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Mailbag 10/5

Should the successes of Jared Ivey and Jahmyr Gibbs at other schools give us hope that Tech can recruit at a high level?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Alabama at Arkansas Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

gtbadcarma: I have seen back and forth on coaches like Sanders which brings this question to mind. What is your take on what’s more important, having a players talent (4 and 5 star recruit) or having a coach that can scheme with the players he has?

Ben: Having a coach that can develop his players well. More than anything, that is what is important. There’s a reason that a team like Wake Forest (who has had a recruiting ranking higher than 60 once under Dave Clawson) has perennially been one of the better teams in the ACC recently, and it’s not scheme-related.

Logan: Having a coach that can scheme and coach around the players he has is more important. Doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you can’t organize it properly. That’s why teams like Miami have never made it back to prominence.

Jack: See the 2021-22 Brooklyn Nets. They clearly had the talent, but it was never put together. It’s not a perfect analogy because I do think Steve Nash has incredible promise as a coach and was in a wild situation with Kyrie/Harden/Simmons/Durant, but if those guys couldn’t figure it out and at least win a playoff game, it goes to show that talent can be nothing compared to a well oiled machine.

Chris: A coach that can scheme with the players he has, 100% without a doubt. Thank you Logan, Miami was exactly who I was going to point to.

Jake: Scheme. 100% certain.

Carter: Scheme. If you can’t deploy your talent correctly, it’s as good as not having the talent at all.

GTBuzzed: Quoting Todd Stansbury from Collins’ introductory press conference on December 7, 2018:

I’d like to thank Gene DeFilippo who helped me with the search. He’s with Turnkey Sports... I’d also like to thank one of our alums, Scott Prather, whose company SportSource Analytics really provided me with a lot of insight into, kind of, the numbers of coaching. As you’re trying to identify candidates and what their offensive and defensive and some of that some of the the numbers behind their success, he was very very helpful.

With all the analytics-based coaching profiles that FTRS is doing now, I have to ask... SportSource Analytics is a reputable company, but what analytics backed Collins as a good hire? And is Turnkey Sports consulting the search process again, or can we do better?

Ben: I’d like to point out the second quote you mentioned in your post:

After our meeting I called some of my colleagues that had worked with Geoff in the past and I asked about him. I really was concerned that he was recruiting me because he was doing such a good job and he knew too many of my words. What I was told is he’s a leader, kids respond to him he’s a culture guy, he’s fun there’s always a good vibe around him, all those things just reinforcing all the things that I feel like we need to be doing at Georgia Tech.

What in there sounds like data? Just because Todd Stansbury received data from SportSource Analytics doesn’t mean he used it to make his decision. It has been very clearly reported that he and Ken Whisenhunt were the only two that were ever seriously considered for the job in 2018. Stansbury wanted Whisenhunt because he was a Tech man. He went after Collins after Collins sold Stansbury on Collins using empty promises and emotion. I obviously can’t speak specifically to the point, but from what I know about Geoff Collins, and the quote above, I doubt Collins was using much data to drive his point home. To answer your other question, Georgia Tech is using Parker Executive Search, which was most recently notably used by Tennessee to hire Danny White as the AD and Josh Heupel as the head coach.

Chris: I’ll defer to others who have more analytics experience but yeah, I’d agree with Ben. Just because they gave him data doesn’t mean he used it.

Jake: Generally responding with agreement with Chris and Ben. “insight into, kind of,” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that the last go-around was all that analytical.

Carter: Todd Stansbury got a recruiting pitch from Geoff Collins, and while that on its own wasn’t enough for Stansbury to give Collins the job, it sure seems like it went a long way.

Frodo Swagginz: Involving the ‘investments’ that president Cabrera was talking about during the press conference, is there a magic number (can be a ballpark guesstimate) that would really signal a change in the university’s attitude towards athletics? Or is it simply showing a willingness to try and alleviate/eliminate that disgusting debt figure?

