Sometimes turnarounds come too late. Sometimes the coach who lost so much in his first four seasons and was hired by somebody else can’t possibly accomplish enough to save his job in year five.
Brian Gregory won a lot of games and earned a ton of respect this season -- from the players who played for him, to the people who worked for him to the media vultures who had long ago buried him.
But it's clear now that nothing short of a long NCAA tournament run was going to keep Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski from firing Gregory this season. Nothing.
So on Friday, Bobinski, who came from Xavier and fashions himself as a “basketball guy,” took his first step toward putting his stamp on something at Georgia Tech. He fired Gregory after a 21-win season with two years left on the coach’s contract -- because the only realistic alternative would have been giving Gregory an extension, and that wasn't going to happen on Bobinski's watch.
I spoke at length with Gregory a week ago. The Yellow Jackets were coming off an NIT win over Houston for their 20th win of the season, a significant moment in Gregory’s tenure and for that matter for a program that had won 20 games just once in the previous eight seasons.
Several family members and friends joined Gregory in a post-game press conference to celebrate the moment. But Bobinski wasn’t there. He had been offering few words of congratulations this season and to say Gregory never really felt supported would be an understatement. It's never a good sign with the athletic director is keeping a low profile.
Gregory didn’t like not being given some assurances about his future despite the success this season, and he didn’t like that the story of his job security was taking the focus off his players.
"You have to fight those (negative) thoughts," he said. "But I never want to fight it for personal reasons. I want to fight it for these guys. … I’d say I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that my story of uncertainty would overshadow the players."
Bobinski believes Tech can do better. OK, this is his chance to prove it. I'm not going to write that he made the incorrect decision here. The Jackets are going to lose several players from this team and are expected to take a step back next season, and Gregory just didn't have enough credit points on his resume to earn the athletic director's benefit of the doubt.
But Bobinski now has to convince a more-than-competent basketball coach to take a job at a program that will be paying salaries to two former coaches (Paul Hewitt and Gregory) and likely won't have much left to pay the new coach. Athletic director Dan Radakovich found the pickings slim after he fired Hewitt.
Will it be much better now?
(I'll have more shortly).
Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox
- Kirby Smart is wrong ... but then so is everybody else on transfers
- Ranking Atlanta's top coaches, from Budenholzer to... um...
- Sticky ball? NBA looks like bigger goofball than Dwight Howard
- Where sports and politics collide, Georgia loses
- Georgia legislators step in it, could lose Super Bowl, other events
- Brian Gregory fighting 'disappointment' of uncertain future
- Keith Marshall had fast combine time but is he NFL running back?
- Taking a Digi-Blog stroll through Georgia's spring practice
- Kirby Smart's fingerprints are all over changes at Georgia
- Goodell may be stripped of player discipline power (it's about time)
- Dan Quinn staying loyal to Shanahan, staff amid heat
- Poll: To keep or fire Brian Gregory? It's not an easy decision (again)
- $32 million for Sanu? Falcons overpaid to replace Roddy White (updated)
- Spring training: Braves putting a lot on Julio Teheran's shoulders
- Alex Mack was safest and best choice Falcons could make in free agency
- Spring training: Amid Braves' makeover, Freeman says he never considering asking out
- Spring training: Braves' camp in Disney causes extra wear, move would be welcomed
- Falcons' embarrassing incidents have eroded confidence
- Spring training: Unlike more rookies, Braves' Olivera has limited time to meet expectations
- If Falcons' inept questioning widespread, somebody should lose their job
- Spring training: Down goes a Braves' pitcher with Tommy John surgery (surprise!)
- Spring training: Fredi Gonzalez is looking to lead, no matter the circumstances
- Spring training: As Braves acquire prospects, Lucas Sims still trying to prove his worth
- Spring training: Francoeur's bumpy journey brings him back to Braves for one last shot
- Spring training: Braves are discounted on field but not at Disney box office (wait, $49?)
- Roddy White still has something left, Falcons may regret this move
- Falcons' defense needs help but Mario Williams would be huge risk
- Matt Ryan doesn't have long to prove worth to Falcons