Georgia Tech fires Brian Gregory: It’s the right move

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory shouts to his team during the first half of against San Diego State in an NCAA college basketball game in the men's NIT on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Brian Gregory during his last game as Georgia Tech’s coach. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

It wasn’t this season that got Brian Gregory fired. It was that this season was a culmination of, not to be cruel, not very much. He took the nation’s third-most-seasoned team (according to Ken Pomeroy’s data) and tied for 11th in a 15-team conference. He took Georgia Tech to the third round of a tournament where nobody remembers even the winner. If this was his best, it wasn’t good enough.

Not many coaches would have gotten a fifth season after the first four Gregory had, but Mike Bobinski stayed his hand. Even then, it was clear the athletic director was struggling with the choice. He was hoping against hope. His hope of a better season was rewarded: Tech went 21-15 after 12-19. His hope of a breakthrough was not.

I’ve used this example before, but here it is again: Virginia Tech went 2-16 in ACC play last season — worse than Georgia Tech’s 3-15 — and saw leading scorer Adam Smith transfer to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech went 10-8 in ACC play and beat the Jackets in McCamish Pavilion; Georgia Tech went 8-10. Buzz Williams is a good coach. Gregory is a mediocre coach.

I’m sorry. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s what I came to believe. Had he not waited so long to move Marcus Georges-Hunt to point guard, Tech might have made the NCAA tournament. Had he not been almost totally reliant on transfers, the Jackets might have built something more than a nice run at the end of a fifth season. But the ACC had grown, and the ACC had gotten too good for him.

After a narrow loss to Louisville on Jan. 23, Gregory sought to play the pity card, mentioning how difficult his team’s early conference schedule had been. And it had been hard, no question. But this had become the job — taking on not just Coach K and Ol’ Roy and Tony Bennett but Pitino and Boeheim and Brey, too. If Gregory wasn’t up to the task, he needed to move on.

After a victory over Pittsburgh on March 5, Gregory again sounded a discordant note. He used the word “satisfied,” which almost no coach who hasn’t just won the NCAA title ever does. Again we note: A closing flurry had enabled his Jackets to finish 11th. Who’s satisfied with 11th place?

Credit Gregory’s team for not giving up on this season, but we shouldn’t ascribe too much to that. With few exceptions — LSU of recent vintage comes to mind — college teams always play hard. (That’s why it’s called “the old college try.”) For Tech’s five seniors, four of them transfers and none a lock to be drafted by an NBA team, this was a final fling. They won eight of their final 11. They looked like a pretty good team.

But next season would have meant starting over with almost assuredly a lame-duck coach, and a half-dozen of the top 100 recruits for 2017 hail from Georgia. The Jackets could not punt on that class, and they haven’t This was the right move maybe a year too late, but better late than never. And now we’ll see if Bobinski can convince the right guy to come coach Georgia Tech.

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
Philip Brown
Philip Brown

Another sacrificial coaching lamb. Bobby Cremins is NOT coming back.

Chris Freeman
Chris Freeman

I really genuinely like Coach Brian Gregory. He came into a mess and was always upbeat, never once complained, was always approachable and welcoming, and you could tell his players loved and respected him. Unfortunately, it just didn't translate into wins and he wasn't able to bring in the local talent that he needed to compete in the best conference in college basketball. I wish him well and know he will land on his feet somewhere great. Good luck to you Coach!

Ed Hallman
Ed Hallman

Sports freaks, go figure. Anything to keep from facing reality.

Flyer in  ATl
Flyer in ATl

I can speak for the entire Dayton Flyer Nation, thank you GA Tech, thank you, thank you, thank you.!!!

Steverino
Steverino

Dayton Flyer Nation. Now THAT'S funny.

DrTruth
DrTruth

Still trying to wrap my head around GT having the dubious distinction of paying THREE basketball head coaches....Two of them not to coach and one to coach.  I'm sure that's some kind of infamous all-time record.

19palmer49
19palmer49

Of course you would say that. You see your self as the Woodward and Bernstein of Sports. I have ask 5 times . Give us your credentials. You are I suspect a wannabe sissy boy who has done nothing. Please fire this loser

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Brian Gregory - good guy, mediocre coach.  It was time to make a move.

Domhob
Domhob

Well Bark Madly, you succeeded in getting another coach fired.  Be it college or pro, that is always your prime objective.  Next...

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Domhob

So keeping losers as coaches is your prime objective?

Not something I'd be bragging about in a public forum.

Jm73
Jm73

Bradley makes waves rabble rousing. Pretty sad that his job is to regularly call for jobs. I get that BG didn't do much. But a consistent call for coaches' jobs day in and day out is ridiculous.

RunnerKirk
RunnerKirk

@Jm73 Maybe if we had better coaches, he wouldn't have to do it.  :)  If you had been the AD, and your realistic choices were firing BG or extending his contract (so it wouldn't kill recruiting)--which would you have done?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Jm73

Hell, half the fans are screaming for the AJC columnists to show some guts and point out the flaws in local coaching.

The other half are like you.

RunnerKirk
RunnerKirk

@Domhob So you think the AD makes his decisions based on what Mark writes, so Mark is really the AD, and Bobinski just a puppet? How about a couple of numbers that are a heck of a lot closer to the real reason:  27 wins and 61 losses in ACC play.

DrTruth
DrTruth

Big name, BIG SPLASH......Otherwise this firing was just a waste.


At this point I'd welcome Rick Pitino, hookers & all....If he can somehow escape that 10 yr, $50 Million contract.  I'm just tired of frickin' LOSING!

DrTruth
DrTruth

@AnsweredTHIS  "One plausible scenario would have Pitino and his good friend, AD Tom Jurich, reaching a mutual understanding that it's all over at Louisville, and that when it comes to sex scandals in college sports, it's two strikes and you're out (we'll get to the first strike in a bit). Pitino and Jurich would have to figure out what to do with the 10 years and reported $50 million left on the coach's contract, but it's worth remembering Pitino walked away from the $23 million left on his Boston Celtics deal before taking the Louisville job.  He doesn't need the money, and maybe he doesn't need the aggravation, either."


Just sayin'.....

xaqmatthews
xaqmatthews

Given financial constraints, could you see GT going after D2 coaches like Jim Crutchfield? He comes to mind because his teams have been fun to watch -- lots of 100+ point games, but it seems like he's the kind of guy that could have relative success with average recruiting and low cost.

ryder54
ryder54

@xaqmatthews I agree.  Entertaining teams will fill arenas.  And attendance has been a problem no one has addressed.  And in spite of a 20 win season the Jackets couldn't come close to filling the home arena.