Jackets fire defensive chief
Associated Press
Saturday, January 09, 2010

Georgia Tech's successful season, including its Atlantic Coast Conference championship and first Orange Bowl appearance in more than 40 years, was not enough to save defensive coordinator Dave Wommack 's job.

Coach Paul Johnson fired Wommack on Friday, only three days after the team's 24-14 Orange Bowl loss to Iowa left the team 11-3 and ranked No. 13.

"Dave is a real good guy and he's knowledgeable at what he does, but it wasn't working for us to the degree I feel like we have to play to get where I want to go," Johnson said.

Georgia Tech ranked 54th in the nation in total defense and 56th in scoring defense.

Wommack's defense allowed 30 or more points in six games this season, including a 30-27 loss to Georgia to close the regular season.

"We actually probably played one of our better defensive games in the bowl game," Johnson said. "The prior two games, we did not force a punt in either game. That's not good. I think it will be good for the program to get a fresh look at it and a fresh start and see if we can't build on it and get better."

Georgia Tech allowed 24.8 points per game even when helped by the Yellow Jackets' ball-control spread option offense. The Yellow Jackets finished third in the nation in time of possession.

Johnson said he and Wommack "both agreed that it was time for a change at that position."

- Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas says he is leaving Georgia Tech to enter the NFL Draft.

"Playing in the NFL has been a dream since I've been a little boy," Thomas said.

Thomas said he was advised he could be drafted in the second round.

"I was saying if it's first or second I'm going to go," he said. "If it's anything below that I'm going to stay and try to get my degree and try to get in the first or second next year."

At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Thomas is an unusually big receiver with good speed. He led the Yellow Jackets with 46 receptions and led the ACC with 1,154 yards receiving and about 25 yards per catch this season.

Georgia Tech is awaiting announcements from at least three more highly rated juniors: defensive end Derrick Morgan , running back Jonathan Dwyer and safety Morgan Burnett .

Morgan and Dwyer are rated as probable first-round picks.

FLORIDA: Now coach Urban Meyer might be able to begin his leave of absence.

Meyer spent the week interviewing and hiring assistants, trying to fill a staff that had four coaches leave for other jobs in the past month.

His latest hire, Miami Dolphins assistant coach George Edwards , should be the last one.

Meyer hired Edwards on Friday to be the team's defensive coordinator. He also promoted Chuck Heater to co-defensive coordinator.

SOUTH FLORIDA: The university fired coach Jim Leavitt after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat during halftime of a Nov. 21 game, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.

A letter hand delivered to the coach and released along with a report on the three-week probe said the university's findings were based on "independently corroborated statements of persons found to be in the best position to observe your conduct."

"Coach Leavitt committed a serious violation of our standards of conduct regarding treatment of students," university president Judy Genshaft said Friday.

Reached by telephone, the only coach in the program's 13-year history told The Associated Press he was "disappointed" and the allegation was "absolutely false."

TEXAS TECH: Fired coach Mike Leach is accusing his former bosses of making "slanderous and libelous" statements intended to damage his reputation.

Court documents filed Friday said statements made by university administrators "were made intentionally" to harm Leach and expose him to financial harm.

ARKANSAS: Quarterback Ryan Mallett is staying in college, passing up the NFL for at least one more season leading the Razorbacks' rejuvenated offense.

Mallett threw for a school-record 3,624 yards this season, his first with Arkansas after transferring from Michigan and sitting out a year.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Receiver Damian Williams is the latest to leave the program, announcing he's skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

Tailback Joe McKnight is also entering the draft early.

From the Saturday, January 09, 2010 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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