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.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.
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.
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.
-- 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