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Ken SugiuraKen Sugiura

Notes: A significant honor for Cremins

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Three notes a little late in coming, but each worth a read, I think.

1. Georgia Tech coaching great Bobby Cremins was named the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Men’s College Basketball. He was given the award by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Past recipients include Dean Smith, Red Auerbach, John Wooden and Phog Allen, among a slew of other legends of the game.

Cremins coached at Tech for 19 seasons, leading the Yellow Jackets to the 1990 Final Four and three ACC tournament titles. He was also named ACC coach of the year three times and was an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team in 1996.

“I know a lot of the previous winners personally and to be associated with them is a lifetime accomplishment,” Cremins said in a statement.

Since retiring from coaching in 2012 following six seasons at the College of Charleston, Cremins has been something of an unofficial ambassador for the team.

Cremins will be recognized at the Naismith Awards Invitational celebrity golf tournament Sept. 14-15 in Atlanta.

2. Former Georgia Tech offensive lineman Morgan Bailey will continue his playing career at Coastal Carolina. Bailey graduated from Tech in May after having played three injury-plagued seasons for the Yellow Jackets.

He will have immediate eligibility and one year remaining. Had Bailey remained at Tech, he would have been in the competition for a starting position at either of the tackle spots. He was expected to start in the 2013 season at right tackle, but began the preseason out with a sports hernia and ended up playing three games last season.

He ended his career having played a total of 15 games. In December, when coach Paul Johnson said that Bailey might choose to not return, he said that Bailey had unlimited potential.

“I felt like he was probably as talented as anybody we’ve had at that position, but he’s been hurt,” Johns said. “He just can’t stay out there, and it’s one thing after the next after the next.”

Coastal Carolina was 12-3 last year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. The team is perhaps best known for its coach, Joe Moglia, who left his job as CEO of TD Ameritrade to pursue a career in coaching.

(I should note that Bailey actually transferred in June, but this slipped my attention until Friday.)

3. The ACC Kickoff event will begin Sunday, the conference’s media days event. Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and guard Shaquille Mason will represent Tech along with coach Paul Johnson. I’ll have a number of posts from Greensboro, N.C., on the blog over the next couple of days.

It will be a little different in one particular way for me, and for Tech, perhaps more importantly, as it will be the first since 2006, if my math is right, that sports information director Dean Buchan will not attend. Dean was not retained for the coming year, and his last day was June 30.

Dean is a person known only to the heartiest of Tech fans, but someone who played a major role in the athletic department. From 2007, he was Tech’s assistant athletic director overseeing media relations and communications.

It was a role that encompassed serving as a spokesman for the department, writing news releases, coordinating news conferences and generally serving as a conduit between Tech’s coaches, athletes and administrators and media. It was his job to try to ensure that Tech was represented in local and national media fairly and well, which is not an easy thing.

As for his job change, I understand it to be a situation where his superiors, while not displeased with his work, wanted to make a change. Dean, for his part, was ready for a new challenge of his own. I confess I was a little caught off guard when he informed me about a month ago, though, as he did his job admirably, in my opinion.

Regardless, Dean deserves my thanks, both personally and in this space, and from many others in local and national media. Among the many facets of that job, it requires being able to walk a fine line between representing your employer’s interests to the media while also serving the interests of the media. As you might guess, those can sometimes be at cross purposes, and I think Dean balanced that give-and-take particularly well.

I often sought his perspective when writing stories about the football team or the athletic department as a whole, and Dean was invariably honest and fair. For someone in his position, I think it would be easy to try to steer me (delicately or otherwise) away from unflattering articles, but if he thought I was being fair and accurate in the angle I took, he didn’t give me grief over it. In so doing, it gave him a lot more credibility when he did tell me that an opinion I held or a story I was considering was probably off the mark. He helped my coverage of Tech and my service to AJC readers by sharing background information that gave me a better understanding of a situation or person.

Dean also worked a ton for Tech. One thing that strikes me as perhaps most typical of him is this: When he arrived, for whatever reason, Tech’s football records were woefully incomplete. To most people, this doesn’t mean a lot. But, for someone like me, who is trying to put players, teams and games into context, records and lists are important.

At no one’s urging but his own, I’m guessing, Dean went back through literally decades of box scores and play-by-play summaries to build back the record book. I feel pretty confident saying this was complete drudgery, and a job that went unappreciated and unnoticed by virtually all except a few, and then barely so. No one would have raised an eyebrow had he decided it wasn’t worth the time or effort. But that’s Dean. Doing his job well, and preferably in the background, was important.

I know he cared a lot about Tech’s athletes and was protective of them, and he understood what Tech and its athletic department are about. He is a person who takes his work seriously but not himself – precisely what you want in a work colleague.

In the time I’ve covered Tech, he has been the person at Tech that I’ve dealt with most frequently, for which I’ve been appreciative. I consider him a friend and wish him only success wherever he lands. He is attempting to get into real estate, and I imagine his attention to detail and his willingness to work will serve him well.

I understand that athletic director Mike Bobinski has interviewed a handful of candidates to be Dean’s replacement. I’m going to guess a hiring will come pretty soon. Whoever it is, he or she will have a lot to live up to.

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