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Mailbag 1/19

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Who’s your outlandish ACC Champion prediction for next year?

Maryland v Wake Forest Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Way-Too-Early ACC Division Winners? Just curious what everyone’s picks are for the ACC division winners next season. They can be outlandish or reasonable, or you can do both. It’s the ACC and chaos is the only thing we can count on. - Frodo Swagginz

Ben: I think it might be outlandish and reasonable to say Clemson will win the ACC next year. Even in a “down year,” Dabo’s squad won 10 games. Sure, they lost Venables, but Clemson is a machine. I fully expect them to get the offense figured out and be right back in the thick of things. For a more outlandish pick, let’s have some fun and say Wake Forest has a miracle season.

Logan: Clemson is the only team that is reloading on talent from last year. If you want me to pick a team that isn’t Clemson... Pitt loses Kenny Pickett, but picked up USC transfer Kedon Slovis. I think Pitt should at least be in the ACC Championship again next year unless new Head Coach Mario Cristobal immediately delivers at Miami.

Chris: I think I agree with Clemson and Pitt.

Jake: Picking Miami is a dangerous game that I have no interest in playing. Clemson and Pitt it is.

Sammy: NC State and Pitt. Clemson will probably win the Atlantic, but let’s shake things up again. I could see FSU and Miami finishing pretty high in their respective divisions.

Pastner talks a lot about Georgia Tech needing to “get old and stay old” – however, at least this year, we have a lot of young guys getting significant playing time. What are y’all’s thoughts on the development of the young players on our basketball team and who do you think has the brightest future for us? - EducationalEngineer

Jake: I don’t think the young guys are playing enough, or at least with enough consistency. Coleman and Kelly are so close, but not quite there yet. I’m most excited about the two of them.

Logan: Deebo Coleman is the obvious answer on offense. He hasn’t spent as much time on the court as some people would like, but his shooting percentages speak for him. I also like Tristan Maxwell, since he seems to bring a spark when he plays, but I haven’t seen enough of him to get as excited. Jordan Meka also speaks to me as someone who likes good rebounding, but definitely needs to work on scoring if he wants regular play time.

Sammy: It worked with Jose and Moses. Moses was a tennis player in high school, then tried basketball, and then became the POY in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. Yes, it was a down year, but still... Deivon Smith, Deebo Coleman, and Tristan Maxwell have already proven they can contribute this year, but long-term I am excited to see Miles Kelly develop.

Pastner has been speaking about get old stay old for 5 years. What’s preventing him from achieving this goal???? It hasn’t happened in 5 years. - Rbissman

Logan: When kids have a good year like last year its hard to get them to stay. Realistically Alvarado and Wright were probably better off staying since they were unlikely to get drafted, but on the other hand their draft stock was unlikely to get any higher after last season. Also, and this is just the old man in me coming out to play, it might have something to do with this generation of people. People in this generation don’t tend to stay in one place for too long. They want to get to the draft or go to a program where they can contribute... That didn’t answer what you were actually asking, but that was my take on your question.

Jake: We got old last year, so I think it is extremely fair to say it did happen. So not to say you’re wrong, but I disagree with at least half of your premise. As for staying old, I think that this team is more off kilter with Usher and Devoe in newer positions of leadership formerly filled by folks like one Mr. Jose Alvarado than they care to admit or anyone expected. I also think this prevents the young guys from gelling as much as they could with more minutes. Not to say I’m punting on this year, but the dynamic feels off more than anything.

Sammy: I guess you could make the argument that staying old has been a struggle, but I think Pastner has done a good job keeping players around and drawing in solid transfer talent. One issue this year has been staying healthy, so we are having to play younger guys more often. I guess I’m mostly talking about Bubba here... so our starting lineup SHOULD include four seniors (Devoe, Usher, Bubba, Khalid). And Sturdivant is a junior... Damn we are old.

Any interest in the NFL Playoffs now that REAL football is over? Favorites? Buttkicker to win the MVP on a 73 yard walk off Field Goal?? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: The Falcons haven’t given me a reason to watch the NFL in years. As far as postseason, I tried to watch the Super Bowl last year. I downloaded the CBS All-Access app on my Fire Stick and got a free trial. The app crashed completely in the middle of the National Anthem. I ended up watching something else that night.

Logan: After last weekend “Real” Football playoffs are just as boring as the college playoffs. I guess I’m invested in the Drama of what is going to happen to the Packers after the season is over and I want to see if the one remaining rookie QB (Joe Burrow) can surprise some people. Outside of the personal drama, I’m not that invested in any of the teams.

