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Mailbag 9/21

Would you be willing to take a flyer on Scott Frost? (The answer is no.)

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

DTGT: How the FogHat at 2:08pm Monday does Geoff Collins still have a Job? I know we are in debt and don’t have a lot of money but the longer you keep him the longer you risk permanent damage to any future.

Ben: I’m in the same boat. It is now 8:47 a.m. Tuesday morning, and Geoff Collins is still employed. I have seen some people discuss waiting until the bye week or later in the season. Quite frankly, I don’t see any benefit in doing that unless you’re just trying to figure the money part out.

Jack: I’m starting to feel the money part is a much bigger hurdle than we may have thought, therefore making it way more complicated than just cutting bait quickly. Phys99’s question below this has the answer to the current specifics of how much it would cost to do the buyout now, which is not a figure we can just pay and act like it was never there. Even in the most dire of times, smart decisions still have to be made.

Chris: I think at this point my leading theory is that they’re trying to avoid the optics of firing him after “just” three games and are trying to wait until the Duke game. Either that or there are a lot of moving parts trying to get rid of TStan at the same time and that’s causing delays.

Carter: Our punishment must be more severe.

Logan: They (whoever “they” may be) are probably waiting for a sea change. My guess is they are planning to knock out Geoff and a few other people all at once. Probably takes some time to get that in order.

Nishant: They probably went in thinking Homecoming week, or the bye week afterward, would be an ideal time to make the decision. A 1-4 or 1-5 record would’ve been enough justification, whereas if Tech had stolen a win against UCF or Pitt and made the other games competitive, he may have been able to buy himself the rest of the season. I think Jack is right and it just comes down to the money being overwhelming right now, so they’re busy trying to either scrounge up an extra $4M or convince Geoff to take a lower buyout.

And the truth is that Geoff has leverage for as long as he’s willing to subject himself to this situation. I can’t see him ever being a head coach again, so this may be his last chance to secure life-changing money for his family in this profession. I can blame Geoff for many, many things, but I can’t blame him for demanding that his employer pay him the money that he’s contractually owed. It’s on athletic department leadership for letting Tech end up in this situation.

Sammy: Agreed with Nishant. Collins is owed his money. So let’s just pay him and move on. I have stopped feeling “sorry” for him. He stands to make $10mil+ for failing. Ah, the American Dream.

Jake: With respect to the above answers, he is owed his money, but we don’t exactly have a great balance sheet right now. As for the timing question, well, everything everywhere was pointed to it being imminent, until it was not.

Jeff: I believe there is more in the works than just CGC getting canned. You had Key as an Assistant Head Coach but I’m not so sure they want to even bother with him being the interim so they could be reviewing options there. If they are working on ousting Todd as well then I’m sure they would want that squared away first before starting a fire sell among the staff.

Phys99: Does anyone have the exact details of CGC’s buyout? Like what the actual date is when his buyout drops from the full value of the contract to the $2.4MM per year. There seems to be a lot of varying values being thrown around, and I can’t find an actual source that links to something concrete.

Ben: Speaking of money. If Geoff Collins is fired during any of the first four years of his contract, it is 100% guaranteed. On January 1, 2023, his buyout drops to $2.4 MM per year left on his contract. So if he were fired right now, he would receive $10.5 MM + the prorated amount of whatever is left from this year’s salary. Wait until the end of the season (I don’t know if that is regular season or otherwise), and that drops to $10.5 MM, and then on January 1, it drops to $7.2 MM. I don’t think any of this is going to matter, though, as I expect Georgia Tech to negotiate a smaller buyout.

Carter: The only thing I’ll say is if the buyout drop date really is January 1 instead of December 1 someone should be fired for that alone.

Nishant: For some reason a random employment law firm collected a bunch of football coach contracts through public records requests. I would’ve guessed that a FOIA request for Geoff’s contract would have been a black hole thanks to the 2016 edict affectionately known as Kirby’s Law, but... here it is on their website. An amateur reading more or less confirms the details that Ben provided. Note that there’s a decent chance that the final number will not be any of the numbers being quoted, but rather a figure negotiated by Tech and Collins’ agent.

