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December 8, 2007

Tech straps on a new Johnson


New Head Nerd

On Friday, Georgia Tech named Navy's Paul Johnson as their coach to replace Chan Gailey. Tech will pay Johnson more than $11 million over 7 years. The "more than" part of that sentence likely involves a series of performance based bonuses that I haven't found explained (yet) in the articles that I've read.

His salary on its face would make him roughly the 30th highest paid coach in college football. Given the pace of salary inflation in Div I-A, he'll be around 40th by the time the season starts. The original rumored salary numbers of $14 million for 6 years would've made him a Top 10-12 coach salary wise, and that would've raised serious eye brows all over the country.

The smart ass in me wants to point out that Tech beat SMU and Duke for this coach. Are those their peer schools now? The pragmatic football fan wants to point out the following record against "big boy" schools:
By my quick and dirty count, Johnson was 12-18 vs. BCS conference schools (plus ND) while at Navy. Seven of those 12 wins came against Duke, Vandy, Rutgers and Stanford.
Some Positives on the Hire for Tech:
-- As Tony Barnhart said, he's not charming or warm and fuzzy. If Tech was looking for a coach to energize their fan base, Johnson won't do it without winning big. But he's a winner and he's won everywhere he's ever been. However, this job is nothing like anywhere he's been.

-- He knows the state's recruiting environment, and he's respected enough to assemble a quality staff. Tech doesn't appear to have the financial clout to assemble a dream team of coaches, but quality coaches will be comfortable working with him.

-- Many high school coaches in this state still run the Wing T. Johnson's system isn't wildly different from that option oriented offense. I think his old school style and schemes will resonate with old school HS coaches.

-- It is extremely unlikely that he will lose six in a row to Georgia. He's simply more competent than Gailey, and Chan was close several times. Tech fans are thrilled that Johnson went 6-0 vs. this top rival (Army).

Some Negatives on the Hire for Tech:
-- He has never recruited traditional Div I-A athletes. Recruiting enough talent at Navy to regularly win 7-8 games given their academic, height, weight and character restrictions is impressive. Winning at that level *during a war* is even more impressive. However, recruiting at Navy is different. The motivation for going there is entirely different than at any other school. He'll have a lot of work to do on his sales pitch.

-- I don't think traditional QBs, WRs, elite Offensive Tackles and possibly Cornerbacks will be drawn to his system until he proves that he's willing to evolve it. However, running backs, interior linemen and other defensive players will be responsive to playing in an offense like this. Look at the way Nebraska's recruiting "devolved" under Solich as players at the above positions started looking elsewhere rather than stunt their NFL opportunities playing in an antiquated system. In fact, Blue Chip quarterback recruit Sean Renfree is rumored to be on the verge of decommitting before the end of the weekend.

-- Johnson was 1-5 vs. his #2 rival (Notre Dame). Too bad for Tech

-- As DawgSports.com pointed out, Gailey wasn't appreciably worse than George O'Leary. He just had horrific timing.
George O'Leary's Yellow Jackets competed in an A.C.C. that did not count Boston College, Miami (Florida), and Virginia Tech among the league's member institutions. Moreover, George O'Leary's tenure in the City Too Busy to Hate largely coincided with the years during which Clemson was coached by Tommy West, Maryland was coached by Ron Vanderlinden, N.C. State was coached by Mike O'Cain, Virginia was coached by George Welsh in the waning days of his career, and Wake Forest was coached by Jim Caldwell.

By contrast, Chan Gailey had to deal with Tommy Bowden's Tigers, Ralph Friedgen's Terrapins, Chuck Amato's Wolfpack, Al Groh's Cavaliers, and Jim Grobe's Demon Deacons. That Coach Gailey faced a demonstrably tougher schedule week in and week out is underscored by the fact that Coach O'Leary faced Ray Goff's and Jim Donnan's underachieving Georgia squads, whereas his successor had to contend with Mark Richt's Bulldogs.
Johnson's problem -- UGA, UVA, Wake, UNC and Clemson all look in better shape today than they did under the bulk of Gailey's tenure. The Tech job continues to get harder.

Or said differently...Georgia has won 7 games in a row over Tech. The Yellow Jackets lose seven defensive starters, and Georgia is returning an army on both sides of the ball. The Tech faithful (sic) really only care about beating the Dawgs. Turning the tide in the series doesn't look likely immediately. So, his ability to please the Techies is limited.

