The men’s basketball team, which opens a new arena on campus next month, won just 11 games last season and went 4-12 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Some fans might be displeased that athletic director Dan Radakovich has decided to leave and take the same job at Clemson while the Yellow Jackets endure these growing pains.
But interim athletic director Paul Griffin says the school’s two biggest revenue-making programs — football and men’s basketball — will not be neglected during the search for Radakovich’s replacement.
“Dan’s departure is a big deal, but it’s nowhere near a crisis in that perspective,” Griffin said. “I think Dan’s greatest contribution is the fact that he’s built a strong management team of lots of people with not only talents and skills but experiences.”
Football coach Paul Johnson has known since late summer that Radakovich would be a strong a candidate at Clemson.
Considering that the Yellow Jackets have lost four of their last five games, it might seem that the loss of Radakovich could diminish Johnson’s support in the administration, but Johnson is not concerned.
“As far as from a program standpoint, you move forward,” Johnson said. “I’m sure they’re going to hire a qualified person to be the athletic director and what I’ve got to do is try to make sure we’re given the means to be successful on this level.”
Johnson said his primary focus this week is to help Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) win on Saturday at Maryland (4-4, 2-2).
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 41-17 home loss to Brigham Young in which Johnson’s spread-option offense set new lows during his five-year tenure for fewest offensive plays, lowest time of possession and fewest rushing attempts.
Georgia Tech, which began the game as the nation’s No. 3-leading rushing offense, went 0-for-10 on third down.
Poor tackling and missed assignments hurt the defense. On special teams, BYU gained 148 yards on four kickoff returns, and the Jackets had a punt blocked and missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.
“It’s still a young football team,” Johnson said. “Basically there’s three seniors on offense and two that play on defense, so at times we have a hard time staying focused. The maturity level is probably not what you’d like all the time, but I don’t know that you can put one description on them, really.”
Johnson indicated he likely will start fifth-year senior Tevin Washington at quarterback, though redshirt freshman Vad Lee could earn additional snaps.
“We’re committed to Vad playing,” Johnson said. “A lot of it’s going to depend on practice. I talked to both of them (Monday), and they understand the situation. They’ve both got to get ready to play, and as the week goes on, we’ll figure out how we’re going to do it.”
Radakovich, who was in his sixth year at Georgia Tech, hired Johnson and men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory to turn around their respective programs.
Johnson went 20-7 in his first two seasons, but is 17-17 since. Gregory’s team, which will play its first game Nov. 9 at the new McCamish Pavilion, went 3-7 last season in home games at Philips Arena.
Griffin, who’s worked 11 years on the Jackets’ staff and currently serves as a senior associate AD, understands that some Georgia Tech supporters might believe that Radakovich’s leaving will only make things worse, but he insists that won’t be the case.
“There’s always going to be, regardless of your record today, there’s always going to be people that take a different slant on things, and that’s fine,” Griffin said. “We’re all big boys and girls, and we’re able to withstand those kinds of views and opinions, so that doesn’t change anything.”