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Mailbag 6/5

We talked about basketball, a whole lot of baseball, and naturally, food

George Washington v Memphis Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Do you see Coach Pastner getting fired if we have another crappy season? And if not this year, how much longer will he be here?

Ben: The biggest reason I don’t see Pastner getting fired this year is because Georgia Tech cannot afford another coaching search right now. They just spent a lot of money on hiring Geoff Collins and his staff. I wouldn’t expect a move before AI2020 is completely funded.

Drew: I disagree with Ben. This team has a shot at the tournament with a little luck and some big player improvements. The recruiting is a serious concern and it’s hard to see him getting a strong class if this team doesn’t improve this year. If he has a bad year he has to go.

Carter: Pastner should coach every game in corpse paint.

Who should we get to replace Danny Hall?

Ben: Bill took care of this in the comments: James Ramsay. He did absolute wonders with the Tech hitters this season. I also think he could have a similar effect that Collins had on the football team in terms of embracing a new culture. Just gotta keep him around long enough.

Akshay: Ramsey, full stop. The improvement that this team made at this plate between 2018 and 2019 is honestly incredible, and even more impressively, there was no hangover after losing both Joey Bart and Wade Bailey. Like the football team with Collins, it seems like the baseball team is having a lot more fun with Ramsey on the staff, and as a fan, that’s awesome to see.

I’m not a baseball fan, so I have never really followed Tech baseball even during my time there as a student. So can you explain to me what Danny Hall ball is?

Ben: Again, this one was explained in the comments. Essentially, it’s an overcommitment to small ball that features having your best hitters wasting their at-bats to bunt the baserunners over.

Akshay: #BuntForPower. Does that make sense? No? That's the point.

Nishant: Don’t forget the part about mismanaging the pitching staff in the postseason. I don’t even think his decision to stick with Thomas in the Auburn game was terrible, but... let’s just say there is a lot of history here.

Why is Danny Hall still coach? It’s one thing to make the CWS and lose, but it’s been 13 years since we have even been to a super regional.

Ben: I’m going to make a comparison here, and I want y’all to come along with me on this journey. Danny Hall is college baseball’s version of Mark Richt. He’s a fine coach and a good recruiter, but has an inability to have success at a national level. Hall can’t seem to make it past a super regional (especially lately), and Richt had a knack of never being able to win the big game.

Akshay: Historically, Tech’s baseball team has been one of its most consistently successful programs, and Hall has been a pretty important part of that success. He hasn’t been perfect, but with a general financial malaise hanging over the Athletic Association for the last 15ish years, it wasn’t necessarily been feasible to fire him, pay a buyout, and pay for a new coach and staff. After an up-and-down last few years, I figured Hall’s performance in 2019 would be really telling of his status with the head honchos over at Edge, and following from that, I feel like this year has bought him the right to retire on his own terms.

Which 2020 recruit do you see favoring and committing to Tech in the next couple of months? Do you foresee Collins landing some four star recruits for the 2020 class?

Ben: When it comes to 17-year-old kids, it’s pretty much a crapshoot on trying to predict folks. If I could pick someone to be Tech’s next commit, it would be Warner Robins LB Wesley Steiner. Go watch his film, it’s fun.

Akshay: All of the five-stars committed to other schools will see the errors of their ways and flip to us. It’s only a matter of time.

Which ex-coaches, if any, are we still paying for? Have we finally paid off Hewitt?

Ben: From what I can tell, the only staff that is still being paid is the remainder of the football staff from last year. I’m not sure how much is still owed to them. As far as I know, though, Josh Pastner is now the only men’s head coach that Georgia Tech is paying.

Akshay: None. Pretty sure Hewitt came off the books in April.

Carter: Paul Hewitt is finally officially no longer Georgia Tech’s problem. Feels good, don’t it?

Nishant: I’ve read Hewitt’s contract, including the section on the buyout, and yet some part of me is still afraid that the buyout secretly carries a rollover clause and we’ll be stuck with it forever.

As CGC is trying to build Tech as the Atlanta brand, how does GT hoops rebuild as THE spot for Atlanta area basketball recruits?

Ben: The basketball coach, whether it’s Pastner or not, needs to follow the example that Collins has set with the football team.

