Former GT player Luginbill takes winding road to ESPN

Remarkably, Tom Luginbill was ACC Rookie of the Year on a 1-10 team.

Remarkably, Tom Luginbill was ACC Rookie of the Year on a 1-10 team.

If Tom Luginbill has proven one thing in his lifetime it’s that he is not afraid to try new things.

He moved around a lot as a college football player. He transferred to Georgia Tech as a junior college quarterback in 1994 only to leave a year later and conclude his career at Eastern Kentucky.  He also got around as professional football player and coach. He played and coached for six different teams in four different leagues — none of them the NFL — over eight seasons.

Now 35, Luginbill feels like he has finally found his niche. Today he is national recruiting director for ESPN.com. As such, as chief analyst for ESPNU’s high school football telecasts and an in-studio college football analyst. This week the Charlotte resident will be at James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston to cover the M.L. King-Stephenson game.

Luginbill

Luginbill

Luginbill started working for ESPN five years ago as an NFL scouting expert five years while running an independent player-personnel company called Scouts Inc. ESPN and Disney absorbed Luginbill and his company 4 1/2 years ago and dissolved the player-personnel side of the business. So today he’s a full-time recruiting expert for ESPN.com. He is also the main person who determines what high school games are going to be televised by ESPNU each week.

I had a long telephone interview with Luginbill earlier this week. Here’s some of what he said:

Q:  So you played football at Georgia Tech but you weren’t there for long (one season, 1994). You guys went 1-10 and head coach Bill Lewis got fired. What was that experience like?

A: I felt bad about it. I liked Coach Lewis a lot but he had got himself into a no-win situation at Tech. A lot of people don’t realize there were some very important people that didn’t want him there. It was hard enough being hired two years after Tech won a national championship it may or may not have been deserved. Then my situation didn’t help him.  I hated things didn’t work out. I really liked it there.

Q: After finishing your career at Eastern Kentucky, you gave pro ball a short go. Then you went straight into coaching at a very young age. But it was with the XFL, NFL Europe, the Arena Football League, af2. Why not a more traditional route?

A: [Laughing] I’ve done just about all of it. . . . I had opportunities to get into the coaching ranks in college. But I saw what happened to my father (Al Luginbill) at San Diego State and I didn’t want to go through that. I decided to try to go through the professional ranks where I felt like you had a little more control from a personnel standpoint. I’ve always been interested in the personnel side of the game and I was able to be involved with that and get a lot of experience right away.

Q: How did you end up in the recruiting game?

A: I started working with ESPN from a scouting standpoint, mostly with the NFL. When they wanted to expand their college recruiting coverage from a scouting and evaluation angle, I was a natural fit. We’re not as concerned about the rumor-mill side of recruiting, where they’re going and that kind of thing. Our tactical vantage point is the same as the colleges in that  we are looking at these kids from an evaluation standpoint. We’re not doing to the same things as these other recruiting sites. We’re going to spend a bunch of time looking at a bunch of tape on a bunch of kids. We start with 3,000 kids and we don’t even start to rank them until we’ve been through 1,500. That’s how we come up with the ESPNU 150.

Q: I understand you’re the person chiefly responsible for selecting the 20-something games you guys will televise this year. What’s your thoughts on Friday’s contest between M.L. King and Stephenson?

A: Both teams are extremely talented from the standpoint of their defensive front sevens. M.L. King has been decimated with injuries on offense and that’s going to hurt them. Losing [wide receiver] Demarco Robinson is a huge loss for them. Mack Brown, we’re all eager to get a look at him. But he’s hampered right now with the hamstring situation. On the other side, a lot of people are not paying enough attention to [Raymond] Sanders, the running back for Stephenson. He’s a good ball player. We like the Thornton kid [DT Mike Thornton], too. But Martin Luther King is good on defense, too. It should be a great game.

54 comments Add your comment

Dose of reality

October 15th, 2009
4:47 pm

WTF? Luginbill was a complete d—-bag at GT and probably still is. His daddy opened up a lot of doors for him throughout his “career” but truth be known he was never D-1A talent to begin with. I can’t say that I blame him, but he’s been riding daddy’s coattails for quite some time..

