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Success is just out of reach for Tech

POSTED: November 7, 2007 5:05 a.m.

ATLANTA — These are the moments that have come to define Georgia Tech football the last six seasons.

A quarterback, in this case freshman Josh Nesbitt, paralyzes the defense with an incredible play-action fake and lofts a tight spiral downfield. A receiver, in this case junior James Johnson, finds himself so preposterously open that he could crawl into the end zone once the ball lands in his hands.

So, how do you suppose this sequence of events ends?

If you guessed poorly, then you’ve obviously been keeping up with the Yellow Jackets.

Naturally, the pass sailed a little too deep and ricocheted off the receiver’s outstretched hand.

This snapshot in time shows a football program that can’t seem to extend its reach far enough to grab prosperity or extricate itself from the quicksand of mediocrity.

By the time 11th-ranked Virginia Tech finished punching Georgia Tech in the spleen Thursday night before a national TV audience and a disheartened Bobby Dodd Stadium crowd, there were enough snapshots to fill a photo album.

Quick, get a shot of that 27-3 final margin on the scoreboard.

Click.

Or the third-quarter sequence in which Georgia Tech recovered a Virginia Tech fumble inside the Hokies’ 30-yard line, only to give up an interception moments later.

Click.

Or the 71-yard touchdown pass from Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon to Josh Morgan that started emptying the place out late in the third quarter.

Click.

Take a Polaroid of coach Chan Gailey while you’re at it. Another outcome like this, especially if it’s at the hands of Georgia on Nov. 24, and that color print might represent the last anyone sees of him on The Flats.

Games like this last one explain the existence of firechangailey.com and CanChan.com, the two Internet sites dedicated to running him the heck out of Dodd.

"If 7-5 is all you want, I’m your man," the caption beneath Gailey’s mugshot reads on firechangailey.com.

If this team didn’t already have a fight song, it could enter the stadium to the Stealers Wheel classic, "Stuck in the Middle."

Since Gailey’s arrival in 2002, the Yellow Jackets have dared to be adequate - 7-6 and the Silicon Valley Bowl, 7-6 and the Humanitarian Bowl, 7-5 and the Champs Sports Bowl, 7-5 and the Emerald Bowl, last year’s high-water mark of 9-5 and a Gator Bowl appearance and this season’s struggle to remain above water. They’ve yet to beat Georgia or win the Atlantic Coast Conference, although this would seem to be an opportune time to try with usual heavyweights like Miami and Florida State looking old and slow.

The frustration has reached critical mass as evidenced by the fact that some of the few Tech fans still in attendance in the fourth quarter lustily booed Gailey’s appearance on the scoreboard for a public service announcement.

Here’s something to consider: How do you tell a coach to disappear when he’s yet to experience a losing season?

Gailey, a nice guy who led the Dallas Cowboys to a pair of playoff appearances, is in a precarious position. He’s accumulated some solid recruits, like Nesbitt and tailback Jonathan Dwyer, despite the fact that the school’s rigorous academic standards work against him.

There’s no guarantee the program would wind up with a better coach if it cuts Gailey loose, but fans always want the next best thing. Especially when they see the likes of Boston College, Wake Forest and Virginia accomplishing more with arguably lesser resources.

There’s no ignoring the fact that those other programs, formerly mid-level to lower-tier, are undoubtedly ascending.

Meanwhile, the only raising done by Georgia Tech is of doubts that it will be able to boast the same any time soon.



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