Sammy: ‘“Which door do you want me to go out of?” - Ed Orgeron’ - Geoff Collins, probably.

Jake: I do want to echo the negotiation part. That seems to be a big part of these types of things.

Partywaggin: Should I put my Tech gear away for the rest of the fall and stick to the Braves/Falcons/AUFC?

Ben: While that would be the easy solution, I’m gonna say no. Doing so just hurts the program more. I think it’s important to keep going to games and supporting the team. You aren’t doing it (or at least you shouldn’t be doing it) to support the coaching staff. You’re doing it to support the student-athletes pouring their hearts out on the field. Regardless of the mess in the coaching staff and administration, the players deserve our support.

Jack: Tech is more than football. To put the gear away now only helps deepen the wound between team and community. You forgot the Hawks in that list ;)

Carter: have seen how well (or not) United’s season has gone, right? It’ll be over in less than three weeks anyway.

Chris: Nah, just watch it after freeing yourself from the emotional prison of needing them to win.

Logan: There’s plenty to enjoy and cheer for outside of the football program. Volleyball if nothing else is doing really well. I wouldn’t put it away, except maybe on Saturday.

Sammy: I recently bought some new gear and will continue to do so. It’s kind of like getting a prison tat.

Jake: Keep it on and attend volleyball games. I scream this into the void, because they’re so very good and the sport itself, once you see it live, is quite addicting. Plus, tickets are affordable. They even have a game coming up at McCamish Pavilion on Homecoming weekend.

Jeff: Nah, I still wear my Tech stuff because like the others said there are other sports. Besides, would putting on a Falcon’s jersey bring you any more comfort than Tech?

Burdell91: Assuming Collins is fired (“assuming” because it is Monday afternoon and both he and Stansbury are apparently still employed), and that others will be following Arizona State sooner rather than later... is Tech realistically competing with other schools for the same coaches? Another way of putting it: should Tech pull the trigger ASAP to get ahead of others on trying to line up a replacement, or does it just not matter?

Ben: I think you will see Georgia Tech try to keep a yearly salary around $3 MM again and maybe even a bit lower depending on this contract buyout shakes out. Scott Frost’s contract had an AAV of $5 MM, and Herm Edwards’ had an AAV of $3.4 MM. Collins’ contract had an AAV of $3.3 MM. Using those numbers, Nebraska is probably in a slightly different league than Georgia Tech or Arizona State. Regarding your other question, yes, I think Tech should fire Collins as soon as possible so they can go ahead and start reviewing candidates informally.

Chris: I think we’re mostly competing with those schools this year. We probably don’t have the same money, but I think the power of Atlanta/GA still counts for something and Nebraska in particular is a place where you are under a LOT of eyeballs. To your next question yes, I think ASAP is the right strategy that puts us in the best possible situation to hire the right next guy.

Carter: Even if the firing isn’t formal, people in Athletics need to be looking and making calls right now.

Logan: I think it’ll be a short-term contract for someone inexperienced. Probably suffer a bit more next year but save up to take a big swing in 2024 or 2025. If the short term coach works out then they can extend, if not their contract will end shortly. It’s not fun to think about but it would be a pragmatic move.

Nishant: Disagree on the short-term coach. At this level, anything shorter than a five-year deal for a new coach is bad optics for recruiting. I think the one that has the most potential to directly impact Tech’s hiring efforts is Auburn—there may be some overlap in the candidates that they would be chasing, and Tech would be at a disadvantage in both money available and conference allure. But it’s Auburn, so they could swing for the fences with a big name or let the boosters drag them into hiring Kevin Steele. We’ll find out.

Sammy: Rip the band-aid off, pull the tooth out with the little string and the doorknob, [insert another analogy to illustrate the benefits of doing something uncomfortable quickly so you can heal and move on]. I guess it will all depend on the final buyout amount, but we should absolutely be going after the same coaches these other schools are going after. I’m not an idiot, if Nick Saban were on the market, we couldn’t get him, but he’s not. We may not have the pick of the litter, but the recruiting opportunity alone (both out of high school and through the transfer portal) should at the very least raise the eyebrows of any coach looking to lead an FBS program.

