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Mailbag 12/22

What is your regular order at the Varsity?

food Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Agents J and K show up with the Neuralizer. What part of 2021 would you like blanked out and replaced with “a more than $1 Cambodian lobster dinner?” - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: Honestly, 2021 has been very good to me. I started a new job, met and asked my future wife to marry me, and got into grad school. I’m at a really good place in life right now, so I don’t think there’s anything I would want blanked out. Last year, on the other hand, yeah, wipe my mind of that.

Sammy: Let’s revisit this in a few weeks. I want to see how uga does in the CFP. I guess that will technically be 2022, but you get the point.

Chris: Yeah same as Ben, 2021 has been pretty good to me. Got married, good job, family is healthy, went on some good trips with friends, all things are good. I wouldn’t mind blocking off most of the football season though.

Carter: Yeah, 2021’s been pretty good to me too, football excluded. I got married, two of my best friends got married after a year long COVID delay, and two other best friends got engaged (and we all went to Denver to celebrate). So, the only parts I would like blanked out were the ones where Geoff Collins was involved.

Jake P.: I’ve got to agree with most of the guys here, 2021 was a pretty darn good year. I had personal success and really enjoyed my first semester of college. I think the only part I can really think of wanting blacked out is last weekend’s UNC vs. Kentucky basketball game. That was brutal.

Logan: Probably something that has nothing to do with the football team. My year has been pretty good... I’ll blank the time where I had to stay at work for multiple 16 hour shifts over the course of 3 or 4 weeks. I know those shifts are not abnormal for some, but I have a new job now so it should be abnormal for me going forward.

Jake: I graduated, but the last four to six weeks of the spring (basically everything after the basketball tournaments) was not awesome. But, other than that, being a working young professional has been a delight.

I’m not sure why, but I feel much better about the coaching hires below the coordinator level than I do about the coordinator level hire (and non hire, non demotion). What are your opinions on that and what does it say about the upper levels of the staff? - chilidogringsFO

Ben: I don’t know that I necessarily hate any of the hires, but I think they are all far from sure things. I’m particularly interested to see how he fills the final spot and what position they hold (technically all position/position groups are accounted for). As far as what it says of the upper levels of the staff, I think it’s saying that they are having to go after riskier guys that aren’t sure things and probably wouldn’t be looked at by bigger or more successful schools at this point in their career.

Sammy: I always struggle with expectations when it comes to stuff like this, then end up getting my heart broken, so I’m choosing to look inward, lower some expectations, and hope for the best. We lost Tashard, but Coach Daniels has a promising future, and despite some initial madness in the transfer portal, things appear to be going okay for the Jackets. Maybe that’s a sign that this new staff is focused despite a tough year. And it could be smoke, but Coach Collins acknowledging that we need “less branding, more coaching” is also a positive thing.

Chris: My thoughts on the hires are that they’re...fine? Not particularly flashy or exciting, but not bad either. Just kinda happened. Cynical me thinks you’re seeing the same thing that exists in other industries too: at a certain seniority level you’re given a lot of second chances and insulation from direct accountability and at lower levels you’re pretty expendable.

Carter: The new RBs coach intrigues me — his career seems to be on an upward trajectory. Everyone else? Eh.

Just how big of a setback is it for Collins if he gets fired after this season? Seems like he has a lot riding on this job. - GT Alum

Ben: I think it will be a while before Collins gets another shot as a head coach, especially considering how poor his defenses have been here. I could see him getting a Power 5 defensive coordinator job a la Manny Diaz to Penn State, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him drop to G5 or lower if he wants to take another head coaching job.

Sammy: I would imagine he’ll have a hard time finding another seven-figure gig, but coordinator salaries are pretty steep these days. He definitely hurt himself with the whole “over-promise, under-deliver” strategy.

Chris: If he gets fired this year I doubt he’ll get a P5 HC offer. I could see a lower level G5 offering him a HC position or a medium P5 offering him a DC position. Personally I don’t see how he hasn’t completely ruined his reputation as a top-level defensive coach, but a P5 that wants an injection of energy on the defensive side of the ball could certainly give him a shot at DC.

Jake P.: Collins won’t get a head coaching job at a D1 school for a few years I think. It’ll take a while to build his credibility back after he failed to “walk the talk” if he gets fired next year. He’ll probably go to “Saban’s School for Coaches Who Can’t Coach So Good” and end up at a comparable job to GT by 2026.

Carter: He’ll get another HC gig, but he’ll probably go back to being a P5 coordinator for a few years before that happens.

What is your usual order at the Varsity? - jabsterjacket

Ben: I couldn’t tell you the last time I went to the Varsity. I also don’t have any intentions of going anytime soon.

Sammy: A couple slaw dogs, onion rings, and a Coke. Maybe a PC if I’m feeling adventurous.

Chris: Nothing. Join me in the knowledge that the Varsity is super overrated and mostly just a tourism location.

Jake: Nothing. Turn around and go somewhere else. Chicago is where real hot dogs are found. If you must stay in Atlanta and want a hot dog, go visit Mike.

Jake P.: Anything with an FO and I’m happy. My stomach? Not really.

Logan: Slaw dog, Onion rings, Frozen O. It’s not as bad a place as people make it out to be, but I wouldn’t go out of my way just to go to the Varsity.

Sammy: Mike’s Hot Dogs are incredible...

Carter: “....and that right there is the Varsity. Been around forever. Fills up on SEC championship weekend. Anyway....”

