Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The Coastal Life

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are getting closer to the start of the 2022 football season.

Let’s take a look at the ACC Coastal Division and predict the final standings.

#7 Duke 3-9 (0-8 ACC): The Blue Devils struggled in 2021. Head coach David Cutcliffe is now gone and former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko has taken over.

The offense averaged 14.9 points per game in conference play last season. They lost quarterback Gunnar Holmberg and leading receiver Jake Bobo to the transfer portal and running back Mataeo Durant (1,241 yards) departed for the NFL.

The defense allowed 46.6 ppg and 7.1 yards per play in ACC games.

#6 Georgia Tech 3-9 (2-6 ACC): Head coach Geoff Collins is 9 – 25 over the last three years. The roster only returns four starters and the non-conference opponents are Ole Miss, UCF and Georgia.

Tech lost two offensive pieces in quarterback Jordan Yates, who transferred out, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who left for Alabama.

Jeff Sims returns at quarterback after passing for 12 TDs and 7 picks, but there isn’t a ton to work with around him moving the ball.

Drastic improvement is needed for the defense that has ranked 13th or worse in the ACC in points allowed in each of Collins’ three years at the helm. The offense averaged 24 ppg last season, which was third worst in the ACC.

#5 Virginia 6-6 (4-4 ACC): The Cavaliers will be led by first-year head coach Tony Elliott.

He previously served as a coach at Clemson from 2011 – 2021, most recently as associate head coach, offensive coordinator, tight ends coach and running backs coach. He has learned a lot from Dabo Swinney, which should mean good things for UVA.

Elliott inherits one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks (Brennan Armstrong) and receiving corps (Billy Kemp IV, Dontayvion Wicks, Keytaon Thompson and Lavel Davis). Armstrong led all Power 5 quarterbacks by averaging 427.3 total yards a game last fall.

They need to establish balance in the running game and take some of the pressure off of him. They lost all five offensive line starters.

#4 Virginia Tech 6-7 (4-4 ACC): Brent Pry takes over as the head coach in Blacksburg. Pry was the defensive coordinator at Penn State from 2016 – 2021. His experience should help make an impact immediately for the Hokies defense that’s returning seven starters. They held opponents to 25.3 ppg but only had 16 sacks in ACC play.

Transfer quarterbacks Grant Wells (Marshall) and Jason Brown (South Carolina) are battling for the starting job.

#3 North Carolina 6-7 (3-5 ACC): The Tar Heels lost QB Sam Howell, four offensive line starters and the bulk of the rushing attack.

Coach Mack Brown recruits well and a couple of good recruiting classes should make the difference.

Talented redshirt freshman Drake Maye will battle Jacolby Criswell for the starting quarterback job.

#2 Pitt 11-3 (7-1 ACC): The Panthers shocked everyone by winning the ACC last year. QB Kenny Pickett and receiver Jordan Addison are major losses.

USC transfer Kedon Slovis should win the quarterback job. They have a solid stable of running backs and the defense returns seven starters.

#1 Miami 7-5 (5-3 ACC): Mario Cristobal left Oregon to take the head coach job at his alma mater.

He hired Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator. Gattis led Michigan to the College Football Playoffs last season.

QB Tyler Van Dyke returns after throwing for almost 3,000 yards, 25 TD’s and 6 interceptions. He had seven games without a turnover and the U went 5-2.

The O line returns three starters, including All-America candidate Zion Nelson.

Ill Play There

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

National Early Signing Day has come and gone for college football and here is what the top 10 looked like:

 

1.Texas A&M

2.Alabama

3.Georgia

4.Ohio State

5.Texas

6.Penn State

7.Notre Dame

8.North Carolina

9.Michigan

10.Oklahoma

Here are some of my take aways from National Early Signing Day:

Texas A&M-This is Jimbo Fisher’s first #1 class, however A&M has consistently been in the top 10 over the last few years. This has not translated into being relevant in the National Championship picture or even in the SEC West.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma-Both of these programs did well to finish in the top 10, considering they both lost their head coaches weeks before National Early Signing Day.

North Carolina-The Tar Heels once again finished inside the Top 10, second straight year. Possibly a rising ACC power?