Jake: I am not sure what the budget can afford, per se, as the delta between financial statement and reality is somewhat of a work of art in addition to being a science. That said, some of the numbers thrown around the last few years only reinforce how much inflation has been going into those salaries in recent years.

Ben (again): After thinking about it some more, I think whatever coach you hire, you give them a five-year deal with a minimal buyout after the third season with a clause or understanding that if things are going not poorly, he will receive an extension. But you have to absolutely avoid another albatross contract like we have with Collins.

Jeff: Nebraska has always been flushed with cash and despite decades of mediocrity a major player in the college sphere. It would be hard to compete with their spending. However, they’ve struggled a lot since joining the Big Ten and I wonder if that could be a knock on trying to get over that hurdle. I don’t worry a lot about ASU because they are one of the lower tier programs in the PAC 12. The state of Arizona isn’t prime football country and ASU is still little brother there. Auburn could be an issue with it being an SEC school and a major program but you have to convince someone to go get their teeth kicked in by Saban and Kirby every year. Which I suppose we deal with one of those too. Anyway, Tech needs to understand what it truly is at this point. Paul Johnson was a rare grab in that he was pretty entrenched at Georgia Tech with his success. If we nail a hire and have success we have to be prepared for someone to grab them up among the higher ranks. It will be like that for a decade or so until you have continued success and at least become like a Michigan State/Washington/Iowa type school. Oh, and build trebuchet and launch him OTP effective immediately. Don’t worry, we’re in Georgia so he has a 79% chance of landing on the roof of a Waffle House.

jabsterjacket: We asked about Buzz last week. Any truth to the rumors that Buzz is entering the transfer portal?

Jack: From my understanding in talking with him last year, he still has some coursework in underwater basket weaving to finish.

Chris: After some quick research, the north american yellow jacket first appeared in Ohio so I guess he’s looking to move to OSU to “be closer to home”?

Logan: Big if true.

Jake: According to the FTRS writers slack, someone said it was his birthday today. I think that would have made it a worthy day to do a Buzz transfers news dump. We’ll have to wait on that.

Sammy: He better not.

Jeff: Not sure, but he could tell his friends to vacate my yard so I don’t get lit up while mowing the lawn.

CTjacket: Is Carter’s caps lock broken or does he just yell constantly these days?

Ben: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Chris: many people are asking.

Carter: I yell now on Twitter, it’s a whole thing.

Logan: He puts on caps lock when he wants to sound smarter

Jake: I lost my hearing after running into him in person on Saturday, can confirm.

Jeff: Carter is an angry bee, there can be no other way.

Rbissman: Can you really fire Collins before Stansbury?? He is the guy who set up the 7 year disaster, and hasn’t done the greatest with Pastner extensions. He has to go first.

Ben: I think there’s an argument to keep Stansbury. Yeah, he botched the Collins hire. But a lot of us were also pretty sold on Collins when this all started, so I can’t blame him there. I also appreciate what he has done for GTAA as a whole. He started to lose me when he didn’t take action sooner, though.

Chris: I don’t think I really have a preference, but in terms of just possibility yeah - I think you absolutely can. TStan has done a lot of other good things so it’s a harder decision than “fire the guy with the worst win % of any GT coach all time”. I think he’s probably earned enough good will to get a stern “learn from this” second chance. But again, I don’t really have a preference; if he goes then fine.

Carter: You can, but Stansbury well and truly hitched his wagon to Collins and he knows it. The real question is if you trust him to make another hire after how badly he’s botched this one, and at this point a lot of people would say no.

Logan: I can’t... I don’t have that power.

