Timeout with Harsha Sridhar

Photo by John Nakano

This is it. This marks the last issue of the Technique for the semester. For a lot of sections, that makes sense; the Life section hardly has campus life to worry about over the summer. SGA becomes inactive, so News can take a break. But Sports will have to leave a number of storylines unfinished. Will baseball salvage its season? How will softball fare? Who will Tech basketball bring into its recruiting class? Will women’s tennis go all the way? By the time we next publish, we will have these answers, or at least progress towards them.

But in the meantime, we can recap the storylines of the year. From new additions to the Tech’s coaching ranks to a greater understanding of where we stand in the national sports scene, here are a few concluding thoughts.

CJP and CJP: Yin and Yang

If you went into a laboratory to try cooking up a coach to serve as a foil to football head coach Paul Johnson, you could not do much better than basketball coach Josh Pastner. Johnson is the epitome of a Southern football coach: gruff, tough and unwilling to let his guard down. Who could forget his sarcastic tongue-waggle at a fan in the immediate aftermath of Tech’s shocking win over Florida State? His explanation: that same fan was likely criticizing him a few minute before, as Everett Golson was marching the ‘Noles downfield. Johnson, like “The Catcher in the Rye’s” Holden Caufield, abhors phonies. And he does not keep silent about it.

Pastner, by contrast, is as affable as perhaps any coach in college athletics. It does not take long to find “Who Said It: Josh Pastner or Michael Scott,” an online quiz that challenges participants to distinguish Pastner’s sayings from those of the unlucky-in-life “The Office” character. He has gone to great lengths to convince students to attend games. He has repeatedly expressed his excitement about the program. He refrains from swearing; he has never cursed at a player in his coaching career, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com. He is, in so many ways, what Johnson is not.

Yet I believe that Tech is stronger for having both of these coaches. Root for the cold realist in the fall and the charismatic optimist in the spring.

Early in Pastner’s tenure, he received a call on his radio show from Johnson, wishing him luck. Here’s hoping that friendship continues for years to come.

It’s a Wonderful Life

In iconic 1946 film “The Wonderful Life,” protagonist George Bailey is on the verge of suicide until he is reminded of the impact he has had on the lives of others. Without him, his town would collapse. His troubles are by comparison not worth the actions he was planning to take. Unrelated as it may seem to Tech athletics, we should take stock of its lofty place in the grand scheme of things. Tech faces the best teams in the nation in virtually every sport for which it fields a team. Football? Tech faced off against two of the NFL Draft’s highest-projected quarterbacks. UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. The latter just led his team to a national championship. While the Jackets did not notch a win against either, the Tech defense did a better job against Watson than many did all year.

Follow basketball instead? The national champion Tar Heels couldn’t get past Tech at McCamish Pavilion on New Year’s Eve this season. NC State guard Dennis Smith, Jr., one of the most explosive players in the NBA Draft (and one who has drawn some comparisons to Oklahoma City Thunder star and MVP frontrunner Russell Westbrook), could not lead his team past the Jackets. Tech’s NIT win over Indiana led to the firing of Tom Crean, a national story.

Tech has not won a national championship, but there is no doubt that the team is nationally relevant. That counts for something. What exactly that something is may not always be clear.

We will return briefly in June and July, and we will be back for good in August. Then, we will know what football’s depth chart looks like. We will have a general idea of who will make Tech basketball’s starting five, both for the men and the women.

And, although some might rightly argue that it never seems to end, we at the Sports section of the Technique will be back, not only to attend classes, but also to cover the next chapter of
Tech athletics.