Today marks the official beginning of the 2017 baseball season at Russ Chandler Stadium when the Jackets take on BYU this afternoon. There will be quite a few new faces on the field for head coach Danny Hall after a number of key contributors from last year’s team departed early for the MLB, including your new starting shortstop: Austin Wilhite. A top-300 prospect in the nation, Wilhite will attempt to fill the shoes of former shortstop Connor Justus, now of the Los Angeles Angels. It’s a tall order for a true freshman, but Tech will really need production from young players this season just as it has gotten in seasons past. First pitch is at 4:00 this evening.
NC State made a very surprising decision from a timing perspective yesterday afternoon, electing to fire head basketball coach Mark Gottfried after a disappointing season. Though we’ve seen midseason firings around the college basketball scene plenty of times before, they happen much less frequently in the ACC. There’s always speculation and general anger from disgruntled fans (think Brian Gregory from last season), but the decision to actually pull the plug in the middle of a year is rarely made at this level. What’s even more remarkable about the NC State situation is that Gottfried will continue to coach the team for the rest of the season despite being officially relieved of his duties. At any rate, it’s just another testament to how competitive the ACC really is. After all, Gottfried did lead NC State to four NCAA Tournaments over his six seasons of basketball.
According to CBS Sports, UGA is one of the college programs with the absolute most pressure to improve significantly in 2017. The premise of the article is that the windows to win for each of the mentioned programs is beginning to close, something that is nearly impossible to predict in college football, but the fact that UGA’s program needs to improve quickly to satisfy an increasingly restless fanbase is true. There are a million believers in Kirby Smart around this state, but I’m not one of them yet. For now I can’t help but be reminded of Al Golden when I look at what Georgia accomplished last season.