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Georgia Tech: Better with or without Gailey in charge?

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

ATLANTA — In an election year, Dan Radakovich is facing a frequently asked political question: Is Georgia Tech’s football program better off than when Chan Gailey was named head coach six years ago?

On Dec. 29, 2001, Gailey took over a Georgia Tech program that was coming off its first season with as many as five losses in four years and its first loss to Georgia in four years.

Gailey has lost at least five games and has lost to Georgia each of his six seasons at the school, leading to speculation that he won’t be back for a seventh year.

Gailey’s sixth loss to Georgia — a 31-17 home defeat on Saturday — may make it difficult for the coach to keep his job.

Radakovich, in his second year as Georgia Tech’s athletic director, may make an announcement regarding Gailey’s status as early as Monday. Radakovich, who said on Nov. 1 he may make a decision on Gailey after the season, did not return a phone message on Sunday.

Georgia Tech is 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference as it awaits a possible bid to the Dec. 28 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco. Other possibilities are the Dec. 29 Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte and the Dec. 31 Music City Bowl in Nashville.

Emerald Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli said Sunday uncertainty about a coach, or a coaching change, makes a team less attractive to a bowl.

"I would hope he is retained," Cavalli said of Gailey. "I think from a bowl perspective, without commenting specifically on the Georgia Tech situation, uncertainly about the coaching situation is not a good thing. It would be in Georgia Tech’s interest to get it resolved as quickly as possible. My hope would be they announce they will keep him and everybody would go on with their business."

What if Gailey is fired and an interim coach is named for the bowl game?

"That’s not your ideal scenario, let’s put it that way," Cavalli said.

Cavalli said his bowl also is considering Florida State and Maryland and probably would not make an announcement before next Sunday.

Gailey has four years, at about $1 million per year, remaining on his contract. He was asked after Saturday’s loss if he expects to return next season.

"I’m not in charge of that," Gailey said. "My job is to do the best job I can do."

Gailey’s supporters point out the Yellow Jackets have not had a losing season in his time as head coach. John Heisman (1904-1919) is the only other Tech coach without a losing season.

Gailey has kept alive Tech’s 13-year streak of finishing at least .500 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 11-year streak of qualifying for a bowl.

Tech hasn’t had a losing season with Gailey, but often the Yellow Jackets have been .500 in the conference and just over .500 overall.

In Gailey’s six years, Tech has finished 4-4 in the ACC four times. Overall, Gailey is 44-32 at Tech.

Since Gailey’s arrival in Atlanta, Tech has 28 ACC victories, second only to Florida State’s 32, though Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech were not in the conference all six years.

There’s more good news/bad news for the Gailey era. He is the first coach to take Tech to a bowl game in each of his first five seasons, but three years the Yellow Jackets headed west to the Silicon Valley Classic, the Humanitarian Bowl and the Emerald Bowl.

Gailey coached Tech to wins over ranked Auburn teams in 2003 and 2005. Perhaps his biggest win was at No. 3 Miami in 2005, but he suffered a home loss to Georgia the following week.

Gailey led Tech to its first Coastal Division championship and a spot in the ACC championship game last season. But the Yellow Jackets’ season ended with three straight losses: to Georgia to end the regular season, to Wake Forest in the ACC championship game and to West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

Tech was 9-2 before playing Georgia last season. Since then, the Yellow Jackets are 7-8.



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