Ben: Well, it would certainly be nice to be at least in the top half the ACC for coaching salaries. I’m not the best person to talk about financial stuff, but I know the coaching salary pool for Georgia Tech has been in the lower half of the ACC for a long time.

Logan: I’m not great with memes... can someone insert the gif of Dr. Evil going “ONE Biiilllllllliiioon Dollars”?

Chris: Agree with Ben’s sentiment, I think being in the top half of total football spending in the ACC would be a significant shift in attitude. We’re several million below programs like UVA and VT, I think upping to their level would really show me something.

Jake: I have been searching high and low for the initiative-by-initiative level breakdown for the new Transforming Tomorrow campaign the Institute is running. I haven’t been able to find it, but I am 100% certain I saw a list of where the various chunks of the $2 billion were intended to go. If I recall correctly, that would be another sizable (9 figure?) investment.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Am I right to feel a little skeezy that allegedly both our former HC and AD were de-iPhoned and “perp walked” out of the building upon their dismissals?

Ben: I see both sides of it. At this point, it’s not something that keeps me up at night. It is done and over with, so let’s move on.

Logan: I don’t think so. they do that with pretty much any high key firing. It seems extreme until something happens. I wouldn’t read into it too much.

Chris: I wouldn’t say I’m worried about it, but it’s definitely odd. I don’t think that’s particularly normal in the college coaching world, but I think someone probably just enforced an Institute rule to the letter without really meaning anything.

Jake: It feels weird to me, but I would imagine there’s some sort of process to it.

Carter: Local media sure made a huge deal of it, didn’t they?

NMBigfoot02: How many games would Key need to win (or alternatively keep close) in order to win the HC job? Follow up question: if he met those metrics and won the job, what kind of contract (years and $) would be appropriate?

Ben: There should not be an amount of games won that would guarantee Brent Key get the job at the end of the season. I believe that he is warranted consideration and an interview if he manages to bring Georgia Tech to a bowl game. Anything beyond that is too far, though. Georgia Tech needs to take this coaching search seriously and make a data-driven decision.

Logan: There is no Key number for Key’s hire. I do expect him to win 5 more games, so we’ll see if that will be enough.

Chris: To win the job? The rest of the season. I don’t think we should just hand him the job because he made a good interim, but he has convinced me we should do everything we can to at least keep him in his current role.

Jake: Money-wise, well, I don’t know what exactly a first time full-time coach would command in the current market when jumping straight to a Power 5 job. All of this feels like uncharted territory, especially with no AD and not having a great sense necessarily what the budget might be moving forward. A general thought I’ve heard tossed around just on a vibes-basis in the FTRS slack has been 7 + COFH or 8 total would be the line to get there.

Carter: If Brent Key by some miracle runs the table the rest of the season, I guess you can probably forgo the interview process. Otherwise, there’s not a number that should be an automatic win condition. I’m perfectly fine with cleaning the slate after this season even if Key has a good showing.

DTGT: What was the average amount of time Sims had to throw the ball against Pitt vs how much time did he have against UCF? Not asking for you to do a deep statistical dive, but we had two completely different performances out of sims over the last two week. I think there were a few plays against pitt where he had less than a second.

Ben: So I looked it up, and Georgia Tech allowed a pressure rate near 50%, which is not great at all.

Logan: Sims gets plenty of flak for being a bad passer, but if you look at how much time he has in the pocket it is understandable that he has to rush some passes.

Ed. Note: The next two questions are very similar, so I put them together.

Jellopacket98: Will we ever see either of the backup QBs get a chance to prove what they can do this year? We know what we have with Sims, a runner that can sometimes throw. He would have been great in CPJ’s offense, but far too inconsistent to be a reliable starter in the current system. Are the backups really that bad that they can’t beat out Sims?

Partywaggin: I know we won and all but will we see a different QB short of injury or garbage time?