Kentucky-The Wildcats finished with the 11th class in the country. Yes, you read that right, 11th! Kentucky is making a case to replace Florida as the second-best team in the SEC East.

Florida State and Tennessee-Two blue bloods hoping to wake up the echoes. Their recruiting classes will help. FSU finished 13th and Tennessee 14th.

Clemson-The Tigers were a perennial Top 5 program when it came to recruiting for a decade. Looks like the guard is changing in the ACC as the Tigers finished 17th.

Georgia Tech-The Yellow Jackets have recruited well the last few years under Geoff Collins, without a lot of wins to show for it. Tech finished 25th last year, but dipped to 41 this season. A bad omen for Geoff Collins.

UCF and Cincinnati-These two soon-to-be Big 12 teams have been the flies in the ointment of the college football playoff and you would think that would translate to better recruiting classes, it hasn’t. Cincinnati finished 38th and UCF 42nd.

Vanderbilt-Something must be in the water in Nashville as the Commodores netted a top 40 class for the first time in… who knows how long. 38th

Florida-The Gators’ dumpster fire only gets worse. The mighty Gators ended up with the 50th ranked class in the country. New Hire Billy Napier was left with a mess. Recruit after recruit decommitted from the swamp. Good luck, Billy.

Miami-Another big mess to clean up in the state of Florida. Mario Cristobal will have his work cut out for him too. The Hurricanes finished 62nd.

USC-The mighty Trojans finished with only 6 commits. SIX! Good enough for 81st.

Georgia State-The Panthers must get credit. They cracked the top 100 with the 84th class. This program keeps getting better.

Georgia Southern-The Eagles must improve from being outside of the top 100 to compete. They reeled in the 109th class.

 

Returning Sting?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia Tech kicks off the college football season September 4th at home against Northern Illinois.

Geoff Collins is entering his third season as the head coach in Atlanta. His record is 6 – 16 and he won three games in each of his first two seasons. The question is ‘can the Yellow Jackets finally turn the corner this season?’

Last season true freshman quarterback Jeff Sims started. As expected, he went through growing pains learning and gaining experience. He passed for 1,881 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 492 yards and 6 TD’s. I think he will be drastically better as a sophomore.

True freshman running back Jahmyr Gibbs was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. He missed several games in 2020 due to injury. He rushed for 460 yards, 4 touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. He was also second on the team in receptions with 24 catches, 303 yards and 3 scores. If he can stay healthy, he should run for a thousand yards.

Junior running back Jordan Mason can run effectively when he plays. In 2020, he rushed for 352 yards, 2 TD’s and averaged 4.3 YPC.

They did lose the leading receiver last season, Jalen Camp. He graduated and was drafted in the 6th round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Left tackle Devin Cochran is a grad-transfer from Vanderbilt. He’s 6’7, 320-pounds and should immediately improve the offensive line.

Tackle Kenneth Kirby is also a grad-transfer from Norfolk State. He was a three-year starter and two-time All-MEAC selection.

You may be noticing a theme so far with the grad-transfer players. Linebacker Ayinde Eley joined the team in January after transferring from Maryland. He was voted a team captain for the spring game and has been a leader since showing up on campus.

Georgia Tech needs to improve in every aspect because they have not done anything well in the Geoff Collins era. We have seen they can win three games but they will need to double that to become bowl eligible. One thing that was promising is that all of the wins last season were against ACC teams. T

hey are starting to level the playing field and they now need to win one more conference game and two non-conference games to get to six wins.

I believe Tech will win the season opener against Norther Illinois.

The following week, September 11th is also at Bobby Dodd Stadium against Kennesaw State. The Owls are an FCS team but they are tough. I think this will be a close game but I give the advantage to Tech.

Week 3 is the first away game against Clemson. We all know that GT will be slaughtered. Last season they were embarrassed 73 -7. I think this game will be closer but that would still be a forty-point loss.

The fourth game is against North Carolina at Mercedes-Benz stadium. The Tar Heels are a better team. Collins needs to start winning games like this if he plans to turn the program around. I give the advantage to UNC.

