In my small town in eastern North Carolina there is no public pickup for yard refuse. One of my neighbors has a vacant lot in our subdivision and lets all of us pile our dead branches, trimmings and hedge clippings in a big fire ring in the clearing. Several times a year we pour some spent motor oil on old newspapers and shove them in amongst the debris. When we light the pile it takes a while for the fire to get going. It eventually does and, as the heat builds, the rising air sucks in more air, creating what we call our bonfire gale. It soon dies down unless we add more limbs to the blaze, but will glow for a while before going out completely.
That is what has happened to Georgia Tech basketball this winter. At least to us fans. All during the season we kept putting limbs on the pile. Finally, sometime after the Virginia game, we shoved a wad of oily newspapers under all those blog postings and forum comments and started a fire. It blazed hot through the final weeks of the season as we kept tossing more Brian Gregory criticisms into the hot flames. The gale continued to build while we lost track of why the wind was blowing. Some of us thought the "fire CBG" blaze would get hot enough to culminate in his dismissal. It didn't, and I think it's time to save some of the dead branches for the next bonfire.
Looking back on the smoldering coals, I think we should rethink the degree of our sometimes unkind words. Our record is 12-19, but could have easily been 22-9. Now, I am not forgiving CBG for his role in those losses, but somebody needs to get credit for us being about two possessions away from sweeping the ACC champion Fighting Irish. Somebody needs to get the credit for bringing in Cox and Mitchell and Heath to close the gap created when starters Robert Carter left Georgia Tech for Maryland, and Daniel Miller and Trae Golden graduated. Maybe CBG is the reason Carter left the program as some have suggested, but nothing was said by either one to support that idea. Somebody needs to get credit for bringing Tadric Jackson, Georgia's Mr. Basketball of 2014, to Georgia Tech and giving him a lot of minutes through what was a frustrating season for a young player. As the season ended though, Mr. Jackson was our go-to guy in the ACC Tournament. Somebody needs to get credit for developing him into that player.
Off the court, somebody needs to get credit for bringing the Georgia Tech academic reputation back to the point we all clearly want it to be. We have Dean's List students on this team. We have guys walking away from campus with degrees. That is what college athletics should be about. We did not have that when Brian Gregory arrived in Atlanta and it was creating problems for the team with the NCAA and with the administration.
I want us to win. None of you want it more than me. But I am going to find reasons to say positive things about this team. The decision has been made to keep Brian Gregory. Mike Bobinski was questioned critically as to why he made that decision and gave candid answers. Even if we disagree with the conclusion, those answers were reasonable and he is the one who will be held accountable to his bosses for the results.
Let's give this fire a chance to cool down. There is not much new we can say and it won't change anything. Except to make potential recruits think we fans are not behind the team we claim to love. I am a lifelong Tech fan. I will not pull for them to lose or for Gregory to do badly enough to be fired. What I want is for us to look back on this season and think only of how much better the shrubs look with all those dead limbs gone. I do not want to remember the bonfire or the gale that blew in all the vitriolic comments aimed at the good man in charge of our basketball team. And he certainly seems to be a good man. And he is our coach. Let's get behind him and pull for Tech basketball to win. Not for Brian Gregorgy's exit.