Tech’s Johnson long overdue for contract extension

Paul Johnson’s team is 9-2 and he’s overdue for a contract extension. (AP photo)

Paul Johnson's team is 9-2 and he's overdue for a contract extension. (AP photo)

Paul Johnson’s team is 9-2 and he’s overdue for a contract extension. (AP photo)

After consecutive losses to Duke and North Carolina seemed to deflate all significant postseason hopes, Georgia Tech has won four straight games to clinch a berth in the ACC championship game and is even visible in the college football playoff rankings (16th).

The question: Where does all of this leave coach Paul Johnson?

I have a column on Johnson and his loud response to critics posted on MyAJC.com. Here’s a free link.

In it, I touch on the fact that Johnson has only two years remaining on his contract after this season, and an extension needs to be completed soon. Tech has two games left before its bowl game — Saturday at Georgia and the following week against Florida State in the ACC championship game. Coaches will then head out to recruit.

Johnson certainly doesn’t want to try to sway recruits when he doesn’t even know about his own future.

The standard operating procedure for contracts is different when it comes to college pro coaches. Pro coaches often don’t have their deals extended until there is one year remaining or sometimes even after they’ve expired. College coaches generally are renewed/extended to carry at least four years as a sign of stability to recruits. Otherwise, opposing coaches use it against them in recruiting.

Johnson was hired by former Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich, not his replacement, Mike Bobinski. When I spoke to Bobinski in August about the perceived effect a coach’s contract has on recruiting, he called it “the most overblown thing in the world. That’s a figment of agents’ and other people’s imagination. (Opposing) coaches will say what they’re going to say. But the counter to that is coaches will just pick up and leave.”

Here’s the thing about Johnson: He would just pick up and leave. He’s financially secure and secure in his abilities. He has an ego but not that kind that says, “I have to work in a major conference.” He won’t go begging for an extension.

Our Ken Sugiura spoke to Johnson’s agent last week. Jack Reale said the two sides are “in discussions” for an extension but was non-specific about how much progress has been made.

I know Johnson has his critics. But Tech is about to go to its third ACC championship game in his seven seasons. While there obviously have been some down moments — 1-5 record against Georgia, a 1-5 bowl record, the North Carolina loss — I’m not sure how much better Tech could do than that run since 2008.

Feel free to sound off.

A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Tech’s season a loud response for Johnson’s critics
— AJC: First-ballot thoughts: Smoltz should join Maddux, Glavine
— AJC: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: Which team has had better season?
— MyAJC: Gurley’s injury should prompt change in NFL draft rule
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: The straight poop–Georgia wins SEC East, Falcons lose
— AJC: Is Braves’ pursuit of Lester realistic?
— AJC: Braves trade Jason Heyward and John Hart just took huge risk
— MyAJC: It makes no sense but Falcons are in first
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Panthers
— MyAJC: Dogs have a statement win, now hope for best with Gurley
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s win and Gurley
— MyAJC: As hoops open, Tech looks far more ready than Georgia
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets cross bridge, Falcons back to normal
— MyAJC: Ladies and gentlemen Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (in basketball, yes now)
— AJC: If Georgia wins out, would it sway playoff committee?
— MyAJC: All eyes are on Gurley (even if you can’t find him)
— AJC: Hart should deal both Uptons and Gattis
— MyAJC: Falcons’ division hopes hinge on beating teams other than Bucs
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Tampa Bay
— MyAJC: If Georgia Tech has come together, we’ll find out against Clemson, UGA
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over N.C. State
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons’ find their penicillin — the Bucs
— MyAJC: Amid Atlanta misery, can Hawks really be shining light?
— AJC: Election Day: Vote to keep or fire coaches (polls)
— MyAJC: Georgia blows it all with inexcusable performance
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s stunning loss to Florida
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley (oooh, scary); but Dogs over Gators
— AJC: Rules are dumb but that’s no excuse for Todd Gurley

Reader Comments 0

106 comments
Jmonty
Jmonty

I will admit..  I wasn't expecting this year to be as good as it has been.  With a new QB at the helm, a depleted defense and a 2nd year with a lack luster DC.  JT has been a great addition to the team.  The defense is getting better each game.  As for Roof?  Well.... I am still not convinced.  While I have no doubts that Johnson can run the triple option.  I have nothing but doubts where Roof is concerned.  I keep hoping that Roof proves me wrong.  If Roof can somehow plan a solid game plan against UGA, I'd be impressed.  I still am not expecting GT to win.  But, they will score enough points to make the game interesting.  UGA 44 GT 38.  I think we have a better chance FSU.  However...  Go Jackets...!!  Here's to hoping for a great win... 