The next two games before the bye week are Pitt and at Duke. I think Tech can beat Duke.

After the bye, the next four games are at Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Miami and Boston College. BC and UVA are the games they have a chance in.

The final two games are at Notre Dame and home versus Georgia. These will be blow out loses.

I think GT will improve and win 5 games but they will not become bowl eligible.

 

Dumpster fire

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As you look around the Southern college football landscape you see the Alabama, Clemson, Florida, and Georgia’s of the world playing a very good brand of football, but you can also look around and see some programs not performing very well.

We have a few programs in our geographical region that currently look like dumpster fires. Let’s take a look at my top five programs that have fallen on hard times.

 

  1. Georgia Tech: The Jackets were number one on this list two years ago. Now they are about remove themselves from lists like this. Georgia Tech is doing the right things to not be included on lists like this much longer.

Teams 1-4 on this list need to follow the Jacket blueprint. The Jackets land here as a motivational tool for 2021.

 

  1. Florida State: My how the mighty have fallen. This once proud football program has sunk to an all-time low.

Gone are the days of ruling the ACC with an iron fist, and now we see FSU backing out of playing home games against Clemson and using Covid-19 as an excuse after Clemson had already made the trip.

FSU used to be a recruiting machine and now they fight Georgia Southern and South Alabama for 3-star athletes.

FSU will be back eventually but how in the hell should a program of this magnitude ever appear on a list like this?  It cost Clemson $250K to travel to Tallahassee for a pre-game meal, but they got to see a top five dumpster fire in person.

 

  1. South Carolina: Are you starting to see a pattern of the SEC East yet?

South Carolina is a State with good high school football, Columbia is 80 miles from Charlotte and less than 3 hours from Atlanta. The recruiting base is there.

South Carolina’s biggest problem is that they are Clemson’s little brother and they can’t shake that label.

You mention that to the fan base and they get fighting mad. How can Clemson be so good and South Carolina be so bad currently? I just don’t get it and many football observers in the south don’t either.

Will Shane Beamer fix this dumpster fire?

 

  1. Vanderbilt: Vandy has never been very good in football. We all understand that the academic prestige of Vanderbilt presents some competitive challenges for this fine University.

Derek Mason has been fired and been replaced by Clark Lea from Notre Dame.

Vandy needs to get back to work of becoming a competitive football team. The Commodores did not win a football game in 2020, and decided they were just not going to show up and play Georgia in their final game of the season. That mentality alone has to go and makes Vandy a dumpster fire.

 

  1. Tennessee: How did we get here Vol fans? You are the biggest dumpster fire in college football currently. A ten-year-old boy and Tennessee fan asked his father “What is it like to beat Alabama dad?” Dad answered “I don’t know son we are Vol fans.”

Tennessee just suffered through the worst decade of football in its proud history. Six head coaches in 12 years.

Now apparently Tennessee has as many as 30 level 1 and level 2 major recruiting violations. Rumors of giving away cash in McDonald’s bags and so on.

Due to NCAA sanctions forthcoming it may be 2025-26 until Tennessee has a full complement of scholarships to offer (they could lose up to 30 over next 4 years).

This program is about to be on life support. Tennessee is having a mass exodus via the transfer portal.

Memphis is the best college football program in the State of Tennessee right now.

Damn, just damn, Big Orange nation you are the biggest dumpster fire in all of college football.

ACC Pulse

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As you all know 2020 was a year like we’ve never seen in our lifetime. Everything was affected by the global pandemic, including sports.

We’re going to take a look at the current state of the ACC up to this point.

The two blue blood programs, Duke and North Carolina are both unranked for the first time since 1982.

The only undefeated team in conference play is Virginia (9-2, 5-0). The Cavaliers are the highest rated team in the ACC, ranked 13th. When is the last time the first-place team in this conference wasn’t in the top 10?

Right now, UVA is the most consistent team and they play great defense. Senior forward Sam Hauser is the team leader in points per game and rebounds per game with 13.8 and 7.5.

#16 Virginia Tech (11-2, 5-1) is in second place. The lone conference loss was at Louisville 73 – 71.

