(Busy times for Paul Johnson, but things are getting resolved quickly, which is rarely a problem.)
Press conferences have replaced pep rallies as the must-attend campus events of the week at the North Avenue Trade School lately.
First it was Demaryius Thomas, who announced at his own personal gathering his intention to head for the NFL. Monday will bring another news-making get together, as the Institute has consolidated the announcements of Jonathan Dwyer, Morgan Burnett, and Derrick Morgan into one giant shindig.
It's anybody's guess as to what each will say—though it would be an interesting atmosphere in that room if they weren't all announcing the same decision, wouldn't it?—but if the Jackets do lose those last three, then at least this will warm the hearts of grief-stricken fans of the bee: Al Groh-to-Tech talk is heating up .
So is it a worthy trade, Al Groh for a slew of solid NFL prospects? Oh yes, in so many ways.
First and foremost, it should be said that none of these players are program-breakers. Dwyer would be the greatest loss, but Tech only scratched the surface of their perimeter rushing attack this season. Josh Nesbitt is far more important to this offense as a whole, trust me.
Stephen Hill ought to be a good enough replacement for Thomas if he can gain some strength. He'll certainly bring more speed to the position, if a little bit less physicality.
In all, the offense should be OK. Maybe a little bit less dangerous, but not significantly so.
And I wouldn't get too teary-eyed over losing Derrick Morgan. As prolific and unstoppable as Morgan could be at times, he also had a grand total of no sacks against Georgia, Clemson, and Iowa over the Jackets' last three—and probably most important—games.
I touted Morgan's ability in big games all season long (or at least after the Virginia Tech game), and every time I did, he disappeared. Count my opinion changed.
More than that, however, getting Groh (I get that this isn't an A-for-B trade, but it's still weighing positives vs. negatives) would far outweigh the loss of the aforementioned four, and here's why: A solid coordinator, especially on defense and especially in college, has a far greater effect on a team's overall, long-term success.
Consider the previous season. Even with those four, two on each side of the ball when the Jackets couldn't move the ball offensively, the game was over, because rarely could they change field position or make plays on defense.
A stellar offense will score you points against just about anyone, this is true. But a strong defense, a stout defense, a defense that consistently makes those plays and dictates the game to opponents, will put you in position to win every week. Given the opportunity, such a unit might win a game or two on its own.
And consider the tools available, even without Burnett or Morgan, for Groh's 3-4 defense. Tech has two mammoth defensive tackles—valuable assets in the 3-4 scheme—in J.C. Lanier and T.J. Barnes, and a linebacking corps that's only going to get deeper with the return from injury of Kyle Jackson. (And watch out for Steven Sylvester next season, you heard it here first.)
Of course, returning any one of these four (or three, really) would be a big win for Tech going into next season, because it would provide obvious returning talent, experience and leadership.
But when Tech's offense ran into walls this season, the Jackets were doomed because their defense simply could not dominate an opponent. Getting Groh would be a good first step toward changing that reality, a step far more important than keeping even the most statistically-capable players on roster.