Tech’s Bobinski says he could have afforded to fire Gregory. I believe him

Mike Bobinski hasn't yet waved goodbye to his basketball coach. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Mike Bobinski hasn’t yet waved goodbye to his basketball coach. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Mike Bobinski hasn't yet waved goodbye to his basketball coach. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Mike Bobinski hasn’t yet waved goodbye to his basketball coach. (Jason Getz/AJC)

On Monday, Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski spoke to three reporters — esteemed colleague Ken Sugiura and the great Associated Press writer Paul Newberry were the other two — about a development that had caused Bobinski pause: How exactly do you break the news that an employee of yours is still an employee of yours? Hold a press conference? Release a statement? Tweet it in 140 characters?

Bobinski chose to email his athletic board members with the word that Brian Gregory would remain as basketball coach and then go into detail about the decision — a decision the AD admitted might well have gone the other way — with us newspaper types. He spoke with us for more than a half-hour and ducked only one question. (It was mine, and it was so nebulous I’d have ducked it, too.)

My thoughts on the briefing can be found on myajc“Tech’s Bobinski grants Gregory one last chance” — but I wanted to return to something I considered salient. Asked directly (again, by me) if his decision had been reached because Bobinski didn’t have the money to pay Gregory a $2.4 million buyout on top of the $3.6 million  still owed former coach Paul Hewitt, the AD said:

“We had figured all that (financial stuff) out. That was not a driver, not a factor, not a decision-maker here.” (Later he would say that money was an issue but not the determinant.)

Some among you might scoff and say, “Of course it’s all about the money.” I’m not scoffing. I believe the man, and here’s why.

Back in 2011, a man privy to then-AD Dan Radakovich’s thinking kept telling me, “He can’t fire Hewitt. There’s no money.” Until one day when the man said, “Dan’s figured it out. He can get the money. He went off one weekend by himself with his spreadsheets and he found a way.”

The money for Hewitt’s buyout was $7.2 million, exactly three times what Gregory’s would be today, and it came at a moment when the Institute was about to break ground on the the rebuilding of its basketball arena. Sure enough, Hewitt was fired on March 13, 2011.

Some of you scoffers will say, “But Radakovich didn’t have the money. Tech had to restructure Hewitt’s buyout. That’s why they’re paying him through 2019.” I consider that a detail. (It always made sense to stretch a payout of $7.2 million rather than dole it out it out in fatter globs.) The greater point remains: A strapped-for-cash AD managed to find room for the world’s biggest buyout. If D-Rad could do that then, M-Bob could have done this now.

I believe Bobinski when he says he wants to give Gregory — who was hired by Radakovich and whose first season here was, due to Tech playing in two borrowed arenas, a rough ride — enough time that the new AD, who arrived in April 2013, can make a full assessment. I disagree that four years isn’t a sufficient sample size, but I take Bobinski at his word when he says he’s trying to be fair.

From our round table — the four of us actually sat at a round table in Bobinski’s office — Q-and-A, I can report that Gregory’s boss is no Gregory apologist. “We can’t stay where we are,” Bobinski said. And: “We can’t continue to be close.” And: “Offense can’t be something we do between defensive possessions.” And this: “All the elements are in place … There’s no reason not to have a successful college basketball program.”

Bobinski said he told Gregory that “the minute I believe we’re not making substantive process,” his patience will turn to impatience. I didn’t take that as open-ended invitation, as Gregory said after the North Carolina State loss, to “keep doing what we do.” I took that as ultimatum: Do better and do it fast. Or this time next year Georgia Tech will issue a full-blown statement saying it has terminated its basketball coach.

Reader Comments 0

59 comments
TechForever
TechForever

7 days ago you said you cannot imagine a scenario where Tech keeps CBG on to head this program and I commented, "How about this scenario?  Tech still owes Hewitt $1.3M a season for the next two and then would owe Gregory $1M over the next thee seasons should they fire him.  That's $2.3M going to coaches to NOT COACH at GT when $2M is about all Tech can afford to begin with to pay a coach to actually coach at GT.  Listen carefully....GEORGIA TECH DOES NOT HAVE BIG MONEY....PERIOD.

Tech has no choice but to keep Gregory for at least one more season if not 2.  Thank you Dave Braine."