The Hokies don’t play their archrival until January 30th. If they can get past Boston College, Syracuse and Notre Dame before that then that game will be for control of the conference. Junior forward Keve Aluma is the best player on the team with 14.8 ppg and 7.3 rpg.

Florida State (8-2, 4-1) is one of the most dangerous teams in the country. The Seminoles are full of tall and athletic playmakers.

They recently beat Louisville on the road 78 – 65. That was only the second conference loss for the Cardinals so that is an impressive win. I’m not sure how FSU is not ranked.

Pitt (7-2, 3-1) may have the best player in the conference. Sophomore forward Justin Champagnie is averaging 18.7 ppg and 12.9 rpg.

They’ve had three games against Duke, Florida State and Georgia Tech postponed. The lone conference loss was against Louisville. We’re going to learn a lot about the Panthers soon when they play Duke this week.

It’s surprising that Duke is the fifth ranked team in the conference. The Blue Devils (5-3, 3-1) rely heavily on talented freshmen and they are having a hard time adjusting.

They have had five games cancelled or postponed so they lost valuable time to gain experience. All three loses were to ranked teams: #8 Michigan State, #6 Illinois and #20 Virginia Tech.

I think this is a pretty good team and that will show as the season progresses.

Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-1) has to be the most surprising team. The Yellow Jackets have had four games postponed or cancelled.

They lost to Georgia State, Mercer and FSU.

The next four games are against Clemson, Virginia, Duke and FSU. I think Tech’s record is inflated and they’ll come back down to earth after that.

#20 Clemson is 8th in the ACC but nationally ranked above several teams in front of them.

The Tigers (9-2, 3-2) lost to UVA and Virginia Tech.

The team’s leading scorer, Aamir Simms only averages 11.6 ppg. I think Clemson is a decent team, but they are not a contender.

North Carolina is coming off of a disappointing 2019-20 season. The Tar Heels (8-5, 3-3) are following that trend this season.

The next five games are against Wake Forest, NC State, Pitt, Clemson and Duke. They need to win four of those games to position themselves to make the NCAA Tournament.

They lack talent so I don’t think it’s possible. Armando Bacot leads the team with 11.2 ppg.

NC State, Miami, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Boston College and Wake Forest are the remaining teams. These teams do not have a chance to get in the NCAA Tournament.

Lost Rivals

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC announced it would be moving to a 10-game only conference game schedule for the 2020 football season.

With this news it means it means people will not see Georgia/Georgia Tech, South Carolina/Clemson, Florida/Florida State, nor Kentucky/Louisville play their rivalry games this fall.

The start of the season will be pushed back until September 26th.

If you are a UGA fan this probably means you open the season in Tuscaloosa against Alabama on that date. It is unclear at this time which teams the Bulldogs would add to the schedule.

It’s assumed that they would play the six teams from the SEC East and keep the Crimson Tide, this year’s SEC West rotational opponent, and Auburn, the annual SEC West opponent, on the schedule.

The SEC is developing a formula based on strength of schedule to determine the remaining two games for each SEC team.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the shift to late September will allow schools to reintegrate their entire student bodies on campus amid the new challenges presented by the pandemic.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

Clemson and South Carolina have played every year since 1909.

Georgia and Georgia Tech, which have played 114 times, have met in each season since 1925.

Florida and Florida State started playing each other in 1958. I hate losing these three games as a fan in 2020.

Other Big SEC non-conference games that were cut in 2020 are Alabama vs. USC in Arlington, Texas, was canceled when the Pac-12 opted to play only conference games.

Two other ACC-SEC games Georgia vs. Virginia and Auburn vs. North Carolina at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta are gone.

Other games that won’t be played: Texas at LSU, Arkansas at Notre Dame, Tennessee at Oklahoma, Missouri at BYU, Vanderbilt at Kansas State and Mississippi State at NC State.

2020 will go down as one of the worst years in history with the Covid-19 pandemic. I lost a family member to this deadly pandemic.

College football is like comfort food to many of us in the South, currently. I’m hoping the season takes place. As a UGA fan it bothers you that you can’t play a rival that is only 70 miles from your campus, but I applaud the SEC and the University Presidents for doing everything in their power to have a football season.

