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Independence Bowl: A Day Removed

Dec. 28, 2010

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

There’s not a lot more to be said about the Independence Bowl than what I wrote in Tuesday’s edition, but there might be a few talking points worth bringing up that have nothing to do with the game itself.

It’s easy to forecast gloom and doom, and a quick check of Georgia Tech message boards proves that, sometimes pitifully.

I loathe the cliché, but we truly live in a microwave society where a great many folks want extremely positive results and they want them now. I’m not going to say this group constitutes a majority, but the people who are that way are often also the loudest and, perhaps, the most likely to get on internet message boards.

My take: the just finished season was lousy relative to expectations, but to suggest the end of anything is nigh is plain silly. To hint at change, please!

To suggest that the 2010 season was a harbinger of more bad seasons is folly. Where’s the pattern, folks? Does anybody wait for a pattern to evolve any more before positing a prediction?

I know this: losing four players to the NFL draft, plus another who ended up starting for the Bills (Cord Howard) and having your second-leading tackler from a year ago (Sedric Griffin) graduate . . . hurt.

Yeah, there’s turnover every season, but when four very talented players leave as juniors, well, some programs are deep enough to better absorb that kind of flight than others, and right now Tech is not one of those programs.

Joshua Nesbitt’s injury hurt, the new defensive scheme never seemed to really sink in, and the Jackets were lighter on talent on than I had imagined they would be this season.

The heaviest problems were, most importantly, turnover margin, and the missing “it.”

Tech lagged the nation in lost fumbles with 20, and finished the season minus-six in turnover margin. Big problem.

More difficult to diagnose, assess, explain, whatever . . . the missing “it” factor. It’s impossible to completely explain, but this involves chemistry, cohesion, ability to overcome adversity, focus and remain on task, work around or plow through problems, and more.

There’s more to it than that, but a Cliff notes version will have to do at this time and place.

Folks, Paul Johnson didn’t get dumb all of a sudden.

Did he and his staff coach as well this season as last, or in 2008? Maybe not, but I’m not comfortable suggesting that to a drop-dead degree as I do not have the wisdom necessary to state that kind of thing without reservation.

Is it OK to wonder that? Probably; we’re human. Hard not to wonder.

Is it right to state that without some sort of hard evidence, like, say, a pattern spread out over more than a sample size of one (season)? Don’t think so.

I can say that I believe Johnson was dealt a short deck and then he was unable to work magic with it.

The world is not coming to an end, and neither is Tech football.

Gonna guess that coach will be a little unpleasant around the football offices for a while, and that he and his staff will close the recruiting season over the next five or six weeks hell-bent on making a difference.

Fans can make a difference of a sort, too, but refraining from over-analysis and spasmodic proclamation.

It was a bad season. That does not make everything bad.



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