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For Paul Hewitt: An Open Letter From A Georgia Tech Basketball Fan

Dear coach Paul Hewitt,

First let me say, I was not, and still am not, a Hewitt Hater. I welcomed you to Georgia Tech basketball with open arms. Your leadership took the team to the National Championship game. I do not forget that, nor do I think it was a fluke. I thank you for your service to the Yellow Jackets. But the blame you placed on Yellow Jackets fans further soured what was already a difficult close to your Atlanta career.

As your critics grew in number over the years, the arguments I made for you were valid: one-and-dones, injuries, academic losses, and so on. And it did seem to me you were reaping more than your fair share of bad luck. Just a couple years ago you lost your top returning offensive player to academics and the top returning defensive player to a back injury, all just before the season started. Sorry, but that is quite a load to handle for anyone.

The editor of this blog will remember that I confronted a loud (and probably alcohol-enabled) fan who was letting everyone know in very vulgar terms how he felt about you at the Orange Bowl.

As you were slammed for making excuses in the local media, I chose to be patient with you.

Last year when St John's made a proposal to you, I thought it might be the best for everyone involved for you to accept their job. Not that I wanted you to go. But it would have allowed you and Dan Radakovich the opportunity to avoid what was probably otherwise inevitable. I was afraid that the water was already too poisoned for you to recover.

Now Paul, from reading some of your comments, I would ask that you show some of the same loyalty that many of us showed you.

In the real world, results count. Whether we like it or not, the world revolves around "What have you done for me lately?" When your meaningful losses outnumber your wins, it is only a matter of time before the importance of your wins diminishes - regardless of the business. Every job I have had over my career has had some type of performance review, usually on an annual basis.

As a manager, I have had employees that I liked and valued, that, unfortunately, were not performing up to the standard that the job demanded. Most everyone in a leadership role has experienced something similar.

College basketball is a business, and that business is dependent upon the customer base. In addition, the old saying "perception is reality" applies. The perception from a loud percentage of the customer base was that your results did not stand up to scrutiny. And, even though I would not count myself among those, in a quiet voice I would have to agree.

In the competition for today's entertainment dollar, your boss really did not have much of a choice. Enough of the fan base was unhappy enough to make a dent in the bottom line.

Paul, by making more excuses, and deflecting the blame to the expectations of the fan base, you are stepping into the trap of those same critics. You are giving them the excuse to say they were right all along. All you need to say is "I did not get the job done. Period." If you make that one statement, you will deflate a lot of behind-the-bench know-it-alls.

Wherever you end up, I will hope for your success (unless you are playing the Jackets at the time).

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.