Questions to be answered now:

Once play begins will we even have fans in attendance?

Will UGA/UF be played in Jacksonville this year?

With the conference only format, will Florida and Georgia lose a home game?

What does a competitive balanced additional two SEC games mean?

Does that mean Florida picks up Texas A&M and Auburn while Alabama picks up Vanderbilt and Missouri?

Long time SEC fans know how everything seems to benefit Alabama in the long run. Yes, I said it prove me wrong from a historical perspective. It is going to be interesting when the additional two game rotation rolls out.

The ultimate goal is to have SEC football this fall, and Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate will resume in 2021 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

I Will Take My Talents To…

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

With the Early Signing Period in the rearview mirror and bowl season over, the last big day for college football before spring practice is National Signing Day.

With many of the top recruits from the 2020 class already signed, who is left for the top programs to pick up on Wednesday, February 5th?

Five Star Running Back Zack Evans is the number 1 running back in the class of 2020.

By far the wildest recruitment of the 2020 cycle. Evans signed a LOI (Letter of Intent) with the Georgia Bulldogs back in December, got cold feet, and asked to be released from his LOI.

Georgia obliged and now Evans is back on the market as an extremely talented athlete with some off the field issues.

This recruitment still seems very cloudy through, as Evans has left a lot of coaches guessing. This is shaping up to be a Tennessee, Ole Miss and Georgia battle. Alabama, Florida and LSU have rescinded their offers over the past few weeks.  My Pick: Georgia

Four Star Safety Avantae Williams backed off his early commitment to the Oregon Ducks back in December.

Williams is the 9th ranked safety in the 2020 class.

He is a hard-hitting safety that can cover a lot of ground. Williams’ recruitment is a battle between Miami, Florida and Georgia. My Pick: Florida

Four Star Offensive Lineman Sedrick Van Pran has been committed to Georgia since August.

Van Pran has taken official visits to Alabama and is scheduled to be at Florida this weekend.

With the departure of former Offensive Line coach San Pittman, Van Pran seems to have opened up his recruitment. It would be shocking if Van Pran is not a Bulldog come National Signing Day. My Pick: Georgia

Four Star Running Back Jahmyr Gibbs has been committed to Georgia Tech since May.

After a very strong senior season, Gibbs has received offers from Ohio State, LSU, Georgia and Florida.

While Florida and Ohio State have put on the full court press, Gibbs will stay firm to his commitment. My Pick: Georgia Tech 

Four Star Athlete Damarcus Beckwood has hopes of playing college football and basketball.

The 6-foot-4, 220 pounder is a versatile weapon on offense playing both wide receiver and tight end in high school.  This is a battle between Tennessee and Florida. My Pick: Florida 

February 5th marks the final day of the 2020 recruiting cycle. National Signing Day will still be important as there are a couple highly touted 2020 high school prospects that remain uncommitted.

And there will always be the few flipped prospects that make headlines on National Signing Day.

Since Dan Mullen’s time at Florida, the Gators have used the transfer portal to pluck talented players. The Gators have landed four star Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes in Mullen’s first year at Florida.

Last season, the Gators landed five-star defensive end, Brenton Cox.

This season is much different, the Gators signed a pair of five stars in running back Lorenzo Lingard and wide receiver Justin Shorter. Both players have applied for waivers with the NCAA.

Kirby Smart used the portal to add quarterback Jamie Newman. Newman has one season of eligibility and should be the front runner for QB1 for the Bulldogs.

Can Newman do what Joe Burrow did for LSU?

The Tough Coastal Life

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The summer is just getting started and I can’t wait for Fall to get here. In just a few long months football season will start.

I’m going to take a look at the Coastal division in the ACC and see how each team should finish. If you’re wondering why I didn’t pick the Atlantic it’s because we all know the final answer, Clemson wins with ease.

The Coastal is the much weaker division. By default, that makes it very competitive because they lack a dominant team. The only problem is the division champ is just waiting to be slaughtered by Clemson in the ACC Championship.

Perfect example, Pitt (7-7) won the division and was mauled by the Tigers 42–10.

