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Mailbag 1/11

What if Lane Kiffin came to Tech when Paul Johnson retired?

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ole Miss v Penn State Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

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Anuj Bhyravabhotla: With the 2023 football season put to rest and possibly the circle complete (Key’s head coaching tenure began after a loss to UCF and Key closed out his first full season as head coach by beating them), I’d like to propose the following thought experiment. What are the top things that Geoff Collins tried to establish as part of his brand that Brent Key actually successfully did execute on?

Ben: Brent Key was successful in actually getting his players to execute and not just talking about it. I think everything else kind of just falls under that.

Chris: GriT. This 2023 team was scrappy as hell, and very often fought til the very end of games.

tyler_pifer92: This is utterly pointless, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

The year is 2018 and Paul Johnson retires from football. After much anxious speculation, Lane Kiffin, not Geoff Collins is hired as Johnson’s replacement.

Given Kiffin’s rocky history including having the reputation of being a bit of a diva, yet having one of the best offensive minds in the sport, the fanbase response is mixed.

Fast forward to 2024 and Kiffin has just finished his 5th season as Georgia Tech’s HC. What does the program look like?

Ben: That’s bold of you to assume that Lane Kiffin would have stuck around for 5 years at Georgia Tech. I think Kiffin would have had more immediate success at Georgia Tech than Collins, but I also don’t think Kiffin would have tried to basically spit in Paul Johnson’s face with how he led the team. I understand the boosters wanted to distance themselves from the option, but I don’t think Kiffin would have done that. Beyond the first couple of years, I don’t really know what the team would look like.

Jack: I think we’re on a better trajectory, for sure. Most other head coaches would have us in a better place over that stretch of time than the Bad Man. The diva part I think is extremely relevant. That’s a key reason why Deion never would’ve worked here. Kiffin I think could’ve felt suffocated by our culture. We don’t deal with frills and we’re straight to the point. We don’t have time or energy to deal with folks that won’t get the job done (despite what 4 years of Collins says otherwise). With Kiffin, we’re in a bowl within 3 years, but I don’t know if he’d be enjoying it.

Chris: Whew that sure would’ve been interesting. I tend to agree with Ben and Jack, I’m not sure he would’ve stuck around for 5 years. The most likely scenario would probably be 3 good years and then him moving on to an SEC school. Of course he’d be leagues better than Collins, but I do think he’d struggle a bit more here given our unique situation, so even with 5 full years I’m not confident that he’d have us quite at the level that Ole Miss is at right now. Maybe a solid 8-9 win team?

YankeeJacket: In the second half of the bowl game, I began having strange feelings about the football team. I began to feel vaguely positive about the future, and that our coach was not an embarrassment, could be a leader, and most importantly, make the right decisions to improve the team. Then I started to believe that the players won’t abandon the team and that more good players would join them through the transfer portal. Could you help me identify these feelings? I vaguely remember having them back in CPJ’s time when we had a returning quality quarterback and good supporting players. Thanks for your help.

Ben:

Chris: I had those exact same feelings friend.

tyler_pifer92: After the team left Hawaii, I was convinced we were a good basketball team. Not a great team, but I thought we would be a middle of the pack ACC team.

This team stinks. They had a golden opportunity to get some conference wins against some bad teams, but now I don’t see many wins left on the schedule.

What does the team need to do to get back on track?

And as an aside, is there any word on Abram? Injured? Doghouse?

Jack: Abram has had the flu. Damon clarified this after the Boston College game. Nothing to worry about there. We have to keep in mind this team is suuuper young. The best teams in college basketball are all older and have covid seniors still on their rosters. You could have anywhere from a 4-7 year age gap on the floor at any given moment between the youngest and oldest players. Damon also said in a previous press conference that this is a three year process to get back to consistently winning all the time. We landed Baye Ndongo this year, our recruiting is looking really good for next year, and fingers crossed that means 2025 looks good too. Lance Terry also will be back next season (covid senior!). This season will be and has been no more than some really nice flashes mixed with some games that overly exaggerate our youth. Expecting all of it to come together immediately with so many new faces is unwise.

Notwima13: If NCCA Football 24 comes out this summer what are you most excited for?

Ben: I don’t have a device to play it, and I have no intentions of buying one, but if I did, I would be excited about being able to just play it again. NCAA 14 was one of my favorite games, so I would just enjoy being able to have that experience again.

Chris: Nothing specific really, just the ability to sink hours into something.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Who is your Spirit Muppet and why?

Jack: Kermit. If I could adopt anyone’s personality, it would be him. Related: I saw possibly the greatest thing ever this summer in Animal performing “One Big Holiday” with My Morning Jacket at Newport Folk Fest:

Chris: my wife often tells me that when I’m grumpy my face looks like Sam the Eagle.

TheCalvinist: I just read the bombshell news that Nick Saban is retiring; who is your gut instinct guess as to who replaces him? How do you think this will effect the landscape of college football?

Ben: Geoff Collins I wouldn’t be surprised to see a guy like Sark get the job, but I think we’re well passed the days where it’s a given that it would be a guy like Dabo or Kirby. As far as its impact on the landscape of college football, it’ll definitely be big. Will the new guy keep any of his staff? If not, he’ll have virtually his pick of the litter of the rest of college football. I’m curious to see how things unfold.

Chris: I think it’ll be a big name that gets lured away from a good job. I think they don’t want to do a full rebuild situation and would prefer something that lets them keep a lot of players and culture.

TkTheGoat: Belichek to the Falcons??!!

Jack: I would not be surprised actually. Arthur Blank seems to be in a win now mentality to a heightened extent. They did the work to get out of the cap hell created by Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. They rebuilt the team so much young talent to allow for cap flexibility, and therefore the freedom to be ready for quick moves that can round out a championship level team. But, the gamble on Ridder was bad. Hiring Arthur Smith I think was somewhat of a gamble as well. Getting Belichick might be the proven option Blank thinks Atlanta needs to get over the hump. They were 15 different ways from beating Bill, so if you can’t beat them, join them.

Chris: I could see it. I don’t think he wants to retire with this having been his last season.

Ben; If it was like 5 years ago, I think people would be a lot more excited, but Belichick has fallen off a little bit. I don’t watch the Falcons much anymore, and this isn’t something that will encourage me to watch much more.

Partywaggin: Is CBK a dark horse bama candidate?

Jack: No. Let’s never speak of this again so that they don’t get any ideas.

Chris: definitely not, they will almost certainly hire a big name.

Ben: If it were several years into the future and Brent Key had strung together several successful seasons, yeah, I could see him being a candidate. As it is, though, Brent Key has been a head coach for one full season. He will not be the next head coach at Alabama.

Partywaggin: The crawl on Sportscenter said Saban was frustrated with the current state of affairs in college football. If someone with those resources at hand is fed up with things, what kind of portent is that for programs like Tech?

Chris: Is that actually part of it or are people just doing a weird speculation thing? It’s not like he’s a young guy, people have been talking about him retiring for years. I’m sure he’s been frustrated every single year he’s been at Bama, that just feels like who he is.

Ben: Ehh, those are just rumors. He’s also really old and might just want to retire.