See Also
-- Can Johnson's offense work at Tech - AJC
-- Explaining the triple option - AJC
-- Johnson hits recruiting trail - AJC
-- The perfect hire...for now - AJC
-- He had a better year than W - Get the Picture

PWD

18 comments:

Dubbayoo said...

I think you might be wrong about why people choose the service academies. A lot of kids go there because it's one of the few D-I offers they get. Not all of them are anxious for a military careers. Although you're pretty much set for life networking-wise once you graduate.

Anonymous said...

uh, notre dame is navy's number two rival? what?

and 1-5 vs notre dame? what kind of stat is that? i would expect navy to be 1-5 vs notre dame. its navy. The fact that paul is responsible for the 1 in the W column is actually pretty impressive in itself, considering that the last one came before most of us were born.

i actually think this was a brilliant hire by tech. he knows almost all of the high school coaches in the state from his experience at gsu. he has always been a winner, from his dynasty at southern to his bowl appearances at navy. Regardless of a gimic offense, he can win. and for the price that they got an experienced coach in the state of georgia that has a long history of winning, i'd say tech did pretty damn good.

Anonymous said...

Would argue the point about his being able to aquire quality assistants. He does not have the connections through the D1 or NFL tree to call some of his old friends to join him.

I doubt that the fact that he did not play college football will affect him, but it is interesting that he nor Rick Leach played above high school and are two of the most innovative minds in the game.

stick jackson said...

I think he will do well at Tech. The gimmick offense is a feature, not a bug (no pun intended) because while Tech fans want to think they they are just one great recruiting class away from being able to line up beat the big guys, they aren't and they need some kind of edge to even things out.

I also think PJ will figure out how to open things up enough to recruit decent passers and receivers -- which Joe Hamilton and Calvin aside, is all Tech has ever had anyway.

TheUnknownStuntman said...

This is the smartest decision that the Georgia Tech Athletic Association has ever made, and they did it in spite of themselves.

I only wish that a more deserving set of fans had been given the opportunity to watch the most beautiful offense in the world every Saturday.

Anonymous said...

"The fact that paul johnson is responsible for the 1 in the W column [against ND] is actually pretty impressive in itself, considering that the last one came before most of us were born."

Well...that's what they can expect against UGA, too.

Doug said...

Tech fans are thrilled that Johnson went 6-0 vs. this top rival (Army).

I actually saw a couple Techies on the AJC.com boards make the argument that Johnson beat Navy's biggest rival repeatedly, so he could expect to beat GT's biggest rival repeatedly as well -- as if Army and UGA were interchangeable. That's like saying that because I went out on a date with the barista at my local Starbucks, I can expect a call from Alessandra Ambrosio any minute now.

AshevilleDawg said...

Know who else used to run a potent option attack and had "won big every where he had been?"

Jim Donnan.

Anonymous said...

Johnson will not run the Triple Option flexbone at Tech...it's been said by him repeatedly

blackertai said...

He also said he wouldn't completely scrap it, since it is effective and he acknowledged that it's basically his calling card.

ChicagoDawg said...

Well congrats to DRad, he stiffened his resolve and rose to the occasion with his new Johnson (lame pun intended). Seriously, it would appear that the embarrassment that was becoming the coaching search has, in a perverse way, worked to DRad's advantage in uniting the TicklePile Nation. At this point, the sheer anxiety relief of having a coach, any coach, who was willing to say yes has brought about such a "thank God somebody accepted it" relief that it has worked to unite the various WoW and D&D constituencies that were fractured days ago. Within 24 hours the Hive & AJC blog respondents have coalesced around CPJ as the first choice dream candidate. The previous violent disagreements & DRads candidate criteria have been conveniently set aside and replaced with a unified, dominate narrative, which is centered on his prowess in engineering high powered 21st Century offenses (Barnhart is really pimping this line of thought), recruiting in GA, beating his rivals and being an all around Man in Charge Bad Ass.

Will said...

If Tenuta leaves (and I think he might...possibly to LSU), Tech becomes what they were in the late 90s. A D that can be burned b/c they don't have top 25 talent/depth, and a tricky offense that can put up points.
It took JD on the other sideline and ineligible players for Tech to beat us then...it ain't happening now.

