Never let it be said that at Hey Jenny Slater we don't love our enemies. Republicans? SUV drivers? Georgia Tech fans? Hell, we gots nothin' but love for 'em, cousin! Especially the Techies. In fact, we went so far as to break virtual Internet bread with one last November in advance of the big Georgia-Georgia Tech tilt, just to give the non-Clean-Old-Fashioned-Hate-initiated amongst you a chance to see what makes Georgia fans and Techies so different.
With meaningful football now over with until August or so, us addicts have resorted to talking recruiting and making wild-ass, off-the-cuff predictions about next season just to tide us over -- it's pretty much the equivalent of an alcoholic raiding the pantry and drinking all the vanilla extract. But it's fun! And what better way to share the love than with a Tech fan? Please welcome Dan, purveyor of the blog What's the Good Word and self-confessed Tech fan, who was kind enough to join in on a sort-of-roundtable about recruiting, prospects for 2006, and of course all the things that make the Bulldog-Yellow Jacket rivalry so unique. Dan sent me his questions, I sent him mine, we answered 'em, and posted them for your consideration (my answers to his questions are posted here). (Nathan from Golden Tornado, who participated in the November Q&A, may follow in a little bit.)
As a side note, Dan is, like myself, a former resident of the teeming metropolis of Columbus, Georgia. We didn't go to the same high school, though -- I went to Hardaway, he went to Brookstone, Columbus's biggest private school. When I found that out, I had to feel flattered that he would take time out of his busy schedule reading The Robb Report and beating his servants to respond to my inquiries. (OK, I had to make one joke.) All right, enough! On with the questions:
1. Without feeling compelled to compare yourselves to the typical SEC fan -- who, for better or worse, follows pretty much everything football-related to a degree bordering on rabid obsession -- how closely does the typical Georgia Tech fan follow recruiting? Is it a bigger or smaller deal now than when Ross and/or O'Leary were coaching?
This question alone makes it worthwhile that I participated in this roundtable. I personally hardly follow football recruiting at all. Basketball recruiting is another matter, but I really only check in on football recruiting on signing day and see how we did.
As for the average Tech fan, I would say the online contingent follows it rather closely. Being somewhat numbers-based, they flock like flies to shit for this stuff. I would say they are still less fanatic than, say, those folks that were using flight records to figure out who coaches were potentially visiting. We're obsessed, not psychotic.
In the matter of People vs. So-Called Recruiting Experts Who Think They're So Smart But Don't Really Know Shit, we respectfully submit Calvin Johnson as People's Exhibit Q . . .
2. As has been said many times, recruiting rankings don't necessarily mean squat when the players actually strap on the pads and take the field -- Calvin Johnson, who certainly wasn't pegged as an automatic superstar when Tech snagged him in 2004, being a prime example. So what's your reaction to the general consensus among sportswriters and so-called recruiting "experts" that Tech signed kind of a supermarket-brand recruiting class in 2006?
I tend to think they have some points, but at the same time with probation and scholarship limits we probably did about as well as we could. I firmly believe we have some 3-stars in [Demaryius] Thomas and [Jamaal] Evans that could contribute a lot more than expected early on. And we do seem to have a solid track record of diamond-in-the-rough-type players. James Johnson, for, instance was a 2-star player and I think he will be our entrenched #2 receiver next year. As well as a larger big-play threat than Bilbo was.
So I guess my consensus is that on paper they might be right, but I don't judge a class until we start getting some legitimate on-the-field performances. I see a good number of redshirts in that class. So it will be at least 2-3 years before we'll know who is right.
3. Since Chan Gailey shocked pretty much the entire country -- the Georgia Tech fan base not least among them -- by going down to the Orange Bowl and knocking off Miami, he has lost again to Georgia (albeit in a very close game), gotten embarrassed by Utah in the Emerald Bowl, and lost arguably his biggest and most important supporter in Tech AD Dave Braine. On Signing Day, he made some off-the-cuff comments about not really being concerned with the fan base's reaction to his latest recruiting class that, if I read you guys correctly, didn't sit too well with Jacket Nation. Assuming that Tech's next AD is a "neutral party" regarding Gailey -- in other words, a Tech "outsider" without Braine's sense of obligation and/or loyalty to Chan -- what are the chances that the new AD shows Gailey the door if the Jackets go 6-6 in '06? Or to look at it a different way, what circumstances do you think there would have to be before the administration would be willing to fire Gailey and eat the remaining years on his contract extension?
I don't think Chan's leaving in '06. Not with the new extension, but I think if he goes 6-6 next year, the offense sputters yet again, Reggie shows little to no improvement yet again, and he remains obstinate about hiring a real OC for '07 then he better get his resume in order. Chan has been his own worst enemy in his years with his headstrong refusal to get a real OC out there and his insistence on playing a guy that's possibly an NFL DB as his quarterback.