Not Disappointed

October 15th, 2009
4:50 pm

Yeah, this putz has pulled against GT three weeks in a row. It was first Miss St, then FSU and VT for this week. I guess, it should help us win.

He appears to be a angry x-jackets.

Ramblin Wreck.

I was there

October 15th, 2009
4:53 pm

Ask Tommy boy if he remembers getting B%@&@$! slapped by Ryan Stewart in the GT locker room after practice?

WTF?

October 15th, 2009
4:57 pm

How about an article on Ryan Stewart who got recruited to GT on his own merits? Then had a great career at Tech before playing for an actual NFL team?? Now he is also on ESPN, Sporting News Radio, etc, etc- and someone that us Tech fans actually have fond memories of..

But give us a break with the Hock-a-Luginbill story.

Brings back bad memories

October 15th, 2009
4:59 pm

Come on, Chip, surely you can do better than this toolbox.

Bill Lewis SUCKED!!

October 15th, 2009
5:17 pm

Papa Luginbill’s buddy Bill Lewis got canned for good reason. He was terrible and for what its worth all the players hated him.

Brian

October 15th, 2009
5:18 pm

Must be too young to remember his indiscretions, but he was the ACC ROY. I’ve always thought he has been fair to Tech and offered a unique view of college recruiting. But what do I know.

Bill Lewis SUCKED!!

October 15th, 2009
5:20 pm

Yeah, Tommy Boy, it had nothing to do with Bill Lewis going 1-10. It was all a big conspiracy of folks behind the scenes that didn’t like him. He did nothing with A LOT of talent. I think something like 14 players off the 1993 team eventually made it to the NFL. And what did he do with that talent? Nothing.

Not Disappointed

October 15th, 2009
5:30 pm

Damn Straight! This guys is a tool. “I never say bad things about ex-Jackets, but this Tool and bill lewis, with them Girl shorts.

Man, don’t remind me.

Oy!

Ryan earn his way. I don’t listen to the show, but I respect him an his brother for going thru the school of hard knox! I also remember slap. I too was on campus during that time!

Mister NFL

October 15th, 2009
6:54 pm

This lugin guy has agendas against a few teams. You can tell. He’s not a good guy or objective. I hope someone kicks his ass.

TechFan

October 15th, 2009
8:31 pm

Chip,
Don’t put this crap on you resume.

You are crazy

October 15th, 2009
9:04 pm

Chip, please go back to writing about UGA and copying and pasting from the pay recruiting sites. This is awful.

Tommy "Too Short" LoserBill

October 15th, 2009
9:11 pm

Wow, Chip. Blast from the past that we would like to move past. Way to fire up the Tech faithful here. Thats terrible.

CAH057 '84

October 15th, 2009
9:31 pm

Wow, what’s next – I guess you’ll track down Chan and Reggie and remind of us that saga.

gtechsta

October 15th, 2009
11:04 pm

Imagine that, Chip Towers interviewing a guy that’s going to drag Tech down. Get this off the site. This guy is a bitter toolbag. “A national title it may or may not have deserved.” You two deserve each other. Two hacks.

Chip Towers

October 15th, 2009
11:08 pm

In the interest of full disclosure, readers of this blog should know that the majority of these comments ripping me and former Tech player Tom Luginbill are two people posting under multiple names, or one person using two computers. So for whatever that’s worth. . . .

Sorry these folks, and a few others I’m sure, were unhappy with how things went with Luginbill and/or Lewis. But what happened at Tech 15 years ago wasn’t the focus here. I merely intended to point out what a former Yellow Jacket is doing for a living nowadays on the occasion of him working a very high-profile event in our city.

Oh Boy...

October 15th, 2009
11:11 pm

Another NTAC…No Talent Ars Clown.

Scott

October 15th, 2009
11:19 pm

Shove it, Chip. Thanks for digging this character up. A National title “it may or may or may not have deserved? Luginbills a tool.

Colorado:
lost a game (finishing 10-1-1 to tech’s 11-0-1)
Beat Missouri using an illegal 5th down
Barely beat Nebraska, who Tech crushed in the Citrus Bowl
Only beat ND in the Orange Bowl because of a phantom clip.

Go back to slighting Tech in your own words, Chip. Don’t hide behind this loser.

