Georgia Tech finally fell on the double-edged sword of Paul Hewitt and his immense buyout this offseason. It was a move long called for by Yellow Jacket fans, as his recent inconsistency and perceived underachievement slowly overshadowed the team’s 28-win title game season in 2003-04. Hewitt consistently recruited some of the best talent, especially local stars like Derrick Favors. Unfortunately, in four of the subsequent seasons Georgia Tech failed to finish with a .500 record. Even when the team was rife with NBA players in 2009-10 the Jackets limped to the NCAA Tournament before only winning one game.
Enter Brian Gregory. Gregory was an assistant under Michigan State legend Tom Izzo before being hired away by Dayton. Under Gregory the Flyers managed to make the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT three times in eight seasons. In most mid-major conferences, making the Big Dance a quarter of the time is very respectable, but the A-10 routinely winds up with multiple seeds come Selection Sunday. Gregory’s relative lack of success in getting the Flyers into the NCAAs regularly isn’t the only red flag.
Another warning sign is the response from Dayton fans when his Georgia Tech hiring was announced. It was mixed, but definitely trended towards relief. Unless you run a modified version of the Princeton offense, fans of winning programs shouldn’t want their coach to leave. If I had to hypothesize why the Yellow Jackets didn’t hire someone like Richmond’s Chris Mooney (and I ignored a budget hamstrung by Hewitt’s buyout), I’d guess it came down to style. But just because a coach plays with a more open style of basketball doesn’t mean it’s any more pleasing to watch. Dayton’s best teams under Gregory made their money with solid defense, not attractive offense.