Chris: I haven’t watched a non-Super Bowl NFL game in a couple seasons now.

Jake: Is this where I don the cone of shame for being very quietly (and surprisingly, given my Chicago-ness) a Cowboys fan? Blame my father for that one. As for interest in the playoffs, I still have it, at least for the curious spectacle that is the Cincinnati Bengals team. Went to a Monday Night Football mid-pandemic Bengals/Steelers game in 2020 that was probably a sporting and travel experience that will never be replicated, at least, I hope not, and came away with a bit of a soft sport for them.

Carter: I haven’t been interested in the NFL playoffs in years. I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.

Sammy: LET’S GO BENGALS! Idk why not?

Will Kierra Fletcher be eligible for another year because of her injury? If not, is there a chance she will return for the NCAA tournament? We could use the depth and her experience and scoring. - GTSMURF

Ben: Someone already mentioned it in the comments, but yes, Fletcher is redshirting.

Jake: Yeah, agreed that her experience is great and would add ball handling would be useful, too. Really helps in situations like Louisville and Miami when the press is dialed up late in the game.

Logan: As always, Ben is on top of things.

On the radio in Atlanta, a station keeps playing that “cesspool of the South” tune. I like to sing along, but why are they playing it? - Bill Brockman

Ben: I don’t mean to sound like I don’t care, but like, do you expect any different? Like, it’s no secret that UGA has a much larger fan base than Tech. Sure, if the folks running the station are football fans, they’re statistically more likely to be UGA fans, but at the end of the day, it’s a smarter business decision to cater to UGA fans.

Chris: simple lyrics.

Logan: Every four legged creature gets its day... I’ll take listening to the song over getting barked at by grown adults in public.

Jake: I honestly haven’t listened to a non-WREK 91.1 FM station (and even then only for sports) since I moved here. I wouldn’t even know where to find what you’re talking about, let alone know why they’re playing it.

Carter: I haven’t listened to Atlanta radio in ages. Thankful for SiriusXM and podcasts.

Sammy: Pass.

USG Board of Regents - do they actively hinder Tech’s advancement?

I feel like it is a somewhat popular thought that the USG Board or Regents favors the school in Athens over Tech. Letting the Athens school have an Engineering program when Tech is one of the top Engineering schools in the country would be one example.

My question is this: are there concrete examples of times where Tech has asked for new programs, degrees, or majors, and had the request be denied by the BoR? I feel like I remember Tech asking for some major or program that was eventually given to Georgia State, but for the life of me, can’t find it.

I ask because I feel like if we came up with a new major to attract athletes, there is no way the BoR would let us have it, but I can’t site past examples. - Phys99

Ben: I think it’s weird that people think the Board of Regents gives a crap about college athletics beyond “Oh, a team in our state is doing well in a sport? Neat!” They’re politicians. They’ll do whatever they need to do in order to look good for their constituents. Georgia Tech isn’t going to add any liberal arts majors because there are already so many other schools in the state that have those majors. Why would the BoR want to hypothetically add a journalism major at Georgia Tech when UGA has one of the highest ranked J schools in the country and not to mention the other several schools in the state that also have a J school?

Chris: Well, we have a fun series we’re working on for later this offseason that touches on this topic.

Jake: I’ll echo Chris, and in the meantime disagree with Ben. The Board has always acted as a political entity with specific ends in mind, and I would like to believe I have done a particularly large amount of research into this exact topic. Didn’t stop them from taking away the School of Commerce in 1932 for radically similar reasons in what was without exaggeration one of their first moves after the dissolving the Tech Board — yep, let’s take away the athlete major and the growing student population major to handicap Tech — and it won’t stop them preaching consolidation in campuses, schools, and offerings while simultaneously promoting duplicative majors in Athens. It may not always be explicitly about sports, but there is often some sort of “angle” at the heart of the matter regardless of whether the topic is discussing COVID policy, the university system’s physical assets, or its curricular offerings.

Logan: I don’t know enough about it to give a detailed answer, but yes I believe the Board of Regents has shown a uga bias and taken unfair political actions to help improve the school in athens while leaving Georgia Tech hanging out to dry.