GTRay
GTRay

To the Johnson haters, here are some thoughts:

His recruiting efforts have been hamstrung due to lack of support from the administration.  Bobinski has recently moved to change that.

APRs have been OUTSTANDING under Johnson.  I know some folks care more about wins and losses, but to me, academic performance comes first.  That goes back to the integrity of our beloved Ma Tech.

Has everyone forgotten he's been operating under the cloud of NCAA probation which was so severe because of the unethical actions (my opinion) of the previous AD?  Do you seriously think that this has not been used by other schools when recruiting against us?  We don't need to give other schools more fodder to use against us.  Mr. Bobinski, extend his contract.  Do it prudently - do your due diligence, but extend it now.

P.S.  When I say "haters", I'm referring to those who persistently and perniciously attack Johnson at every opportunity.  However, I can understand some of the legitimate and thoughtful concerns about the timing of the extension. 

GTLarry
GTLarry

Why can't we let the season play out? Thanks AD Bobinski! What 18 year old would really consider a coach's contract length when they sign? In addition, most recruits develop relationships with and sign because of the assistants/coordinators. Yes, CPJ has been a good coach but I do not understand why there is a rush to extend him right now.  

GTRay
GTRay

To those who want to hire Lane Kiffin:  Are you crazy?  I vociferously disagree.  Kiffin is despicable and so full of himself.  Between his ego and Satan's, I'm surprised that any stadium can hold the two of them.  However, I hear Bobby Petrino's interested.  He feels like he's accomplished everything he wanted to at Louisville and wants to come back to Atlanta, where he says he is so loved by "true" football fans.  And unlike Johnson, he knows how to recruit.  

PETRINO!

PETRINO!

PETRINO!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTRay

You been hittin' the sauce this Thanksgiving Eve?

GTRay
GTRay

@DawgNole @GTRay

Sometimes I just feel like a nut.  And to see if anyone buys that I'm being serious.

So is your daughter coming home for T-giving?

Hey, aren't we enemies for the next two weeks?  ;-)

79
79

In 1862, a group of Congressman came to Lincoln demanding that McClellan be fired. Lincoln asked, "With whom do you suggest that I replace him?" They answered, "Anybody!" Lincoln then said, "'Anybody' may work for you but I must have 'somebody'." 


We may disagree about whether or not he is a great coach (I believe that he is, BTW). I submit that Paul is as good as Tech will ever do, for the simple fact that Tech is not a "destination" job. The latest hot coordinator would be with us long enough to audition for the head job in the SEC/Big 10/Pac 12...(See James Franklin Vandy to Penn State) Nick Saban is not coming to GT. Neither is Vince Lombardi.


Yes, our defense continues to be bad. I expect GA and FSU will hang 40+ on us. But Johnson's option offense is football poetry and we might be able to win either game 48-45. We have JT at QB for 2 more years....our recruiting has turned a corner...our schedule the next couple of years is brutal...Extend Paul Johnson right now....


Delbert_D
Delbert_D

@79 

McClellan was a fine practice General. He could organize and drill those troops. His problem was actually attacking the enemy.
He just would not do it.

79
79

@Delbert_D @79

And, in the end, Lincoln fired McClellan anyway....then brought in John Pope.....who was worse, albeit in the opposite direction....."Headquarters in the saddle"....which kinda makes my case about firing Paul.....:-)


We can do lots worse....and probably will....oh well

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Raise the salary 500/700k and remove the buyout.  Both sides have skin in the game going forward and both have to produce. 

khd713
khd713

Schultz has some points, but let's get real. At the end of last season the enthusiasm around the Tech football program was at a nadir. The loss to Georgia, the bowl game, and worst of all, the fact that the stadium was only partially filled for most of the home games, all were bad signs for the coach. The noise level had gotten pretty high for the new AD. And then the starting quarterback transferred. Things did not seem to be going well, and I and a lot of other die-hard Tech fans were convinced this would be PJ's last season on the Flats. I figured a 6-6 record would make Bobinski's job easy, and we'd be back to ground zero trying to pick up the pieces after the failed triple-option experiment. Funny thing, though, that having his starting quarterback transfer (or get pushed?) out was the best thing that ever happened to PJ. That opened the door for Justin Thomas, who has almost single-handedly restored optimism to the Tech fan base this season. 

