Is Georgia Tech Better Off if Paul Hewitt Goes To St. Johns?

Jeffrey Fann@TalkinACCSportsAnalyst IMarch 24, 2010

MILWAUKEE - MARCH 19:  Head coach Paul Hewitt of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets looks on in the first half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Bradley Center on March 19, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I read some rumors recently about St. John's having some interest in Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt. Well, this story has some real substance to it. According to multiple sources, including the NY Post, St. John's will interview Hewitt on Wednesday.

Hewitt is a native New Yorker and has on more than one occasion expressed how much he enjoys the area. At the same time, he's made it clear he and his family like Atlanta.

Sounds like a win a win for Hewitt whether he stays or goes, but what about Georgia Tech?

Would Georgia Tech be better off without Hewitt?

First off, in Hewitt's 10 years, he's always represented Georgia Tech with class. The school has never sniffed a recruiting violation during his tenure. Paul Hewitt the person has never been questioned, Paul Hewitt the coach has been.

This past year, Georgia Tech went 23-13, made it to the second round of the NCAAs, and went to the finals of the ACC tournament.

By and large a pretty successful season, but this is not happy fanbase. As a Georgia Tech fan myself, the frustration runs deep. When Hewitt first arrived, he took a team with an indifferent big man Alvin Jones, a lazy PG Tony Akins, and a Division II transfer Shaun Fein, among others.

I consider the fact that this team made the NCAAs a greater coaching achievement than when the 2003-2004 made the Final Four.

Though the Final Four team is considered Hewitt's crowning moment, after making the NCAAs three of his first five years, including the Final Four team, I thought Hewitt was the man to lead Georgia Tech to greatness.

It never materialized.

Over the next five years, Georgia Tech lost an incredible 52 ACC regular season games and won only six ACC road games. Combine that with teams that were turnover prone, fundamentally poor, and in general regarded as underachieving given their talent, and you can see why the Jackets' fanbase turned on Hewitt.

I'm having a difficult time deciding what is best for Georgia Tech. I saw some strides this year. Hewitt had been criticized for relying on one and done players. His last recruiting class will return every player except most likely Derrick Favors.

Glen Rice Jr, Mfon Udofia, and Brian Oliver will form the core of the Jackets' backcourt for the next two to three years. Hewitt hasn't had any continuity at guard since Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum were there. He is a good recruiter. There is no doubt about that.

I think Georgia Tech can succeed with Hewitt there. I would like to see a real emphasis on the fundamentals. There is no reason the Jackets should be turning the ball over 15-20 times a game. Overhauling his assistants may help there. The problem is that the fans aren't totally behind Hewitt.

The local media has challenged his near seven million roll-over contract, and Hewitt himself has bristled at the criticism this year. It sounds like the two parties are ready and almost hoping to split.

If Hewitt stays, the fans have to get behind him, because his NCAA tournament appearance and contract have ensured at least two more years in Atlanta. In addition, it would be wise of Hewitt to not fire back so much at justified criticisms.

His previous two teams to this one were pretty bad. He can't let the St. John's discussions go on too long. Bobby Cremins' interest in South Carolina in the early '90s marked the beginning of the end for Cremins' great run at Georgia Tech.

Upon final analysis, Hewitt may have just burned too many bridges with Georgia Tech fans the last few years with his team's performance, and it won't get better next year with likely losses of Favors and Gani Lawal, in addition to seniors De'Andre Bell and Zachary Peacock.

Maybe it's time Paul Hewitt and Georgia Tech just part ways.


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