Mike Bobinski should have something to declare within days if not hours (or minutes). The Georgia Tech athletic director has maintained a resolute silence regarding Brian Gregory, saying he’d wait until the Yellow Jackets’ season ended. It ended Wednesday night, Tech losing to San Diego State — a tough team that’s really tough at home — by 16 points.
Confession: I’m not the greatest at reading Bobinski’s mind. I thought he’d fire Gregory a year ago. He did not. (Thought about it long and hard, however.) In a round-table briefing after the decision was made — we actually sat at a round table in Bobinski’s office — the AD told three media types he was looking for “clear signs of progress.” Then: “It’s not so much a number as a clear sign … and a belief in the future.”
There were clear signs of progress — on the court, in the here and now. Tech went 21-15 and 8-10 in the ACC after going 12-19 and 3-15. Tech was better than it had been in five years under Gregory. Nobody can dispute that. But then we come to the last bit: “A belief in the future.” That’s less clear.
Of the 56 points Tech scored against the Aztecs on Wednesday, 44 were by seniors. According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the Jackets were the third-most-seasoned team in the nation. That’s a bit misleading, given that four of Tech’s five seniors didn’t start their collegiate careers here. (Three played only one year.) But still: In a game that keeps skewing younger, the Jackets had guys who’d been around for a good long while.
That got them to the NIT, the first postseason tournament Tech had graced since 2010. That’s not nothing, either. Neither is it all that much. The NCAA is every team’s goal. There are no Shining Moments in the NIT. It’s a consolation prize. After five seasons, the best Gregory could do was the tournament nobody remembers. (Quick now: Who won the 2015 NIT?)
Back to M-Bob: His reluctance to say anything — other than that he didn’t want to say anything — is striking. There was no statement of congratulations at the ending of Tech’s postseason drought. Me, I’d take that as a powerful indication this AD wasn’t overly impressed by the NIT. But I’ve been wrong before.
In Gregory’s best season, Tech finished in an 11th-place tie in its 15-team conference. It beat Virginia and Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, yes, but the Jackets under Gregory had beaten some pretty fair teams in other seasons. They just hadn’t done it often. After five years, they’re 75-85 and 27-61 in ACC regular-season play.
Tech’s strong finish this season might have complicated the issue, but only slightly. To me, it remains a clear choice. Had Tech reached the NIT semis in New York, that might have been a sticking point. But it’s a moot point. The season is over. Time for Bobinski to decide.