Ben: Unfortunately, I do not think we will see another quarterback play at this point. I would love to see Gibson or Phommachanh get an opportunity, and maybe they will, but I’m not optimistic at this point.

Logan: Maybe on a trick play... but I doubt it.

Chris: It’s really seeming like no, but I wish it we would. At this point I’m ready to see what someone else can do.

Jake: If only to see them get a shot against in-game competition, I think it might be nice.

Carter: I’m really interested in seeing what, if anything, changes during the bye.

Lx_Un1c0: Now that it’s October, are you in favor of apple cider finally making a comeback and putting a dent in the market share of pumpkin spice?


Jack: I hope to not be one that calls someone’s flavor preference wrong because everyone has a different palate. But, pumpkin spice has taken on a life of its own so formidable that it has done horrible, horrible things to the king of fall drinks, spiced apple cider. I’ll concede that I will never stop the PSL craze and at parties I will always pick the apple option.

Logan: My fiancée and I prefer pumpkin spice, but I would like to see Apple Cider be used more often if nothing else. I just like parity.

Chris: Apple cider is delicious and so is pumpkin spice. I love having a jug of cider in the fridge that I can heat up at night.

Jake: Cold apple cider isn’t bad, either. I am firmly in favor of it in both hot and cold forms, much more so that pumpkin spice, and do miss a good apple cider donut on a crisp Saturday morning from back up in Chicago.

Carter: Forget that, it’s chili season, y’all.

Yeller Bug: Did we add one already or will Tech add another interim (position) coach as we’re down one on the sidelines even though we’re paying for a full complement of coaches?

Ben: As someone mentioned in the comments, Brent Key said they he wanted it to be the right hire. I expect Jim Chaney will be named the interim OL coach during the bye week.

Namrebeil: While I know your coaching candidate articles have focused on just the individual coaches, with so many talking about Key now would there be a possibility of looking at the statistics on how well interim coaches that get promoted after the season have worked out?

Ben: The answer (which doesn’t actually answer your question) was actually easier to find than I thought it would be. This wonderful piece came out from Underdog Dynasty last month.

Specifically, let’s look at this part:

Indeed, 178 different men have done 201 stints as interim coaches, posting a combined record of 254-490 (.341).

Of the 201 interim stints there have been at the FBS level, 118 have been for large portions of a season or even multiple seasons and then fade back into relative obscurity.

So no, interim coaches typically do not see a lot of success. And it makes sense. They are typically taking over for a head coach that has been fired. Typically head coaches are fired for poor performance, so it makes sense that the team is still going to be bad.

To address your actual question, the main one I’m thinking about right now is Marcus Freeman at Notre Dame. It was rumored that Luke Fickell was pretty much there for the taking for Notre Dame, but the Irish opted to keep things internal and promote Freeman. They made a decision based on emotion and conjecture instead of listening to the data. So yeah, I’ll more than likely pass on Key getting the job.

Jake: To pull the random Tech anomaly where the interim actually worked out alright, the George O’Leary hire worked out pretty well after taking over the role full time.

Carter: Ed Orgeron is the name that keeps coming to mind for this question for me. He had a great run as interim coach at USC but wasn’t retained — but a lot of people thought he should have been. Then he went to LSU, where he had a stint as interim coach and was retained. (I don’t think I need to remind anyone how that went.) Orgeron also famously had a disastrous tenure as head coach at Ole Miss and his LSU teams fell off hard after winning a championship. For me, all this feeds back into the thought that nothing Key does should have him be considered as the frontrunner or a shoo-in to get the job. If the season goes well he’ll have improved his own stock considerably, although some should and will point to the questionable quality of the lines he’s built at Georgia Tech.

EducationalEngineer: After watching Ole Miss win because of Jared Ivey and Jahmyr Gibbs help Bama pull away from Arkansas, should that give us hope that Georgia Tech can recruit well enough to compete at a high level? Or are those two players simply aberrations of the Collins’ era error?