Scott

October 15th, 2009
11:22 pm

And another thing Chip: why is the UGA beat writer bringing up this Tech story if not to slight Tech? Why doesn’t Doug Robertson (albeit a UGA grad) go check up on Tony Cole and see what he’s doing these days?

David

October 15th, 2009
11:22 pm

Chip go read The Hive, its not just two people talking bad about TL. No one likes him at GT. He is not a Jacket and everyone has disowned him.

Chip Towers

October 15th, 2009
11:27 pm

Scott: I’m not the UGA beat writer. I cover recruiting, as does Luginbill. . . .

David: I’ll pass on reading The Hive, thank you. But, like I said, whether Tech loved or loathed this guy was not the basis for writing about him.

Chip Towers

October 15th, 2009
11:32 pm

gttechsta: Yeah, I interviewed Luginbill just because I knew he’d drag down Tech. Just like I did earlier this week when I interviewed Tech commitment Morgan Bailey, the aspiring rocket scientist. Ya got me!

god and greyhound

October 15th, 2009
11:51 pm

Scott, I think he was saying that the treatment Bill Lewis got may or may not have been deserved.

YouKnow

October 15th, 2009
11:51 pm

“Ya got me!” Why do all your threads end with that annoying quote? Come up with something different someday. Tool.

welcmetopauljohnsonera

October 16th, 2009
2:29 am

It was hard enough being hired two years after Tech won a national championship*,* it may or may not have been deserved.

is that what you meant chip? or how about…

It was hard enough being hired two years after Tech won a national championship. It may or may not have been deserved.

or….

It was hard enough being hired two years after Tech won a national championship [the criticism] may or may not have been deserved.

i understand it’s a quote. BUT it’s your job to understand what is said, what is meant to be said and the way it should be portrayed. thanks for covering tech but please try to give a sh!t about what the fans may perceive. hopefully, you don’t take these jergoffs that hang out and post on these blogs too seriously. they don’t seem like true TECH MEN to me.

welcmetopauljohnsonera

October 16th, 2009
2:35 am

if luginbill WAS trying to say that we may or may not have deserved that national championship he’s a traitorous piece of garbage!!!!

Tom

October 16th, 2009
6:06 am

If I couldn’t quote someone better than this looser, I wouldn’t quote anyone at all.

Mit

October 16th, 2009
6:41 am

More of the quality copy that has put the AJC in its death spiral.
Now that the AJC isn’t even in the ATL, shouldn’t it be called the Sandy Springs JC?

All I'm Saying Is...

October 16th, 2009
7:53 am

All you need to know about Tom Luginbill is in his quote:

“It was hard enough being hired two years after Tech won a national championship it may or may not have been deserved. Then my situation didn’t help him. ”

“…a national championship it may or may not have been deserved.” What kind of a dumb, no class comment is that to make? Tech played well that year, beat #1 on the road, won their bowl game decisively over Nebraska back when the Cornhuskers were a force and the voters spoke and Tech won a share of the national championship.

Bill Lewis was given a great opportunity. He didn’t win and he made bad decisions such as the one to start Tom Luginbill who also says:

“…my situation didn’t help him.” How about you man-up Tom and state the facts: I was chosen by Bill Lewis to be the starter over Donnie Davis (a real GT man and classy guy, by the way) and I stunk up the joint on the field.

chad

October 16th, 2009
8:28 am

Sorry Chip, but he is not considered a former Jacket. He and Bill Lewis are two people that have been scratched from the memory banks. Tommy should have never been at Tech. Granted that it is not his fault Bill Lewis couldn’t see how Good Donnie Davis was, but hey nice try Chip. I know you had good intentions, but you chose the wrong person. That whole era sparks bad memories of what could have been but never was.

FYI ChipStick

October 16th, 2009
8:34 am

Hey Chipstick, you really need to be more forthcoming with your readers. The multiple posts tied to the same IP address late yesterday afternoon were actually multiple people blogging from this computer. And those are only a small fraction of the negative comments on this blog. Face it, nobody likes Luginbill or has fond memories of his “era” at GT.

