Would Bobinski actually fire Gregory after 20 wins?
He said after last season he wanted to see “substantive progress.”
He was asked for specifics, but kept it vague. He said again he sought “clear signs of progress and a belief in the future of the program.”
Progress is obvious.
So Gregory is left to twist in the wind a bit, despite what he calls, “one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve ever been a part of.”
Is he irritated?
“You have to fight it.You have to fight those thoughts,” he said. “But I never want to fight it for personal reasons. I want to fight it for these guys.”
Then: “I wouldn’t use the word ‘irritated.’ I’d say I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that my story of uncertainty would overshadow the players. I have to fight against those thoughts coming into my head because that’s going to stop me from enjoying what I’m doing, being the best coach I can be, the best father, the best husband. I’m just not going to let that happen.”
Gregory has a term for it: “Half-minded living. I refuse to do it.”
I’ve joked before about Gregory’s perpetual positivity. The man could drive home to find his house had been blown up and remark, “Look at all of this room I have for a new vegetable garden!”
That attitude was necessary to get through his first four seasons. He cleaned up academic issues, dealt with a dearth of talent in the program and was mostly beaten up for four seasons, going 19-51 in the ACC.
Bobinski didn't fire Gregory after last season's 12-19 (3-15 ACC) record, likely for financial considerations more than anything. Tech would have been paying two ex-coaches, Paul Hewitt for four more years and Gregory for three, as well as spending on a new coach. Waiting a year would make the financial picture slightly more palatable.
Opposing coaches are like piranhas in situations like this. They made recruiting miserable for Gregory. Tech still managed to sign three solid recruits but said, “We were fortunate to sign the guys we did with the uncertainty we had.”
Recruiting with two years left on his deal after the season? Not happening.
Bobinski hasn’t really put his imprint on anything yet at Tech. He knows, and Gregory knows, the Jackets will lose their four best players from a senior-laden roster and therefore next season could be painful. To extend Gregory would mean potentially hearing complaints from fans if and when the team struggles (and firing him after next season could be more expensive).
But if Bobinski makes a change now, he had better have somebody in mind because Tech isn’t one of those destination jobs like maybe it used to be. And any candidate will seek financial security.
If Gregory loses his job, Bobinski likely had his mind made up long ago, and the only thing that was going to change it was an NCAA bid and maybe a tournament win.
“I wouldn’t want to assume the thought process of anybody above me,” Gregory said.
That’s probably wise.