I was off on my figures.....it's actually WORSE than $1.3M each of the next two years.  But I was right.  And no....I do not believe Bobinski one bit about him having the money to pull this off.  He doesn't have the money.....period.  So CBG, as I said, will back next year and mark my words.....he'll be back in 2016-17 too without an extension which will kill recruiting.  To be honest I think that is EXACTLY what Tech should do.  Ride this out until it's over, take the lumps and hits, and start COMPELETLY FRESH in spring 2017.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Sounds like a bunch of excuses to avoid paying 3 basketball coaches at the same time.  It's obvious to most that Gregory is not the guy they need and will likely be fired this time next year when he misses the NCAAs once again.  This situation speaks volumes about the poor decision making history of team Braine, Radacovich, Bobinski and even more about GTs lack of urgency in making its bb program relevant again.  Sad part is the GT alumni will continue to support these underperforming teams and coaching staffs with their contributions as they've done in the past.  Money is the bottom line to changing anything- including a sports program at a not-for-profit university- and as long as it keeps coming in nothing will change.

Pistol66
Pistol66

Retaining Coach G was the right choice! As I have said  before, MB is doing his best to create uncertainty with Tech coaches.  He is an SEC homer and wants Jaylen Brown at either UK or uga.  Jaylen is leaning heavily towards Tech over the others because his family wants to be there when he plays.  He is the real deal and if he chooses Tech with the players that Coach G has coming back, Tech will be top 15 in the rankings and top 5 in the ACC!  MB tried to get Coach Johnson but now the momentum is upward with a solid recruiting class to bolster a real good team! Coach G will win next season and after he does, you will hear crickets from the AJC sports department!  By the way, we have two very good point guards who were improving this whole season and Lammers and Jackson will improve dramatically with the experience they got this year. 

JacketMan
JacketMan

Sorry, Mark, but from my understanding, the major donors I've spoken with, they have all backed out of their pledges to buy out Gregory's contract early because of the fact the AD renegotiated his contract last year to up his buyout after so many horrendous seasons, and they were furious it was done without their prior knowledge.

As far as they're concerned, BOTH of them are now on borrowed time, and if Gregory doesn't produce NEXT season, not only will GA Tech be looking for a new Head Basketball Coach, they may just be looking for a new AD as well; THAT's how angry these donors are.

In other words, Gregory WAS scheduled to be fired until word leaked about the added buyout payout, then the alums said you can both twist in the wind until the buyout drops back/expires and we'll be happy to step back in to deal with both of you.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@JacketMan This makes a lot of sense.  This sounds like Donnan 2015. 

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

Thanks MB. Nice article with some good info.


This is fair for CBG. Gives him a shot at coaching his first recruiting class as seniors. Carter Jr screwed coach by leaving after he was asked to be a team player and do what was best for the program going into this past season. Oh well.


Looks like Georges Hunt and CBG will either get the program back on track or flame out together, fair enough.


Sure will be nice to get this Hewitt albatross off of our back won't it? Since we are still paying Hewitt, and he needs something to do, can't we at least get him to come back and work the ticket window or something useful?

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

@ToeMeetsLeather

If Carter Jr. "screwed coach" then it is fair to say, with your logic, that coach screwed both Poole brothers.

Was Stacey Poole Jr. recruited just to add his brother?

Was it totally dumb and the act of a desperate coach, crummy at recruiting, to introduce a high school senior right into ACC competition with no preseason camp and no games against cupcakes to get used to being in a much bigger facility? Brian found out why it is rarely, if ever, done.

Worse than that - though evidently not an issue with the AD or most others in this fan base - was ending Stacey's scholarship once he was not as good as his star rating either.

If Gregory wanted him off the team but had no disciplinary reason for doing so, then he still should have remained on scholarship.

The senior QB Joe Hamilton replaced as a freshman was allowed to quit the team and keep his scholarship.

I love Tech enough to offer ideas for improving the offense for next year.

But I do not like Brian Gregory at all.

I do not like the way he handles players.

I see entirely different possible reasons for Carter Jr leaving.

You need a plan B and not just one go to guy.

Crummy coach.

Crummy fan base (including me) that cannot fill up a small, by ACC standards, facility.



ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

And if nothing else, coach has earned one more year by drilling Fox and the pups every time they have stepped on the court together.

Carl Elias
Carl Elias

@GTQBdefender

Agreed!

The folks at GT love it when we RECEIVE TRANSFERS, then they get their panties in a wad when we lose a player (Carter) to transfer.