Ben: I think Georgia Tech can absolutely attract talent. Even before Geoff Collins, that was true. Sometimes that requires playing a guy somewhere he wants to play rather than where he might best fit at the next level (see Justin Thomas) or taking a guy who was originally committing to play a different sport (see DeAndre Smelter). What is more important, though, is the ability to develop those players. Look specifically at Jared Ivey and Jordan Domineck. In five games each, they both have already achieved career highs in sacks. It’s not that they were less talented at Georgia Tech. But it’s likely they transferred into situations where they could be developed and utilized more properly.

Logan: I think GT has more draws that people realize. Being in downtown Atlanta and having some historic players with ties to the school helps. You do need to get past some of the scares of the education requirements for some athletes if their only plan is to go pro, but I don’t think GT has as poor optics as people think.

Chris: Short answer yes, that is direct evidence that we can in fact recruit at a strong level.

Jake: I think, if anything, that shows that there was good talent identification at the high school level, but no or stymied development in the Collins program. Both of those track with the impressions I had of the three full seasons, and particularly the first two, of the previous administration.

Carter: You can get good players to Georgia Tech. You can get players that will go on to play in the NFL. You can get players that will go on to the NFL and be incredibly successful. Chan Gailey and Paul Johnson did it. The next coach can too.

gtbadcarma: What do you feel the chances are to get 3 wins in a row (Duke then Virginia)? Is it too much to start hoping/looking forward to having a winning record for the first time at some point during a season in the last 3 years?

Ben: Georgia Tech hasn’t won 2 in a row since 2018, so I’m not getting ahead of myself here. Let’s focus on Duke before we get too far. Yeah, we won against Pitt, but it was still pretty sloppy and not necessarily a sign of things to come.

Logan: look, if we can get through homecoming weekend with a win we will revisit the subject; until then let’s not jinx anything.

Chris: Moderately good. Neither of those teams scare me, certainly not UVA. I’ve had them marked as wins since the beginning of the season and I’ll stick by that.

Jake: Get past Duke, and I think there is a distinctly solid possibility. I am wary of getting my hopes up too far in advance, though.

Carter: It could happen. That’s all I’ll say.

Ben: The takeaway for me if this team makes a bowl game is that it just furthers the rumors that Collins was holding his coaching staff back. I’ve been very open with my belief that the right hire could make a bowl game with this team in their first year. With that being the case, I would not be surprised to see that happen this year, given the current state of the Coastal Division. Whatever happens, though, Brent Key should not be guaranteed the permanent head coaching job. If he gets it, I will absolutely support him, but I want to see Georgia Tech do a thorough search to ensure they are hiring the best man for the job. As far as retaining him otherwise, that should be the decision of the next head coach.

Jake: That’s on the low end of the very unofficial prognostication that I have been a part of. If this gets Tech to Charlotte, that would be a remarkably mediocre Coastal year overall, but to paraphrase Joey on the Basketball Conference podcast, the five best ACC teams are also all likely in the Atlantic this year. So perhaps that is possible, but I would imagine it would be at least enough to get an interview, Charlotte or not.

Logan: I seriously doubt Tech wins the Coastal, not part of the question but I do just want to put that out there because I think we need to tamper expectations. My takeaway would be that Geoff Collins had his hands in too many cookie jars on the team and needed to just let his other coaches handle their jobs. Clearly we have talent (not the most talent, but we do have some) so you can’t point a finger at the students. At that point you gotta say that Geoff was doing something wrong, and based on the statements from other coaches I would say Geoff was trying to hard to be involved in all aspects of the game. The other take aways from us making a bowl game would be 1) The ACC Coastal is worse than we thought 2) Georgia Tech may not take as long to get back on its feet as the fans think 3) Coach Key needs a good job, if not with GT somebody needs to pick that guy up 4) We need a coach who cares about the program, and when I say the program I mean the students, the athletes, the alumni, the games, the campus, everything that comes along with being on GT campus.