Nishant: I think Stansbury dug his own grave with that open letter late last season. Had he stayed silent and pulled the trigger after the season, he probably would’ve been kept around, but I don’t see it now that he’s firmly hitched his wagon to Collins. You can’t bungle your biggest revenue sport to the degree that he has and expect to keep your job—which is partly a shame, because he’s been an excellent AD in terms of fundraising and boosting non-revenue sports. I wouldn’t be mad if he stays but don’t see it happening.

Jake: I am generally a fan of ADTS’ work overall for the programs I spend a lot of time watching and covering (see: swimming and diving, volleyball, softball), but then I think of the baseball contract extensions, with a particular pitching coach coming to mind, and have anxiety in advance for next spring.

Jeff: The others have mentioned some good he has done in other sports but at the end of the day Football is the bread winner. If you bury it into apathy and irrelevance you’ll end up killing the others sooner rather than later. He has to go.

chilidogringsFO: There’s only 1 question. WHEN?

Ben: Soon, I hope.

Jack: Preferably not between 9-10pm on a Sunday when I’m watching House of the Dragon.

Chris: At this point it won’t be this week, it’s surely too late (although we love making non-standard decisions).

Carter: ...will “then” be “now”? Soon.

Logan: No later than January 1st.

Nishant: This Saturday night at 8 pm Eastern, when No. 7 Miami takes on No. 1 Clemson in a battle between Heisman Trophy candidates D’Eriq King and Trevor Lawrence. Do you want to know more about Heisman candidate D’Eriq King? Of course you do. Surely it’s more important than the game that’s on right now, so let’s cut the audio for half a quarter so we can do an interview about Heisman candidate D’Eriq King during a game involving two teams he does not play for. ESPN is truly a blessing.


Sammy: Idk but my Chrome auto-refresh is set to 15 seconds... might bump it up to 10.

Jeff: Between now and after it happens!

CTjacket: Would you be willing to take a flyer on Scott Frost? It wasn’t that long ago that he was the hottest coaching item - you would be hard pressed to find one person that thought he was a bad hire for Nebraska. He would likely come (relatively) cheap considering his monster buyout. The upside is pretty good (see UCF) but the downside is a bunch of painful 1-score losses. Would it be worth it?

Ben: So we have been discussing this in our staff Slack channel, and well, I was on board, but there are some message board rumors (so take it for what it’s worth) that are coming to light, so I would not be okay with it without a thorough venting to make sure those are not issues.

Received this twice now from different members of the same golf group who were at Cap Rock with Dominic Raiola in August. He can’t stand SF anymore due to how the recruitment of his son went down. I have posted before about how we dropped the ball on communication with the family after the Spring Game. Ohio State and Ryan Day slid in, put the full-court press on, and never looked back once NIL $ came into the discussion. Dominic allegedly told his group that they had a family get-together at his house in Scottsdale to host Frost. 15 or so family members. He said his son was still really into Nebraska until what happened that day. Frsot was scheduled to do an in-home visit with them. I don’t think he knew they had extra guests over though. He called Dom and said “I can’t make it, I’ve had too many margaritas and too drunk.” Dom replies they have a houseful of visitors to meet Coach Frost and to chug some water and Dom would send SF a Uber to bring him over. Frost replied again “No I can’t make it, let’s do it by Zoom.* Dylan walked up to his dad and said “I’m not going to play for him” and that was the end of the convo. Family took Ohio State’s call that night and Ryan Day and most of the offensive staff flew to AZ the next day for dinner. Made him a priority and that was that.

Yeah, if any of that is remotely true, I’ll pass.

Chris: Eh, I think he’s done a LOT to lower his stock. Yes at the time I think he was a good hire for Nebraska, but looking back it really seems like he just rode lightning in a bottle to get there.

Carter: Frost was included in our head coach mock draft, but he’s not high on my list, personally. I feel like I answered this question recently. Am I going crazy?

Logan: No, he seems too easily influenced by outside forces... and that’s one of the problems we have with CGC that I don’t want to end up dealing with again.

Jake: No. He lost a lot of games he could have won with some pretty minor changes, and didn’t seem particularly good at recruiting to his own alma mater.

