Georgia Tech's Coaching Situation

Georgia Tech’s Coaching Situation and Recruiting

Georgia Tech’s vacant Head Coach spot has major ramifications for Georgia.

Not to spoil things as far as 2017 and 2018 recruiting is concerning, but Georgia Tech’s hire will have a significant impact on these classes considering that Georgia’s recruiting efforts are rather regional for those classes.  Georgia Tech’s choice will be felt in the recruiting battles.  The intensity of the Georgia-Georgia Tech recruiting rivalry faded with Brian Gregory at the helm despite the number of common recruits. Georgia’s main ACC foe in recruiting is Florida State, who happens to have a former Georgia Tech assistant, Charlton Young.  This could change drastically with Georgia Tech’s next hire.  The next Georgia Tech Head Coach may face off against Georgia more often for recruits than Brian Gregory, fend off a growing Georgia State program just a few minutes away and take on the outsiders that wish to poach the talent from the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech on the Recruiting Trail Under Brian Gregory

The two charts above show that both Georgia and Georgia Tech are targeting an increasing number of recruits in common, but yet are landing a smaller percentage of these common recruits than in the days when Dennis Felton and Paul Hewitt roamed the sidelines.  There are a few reasons why this is the case:

  • The reporting of recruits’ interest was less robust in the mid-2000s
  • Atlanta recruits leaving the State of Georgia
  • The rise of out-of-state preparatory schools
  • Intensified competition from out-of-state schools
  • Interest levels on the part of the coaches and recruits are substantially different
  • Hewitt and Felton ran the same offense (4 out 1 in motion)

Coaching Candidate #1:  Bryce Drew of Valparaiso

Bryce Drew was an NBA player with the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and the Charlotte Hornets (turned New Orleans Hornets).  As a basketball coach, he has known no other situation than coaching at his alma mater, Valparaiso.  Should he take the Georgia Tech position, Drew would need to assemble a staff that is connected to the AAU circuit in the Southeast and specifically the Atlanta Metro area.

Bryce Drew has not been recruiting the Southeast.  He brings the energy and experience to the table, but no credibility on the recruiting trail.

Coaching Candidate #2:  Pat Kelsey of Winthrop

Georgia beat Winthrop this season, but this should not be a reason to dismiss Kelsey as a significant threat in the Southeast.  Kelsey coaches a program that is in the Big South Conference, which is not a conference known for bringing in the top recruits, but considering that he recruits the Southeast heavily and is a Skip Prosser protege, his ability to recruit and staff a program should be a serious concern.  Kelsey is a more credible option as far as connections are concerned to Georgia Tech Athletic Director Mike Bobinski.  Bobinski is a former Athletic Director of Xavier and he should be very familiar with Kelsey, who is a former Xavier assistant under Chris Mack.

Kelsey’s 2016 Recruiting Map (note that these are recruits pursued)

Kelsey’s 2015-16 Winthrop Roster

Kelsey can recruit the Carolinas, Georgia and Ohio very well for a coach in a low-major conference.  His experiences as an assistant show that with a brand name program, he is very effective as well.  Mark Fox and his staff cannot take Kelsey for granted.  Kelsey’s not the sexy, brand name hire, but he may be the most feared choice for a reason.

Who has Kelsey brought in as an assistant with power programs?

Wake Forest in the Class of 2006:  L.D. Williams

Wake Forest in the Class of 2007:  James Johnson (currently with the Toronto Raptors)

Wake Forest in the Class of 2008:  Al-Farouq Aminu (currently with the Portland Trail Blazers)

Xavier in the Class of 2010:  Jay Canty and Griffin McKenzie

Kelsey’s up-tempo, Skip Prosser inspired style of play combined with his ability to recruit the Southeast make him a serious threat to Georgia’s attempt at in-state dominance.

Coaching Candidate #3:  Jeff Capel of Duke (assistant)

Jeff Capel was a Head Coach at VCU and Oklahoma.  Capel was handed a pretty decent situation at VCU as Mack McCarthy left after a 21 win season in Richmond.  He proceeded to have successful seasons himself at VCU, but only one NCAA Tournament appearance and an NIT appearance.

This track record at VCU was good enough to get him the job at Oklahoma.

What is important to understand about Capel’s tenure in Norman is his record with and without Blake Griffin.  Capel was unable to win without Griffin and eventually Capel’s tenure came to an end.

Jeff Capel was able to make the NCAA Tournament once without Blake Griffin and his team only made the Round of 64.  Each of Capel’s successors had more success than he did.

Anthony Grant took over for Capel at VCU and held the position for three seasons before taking the Alabama job.

Lon Kruger had to clean up the mess at Oklahoma in the wake of being on probation and the commission of recruiting violations.  It’s important to note that Capel was not implicated in violations.

Oklahoma may go further than just the Final Four under Lon Kruger.

Capel is capable of recruiting almost anywhere, but has had very limited success as a Head Coach without the #1 pick in the NBA Draft and now five-time NBA All-Star on his roster.

Georgia fans should look past the Coach K factor and Jeff Capel’s “brand name” to realize that this would be a very non-threatening selection.  It does not seem likely that Capel, a Duke alumnus and current Duke assistant, would take on a Head Coaching job in the ACC.  Barring a second coming of Blake Griffin to Midtown Atlanta, Capel is not a threat to Mark Fox and his staff.  In fact, Duke has not landed a recruit in the State of Georgia for a very long time.

More names may pop up, but these are the three that came up on the radar as the latest legitimate possibilities.  The most threatening name to UGA is Pat Kelsey.