Duke: They have the most stability with the longest tenured coach in the division, David Cutcliffe. He’s led the Blue Devils to 6 bowl games in the last 7 years. That’s very good considering Duke was a perennial doormat for most of their history.

They have to replace their starting quarterback, Daniel Jones who was the 6th overall pick in the draft.

The schedule is very tough. They start the season against Alabama in a neutral site game in Atlanta. They play both Virginia schools on the road. Then in November, they play Notre Dame, Syracuse and Miami. They will struggle to win 6 games.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are replacing Paul Johnson and his triple option scheme after 11 seasons. They will look totally different under new head coach Geoff Collins.

The Yellow Jackets will now run a spread offense, which means most of their roster does not fit that scheme. They also will have a learning curve adapting to a new scheme.

The book ends of the season are going to blow out losses to Clemson and Georgia. The games in between are somewhat manageable. I expect them to get 6 wins, mainly because there are other teams in the division with first year coaches.

Miami: The Hurricanes should be the cream of the crop. Former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is now the head coach. They also have Ohio State transfer and former five-star quarterback Tate Martell. If he’s anywhere near as good as he thinks he is then he will be a Heisman finalist.

The season begins against Florida in Orlando. After that, the schedule is easy. The Florida State game used to be a big deal but the Seminoles aren’t good anymore. Get ready for more turnover chain celebrations in 2019. I think the Hurricanes can win 10 games. At worst, I expect 9 wins.

North Carolina: Mack Brown returned to UNC and has not coached since 2013. The Tar Heels were 2-9 last year so they are very bad.

I think Brown is rusty and he inherits a bad football team. The season begins against South Carolina and 11 of 12 games are against teams that went bowling last season. They should improve but they will still have a losing record, 4 wins at best.

Pitt: The Panthers have back-to-back games against Penn State and UCF. They should win 6 or 7 games.

Virginia: UVA improved significantly last year in Bronco Mendenhall’s 3rd season on the job. Other than Notre Dame, Miami and Pitt the other games are manageable. The Cavaliers can realistically expect to win 8 games.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies only won 6 games in 2018, which is a down year for them.

They have not lost to in-state rival UVA since 2003, so I assume that’s a win. Va Tech should finish with 7-8 victories.

State Champs?

By: JJ Lanier

GeorgiaSportsEdition.com news services

While both the Georgia and Georgia Tech basketball programs seem to be in a race back to mediocrity- one that neither team looks to be in a hurry to achieve- Georgia State has made a strong argument to carry the mantle of “best college basketball program in Georgia”.

It’s easy to dismiss what the Panthers have accomplished over the last five years. Including this season, since they play in the Sun Belt conference, but that would be a mistake.

Over that five years span, Georgia State has had more appearances in the NCAA than both Georgia and Georgia Tech combined (two to one) and is the only school with a tournament win, advancing to the Round of 32 in 2015 and 2018.

As a point of reference, the last time Tech won a NCAA tournament game was 2010. Georgia’s last tournament victory came in 2002, which technically has been vacated, so it’s actually 1996.

This year the Panthers have the most dynamic and arguably the best player of the three schools in D’Marcus Simonds, as well as Ron Hunter, whom I believe is the second-best coach of the three, behind Tom Crean.

(I’ve always thought Josh Pastner was overrated, and to be completely honest with you, I’d be surprised if he’s still coaching the Yellow Jackets after next season. Crean, I think, is a good coach that was in a little over his head in Indiana, but is a good fit in Athens.)

Georgia State was also crowned the de facto winners of the completely made up title “Intrastate champions of the sport most Georgia fans only watch when their remote is broken and they don’t want to walk over to the TV to change the channel”.

They were awarded this absolutely ridiculous title after Georgia defeated Georgia Tech, courtesy of Georgia State’s 91-67 victory over the Bulldogs. Basically, they’re state champions, in the loosest sense of the word.

There’s also a good chance when you include Georgia State’s victory over Alabama, that even though they aren’t in the SEC they will enter February with as many SEC conference wins as the Bulldogs-two.

Again, while they play in a lesser conference, they have more than proven they can compete when going up against a team from a major conference. Sure, they may not be able to hang with the Duke’s and Kentucky’s of the world, but there aren’t a lot of teams that can.

