Ask any Georgia Tech fan what they are looking for in a representative of the Institute, and you will most likely get some variation of three answers: a value on academics, the priority to win while doing things the right way, and someone who has confidence, if not arrogance at times.
And all early signs indicate that Coach Brian Gregory fits that to a T.
Every single senior, 23 in total, that has ever played for Gregory has graduated. How about that for a winning percentage? Said the former Tom Izzo assistant: "Academics is very important to me, and it is a perfect fit here at Georgia Tech because I want to recruit the highest caliber player without compromising the important character components that are needed for success and academics is number one."
The 44 year old head coach might not have been the youngest and hottest mid-major candidate that Tech looked at after Paul Hewitt's firing, but he is just as passionate and hard working as his juniors. He is already planning on holding gym sessions on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the ink dried, and three days before heading to the Final Four to work on filling out his coaching staff. He promises to bring a fundamentally sound, hard-nosed brand of basketball that reflects its coach and makes its living on tough rebounding.
One of the main knocks against Paul Hewitt before his firing was that the Tech fan base had lost all energy and passion. Gregory answered this question with one of my all-time favorite quotes from a coach:
This is our home and it's more than just fans. This is our city, this is our home, and this is our university... This is a hard working town and hard working people that pay their hard working money to come to games and deserve to see a team that plays just as hard. They will roll up their sleeves and get the job done with great effort and intensity. The fans are going to appreciate that.
Another of the main themes Coach Gregory talked about in his introduction on Monday was the desire to get former players more involved with the program. "Those guys built this thing, they made it special. They are the ones that got this thing rolling," said Gregory. "Our players need to know the type of men that played here before and what they did. When they put on that uniform, they aren't just playing for themselves or this great institution, they are playing for those great players that played before here."
This is the perfect hire for the Yellow Jackets. Radakovich has said that he wasn't strapped for cash because of the buyout and that the budget didn't limit his decisions. Ok, maybe, but the athletic association isn't exactly flushed with excess funds either. Tech wasn't going to get Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart, and couldn't have afforded any of the bigger name free agents. Simply put, Tech got the perfect guy.
When Gregory's time is up with the Yellow Jackets, I'll bet that the program will be in a better position than when he got here. And that is all you can ask from a coach.
Welcome to Georgia Tech, Coach Gregory.