Carter: If Georgia Tech wins the Coastal at 5-3 I think that will say a lot about the quality of the Coastal this year. (On a related note, I am very thankful we will be done with divisions after this year.) Again, the only automatic win condition for Key should be if he runs the table. Otherwise, you really need to take a step back and actually take a good look at all your options.

Submitted via email: Hey Guys,

Hope your week is doing good and the victory this weekend is carrying you through everything else in your life.

This week I’m assuming there will be plenty of questions about the win, which is fair because it was pretty exciting and awesome. That said, I don’t want people to get too excited over one game. I think turnovers helped us plenty and there were still plenty of problems that need to be addressed. The game this weekend will likely still be a challenge, but hopefully Tech can overcome it for all those attending homecoming.

On the other side sometimes over hyping something can lead to a bigger crash in expectations down the line. On that note, my question this week is what situation in the past set up high expectations but then ended up being a big let down? It doesn’t have to be sports related, it can be about games or movies or something else in life; something you were excited for that fell far short of your expectations. Not saying GT will fall short, but I want to point out it is a possibility. Hope y’all have a good rest of your week and a happy homecoming.

-Hank Green

Ben: Whew boy, Star Wars. Controversially, I was a big fan of The Last Jedi (still am!), so I was very excited to see The Rise of Skywalker come to theaters. I was not a big JJ Abrams fan at the time (still not!), but I was willing to give him a chance to cap off the saga that has been such a big part of my life. I can’t express in words how much I was disappointed with the film as a whole. Over the years, I have started to come to grips with it and even been able to enjoy parts of it, but that is certainly one of the biggest moments of disappointment for me.

Jack: Hank, love the question and I think it’s an incredibly wise approach to going through the rest of this season, win or lose. The easiest answer to this question that comes to mind is the new Cyberpunk game. Everyone thought it was gonna be the thing, and it was riddled with mistakes (does that sound like any particular team from 2018-2021?). It’s taken on a new life I don’t fully understand, but the initial launch was a doozy from what I picked up on.

Also as a Tech grad, managing expectations is something engrained in you as a student. The standards we came to expect from ourselves in high school immediately are challenged. You have to constantly evaluate what success means in a given context on campus. There’s tons of unnecessary red tape or flaws in the Institute that make life harder, so we quickly learn not everything is going to go the way we expect. I learned that in so many ways while I was a student, and continue to in the working/writing world.

Logan: the cyberpunk game is the easy answer. That was such a mess and the game just got revitalized by the anime on Netflix (which oddly enough I had no expectations for and the anime turned out to be awesome). A weird one would be the HR record getting broken. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool and I got a lot of respect for Aaron Judge; that said I’m not sure I needed to see every at bat Judge took and it felt more like a guarantee he would get it at the end of the season than a miraculous achievement. It was cool but it didn’t have the same thrill of the HR competition between Sosa and McGuire in the 90s. Just a let down.

Jake: I will lead with I haven’t been this excited for homecoming (or, dare I say, a football game) since fall of 2018, so it has been an antsy week for me, to say the least. In the meantime, I am attempting to maintain a healthy measure on my expectations. As a Cubs fan first and foremost, even more than the 2016 World Series — I was an anxious, emotional mess for like two straight weeks — the 2015 Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh felt like playing with house money, and I think that is the most excited I have ever been for a sporting event, bar none. It wound up living up to the billing. Thinking of times where it didn’t pay off quite as much were that year’s NLCS, a 4-0 sweep by the Mets, a couple heartbreaking playoffs series finales for the Blackhawks, or the feeling of going on a vacation or to a new restaurant you’ve heard good things about and just building it up a little too much in your head so that when you get there, it is a bit of a bummer. Interestingly, the first that comes to mind is also sports related, being Fenway Park and a trip I once took to Boston.