Even though their entire season and whether they’ll be back in the NCAA tournament will basically come down to the Sun Belt Conference tournament, they are still the state’s best shot at making the big dance.

Barring some unforeseen miracle occurring with either the Yellow Jackets or Bulldogs, both of their tournament hopes will rest on winning their respective conference tournaments, too. I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between those three, I’m going with the Panthers.

As I mentioned, given the chance I think Tom Crean will have the Georgia program back to respectability within the next years. And given the law of averages, Georgia Tech is bound to trip up and bring in someone that can lead them back to the tournament with some semblance of consistency.

Until that time arrives, when it comes to basketball in the state of Georgia, the Georgia State Panthers are the team to beat.

Add another trip to the tournament this year and the rest of country may find out just how good they are, too.

 

New To The Hive

By: TJ Hartnett

GeorgiaSportsEdition.com news services

After Paul Johnson retired from coaching the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team after 11 seasons, there was a big ACC hole to fill. They filled it with former Tech assistant and erstwhile Temple head coach Geoff Collins.

Collins was 15-10 for the past two seasons at Temple and before that worked as the defensive coordinator at both Florida and Mississippi State. He began his career in Atlanta as a tight ends coach for the Jackets under George O’Leary and also worked as a recruiting coordinator for Chan Gailey in 2006.

This amounts to a dream job for Collins, a Conyers native, who has already been on the recruiting trail since being hired last month.

Collins has fairly sizeable shoes to fill: Johnson managed 82 wins during his stint, against 59 losses; the Yellow Jackets also made three ACC Championship game appearances. Last season they finished 7-5.

In addition to recruiting, Collins has spent his time filling out his coaching staff for the upcoming season.

His first move was to bring on former Yellow Jackets running back Tashard Choice as the running backs coach. The former NFL player spent the past two seasons at North Texas as an assistant and RB coach.

Collins followed that hire up by adding Kerry Dixon and Lewis Caralla. Dixon will be the Jackets’ wide receivers coach. He held the same job in the past at the University of Florida, where he first ran into his new boss.

Caralla will serve as Tech’s strength and conditioning coach, the same position he held in Buffalo. He was an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Yellow Jackets in 2010 and 2011.

Collins brought a familiar face with him from Pennsylvania, former Temple assistant Nathan Burton, a Teaching graduate, who joins the staff as a co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

Collins has also brought on Boise State coach Jeff Popovich to coach GT’s cornerbacks and coordinator of defensive special teams.

Larry Knight, Jim Panagos and Chris Wiesehan have also been added to Collins’ staff. Knight will serve as defensive ends/outside linebackers coach; Panagos as defensive line coach; and Wiesehan as tight ends coach/offensive special teams coordinator.

Additionally, Knight will carry the title of defensive recruiting coordinator. Tashard Choice, previously hired as the Yellow Jackets’ running backs coach, will serve as the program’s offensive recruiting coordinator.

Collins followed those hires up with a pair of steals; first swiping Patrick Suddes from Auburn to run his recruiting office, then taking Brent Key from Nick Saban to serve as assistant head coach. Key, another Tech graduate, has been coaching Alabama’s best-in-the-nation offensive line for the past three seasons.

While that seemed to close the book on Georgia Tech’s staff, this week Collins created and filled four new positions that did not exist during Paul Johnson’s tenure in charge.

Football research and analytics coordinator Pat Boyle, analysts Joe Battaglia (offense) and Ronell Williams (defense) and brand manager Santino Stancato all jumped ship with Collins from Temple.

With a new cohort of coaches and assistants (and a brand manager, of course), the Geoff Colllins era at Georgia Tech is ready to begin in earnest.

With so many staff members from Georgia, much like Collins himself, and/or doubling as graduates from the very institution they now work for, local recruiting is sure to be a focus, and strength, of this team.

Choice in particular brings a youth and energy to the staff that did not exist during the Paul Johnson era.

Despite his predecessor’s successes, Collins decided to start entirely fresh when he took over the job in December. Soon, the time will come for these new faces to prove what they can do.