Friday November 30, 2007
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Gailey Fired

Radakovich: "It's a question of not today, but tomorrow and where we are going to go as a program."

By Blake Israel / Student Publications

Former head coach Chan Gailey paces the sideline during a 24-10 loss to Boston College on Spet. 16, Tech's first loss of the 2007 season.

By Hahnming Lee Sports Editor

Chan Gailey was fired as Tech's Head Coach after six seasons on The Flats. While he won at least seven games each season he was at Tech, he also lost at least five games every year.

During a press conference held on Monday, Athletic Director Dan Radakovich cited several different reasons for the firing, but focused on the business aspect of the game.

"I think that there are people who enjoy doing the part of the business of being a head coach and there are some that don't. I think from an X's and O's standpoint, [Gailey is] a very good coach. But I think that it's more. College football goes beyond the X's and O's, especially in this competitive market," Radakovich said.

Another factor was the response from fans and boosters. At the Virginia Tech game, Gailey was booed loudly during a public service announcement played on the big screen.

"The boos were very troubling to me....I think that there was some erosion in the fan base concerning future prospects," Radakovich said.

Still, despite the outside influences and the various factors, the choice was Radakovich's and his alone in the end.

"This decision was mine. It wasn't predicated on any particular group of boosters or friends," Radakovich said.

The administration is now moving forward in trying to find a new coach as soon as possible. One of the primary concerns about the firing has been how an athletic administration that is in need of money will be able to handle paying for a new coach while paying the remainder of Gailey's contract or his buyout.

"We need to create the revenues that are necessary to meet [the obligations of the Athletic Department], and that is my job. I feel like I will be able to take care of that over the course of the payout of the existing contract, while still moving the program forward," Radakovich said.

Gailey will be owed upwards of $4 million over the next four years.

The firing comes just days after Gailey failed to beat Georgia for his sixth consecutive year. It was Tech's seventh straight loss, tying their longest streak in futility against their rivals. In a game that many consider to be the one that matters most, Tech has fallen short several times during his tenure.

Despite this, Radakovich emphasized that Gailey would not have saved his job if he had defeated Georgia as the evaluation was based on the season and not on an individual game, something he has reiterated throughout the season.

During his time at Tech, Gailey compiled a 44-32 record and had only winning seasons. He led his team to a bowl game each year, including the Gator Bowl last season.

"I [have to] be a little unique...I'm not sure there are any [other] coaches that were in the NFL that went to the playoffs two straight years and got fired and then went to a bowl game six straight years and got fired," Gailey said.

Coming into the season, Tech was expected to compete for the ACC championship and a berth into the BCS bowl. They had won nine games their previous year and had been three points away from securing a bid into the lucrative Orange Bowl. Despite a strong start to the 2007 campaign, the Jackets lost their first two ACC games to Boston College and Maryland. They were eliminated from the Coastal division race with their loss to Virginia Tech.

In Gailey's place, Radakovich has asked Jon Tenuta to be the interim head coach for Tech's upcoming bowl game.

"I think [the bowl game] is a big part [of the job]. I think you can't take this opportunity and not do the best thing you can with what you have. The big thing right now is for the players. You have to take care of the players first....It was a tough season, tough last game," Tenuta said.

Tenuta, Tech's defensive coordinator, is also in consideration for the permanent position.

"I've auditioned my defense for the last six years so you see how they play. I think I can get it going," Tenuta said.

The players were informed of Gailey's firing shortly before the press conference. Radakovich told them of the decision right before Gailey addressed his players one last time.

"In a sense, the players do feel a responsibility....If we went 10-2 or 11-1, [this] probably wouldn't have happened," said junior quarterback Taylor Bennett.

"I feel bad for Gailey. Just like any coach, there are things that are out of his control....Sometimes someone drops a ball, misses a tackle, misses a block, it's not that they weren't coached up, they just made a mistake," said junior offensive tackle Andrew Gardner.

The Jackets now await word on the announcement of a new head coach and where the team may be heading for its bowl game.