Every transfer that comes into GT's Program is perceived as the most legit transaction ever, and then when we lose a guy somehow it must have been foul play.

If you're not gonna complain when we bring in transfer, then we shouldn't complain when we lose transfers like Carter.

Thanks QBDefender for exposing the hypocrisy in their commentary.

Carl Elias
Carl Elias

At what point do we place some of the blame on both the GT fanbase and on the FB Staff for some of our financial problems?

Some segments of the GT fanbase want to see Coach Johnson succeed so badly that  they refuse to demand that GT FB plays a better OoC schedule with more big time opponents that cant take us from averaging 46K per home game to getting close to 55K in the bldg. every Saturday.

Maybe if we played tougher OoC games and fewer cupcakes we'd have the money we needed from selling an extra 7-9K seats, we might not have a bunch of meaningless bowls to contribute to our streak, but maybe we'd have more flexibility to get rid of an under performing MBB coach.

Lots of GT fans like to see us play cupcakes so that Coach Johnson can be successful no matter what it costs us financially from playing to an 85% filled stadium.

Don't try to point to next years schedule as proof that I am wrong, GT FB  plays a schedule like that ONCE every 20-25 years when we should be playing schedules like that once every THREE years, preferably once every other year.

If GT wants to get out of the economic doldrums, we have to significantly upgrade our OoC scheduling and try to get 55K for every home game.

The easiest way to do this, is to make a really hard sell to the ACC Commish's Office for a 10-Game conference schedule, that way after the UGA game we will only have to find a good P5 H-n-H opponent every 2 years.

If we don't start selling out Grant Field to the tune of 55K every Saturday, we will always have financial problems with the GTAA.

Pretty soon CoA money will be needed to pay our Athletes, that is another line-item that will have to be accounted for.

Still think we were really able to afford those raises for our FB Staff?

Carl Elias
Carl Elias

@TOJacket

You're the one  that stoops to using profanity on Sports Blog.

Why can't you talk about GT sports without stooping to such a low level?

Carl Elias
Carl Elias

@BleedingGold

Yep, we had a great season, but I would be remiss if I didn't say that a lot of "stars" had to line up for us to have that "special 3-loss season".

Do you think we go 11-3 or better next season?

When do you think we will avg. 55K in attendance in FB to help with the ailing finances of our Athl. Dept?

All those are legit comments and questions, asking them doesn't make me the bad guy.

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@Carl Elias 

I absolutely believe we could go 11-3 next season.  Won't be easy, but can definitely be done.  Will we average 55K?  I doubt we ever will.  Atlanta has one of the worst fan bases in the country.  Even when the Braves, Hawks, and Falcons are winning, I don't see sold out stadiums.  You think even if we won the national championship this past year, we'd sell out the Alcorn State and Tulane game?  I doubt it. 

Carl Elias
Carl Elias

@BleedingGold

Then DON'T SCHEDULE CRAPPY TEAMS LIKE Alcorn St. and Tulane!

In Midtown Atlanta, our market is different than other P5 FB Programs in this region that can schedule Directional St. and still have a 95-100% turnout for an OoC game.

GT's AD need to understand our market and the types of  OoC games that will sell the place out at 55K, we have crappy teams like , Dook (until recently), Wake, BC, and other uninteresting ACC teams that don't draw well, so given that fact we need to schedule attractive teams OoC to get great attendance.

The GTAA cannot continue to financially survive on avg. home Att. of 47K per game.

At some point the financial realities of playing cupcakes will do serious harm to the GTAA's finances and begin to hurt the FB Program on the field.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Carl Elias As always..........thanks for your continued concern...........now FO!

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@Carl Elias  Football team sure looked good last year, didn't they?  Best season since 1990 and all done under a high school offense.  You must be so proud!

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Carl Elias What stars would those be?   The 11 wins were earned.   They weren't fluky and they weren't lucky.   End of discussion.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

Do you think M-Bob will pull the trigger before the season is halfway done next year when we are 0-7 in the ACC again?  With the talent we have coming back and Gregory's track record, I just don't see how the results are going to improve.

Next year will be a lost year

bigmacondawg
bigmacondawg

Stinks to be a Tech fan.  What else can you say?