Jordan said...

What is everyone's opinion on what sort of offense he will run?

It seems most everyone thinks he's going to run the exact same triple-option offense at GT that he did at Navy and GSU. I just don't see him doing that, because as many other people have said, and do so better than I, its hard to recruit top flight talent in that sort of system at this sort of level and defenses today are faster now. They can get to edge.

I just think you'll see an option oriented offense, but altered similar to the spread. Opinions?

JasonC said...

I think PJ is a pretty good hire for Tech. It will be interesting to see if Nesbitt replaces Bennett at QB.

Also, does anyone know what this will mean for Giff Smith (?) the good recruiting assistant at Tech.

ChicagoDawg said...

Well, according to Tony Barnhart, the offense will evolve into a cutting edge spread option style offense much like WVA and/or Oregon. Of course, there is no evidence to suggest that this will be the case, rather it is just Tony pulling stuff out of his @$$. It may indeed become that type of offense, but just saying it will be, is pure speculation with no data to support it.

Anonymous said...

He'll do no better than 1 out of the next 5 against UGA. 0 for the next 2. Which is what Chan would have done. Only difference is he'll get the 2 year "just you wait till he gets his guys" honeymoon period.

Anonymous said...

"The Tech faithful (sic) really only care about beating the Dawgs." Get over yourself. Winning conference games just as much if not more than beating the thug "University Studies" majors from Athens. But no one can ever expect UGAy fans to realize they aren't the center of the universe.

all school said...

"The Tech faithful (sic) really only care about beating the Dawgs." Get over yourself.

Really? You mean they don't? Is that why they fired a guy who had them in the ACC Championship game last year, who never finished with less than a losing record, who had them in a bowl EVERY year, and who did all this despite being handed a considerable mess by the previous coaching staff with the loss of about 10 players for "academics" as his first preseason camp began (a first at GTU. Apparently, O'Leary was able to keep the "academic people" away from his players during his reign), and a richly deserved two year NCAA probation for lying and cheating enough to keep a double digit number of academically ineligible, but athletically significant (cough, Joe Hamilton, cough) players on the field FOR SEVERAL YEARS. He won consistently, he won despite laboring under scholarship reductions, he won despite "GTU academics." What was the only thing he COULDN'T do? Why, he couldn't beat UGA. He was certainly competitive several years, but he couldn't beat UGA. Sure, no one over there cared too much about beating UGA.

Winning conference games just as much if not more than beating the thug "University Studies" majors from Athens.

Really? Ask any nerds you may know if the shine was taken off last year's triumphant division championship by the fact that UGA beat a widely favored team from Pencil Neck Tech. Ask any of those "patrons" in the west stands at the Joke if beating Duke or NC State means "just as much if not more" than getting their asses kicked by UGA every single year. I'm sure any jolly good fellow you know would much rather rack up a W over Virginia or Maryland than beat UGA. And as for "thugs" from Athens, last time I looked, none of our players got busted by the feds for trying to truck in 100 pounds of marijuana....and then got back on the field after a few weeks. You're the school famous for throwing bottles and debris at opposing teams, bands and referees. UGA isnt a thug school, we dont have thug players, and you arent a very convincing liar, sparky.

But no one can ever expect UGAy fans to realize they aren't the center of the universe.

We aren't the center of the universe. We're just the center of the Mustard Universe, which is to real life like the Bizarro World is to the real world. You dweebs obsess about us 24/7, 52 weeks a year. You measure yourselves by us. You fume because you can't measure up. Mark Richt? In most of the English speaking world, he's a good guy and a great coach. In the Mustard Dimension? He's an evil master of thugs. In the real world, UGA is a well respected university. In the Mustard Dimension, UGA is the home of semi-literate bumpkins. Let's face it, sparky: we're not arrogant. We're just better than you are. Put that in your slide rule and carry it out to 10 decimal places. And tell Pepper Rodgers, Jr...errrrr, Paul Johnson we're looking forward to getting him started on the road to his very own Mustard Sombrero in November, 2008. Think of us while you're chewing frozen beef jerky at a truck stop in Boise; we'll all be living it up in the French Quarter before we kick Hawaii's ass so hard, it'll jar their ancestors in Pago Pago.

 
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