Don’t try to mislead people into believing its only a few people commenting here. I notice you’ve already tried to hide this article within the sports page already. You really need to go back to covering the Dawgs, and I realize that is painful to do.

Savannah Jacket

October 16th, 2009
8:36 am

I’d say that Luginbill was in a no-win situation. Bill Lewis lost control of that team and chose not to resolve the division among the players that developed with the QB controversy between TL and DD. TL did OK with a team that half quit on him. I don’t fault the Tech players who were standing up for the QB they played with the previous year. Fault lays directly on the coach for allowing things to spiral wildly out of control that year. The criticism was very much deserved – nothing to do with Tech’s national championship.

You are crazy

October 16th, 2009
8:44 am

Chip, your example of how unbiased you are doesn’t hold much water. That article you wrote about the physics major recruit still took a dig at Tech:

“Yellow Jackets often do so under the pretense of tip-toeing around and side-stepping every class they can that has “engineering” or “calculus” in the name.”

Just admit you are biased and be done with it.

FYI ChipStick

October 16th, 2009
8:45 am

Correction: Bill Lewis lost conrol of the team from day one, before Luginbill arrived. Bringing Luginbill in was just icing on the cake.

chad

October 16th, 2009
8:52 am

god and greyhound, he was refering to the NC, read the sentence again. Luggibill is like everyone else has stated a TOOL.

AtlantaNative62

October 16th, 2009
9:26 am

Wow! I’ve seen Luginbill on ESPNU multiple times and was (pleasantly) surprised at how well he does his job. He is good at it and I’ve never heard him say anything negative about Tech. In fact, he has said several very good things about Tech. So what if he picked against us for some games? Giving his opinion IS HIS JOB and not one of them was a reach. A LOT of people picked us to lose against MS, FSU, and now VT. In the following week’s show, he was always happy that Tech won and that he was wrong. What the hell is wrong with you people? Go kick a bulldog instead of a guy who was a 19-20 year old kid while at Tech.

Was he a good player for Tech? Not really but the whole program was F’d up by Bill Lewis by that point. As far as him “riding daddy’s coat tails”, you guys are the tools if you think that is a bad thing. I’m a Tech grad because my father owned a popular restaurant on Ponce (The Majestic). Being “the son of the owner of the Majestic” has afforded me access to people that helped me get into and graduate from Tech (in 2.5 years so I proved I belonged there). So grow the hell up or shut the F up. Luginbill is a class act now and represents Tech extremely well. We should “rightfully” claim him as one of our own.

He is not one of our own

October 16th, 2009
9:29 am

You shut the F up AtlantaNative62. Note you’re the only guy on here defending this geek.

Bill Alexander

October 16th, 2009
9:29 am

I have never commented on these blogs before but have been reading them for the past few years.

Chip, your piece of work is just plain poor. You either should have cleared up the comment TL meintioned about the NC or you should have challenged the statement and asked for clarification on the NC from TL.

I remember that year, went to all the home games and 2 away games. It was horrible. TL was in fact a D-Bag that chose not to even try an ounce of humility in order to fit in with his new team and he got called out for it by real men. He is simply a loser and will always be tagged as such for his arrogance as a teamate. He will never be considered ex-GT for anything other than the extra dose of cancer he provided that year.

Way to go Chip. Do better next time or seriously consider finding a new vocation.

You are crazy

October 16th, 2009
9:31 am

Atlantanative, did you not read the quote from Luginbill above that said “it may or may not have be deserved” in regards to Tech’s national championship. Luginbill sucked at Tech and he sucks now.

John Coctosten

October 16th, 2009
9:33 am

Chip, maybe one or two guys were writing those negative comments at first, but I guarantee that there are a TON of other Tech alums and fans like me who agree with them. I was on campus and connected with the football program at the time, and I can tell you that I don’t see anything untrue mentioned in the comments above so far. Luginbill’s comments about “may or may not have deserved” just shows 2 things about him:
1) He either doesn’t know much football OR is willing to ignore the truth just to get a dig at in
2) He has about zero class

I like the guy

October 16th, 2009
9:42 am

And I went to GT 91′-95′. I know the team was awful, but he’s a good representative for GT on ESPNU. He wears yellow ties all the time, and is very intelligent and well spoken. The coach was horrible but I don’t think that’s Tom’s fault at all.