Jeff: Hard pass

aknartrebna: What is the possibility of adding some kind of performance requirement to the next coach’s contract? Would that make finding a new coach less competitive? Do you think there would need to be or could be another >4 year contract (like C[sic]GC has) and/or bull[Styx] buyout amount to be competitive?

Ben: I’m no expert on legal contracts, but I feel like if this was something that could be done, you would see more coaches fired for cause for not winning. Normally, performance type things are included in contracts as incentives, not requirements.

Jack: More often than not, there are performance bonuses and not minimum victory requirements in a contract. Those kinds of things I think are great and can help a team not get screwed over. Julio Rodriguez’s contract he just signed with the Seattle Mariners is a great version of that. His contract is long, enriching, and player friendly only if his performance validates it.

Chris: On the surface I think it’s an interesting idea, but I think in practice it would be really hard to get right and I think you’d limit your applicant pool. If you saw a program win 3 games for 4 years a row, why would you sign a contract that stipulated you win 5 games? If you make the requirement too low it’s just pointless and kinda pathetic, if you make it too high then no one will risk it - there’s just too many variables for them. I think it’s much better to offer a shorter 3 year contract with performance incentives and the understanding that you will be evaluated after those 3 years and the program has to be in a better state to get extended. Offering an insanely long 7 year contract to a pretty unproven guy was the mistake.

Carter: Performance minimums simply aren’t done. There are bonuses for high performance, but not the opposite.

Logan: Your best option for that would be to have a low monetary contract with many high priced bonuses that would be met with every major achievement. I don’t think anyone is going to agree with that though, people want money to be guaranteed (or as close to guaranteed as possible).

Jake: I have never understood why there are no clauses for something like “win percentage after x years,’ etc. Seems like having low performance is a knock against someone else in essentially every other field, after all.

Sammy: It is kinda weird that most other jobs do have performance requirements, but the folks who get paid seven figures to run football programs don’t. I guess they do even if it’s not included in the contract.

aknartrebna: Do you see any coaches with innovative schemes coming up from lower levels? E.g. CPJ — option not seem much on this level, so special prep required (note: I don’t mean necessarily an option coach a la CPJ, but just unique schemes when ran well by mostly 3 star and some 4 star players is effective).

Ben: I’m probably not the guy to answer this, so I’ll just echo what others have said. Jamey Chadwell’s offense is a lot of fun. It takes a lot of option concepts and runs them from the shotgun, which I think would work really well with the pieces that Georgia Tech has in place currently. Another option (that would require a bit more work) that I think could be fun would be an air raid offense. The main issue is the OL is not in a place that would help an air raid offense succeed. I also don’t know that Tech’s quarterbacks would succeed in an air raid.

Chris: C H A D W E L L

Carter: They are doing cool things at Coastal Carolina.

Jeff: I’d love to see that type of hire and Chadwell is a good one. You’re not stealing the NFL-style linemen from surrounding schools so do something to gain the advantage.

Anuj Bhyravabhotla: This last game left me feeling like Viper from Top Gun when he’s talking to Maverick after the latter quits the program. When I say this, I mean to reference this quote:

“A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what’s happened, so he can apply what he’s learned.”

If you’re wondering how this is relevant, it’s because of this. While this staff’s tenure overall hasn’t been very good, there have been some positive schematic things. We’ve seen Jeff Sims be effective when getting the ball out on a short drop or rolling out of the pocket to hit a deep comeback. We’ve seen production from Nate McCollum in the slot and from Dontae Smith in space. Against Clemson, the defense came out in a scheme I can only describe as reminiscent of the Legion of Boom in terms of what it was they were trying to do (or at least my impression based on how they were aligning. The way they were pressing receivers at the line before dropping into their zones is what gave me this perception) and it seemed to work early on. And yet it feels like none of it has really carried over from game to game.

Why is that? And how do we fix it? Who’s best equipped (whether on this staff or elsewhere based on what you’ve observed) to ensure this kind of carry-over where we not only learn from our mistakes and rectify them, but also we learn from the things that we did good and try to build on them?