Drew: This is a hard one. Basketball in general has much less hold over Georgia than football. Obviously winning would be the best answer and I think any real success would bring the disappointed fans back. I do think that Collins’ effort to tie GT to Atlanta will help the basketball team by boosting the entire brand. Georgia recruits can stay in Georgia. Just look to Cremins or right now with Crean.

Chris: I think attaching to the Atlanta brand is huge. The one thing I’d call out is making Tech games a place that people of importance in the city attend. Get local rappers and celebrities to think it’s cool to come to games. If I had any power I’d make sure that Quavo was at every game and that it was Instagrammed all over the place.

X Wing, Y Wing, or TIE Fighter? Pick your weapon.

Ben: Alright, now you guys are speaking my language. If these are my options, I’ll take the X-Wing, but I wouldn’t take any of the three. The X-Wing is fine, but I think there’s a better option. If you haven’t watched Star Wars: Rebels, I would highly recommend it. Anyway, in the show, Grand Admiral Thrawn presents designs for a new kind of TIE fighter: the TIE/D Defender.

The TIE Defender can cause havoc. Unlike the normal TIE fighters, this sported a fully functional hyperdrive and deflector shields. Thrawn had it designed as an alternative to Project Stardust, aka The Death Star.

“If they’re actually building these in numbers, our pilots won’t stand a chance.”

”And neither will the Rebellion.”

Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus

Carter: I cannot tell you how many hours of my childhood I sunk into Rogue Squadron and its sequel. I flew the A-wing every opportunity I could, so even though that wasn’t one of the options, it’s my answer.

Akshay: TIE fighter all day - it’s so incredibly fun to fly in the newer Star Wars Battlefront games.

Nishant: Regarding Carter’s answer, I never got to play the Rogue Squadron games but did read the entire series, and the A-Wing pilots would never shut up about how fast their fighters were. So while I tend to prefer faster fighters, give me the X-Wing’s better armament and (if memory serves) better shields.

Will this be the first (and only) Mailbag without any reference to food?

Ben: Heh, yeah right.

Carter: In your dreams.

Drew: Waffle House waffles are terrible: It should be called Hash Brown House. Also hash browns all the way should come with both chili and gravy, otherwise it’s not actually all the way.

Akshay: L O L.

Chris: I literally only decided to answer these questions because I saw a chance to talk about food (spoiler for 3 questions from now).

It seems like our defensive backfield is our most solid position group, yet we continue to recruit DB’s and our best 2020 recruit is a DB. Shouldn’t we be focusing on other position groups of need (OL, DT, WR, etc)?

Ben: I completely agree. That’s part of why I’m not totally upset about Rashad Battle committing to Maryland. It’s still early, so there is time to get guys for the trenches. There’s just a lot of competition for those guys since every team always needs those guys in the trenches.

Chris: I don’t profess to know much of anything, but I think in general DBs tend to be some of the most broadly athletic players on the team. If I had to guess, I’d say that CGC is doing with DBs what CPJ did with QBs: get a bunch of ‘em and find a place that fits their skill set. That being said, any good line players would be much appreciated.

Akshay: Like Chris said, it seems like high school DBs tend to be more ATH than DB and can be easily converted to other skill positions. Wonder where some of them will end up on the depth chart.

Nishant: There were a bunch of good WRs in the 2019 class, so I’m not super worried about that position. But I definitely share your concerns about the lines. The OL in particular needs to be a huge focus for this class; two tackle commits is a good start, but Collins has ground to make up after signing zero offensive linemen in last year’s class and losing a couple more this offseason.

Do Atlanta sports teams have the worst playoff record of every major city in America?

Ben: Probably.

Akshay: I’ve been meaning to crunch the numbers on this (cause I’m a masochist), but in truth, I don’t think Atlanta has it all that bad if you’re going purely by record (however — if you’re going by number of’s a different story). The strength of the Braves in the 90s and competitive Hawks playoff teams in the 80s and 90s should pad the record quite a bit. Yes, they almost always couldn’t finish the job, but they won a lot of postseason games before getting eliminated (usually in some heartbreaking, soul-crushing way).

Carter: I fail to understand the question; an Atlanta team literally won a championship six months ago.

Nishant: Washington is probably up there too. Say what you will about the Braves’ repeated choke jobs during their lengthy NL East reign, but at least they won a playoff series from time to time.