GTJuggernaut

October 16th, 2009
9:53 am

Chip, here’s a suggestion. As opposed to posting super-defensive and completely useless responses, how about you clear up the what was implied inTommy’s answer to the first question? But I suppose I can answer my own question here. Even after all of these posts, you’re just leaving the response as is with no clarification. Nice journalism.

Real Jacket

October 16th, 2009
9:58 am

Chip, Good story. Thanks. Keep it up, and I’d love to keep reading more on Charles Perkins.

Everyone else, I read the “may or may not have been deserved” comment was referring to the heat BL was getting for crapping all over a top program. Probably just a punctuation issue within a quote. Also, I had a few classes with Tommy. Didn’t know him at all but chatted a few times. I do remember well the week after FSU crushed us at home and he wa so beaten up that he could barely sit down in class. Should Donnie Davis have been the QB? Resounding YES, but Luginbill put his best effort out there. Hate on the coach, the players are just kids.

Also, I think he is generally fair when covering the Jackets. There have been times where he has raved about our team. Especially with the ‘07 recruiting class.

BTW, the AJC did a huge cover/multi-page story on Ryan and Doug a few years ago.

Not Disappointed

October 16th, 2009
10:09 am

Look Chip, make sure you note that I am not one of those bloggers that posted under various names. I use one “Not Disappointed!” But in all fairness, it should be altered for this post to “Not Disappointed is Disappointed!”

I never posted something negative against Ga or Ga Tech players. But this guy! Oy! Maybe I should give him a second chance, but I remember. The locker room fiasco, bill lewis & Donnie (a wonderful human being) There is alot of truth to those statements.

In closing, I find most of your post to be informative about recruits going to different colleges. “Who doesn’t appreciate information about “Stars of tomorrow?” I wish them all good luck & Get that free education. Keep up the good work.

Good weekend all!

AtlantaNative62

October 16th, 2009
10:09 am

Yes, I read the quote and without the bias you all clearly have, I read it as the dislike for Bill Lewis may or may not have been deserved. He was NOT the choice of the powerful Tech Alums and that was clear from day one. I personally thought the Lewis choice was going to be a disaster and it was.

Whether you like it or not, Luginbill wore the colors and that makes him one of us. If he was clearly biased against Tech, then he wouldn’t be one of us but again, I’ve never heard him say anything negative about Tech and if you bother to read the other quotes, he says “I really liked it there”. BTW, my opinion is just that, mine. I don’t give a rat’s patutti what anyone else thinks. If you guys want to be herd followers, that’s your choice. I suspect that means you are not Tech grads. If that’s the case, we don’t need you as “fans”.

Not Disappointed

October 16th, 2009
10:12 am

AtlantaNative62, good food for thought. I will give you that one for sure.

“That bill lewis walking around with the gay shorts at practise. Man, let me tell you something. Yuck! But that’s the past.

Good week again.

please clarify

October 16th, 2009
11:41 am

I found the column interesting, thanks. It would be helpful for you to clarify if you would clarify whether TL felt GT possibly didn’t deserve the NT or whether he was being diplomatic in saying BL possibly didn’t deserve the mess he got in. Sometimes remembering the past helps us appreciate how much better things are today doesn’t it?

Golden Hand

October 16th, 2009
4:25 pm

Yep, we are the thin-skinned bunch of whiners everybody says we are. The “MNC may or may not have deserved” comment is kind of chippy, but I’m amazed Luginbill isn’t more negative about Tech. Lewis was a very unsuccessful coach at Tech, but his players quit on him mainly because he wasn’t Bobby Ross, so they should share in the blame for that 1-10 year. They quit on Luginbill because he wasn’t as popular (and probably not as good a player) as Donnie Davis. None of that is Luginbill’s fault. And he’s pretty good on the air; just not a big Tech homer (why would he be, considering?).

Shivas

October 16th, 2009
6:12 pm

Chip, go back to bed with Buck Belue.

Mister NFL

October 16th, 2009
7:18 pm

Hey Chip, you’re showing what a tool you are. Accusing one person of typing all of these posts? lmfao. Check my IP out paranoid boy. Only me posting here under this name. You’re a joke.