football team.

Another 1 win season

October 29th, 2012
1:50 pm

Please hire Bill Curry…considering he is one of the worst coaches of all-time (and the worst announcer), I am sure the fact he is one of the biggest charlatans of all-time would make him wonderful AD.

Houlihan McGee

October 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

“that’s three home losses this year, two against non-BCS conference schools”

MB, you forget that BYU is a respectable program, and has been for decades. If Tech had lost to Notre Dame instead of BYU, would you refer to the Irish as a “non-BCS” school? It is like you try to find the most negative slant possible. Just losing to MTSU, we already know things are bad.

GFY

October 29th, 2012
1:52 pm

Market GT to someone other than alumni? That’s heresy! Just ask all the self-aggrandizing bloggers how that would allow them to use the rationalization of “Well you only fill the stands with people who never attended UGA”.

KB

October 29th, 2012
1:52 pm

As a Tech grad who also has ties to UGA through family, I have to say I have watched both programs for over 35 years. Both have had major ups and downs, but Tech’s ups are never as high and their downs are always lower than UGA’s. We just don’t have the money or play in a conference to compete on the same level. Not to say we can’t win a game against them now and then, but they will reach 100 wins against us before we reach 60 .

We can’t afford to fire Johnson now, and he needs to go. So, we will suffer through a couple more seasons with him because no one is going to offer to take him off our hands. Ha. Then we will fire him with a lower buyout and hire a coach who runs a pro-style or spread offense. But we will not have the athletes to compete with it for 3 years because Johnson has recruited FCS type athletes. So, the next 4 years for Tech look pretty mediocre to bad as far as Ws and Ls go, but a new coach will bring some excitement even if his first year or two are struggles.

Such is the life of a Tech fan. If we do get a great coach, we will keep him for 5 years tops, then he will be hired away by a big-money school because we can’t afford to match the salary. Sigh. Meanwhile, we get to watch Johnson walk out on the field after bad plays screaming at his players, “What the f*** was that?!?” on camera. Nice. Good riddance, Radakovich, and thanks for nothing.

brad

October 29th, 2012
1:52 pm

I heard that Bobby Quitrino is available.!!

Tech Legacy

October 29th, 2012
1:52 pm

I think this will eventually bode well for Tech assuming they find the right replacement. A “promoter” should build on Tech’s rich tradition rather than trying come up with cute ways to attract recruits and sidewalk alumni. For starters, they could get rid of things like the godawful football uniforms they’re wearing this year….

Jee S. You

October 29th, 2012
1:52 pm

“The next AD must find a way, assuming one exists, to make Tech more appealing to both moneyed alums and Atlantans who might never have taken a class at the Institute.” Yeah….it doesn’t exist – and the alums like it that way. You are either a “Tech man” or a “sidewalk fan”, and the only way to become the former is a Tech degree. They are elitist and they like it that way, so leave them to it. Atlanta CFB fans will have a viable option that they have more in common with very soon.

JB

October 29th, 2012
1:53 pm

Lot’s and lot’s of good #2 guys all over the country. Look at McGarity from Florida that Georgia brought home. Look for some sharp 50 year old who has been the right hand man for a good AD for 4-8 years. Tons out there.

Buzzter

October 29th, 2012
1:53 pm

Mark Bradley — Look into how Wayne Hogan’s last job as an AD ended and then tell us if you still think he would be good choice as the AD at any school, much less Georgia Tech..

GTracy

October 29th, 2012
1:55 pm

Chris, I couldn’t agree more! The Tech fund has done nothing but force loyal fans to may more money. I had 4 tickets when DRad came in. We dropped to 3. Then I changed sections so I would pay less and actually dropped to 1 ticket. He lost 3 tickets from loyal fans because frankly, we couldn’t afford it and the product on the field wasn’t worth that price. DRad was a horrible promoter of GT Athletics and only cared about the money. I’m glad he’s finally out the door!

When it comes down to it, let’s call a spade a spade. He’s a scumbag who hightailed it to our biggest conference rival. He put our program on probation and had our ACC Championship revoked on his watch. That’s just pathetic if you ask me.

Now he’s left us with a crumbling football program and a coach that he hired who can’t recruit worth anything. He’s shrunk our program and left it in disarray. Now we can’t fire his coach because of the ridiculous contract extension he gave him. And what’s worse is that he’ll never have to answer to any of it because he went running with his tail between his legs.

Good riddance! You are the worst thing that ever happened to GT Athletics! Maybe we can get someone who actually cares about our program and our fanbase! What an arrogant SOB!

Bobby Jones

October 29th, 2012
1:55 pm

Don’t know if he would have any interest but Bobby Cremins would be a great choice in my Humble Opinion. I would not expect Coach Johnson to get let go anytime soon, just too much money for a buy out and who are we gonna get who is better that wants the job ?? His problems are not his scheme, its his lack of recruiting. To be sucessfull at TECH you better be a whiz bang of a recruiter

Tech Legacy

October 29th, 2012
1:56 pm

And Johnson will live and die on recruiting which apparently he doesn’t do well….

JB

October 29th, 2012
1:58 pm

KB, I have to agree with you about Johnson………How he represents Tech on game day leaves a little to be desired….Oh course when he was winning, lot’s of Tech folks like what they called then ” confidence” Johnson IS a good coach. He’s just missing athletes. He was left plenty, and did a good job with them. As Gaileys players left the program, so have the wins. From an outsider, it’s pretty easy to see.

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 29th, 2012
1:59 pm

Good article Mark, right on once again.

Looks like we are stuck with CPJ. Saturday was a pathetic excuse for a football game.

We need an Alum., John Dewberry?!?

Hamad Meander

October 29th, 2012
2:02 pm

Did it seem like he ran out of the building like it was on fire? Why the rush? To Clemson?

JB

October 29th, 2012
2:03 pm

Dewberry worth……….and making millions………Doubt he would so any interest. Plus, NO experience. I’m sure the day to day is a big job, not just hiring coach’s.

George Stein

October 29th, 2012
2:05 pm

If we come across as elitist, Jee S. You, it is only the natural result of comparing ourselves to people like you.

The talk of Tech not having funds is silly. Last I read, the endowment at Tech was twice the size of Georgia’s (note: if I’m wrong, please let me know). We have money; we elect to spend it differently.

KB

October 29th, 2012
2:05 pm

Johnson loathes recruiting because he can’t stand to hear rejection or the reasons for it. You offer 70-100 guys knowing that all but 20-25 of them will turn you down. Johnson is insulted by being turned down because kids don’t want to play in his offense. He gets mad at the guys who want to take other visits and will only sign those who commit to Tech and then turn off their recruiting. Well guess what, the elite athletes won’t do it his way. And so, here we are…getting hammered by MTSU and BYU at home.

La Baker

October 29th, 2012
2:10 pm

A change in football coaching staff is a must. Tech needs to
obsorb the cost and bring in a new head coach, new AD and get
the program turned around. The sooner the better.

JB

October 29th, 2012
2:10 pm

Johnson belongs in AA ball….but it only pays 250K…..Not 2 mil per.

KingBee

October 29th, 2012
2:12 pm

I would hire Bill Curry in a heartbeat.