Ben: It all starts at the top. When the team isn’t motivated to play, that is a head coaching issue. I think bringing in an interim—if it’s the right guy—could definitely cause a bit of a spark.

Chris: Right now it seems like player development was an afterthought for the staff and not front of mind. At the end of the day it’s the HC’s job to run quality control and ensure that everyone below them is doing the right things. It’s their job to unlock the potential of their talent and in my mind that’s what we’re hugely missing because there’s no one at the top holding anyone accountable. You need to be able to shift mindsets and try things out to get the best results but instead it feels like we’re just doing things for the sake of doing them. I think the people to go after are the “program builder” archetypes - guys that have strong experience in taking small programs and bringing them to the peak of their potential. I want to see us look at people who have actual years of head coaching experience to lean on.

Logan: I’m not sure what exactly needs to be done, but I would start in the locker room. Your team needs to think they can win if they’re going to put in effort. The locker room under CGC doesn’t seem to think they have a chance, so once things start getting out of hand the players just quit. At this point, the players just need to have someone they can believe in and who believes in them. That’s kind of abstract, but I do think the mentality is important if you’re going to cultivate a winning team.

Jeff: The issue is none of the positives you mentioned have any consistency to them. They are one-offs that can’t be replicated to prove actual development. The lone spot was the running backs were good even behind Gibbs when we had him. That coach, Tashard Choice, was noticed and was snagged up by both USC and Texas. To take you back to your pilot quote, a good pilot knows when something is wrong and fixes it in flight. If you don’t then there is no next time to evaluate.

gtbadcarma: I was one of many that felt the team mailed it in going into the second half. Do you feel that was the case and do you feel anything can be done to encourage the team to not give up?

Ben: It would make sense with the post from the message board I shared in my column this week about players giving up on Collins but not Georgia Tech. And if that statement is true, I think bringing in an interim could provide a nice spark. Yes, I did use that statement in two straight questions.

Chris: I agree with Ben, the right interim choice can give them a spark and some forward-looking motivation.

Carter: The second half definitely felt, uh, different, for sure. At this point the only thing that can be done is canning the person who the players clearly are not motivated to play for.

Logan: Dude, I’m pretty sure they were done in the first half. I think this will be a trend for the rest of the season. If we get behind early, I would not expect to see much fight. They need a motivational figure either on the sideline or on the field, but I don’t know if there is anyone this year who could step up and turn things around.

noxordo8: What are some changes to either lineup or scheme that could help salvage this season?

Ben: I don’t know personnel-wise what lineup or scheme changes need to happen. I do want to talk a bit about coaching changes, though, because I took some time to think about it on my drive to work. When Georgia Tech announces coaching changes, I would like to see three coaches dismissed: Head Coach Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator Andrew Thacker, and Offensive Line Coach Brent Key. Those are the coaches who, in my opinion, have been the most detrimental to Georgia Tech.

As far as interim replacements, I actually have a few guys in mind. There were rumors that Chip Long would be named the interim Head Coach, and I’m good with that. He’s a new coach, so hopefully he can be a motivator and inspire the guys. While keeping his offensive scheme in place, I would like to see Tech move Jim Chaney from offensive analyst to interim Offensive Coordinator/O-Line coach. Chaney may not be the best offensive coordinator in the world, but he’s a guy with a lot of experience that could maintain the offense while Long serves in more of a motivator/game management type role. On defense, I think it only makes sense to give Defensive Run Game Coordinator David Turner the nod as the interim Defensive Coordinator. He is super experienced, and I think he could pick up the pieces of this defense in the wake of losing Thacker and Collins. I think having that much experience between both coordinator positions is the best thing Tech could do to help try to develop the players for the rest of the season.

Chris: I would like to see Dontae Smith get more touches and I think it’s time to try out another QB. Sims has been good at times, but I think it’s worth seeing what one of the other guys can do. We’re at a point where it doesn’t seem that he’s taken that next step and I’d rather give someone else a chance to make the team better.

