Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski has heard the message without any uncertainty from Yellow Jackets fans — they’re not happy about the football team.
Bobinski delivered his response in a video Monday on the Tech website — he isn’t, either.
“Are we satisfied with where we are, are we happy with where we are?” Bobinski asked. “No, obviously, we’re not.”
Bobinski spent much of the 14-minute interview with Tech radio voice Brandon Gaudin addressing the season past and the offseason ahead. Discontent is high among fans after the Jackets finished 7-6, including an underwhelming loss in the Music City Bowl to Ole Miss. The transfer of quarterback Vad Lee following the season only added to the frustration.
“First of all, let me just say that I completely understand people’s emotions, and I appreciate that emotion,” Bobinski said.
Bobinski said that he and coach Paul Johnson met for roughly four hours after the season. (It is standard procedure for head coaches and athletic directors to meet after the season.) Bobinski went into the meeting with 10 pages of notes and observations. He said the two had a productive and positive dialogue in which there was not a “flat-out philosophical disagreement” and agreement on “how we might move this thing forward.”
He said that the two “didn’t leave anything untouched; no topic was off-limits. We hit ’em all, really, with the focus of, how do we make our football program better? How do we improve our results and really get this program where we want it to be as time goes by?”
Bobinski said that Johnson is as focused and energized as he has seen him since Bobinski took office in April, a tacit endorsement of the coach of whom Bobinski said in October he “absolutely” felt was the right coach for Tech. He described a coach who clearly was dissatisfied after the bowl game.
In the locker room after the game, Bobinski said Johnson, “flat said to everybody in that room that things need to, and will, change as we move forward here. He said, ‘That starts with me as the head coach, that starts with the assistant coaches, that starts with all of you as our team.’ I don’t sense any turning down the heat here whatsoever. In fact, I see a distinct turning up of the heat in terms of our level of intensity and our focus moving forward.”
The changes, though, may be gradual.
“As I look at who we are, we’re not a quick-fix place,” Bobinski said. “We’re not going to go to the junior-college ranks all of the sudden, in with a new roster full of folks and run people off. That’s not what Georgia Tech’s about.”
Bobinski authorized a significant expenditure last spring, creating room in the budget for two additional recruiting staffers. Coaches also began to devote more attention to recruiting outside of the state, where they have found the Tech reputation carries more weight than it does in-state, and the allure of the SEC may not be quite as strong.
He also affirmed that he will not accept seven-win seasons and that he doesn’t accept the notion that Tech should be limited in its ability to compete because of its admissions standards and academic rigor.
“Georgia Tech is a place that’s about excellence in everything that we do,” Bobinski said. “All you have to do is look around the campus at our students, at our faculty, at our graduates and see the things that they do on a day-to-day basis. It’s on the very highest level. There’s no reason our athletic program shouldn’t reflect that level of performance and excellence. … I certainly didn’t come here to have mediocre or average performance. That’s not in my DNA, nor is it in Georgia Tech’s DNA.”
Bobinski said he was disappointed by Lee’s decision to transfer but not surprised. His disappointment stemmed from the esteem he holds for Lee personally and because he won’t be able to earn a Tech degree.
“That being said, this was purely a football decision, and you can’t argue with that,” Bobinski said.
Bobinski described Tech as a place with little margin for error, one that cannot succeed with inefficiency or lack of focus. The formula, he said, is great people, sound strategy and a high level of execution.
Bobinski did not offer specifics with regard to changes or plans for improvement, but nonetheless offered assurance that better days for Tech’s football team are ahead.
“We will and can be better as time goes by, but obviously, we’ve got to make that happen,” Bobinski said. “That’s our job, to take steps to do so.”