TOJacket
TOJacket

@bigmacondawg I enjoy saying 30-24 mutt...............and a 2014 sweep and a good start on 2015.....LOL

SvenOttke
SvenOttke

@bigmacondawg You're a d bag?  Just throwing it out there.  That's something else you can say.


juvenal
juvenal

$port$ have been #1 about $$$$$$$$ for decades.......glad we're not wasting more on a secondary sport....Mark, did you see Seth Davis' 3/9/15 SI special report? i thot it wuz just us, but after i read that i won't watch CBK again......

DrTruth
DrTruth

OK...I'm up to speed now.  See that MB has posted parts of his story from this morning's paper where The Bobber specifically said the finances had been worked out to let Gregory go.  And Mark, in the electronic age where print reporting still exists, the absolute WORST way to release the decision that Gregory was retained was to leak it to ESPN...Regardless of who actually leaked the story.  What a JOKE!


And this quote from The Bobber in your Sports front page this morning is downright chilling:


"I jumped on both sides of the fence, " Bobinski said.


So not only does GT BB have a head coach who is blissfully unaware that he needs a 4 or 5-star guard or two to have a chance to compete in the ACC....But we also have an AD who made the decision to retain Gregory because:


1)  Gregory's Dayton team beat Bobinski's Xavier team 6 times in 21 tries back in the day


OR


2)  He flipped a coin and Gregory came up heads.


Bobinski said, "We had a miserable year" and he had the finances available to do something about it.  He also said, "There's no reason not to have a successful college basketball program."  Well, yes there is and you failed to fire him yesterday.

GT-UT
GT-UT

I think it is clear that Bobinski knows basketball and his track record shows it.  Just because you disagree here, don't turn that into dumb statements...like Bobinski is not a BBall fan or isn't aware of the gravity of the situation.

That said...I'm not a Gregory fan.  I'd like to think there is enough BBall IQ on staff to fix offense and get some flow to our game.  I just don't see it.  But Coach!  I went to two games last year...I'll go to three just to help out some more!  Start winning and I'll start to be a regular.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 Heard the same thing from Bobinski last year, thought coming from a non-football school as Xavier, he'd put more effort into our basketball program---do you think Homer Rice would have gave Dwayne Morrison one more year or go ahead and hire Bobby Cremins?

FineSwine
FineSwine

Doesn't really matter - with that talent level, we are looking at another losing record, maybe 3-4 conference wins and a bunch of empty seats at McCamish.


Guess M-Bob is not a basketball fan and is somewhat unaware of the program's history.....Oh well, he dressesnice, and seems to be able to speak in complete sentences.  I guess asking for basketball acumen may be a stretch.  As a GT grad all I can say is, Good Luck to GSU!!  I look forward to seeing your program develop over the next few years.  Great to have college basketball back in the ATL.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@FineSwine 

M-Bob has hired 3 MBB HC's in his career - Thad Matta. Sean Miller and Chris Mack.  He is a fan

Carl Elias
Carl Elias

@PaulinNH

By keeping Gregory, do you think that MBob thinks that Gregory is in the same class as the coaches you listed above?

If Gregory is not, then WHY keep him and hurt GT MBB while delaying the inevitable for Gregory?

TEB1
TEB1

I'm starting to think GT would be better off without an AD...The last three sadly have destroyed Tech basketball.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

@TEB1 , 100% agreement.  Homer Rice was the only one after Dodd that cared about basketball, that's why Cremins was hired.

GTBob
GTBob

As RamblinRed said, Bobinski was telling people Gregory was going to be fired weeks before the decision was to be made. Unfortunately, he couldn't find any donors willing to clean up the mess he made when he extended Gregory and inexplicably reupped his buyout. There is a reason that he waited until yesterday to "make a decision". It's because he couldn't raise the funds to do what he actually wanted to do and was left with no other choice.

mdet
mdet

Bobinski said last week on 680 the fan that he DID have to consider money when making his decision on BG.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@twelveofthirteen That's what I said when y'all gave CJP a 40% raise.................477 yardss and 32 first downs........lol

gt51
gt51

@twelveofthirteen you don't even know the correct numbers. 12 of 13?  most idiots know that uga didn't win 12 in a row.  so are you ignoring a win in the middle of the past 13, or ignoring the last win?  or are you just a uga homer troll who likes to pop off about things you know not?

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

@gt51 @twelveofthirteen  Wow, my handle really bothers you huh? Perfect. And by the way....no, I didn't change it when you lucked out and won in November. Before that it was 12 of 13 moron.