Carter: I think they should take a look at their offensive scheme and try something a little more....... flexible.

Logan: I would like to see more rookies or backups given chances. If the starters aren’t working maybe give the young guys some experience or try out a different player at a position. I dunno, its also tough to do that and have starters remain confident in their abilities, I’d still want to see it though.

Nishant: Assuming the hammer falls sooner rather than later, I think we’ll start seeing younger players get more action. The current staff is leaning heavily on veterans because there is no tomorrow for them if they don’t win now. The eventual interim coach will probably feel a little more free to try out some new personnel combos.

zorro: If a coaching change is not made asap, how long do you think it will take for Charlie Thomas to choose his SEC school for next season?

Ben: Two things: First, I hate speculating about player transfers. These are still kids, and they can transfer for whatever reason they want. They have to do what’s best for them. Second, Thomas is a senior, so this question is irrelevant.

Submitted via email: Hey Guys,

So... I’m sure y’all are going to get plenty of questions this week about why CGC hasn’t been fired yet, and what has to happen to fire him, and questions about contracts and future coaches... I’m just gonna try to steer away from all that. I’m sure it gets repetitive.

My question is for you as sportswriters. I know y’all aren’t professional writers but I wanted to get your take on how you handle criticism. Obviously there’s plenty of opinions running around when you write a sports article, how do you respond when someone says something that offends you about an article you wrote? Do you even respond at all? Do you have to be careful about how you word criticisms in your articles? Just more insight into how you handle writing about sports, especially when things become more volatile. Let me know when you can. Have a nice week.

-Neil Gaiman

Ben: Criticism sucks, man. I know there are plenty of Tech fans out there that don’t like From the Rumble Seat for whatever reason. No matter how dumb, I think those reasons are, I know I’m not going to change their minds about it. In the past, I have responded to stuff like that, and looking back, it would have been better for me to just keep my mouth shut. Now, whenever I see criticism, I try to laugh it off. I’m just a dude on the internet speaking my mind. But let me tell you, it warms my heart to see people compliment my writing or the site in other places. I take a great deal of pride in this website. I have a great staff around me that does tremendous work, whether that be in analytics, scheme review, non-rev, podcast, you name it. I am tremendously proud of each of my writers, and they deserve all the praise.

Jack: I’m still pretty new to this whole sports writing thing on the grand scale of things, but I hope I never write anything that I don’t believe in enough to fall to the criticism. I did a piece at The Technique in support of the MLB All-Star Game moving out of Atlanta, an article I almost expected to get blowback on even though the paper had a very small readership. Not much came of it, so I guess I’ll have to keep writing to truly find out where I stand on this question.

Chris: I don’t know that I’ve ever really been offended by something someone has said about a piece of writing I’ve done. I try to have a mindset of “I wrote this thing because it represents how I think and feel about something and I understand those thoughts and feelings may be unique to me”. I’m very rarely trying to persuade someone to think what I think; most of the time I’m just interested in “hey here’s a thought I had”. I’ll respond to someone if they have a specific thing they’re going after and I think there’s an opportunity to explain myself more, but otherwise I try to just let random stuff go.

Carter: I wish I could say I had a singular response to all criticism, but that’d be a lie. I can say that over the years I’ve made a huge effort to rein in my rasher tendencies — one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to never respond immediately, if you do so at all, and another is you rarely if ever have to prove yourself to someone questioning your bona fides. (I’ve had more than one person accuse me of actually being a Georgia fan — that’s a knee slapper every time.) But I’ll admit I’m not above being petty, especially when proven right. As for writing my own criticism, I save it for the people in charge and made it a point to stop criticizing players by name many years ago if they’re not professionals. On the other hand, if you write takes on the internet, you need to understand you will likely get roasted for them if they do not pan out.