Who in your opinions are the alpha dogs of the Georgia Tech athletics programs? Is there a player in each team that has separated themselves as a bonafide producer on the field and a leader both on and off it? - Anuj Bhyravabhotla

Jake: I’m the non-rev guy; I’ll take this one, too. Easy answer for the best of the best, and it is absolutely Caio Pumputis. Nowhere else on campus is there a team with a player right now who is unquestionably the best to ever compete for Tech in their sport. He was the prize recruit of that program, and his success has helped open up the international pipeline for Tech on the men’s and women’s side, who have enjoyed the consistent presence of Camryn Hidalgo, an engineer - like many other swimmers and divers - and who nearly singlehandedly handed the women their top 30 NCAA finish last spring. A rising tide has drastically raised the fortunes of all ships. The next most obvious answer is Nicole Fegans of the track and field/cross country teams. This one is a bit trickier just because track has a lot of athletes contributing in a lot of different ways, but she’s a fifth year with accolades on and off the cross country course who breaks a different record seemingly weekly. Men’s tennis is led by a bonafide star in Andres Martin and his doubles partner Marcus McDaniel. The two could very well win the NCAA doubles draw this spring, with Martin also having an admittedly longer shot at the singles crown. As for the rest, it gets a little less, well, wildly obvious, but I think you could nominate half the volleyball or women’s basketball teams and it would make sense, though names like Brambilla, Cubaj, Fletcher, Lahtinen, Bergmann, McKissock, and Dowd all have three or four years apiece as important leaders of those teams. Women’s tennis is figuring things out in a post-Kenya Jones and Victoria Flores era. Softball has Emma Kauf, one of the best catchers and offensive players in the conference, and baseball is loaded up for another Coastal title, but I would want to wait to pass judgement until the season has gotten underway, much like golf is relatively young and has retooled quickly after losing four major, often-scoring players in one fell swoop. Honestly, I’d have more of a clear answer after the spring, but, as for your answer, you can’t go wrong by starting with Pumputis, Hidalgo, Fegans, Martin, and McDaniel.

Ben: I’m only super familiar with the football team, so I’ll stick with them. I’m also not super familiar with what these guys do off the field, so it’s tough for me to speak much to that. Looking at the team going into next season, I think the most likely to become an alpha dog are Dontae Smith on offense and one of the pass rushers (probably Jared Ivey or Jordan Domineck) on defense.

Logan: In golf Christo Lamprecht is listed as the #41 player in the NCAA, followed closely by his upper classman Connor Howe at #56.

Women’s Tennis has plenty of players, Georgia Tech is currently ranked around #12 in the country (depending on your source). I’m not sure how Tennis is for team effort (since its not necessarily a team sport) but Gia Cohen is the senior leading the way and Kate Sharabura was just named ACC player of the week, so that’s good.

Swim and Dive is a good team this year, but they are currently dealing with the COVID situations... no real details there.

Baseball I’m hoping to see Colin Hall get off to a hot start this year. I also have high hopes for Kevin Parada to continue being a top tier talent at catcher.

Football, I want to see our linebacking core with Ayende Eley lead the defense to improving.

Women’s Basketball is littered with talent. They tend to split the spotlight, but you can’t go wrong picking any of the starters as a big time player.

And that’s really all I have. I want to watch volleyball next year, but I know very little about the players on the team I’m sorry to say.

Hey guys,

Hope the new year is continuing to treat you well. I’m doing good. My girlfriend and I recently started up watching the TV series “Ghosts”, which I was not expecting to be great but I have really ended up liking. My question this week is what tv show have you started on someone else’s recommendation that has subverted your expectations (for better or for worse). Hope y’all have a good rest of your day. Later,

-Vegeta, the prince of all saiyans (submitted via email)

Ben: Nobody recommended this to me, but I started watching Ink Master before Christmas, and it’s a bunch of fun random drama, but it’s so much fun. It’s also pushing me to want to get a tattoo whenever I can afford it which is neat!

Chris: Someone actually just recommended Ink Masters to me Ben...maybe I outta give it a shot. My answer is Taskmaster. It’s a British show that a friend recommend to me and my wife a while back and we absolutely LOVE it. Its the perfect blend of chaos and fun. I now recommend it to basically anyone (including you reader!).

Logan: Not a tv series, but I was asked to try the movie Red Notice on Netflix despite seeing many terrible reviews. I quite enjoyed how silly and fun the movie was, not sure I would recommend Red Notice to others, but it hit my funny bone.

Jake: The Boys on Amazon Prime. I’m not a strong superhero show guy, but it was much more intriguing than that genre tends to be. I don’t want to do any spoiling, but I would definitely recommend watching the first episode.