Best BBQ?

Ben: I’m a Fox Bros. guy myself. Get the brisket with white sauce and tater tots.

Chris: Southern Soul, St. Simons Island, GA. Pig sandwich, fried green beans. Make the trip.

Carter: Heirloom Market. If the Hogfather is the day’s special, get that.

Best wings?

Chris: The Local. The sun-dried tomato dry-rub is my favorite, but I’ve never tried a flavor I didn’t love. Get a side of tots and a nice local beer.

Carter: People don’t talk about Torched Hop’s wings, but they’re just as good as their beer. Get the Super Fresh.

Best burger?

Ben: Specifically in Atlanta, I would say Vortex. There’s a place out in Athens, though, called Brett’s Casual American that also has great burgers and is my normal go-to.

Carter: I really wanted to say something other than the Vortex, but it’s the first place in Atlanta I think of when I think of burgers. So there you go.

Best pizza?

Chris: Grant Central Pizza and Pasta (the one on Cherokee). Sit by the window. This might actually be my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. Have y’all ever felt comfortable and at-home at a particular restaurant? That’s Grant Central for me.

Carter: I don’t know if I really think it’s the best, but the place that I keep coming back to is Da Vinci’s.

Best steak?

Ben: Give me the garlic steak at Chama Gaucha, a Brazilian steakhouse in Buckhead. chef’s kiss

Best breakfast/brunch?

Ben: I don’t know that I can pick just one. Obviously, Waffle House is great, but there are better places. If I had to pick one, I would say Five Daughters Bakery. I’ve been to the one in Nashville, but there’s also one in Atlanta. Go get a 100-layer donut.

Chris: Gato. I’m legitimately upset I didn’t find out about this place until I moved away from Atlanta.

Carter: Ladybird has a killer brunch menu, but if you’re willing to venture out a little bit you should check out Peach & Porkchop in Roswell.

Best late night food?

Ben: Waffle House, always.

Akshay: Waffle House and Cookout are both up there, but a wise older student once told me that all good nights end with 2am Waffle House. I’ve never found a reason to disagree with that.

Nishant: There are no Waffle Houses in California. Never ever take that place for granted.

Carter: The last late night meal I had was at the Tech Square Waffle House. The obvious choice is the correct one.

Best overall?

Ben: Oh geez, this is a hard one. I don’t live in Atlanta, so I’ll just echo the other places I’ve already mentioned.

Chris: I hate choosing just one, but there’s one place that didn’t fit into the categories above: Cypress Street Pint and Place. Cypress played a big role in my college years, and it is one of the places I miss most now that I’m no longer in Atlanta. The food is fantastic (would be remiss if I didn’t specifically call out the buffalo chicken sandwich and the brunch chicken biscuit), the beer selection is always great, and the atmosphere is top notch (especially when it’s nice outside and you can sit on the patio). When people ask me for Atlanta recommendations, Cypress is always on my short list.

Drew: I was just in Atlanta for a visit this weekend and there was absolutely one place I had to go. Desta in Brookhaven makes incredible Ethiopian food. Go with three people, get the meat platter and vegan platter with injera. Use your hands and enjoy!

Akshay: Echoing Chris’s thoughts here — Cypress will always hold a place in my heart when I move away.

Nishant: The question doesn’t specifically say Atlanta, so... if any of you find yourselves in LA, Shin-Sen-Gumi is the best ramen joint and Guisados has the most delicious tacos in town. Note that Guisados is pricey compared to street tacos, so if you just want cheap and delicious tacos, pick any street vendor at random—the sketchier the better. (As for Atlanta, I always had a soft spot for Fellini’s.)

Carter: Oh man, I don’t even know where to start. I went to Gun Show recently and it’s definitely the best place I’ve been to in a while. It’s not cheap, but it is incredible.

Any word on how Tech did with the recruits visiting campus over Memorial Day weekend? And are there any recruits close to committing?

Ben: Like I said earlier, with 17-year-old kids, it’s essentially a crapshoot. As of now, I trust that the coaching staff knows what they’re doing and made sure the kids had a good time. I know at one point commit Miles Brooks put out a tweet about getting another commit.

I haven’t seen anything else, Miles might have jumped the gun on this one. Hopefully, we’ll get some news on this soon.