Logan: I don’t respond, but I do tend to lean in to the criticism assuming it is something that isn’t a direct insult to my character. I think I got criticized last year for saying we were going to lose our game at Clemson last year, and for basically saying “Why even waste your time, we’re gonna lose”. Many people before the game said I wasn’t a true fan and many people after the game noted that we were very close to winning and I must be embarrassed. I watched that game because I’m a fan and regardless of my opinion I’m gonna at least watch the game, but guess what? It was a mess and we still lost, so I stand by my statement. I guess that’s what it comes down to, if you’re going to make a statement people may disagree with in your article that’s fine (in fact its almost guaranteed to happen in any field you do writing in). The key thing is make sure that you agree with anything you put in your articles that may be criticized. If someone criticizes you then you will be fine as long as you can stand behind your argument and be like “hey, you know what I still agree with what I said”.

Also, I want to add that I do appreciate some criticism. It shows that the fanbase is still invested in the program even if they don’t necessarily agree with me about where GT stands. I would rather have people who care that I don’t agree with than have fans who are not interested at all.

Jake: Honestly, I live in a pretty weird zone, over in the history and non-revenue sports world. There are a lot of times when writing this beat in particular is a little bit of a letdown because the teams do something cool or there are a ton of them in action and I put a lot of love into an article, but the viewership numbers, which we can see on our end, or Twitter engagement are low, or there are no comments or feedback at all. Especially in the beginning, I often failed to realize that it’s kind of the nature of the topic. 55,000 people and more on TV watch a football game on a Saturday, and people numbering in five or six figures follow them on social media, but the venues of sports I cover and their fandom followings are a lot smaller. Running with the example a bit, O’Keefe seats 1,200, McCamish 8,900, and McAuley somewhere in between — it tracks. When I do get comments — even after six years or more, they can be few and far between — it is largely an insightful question, nice note, or constructive addition or complement to what is written or podcasted. The exception to this general trend was when I first started the Rearview Mirror series. It is a shame that a lot of old stories lost comments when the platform switched over, because those articles had some awesome insight and tidbits being shared below them, and it felt so validating. It is one of the things I miss most in my full-time-job-having era, as the response to those articles was always so cool to see. One day, I’ll get back to more regular publishing there.

The only time I personally ever really got blowback was much earlier in my FTRS writing days when I painted too broad a brush over the tenure of Tech President Arthur Hansen, who exists well within living memory and was someone who, three-plus years later, I realize has far more nuance than I originally gave him credit for. While I didn’t take it too well at the time, I have definitely grown from it. That being said, I do tend to get defensive when negative feedback is given to the site more generally and I perceive it to be unfair, such as the time Logan mentioned above, but rarely do I do anything other than vent to Akshay or the other writers. Of course, I also man the Twitter every once in a while, so I see some feedback there, but rare are the times I get all that far from the site in the Tech internet. The only time I’ve read GT Swarm was when a friend sent me a thread in which users said FTRS had poor understanding of history and used the fact that a lot of us are graduates of the last decade and/or sidewalk fans as a pejorative. As a person newer in my fandom journey, I try hard to learn as much as I can with secondary sources, even when I could not experience them first-hand, and I count being well-versed in Tech history and my personal library as a point of pride, so I took that pretty hard. As for being in the grads of the last decade bucket, that part is intrinsic to who I am and my Tech fandom experience, and, even though I may not have football been fortunate enough to see Megatron on the Flats, a basketball Final Four, or the 1990 national championship, I would not trade the personal circumstances around meeting my girlfriend, some of the best friends anyone could ask for, the professors and classmates that were formative in my two degrees, or the three swim club national championships for anything.

Jeff: I don’t get to write nearly as much as work has taken over my weekends and I don’t do the recaps this year. I’ve had a player’s parents take shots at one of my takes even though I didn’t specifically name their kid. Which always made me laugh because what I said must be true if you knew what I was talking about. But all in all, I don't mind or let criticism bother me a whole lot. I’ve learned which criticism is good to listen to and try to take something from and when it is someone just sounding off on Twitter. Twitter is never the good kind by the way. I work in the commercial aviation industry and after 12 years have grown some pretty thick skin. Carter I can enjoy being petty and poke the troll on occasion.