Who takes a step forward for men’s Bball in the paint after the break? Or does Pastner try to run small ball for the year? - gtalbatross

Sammy: Devoe. Just kidding... sort of. I know he’s not a big man, but if Bubba is able to get healthy, I think we can use Jordan and Khalid down low more frequently. That’s still small ball, but right now I just don’t see Rodney and Saba taking massive steps forward. I would love to be proven wrong.

Jake: I agree with Sammy. Bubba coming back seems to “unclog” the offense down low. Or, Miles Kelly finally finding his shot. He’s been so very close all year.

Logan: The one I want to see is Rodney. Rodney is pretty strong on defense, if he can improve on offense he could be a force. I don’t know what he would need to do to improve though.

Gibbs Tranferring to Alabama. What is at least he didn’t go to u(sic)ga? - Partywaggin

Ben: Well, the guy wants to win, and he went to a great place to do just that. Best of luck to him.

Jake P.: He’ll do well at Alabama. And, I’m happy for him. A man with his level of talent doesn’t deserve to have it wasted.

Logan: I don’t know how much play he’ll get there next year, hopefully he will see plenty down the line though. best of luck to him.

Jake: It’s bittersweet. Wish him the best (and to go undefeated against the folks from Athens).

Sammy: I have a couple friends from Tech that grew up ‘Bama fans, and they are happy. On the other hand, I told a different ‘Bama friend of mine about the news, and his response was, “Who?” So that’s annoying. You’re right though. THWg.

Carter: Between this and having several very close friends who are Tide alums, I’m basically about to be dyed in crimson.

How long do you see Andy Demetra do Tech radio? Do you like him? Could he be the next Al Ciraldo and/or Wes Durham when you think Tech radio? - Neal Royal

Ben: I certainly see Andy being the guy for the foreseeable future. I don’t always listen to the radio call, but he and Sean do a great job with the radio call.

Carter: I like Demetra, but no one is Wes Durham. Full stop.

Jake: I love Andy. I think he likes Tech a lot, and the fact that he jumped here from South Carolina after being there a while shows that he was probably made the jump expecting to be here a while, too. I would be delighted if he had that longevity, he certainly makes for delightful listening.

When will it be appropriate to give Coach Long the nickname Coach Third and Long? - YankeeJacket

Ben: I’ll wait to see how he does before I start considering any kind of nicknames.

Jake: Hopefully never?


Do you think D. Smith will become the featured RB? Or will Griffin take over that role? - GT Guy

Ben: I don’t know that there will be a featured guy. I think Tech will run it fully by committee and you will see Tech pass the ball a little more.

Jake: I would expect more passing, as well. Smith is extremely talented, and I think he will take the most of what is likely an increased spotlight.

Sammy: Smith : Gibbs :: Griffin : Mason. I hope that makes sense.

Hope all is well guys,

I’m having a fun week going into the holidays. Hope you are too. My question this week is what is a good holiday tradition you do with your family? Decorating the tree, making certain recipes, playing white elephant, hanging the stockings... whatever you do what is it and do you recommend it to others?

Have a Merry Christmas guys!

Santa’s Little Helper (submitted via email)

Ben: My family used to go to IHOP after the Christmas Eve service at our church every year, at least until one year we ended up being there for several hours. It turns out, management at that IHOP had informed staff they would be closing early that day. Christmas Eve comes around, however, and management told them that they were going to be open for their regular hours. Needless to say, the staff was not too pleased. So now, we typically get Chinese food for lunch and then have dinner at home. We also used to go see the new Star Wars movie on Christmas, but I don’t know if we haven’t been able to do that every year since there isn’t a new Star Wars movie every year.

Sammy: I have extended family that owns one of those self-playing pianos where the keys go down and everything. Regardless, someone always sits down and acts like they’re playing it as everyone else gathers around and sings. It’s actually pretty fun. Oh... and food.

Chris: We don’t really have like one big thing to point to, but my family is very particular about the ordering of events on Christmas Day. Stockings are opened first, then gifts from Santa, then a cinnamon roll breakfast, then gifts from family. If anyone suggests a deviation from this plan (whether it be timing-based or a different breakfast food) they immediately get hit with a firm “absolutely not, that’s not how we do things”. It’s a dumb little thing that’s completely meaningless, but we’ve been doing it the exact same way since I was a little kid and I love that.

Jake P.: My favorite family tradition is going to my grandparents’ house after our church’s Christmas Eve services and eating sandwiches. Not fancy sandwiches, ham and cheese and whatnot. We open gifts from them and enjoy seeing the lavish gifts my dad receives from them while my mom typically gets a piece of jewelry that isn’t her favorite (it’s her parents giving the gifts). Always an exciting and happy time.

Logan: We would make Swedish pancakes each Christmas morning and search for “The Pickle” (a pickle ornament that is hidden in the tree, I think its some kind of German Tradition but I don’t know for sure). Whoever found the pickle got $5 (don’t want to brag but I kind of dominated the event... my parents paid me to pretend I couldn’t find it one year so my sibling could get it). Then we would open our presents and call family members who couldn’t be with us in person that year. Nothing huge, but it is a fun time each year.

Jake: I moved below Logan to say we do the pickle ornament, too! Never heard of anyone else that did it, but the winner in my house would get a crisp dollar. Except, rather than it be in our house, we would have to drive to my grandparents (where the pickle was located) on Christmas morning. In our house, my parents would host my mom’s side of the family (entrée is ham - my favorite) for Christmas Eve while Christmas Day was in Central Illinois with my dad’s family growing up.