Tech fans shouldn't treat Gailey this way

ATLANTA --- Chan Gailey does not deserve this.

 

The Georgia Tech coach does not deserve to be reviled by his fans.

The Georgia Tech coach does not deserve to have his future hang in the balance of one game.

The Georgia Tech coach does not deserve to have his public service announcement pulled from the scoreboard because the Bobby Dodd fans will boo it.

The Georgia Tech coach does not deserve to be fired.

For the sixth consecutive season Gailey led the Yellow Jackets to at least seven wins and a bowl invitation.

For the sixth consecutive season Gailey's Yellow Jackets found a way to lose to arch rival Georgia.

Odds are long that he will get the chance to push either streak to seven. Odds are he won't even get the chance to take his team to a bowl game.

The sentiment is against Gailey -- a good coach and good man who has done everything right in the Flats except win the games Jackets fans most want him to win. That is apparently all it takes these days in major college football.

The critical Web site CanChan.com has been calling for Gailey's head all season, brandishing the clever motto "It's time for Chan to get the hell out of Dodd!"

By all accounts, the Gailey haters will get their wish. Athletic director Dan Radakovich has tripped all over himself to not say anything resembling an endorsement of the head football coach he inherited. Boosters who actually do buy tickets to Georgia Tech games seem willing to spend more than $4 million to get rid of the man before the Jackets ever head west for a bowl game.

Radakovich doesn't buy into the mediocrity principle that his predecessor did. And if he thinks Paul Johnson or Randy Edsall or Jimbo Fisher or Jim Grobe can do better, that's fine.

And if they average 7.3 wins per season, go to a Atlantic Coast Conference title game every six years but play golf with the boosters, will that be enough to make the Ramblin' Wreck faithful happy?

Gailey himself seemed almost stoically resigned to his fate after every bounce that could have gone against him did on another Saturday against the hated Bulldogs.

"I'm not in charge of that," Gailey said about his future employment status. "My job is to do the best job I can do."

It can be argued that Gailey has done exactly that in six years in Atlanta. It can also be debated as to exactly what constitutes a good job at Georgia Tech.

Should leading the Yellow Jackets to the ACC championship game last season with one astonishingly great player and one seriously flawed quarterback be considered a good job?

Should losing five games this season to bowl-bound teams -- four of them ranked in the top 20 and carrying BCS bowl aspirations all the way into Saturday -- be considered a failure?

Should not being a "Rah! Rah!" personality who energizes the fan base overshadow X's and O's?

The seniors didn't exactly rally around their coach. They made an awkward point of keeping themselves out of the discussion about who will lead the Jackets after they are gone or even next week.

"I don't know," said Tashard Choice when asked if he thought Gailey should come back. "Coach Gailey, I have the utmost respect for him. Having said that, I don't make that decision."

Said Philip Wheeler: "I think he's a great coach. He's a grown man and handles his own business. He never would want us to say anything about it. He treats us like adults. He's just a respectable person and a great coach."

The players would certainly agree that they let their coach down on Saturday. The annual showdown finale against red-hot Georgia was considered a referendum on Gailey's future -- a critically flawed evaluation system if you ask me.

And how do you fairly judge the outcome?

Was it Gailey's fault that Correy Earls flat-out dropped a perfectly drawn and executed deep touchdown route on the second play of the game?

Was it Gailey's fault that three loose balls in the end zone that could have generated 21 Yellow Jackets points led to three Georgia touchbacks?

Was it Gailey's fault that referees kept seeing pass interference where there was none?

Truth be told, Georgia Tech could have won this game against superior Georgia talent just as they could have each of the past three years, only to have bad breaks or bad mistakes cost them once again.

"The bottom line to this game was too many missed opportunities," Gailey said.

I guess you could say that's the story of Gailey's career. He had some opportunities to make the Georgia Tech fan base warm up to him and never did.

That hardly warrants a good man and good coach losing his job.

But as Choice said, that's not my decision. Saturday's result just made it easier on the people who have already made up their minds.

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.

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