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Gailey Hits the Job Running

Jan. 16, 2002

AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP) – Chan Gailey didn’t fret long about his last game.

A day after the Miami Dolphins were beaten in the first round of the playoffs, Gailey was moving on to the next stage of his life – head coach at Georgia Tech.

“That’s the quickest I’ve ever gotten over a loss,” he said Wednesday. “I felt almost guilty Monday morning cleaning out my office. Everybody was moping around and I was packing up boxes.”

Gailey was picked as George O’Leary’s successor two weeks ago, but he remained with the Dolphins as offensive coordinator through the playoffs. The postseason didn’t last long – Miami lost to the Baltimore Ravens 20-3 on Sunday.

Gailey hustled back to Atlanta, where the top priorities were recruiting and hiring the rest of his staff.

He headed out Wednesday on a recruiting trip. The rest of the week will be devoted to administrative duties, a television taping and campus visits by potential signees. He’ll be back on the road next week, hoping to land a few more commitments before the Feb. 6 signing date.

“We’re playing a little bit of catch-up, but we understood that,” Gailey said. “The good thing is we have a good nucleus coming back. We can hustle without feeling like we have to have a bunch of freshmen who can come in and play next year.”

Gailey hasn’t coached in the college ranks since 1993 but said he doesn’t feel out of touch with the massive NCAA rule book.

“I’ve kept up with it through word of mouth with my friends in the college game,” he said. “Nothing really struck me or made me fall off my chair. It’s interesting, some of the rules in there. But I’m sure I won’t be called in to discuss them.”

Gailey, who expects to sign about 18 players, said the coaching change didn’t severely hurt recruiting. O’Leary resigned Dec. 9 and the Yellow Jackets went nearly three weeks without a permanent head coach.

“Yeah, we lost some guys, but so did everyone else,” Gailey said. “We held it together surprisingly well.”

He still must hire five more assistants for his coaching staff, including a defensive coordinator. The job might have gone to George Edwards, the Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker coach, but he decided to remain in the NFL after visiting Atlanta last weekend.

“I think he would have been a good fit here,” Gailey said. “We were very serious about him.”

Since taking the job, Gailey also lost star running back Joe Burns, who gave up his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Gailey isn’t ready to address the most pressing concern on offense: a quarterback to replace two-year starter George Godsey. Three holdovers will be joined by A.J. Suggs, who transferred from Tennessee.

“We’re not to spring practice yet,” Gailey said. “I’m still recruiting and hiring a staff.”

But he knows that selecting a quarterback will be one of the defining moments of his new regime.

“Anytime you lose a starting quarterback, that’s the focal point for the next year,” Gailey said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re with the Miami Dolphins, Georgia Tech or Bugtussle High School.”


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