The biggest issue for the next 1-2 years is how competitive we are in games against teams better than us, whether or not we drop a game to a team worse than us, and if we have yet another inexplicable performance a la the Emerald Bowl this year, UNC last year, and Duke the year before that. Sometimes a good team loses to a bad team, but we've been a supposedly good team that gets our ass handed to us by a bad team at least once a year. (And I don?t care what anybody says, this year's Utah team was a BAD team.) Then again, we're interviewing the dumbass AD from Missouri, so maybe we'll finally have all three stooges in place for next year.
4. In 2004, Georgia beat Georgia Tech by only six points, and while it was a close game for a while, as a Georgia fan I never really felt like the Bulldogs were in serious danger of losing. Last year, Georgia's margin of victory was slightly greater (seven points), yet I was on edge for nearly the entire game and refused to breathe a sigh of relief until the final kneeldown. What were your reactions to the '05 game, and how do you feel Tech has narrowed the gap versus UGA since the blowout in 2002?
The blowout in '02 was about preparation, so I never felt the gap was as big on the field as it appeared between the two teams. The truth was that Richt had his team ready to play a rivalry game and Gailey didn't. Which once again touches on my biggest complaint of the Chan Gailey era, the lack of mental preparation from the head coach.
Even though the score was smaller, I always felt the '03 game showed a much larger gap in talent between both teams. We played fairly well in that game and just got pushed around the field by a larger, stronger, and more talented team.
As for the '05 game, I really felt we had a shot to win that one and just came up a little bit short. Some of it was on-the-field performance -- Reggie lost his head yet again in a big game. Some of it was coaching again -- I just looked at the stats and we had 3 different players average over 4 yards rushing on the day, but with no touchdowns. And some of it was just some credit needing to be given to UGA for stepping up and making plays when they needed to. I was upset at the end of the game, but I never felt like we gave up ('02), got dominated ('03), or missed a chance to steal a game we should have lost badly ('04).
You can't really see the scoreboard behind Michael Johnson, but it says Georgia 51, Georgia Tech 7. Don't listen to Dan -- that was a fun night.
5. It's no real secret that, based on his lack of success against the Bulldogs, most Georgia fans would be perfectly happy to see Chan Gailey stay at Tech forever. On some message boards at the AJC and other places there's even an unofficial group of Georgia folks calling themselves the "fans of Chan." Does this bother you as a Tech fan, or does it pretty much roll right off your back?
I worry much more about what our own fans say than what opposing fans say. In reality, I don't care much about anybody else?s opinion but my own. Let's just say I don't hold very high expectations for humanity in general. I do however appreciate a good sense of humor (the reason I like Paul Westerdawg and JeromeFromDecatur so much). I think opposing fans with a good sense of humor do a lot to keep your own fans honest in terms of expectations. Of course the college football world is filled with about a half-million Rodney Farvas that think they are the next Henny Youngman. So I?m not bothered by ?the jokes,? just how really fucking stupid most of them are.
6. At least from what I've been able to ascertain, Tech's losses to graduation this year aren't going to be debilitating, and they should bring a reasonably experienced squad to the table in 2006. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will have to recover from the Marcus Vick turmoil and break in a new QB, Virginia will also be very green at QB and at some of the other skill positions, Miami has some major soul-searching (and assistant-coach-searching) to do, and North Carolina and Duke . . . are, well, North Carolina and Duke. So what do you think are Tech's real prospects for winning a division title in the ACC this season -- and what are their prospects for finally knocking off the Dawgs?
I think a division title is a possibility for next year's team, but a lot will revolve around QB play and if the offensive line grew enough for us to go back to being a primarily run-first team. I gripe a lot about the playcalling, but it was never that we were vanilla-looking. If vanilla wins games then I am perfectly happy. What I couldn't stand was going into lead-protection offense with 15 minutes left in the game and a 3-point lead. How we mix being aggressive with being smart and whether or not we stick with our QB's strengths will be a big deciding factor in how we do in the ACC next year.
As for the UGA question, I think next year might really be our shot for a while. With the sanctions we're going to have a definitive gap built over the next 3 years, so we need to catch you while we're a fairly veteran squad and you're busy truly having to break in a new QB. I don't count D.J. as a new QB since he received so many snaps over his career. In my opinion it's a good year for you guys and a bad year for us for this game to be in Athens. That might do a lot to close the gap. How we look over the course of the season will do a lot to determine my opinion going into this game as well.
Gailey says you will run it up the middle and f$#!ing like it!