Trust me, I never expected Paul Hewitt to be out at Georgia Tech. He had a seven million dollar buyout – the economy is in the dumper, it’s not like the university is swimming in wealth. I expected to continue to recruit great talent to Tech, not coach them, watch them go out the door and bring the sport of basketball to a complete halt in the greater Atlanta area. After 11 seasons, Hewitt leaves a mixed bag, a program more or less the same way he found it kinda sorta – and a legacy that is truly curious.
I always have reservations talking about stuff like this – admitting that I have talk show radio caller feelings about college coaches hurts me. It feels like a character flaw. After all, the entire construct of intercollegiate athletics as it is practiced at the revenue generating sport level – is ridiculously corrupt. Indeed, one can question intercollegiate athletics existing at any level at all outside of the Ivy League or NESCAC level of perspective. Paul Hewitt did not do a great job of graduating kids, but he did not produce knuckleheads or rapists either. Sure a lot of his players left early – but that is not a negative commentary about him contrary to what you see in the college sports echo chamber. Students matriculate to university to advance their job prospects – Chris Bosh and Derrick Favors certainly did that. As long as he produced solid guys, and the team did not embarass itself, he is a class act right?
On the other hand … this stupid warped view of college athletics is what I’ve grown up with. It’s idiotic, but hey I cop to it. As such, Georgia Tech took me on one of the rides of my lifetime when they made the national title game in 2004. Hewitt’s teams at their best were hard nosed, entertaining, up tempo and athletic. However, often his offensive philosophy was basically telling players “go, do something!”. His talented players never seemed to develop – whether it be the future pros who flourished at the next level (hello Thaddeus Young) or guys who just should have been better (Iman Shumpert, Ra’Sean Dickey). But moreover, the team stopped being entertaining, and above all the team should be worth watching (assuming that it exists at all blah blah blah). Georgia Tech needs to get its groove back.
So who is next? I’m not sure, although certainly there are ideas. Personally, I like going with an X and O sort like Chris Mooney at Richmond. This would parallel what Dan Radikovich (the AD) did with hiring Paul Johnson for football. Instead of Georgia Tech trying to be a glam program and stockpiling super-recruits (an unsustainable model as long as they are going to pursue their professional dreams – unless you keep recruiting like John Calipari does) – recruit smart but focus on being a good team with a sustainable system. This can allow Georgia Tech to ride out years with lesser talent, and then flourish when the talent is there. Right now, when Hewitt’s teams lacked players they sucked out loud.