Few Tech fans, even the harshest PJ critics, will deny he's a great coach. The man knows his Xs and Os, and he knows how to coach the triple option. That's obvious. But for all of PJ's tenure, my Tech buddies and I have wondered what this team would be like if the coach could just a) find a quarterback who is at least a little bit of a threat with the pass, and b) could put together anything resembling a defense. Before PJ I didn't know much about the triple option, but one thing I figured out pretty quick is that you have to have some kind of passing threat or else it's not going to work. Otherwise, the defenses will just load up and the better teams are going to be able to stop the triple option cold. You have to have a quarterback who can drop a pass over the defense. Last year, we didn't have that and it was ugly – one of the ugliest I've seen for this offense. But with Justin Thomas, it looks like coach PJ has finally gotten the first part right. And for the second half of this season at least, it looks like he and coach Roof are finally getting the second part right. That could be a very dangerous combination down the road.

The other major complaint with PJ is that his system seriously hinders recruiting. It's a fact that because of the offensive system, Tech doesn't get the same level of players that the major conference leaders do. I think the offensive scheme has also had a negative impact on defensive recruiting. Fair or not, it's just a fact. But if Tech can keep winning and keep getting receivers, running backs, d-linemen and others drafted by NFL teams, I can see the recruiting picture gradually changing to the positive. And then can you imagine? Holy cow, if Tech were to start getting a fair share of four-stars and a handful of five stars, under this coach the Jackets would be playoff contenders every year. That's a dream scenario, but even if it doesn't happen, PJ is showing that he can still win with the right quarterback, a solid O-line, a couple of decent receivers, and a competent defense.

After last season, I was among the critics expecting another down year and thinking it would then be time for Johnson to go. But Justin Thomas has come to the rescue and brought the program back to life. That said, the Jackets have to do something other than lose all of the next three games, because if they lose all three, a lot of that bad feeling is going to be back again, lingering on the periphery, even with nine wins. And even if they lose the last two, just beating UGA would make this season a huge success. Let's see what happens with these last three games, or even after a successful game against the Dawgs, and then I say give the coach a new contract. At that point he will have earned it. 

GTRay
GTRay

@khd713

While I don't agree with everything in your post, it was thoughtful and well written.  

Two additional thoughts:

1)  His recruiting efforts have been hamstrung due to lack of support from the administration.  Bobinski has recently moved to change that.

2)  APRs have been OUTSTANDING under Johnson.  I know some folks care more about wins and losses, but to me, academic performance comes first.  That goes back to the integrity of our beloved school. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@khd713: "And even if they lose the last two, just beating UGA would make this season a huge success."

______________________

GTBob stupidly insists that beating UGA does little, if anything, for GT.

Wonder why he lies like that?

Jmonty
Jmonty

@DawgNole @khd713   I actually think that a UGA win would carry more weight than a win over FSU.  We all know that even....by some miracle.... GT beats UGA and FSU, there is about 0 chance they are going into the 4 team playoffs.  Here's the question...  Just follow me...  GT beats UGA..  However Arkansas beat Mizzou and UGA goes to the SEC championship...  Then... GT beats FSU... UGA beats (let's say) Bama.  Who does the committee vote in?  UGA...  2 reasons..  1.  SEC... need I say more?  2.  popular vote... More fans... more money... 


We all know that the NCAA is about money... If anyone really thinks the NCAA is about the student athletes than you must be lost in some bygone time period.  The schools that bring in more money will be considered over schools that don't.  I know this...  Just like I know the NCAA overlooked things at UNC for years...  Yet... this whole players not attending classes has just now came to light..  Really??  10-12 years after the fact and they just now do something?? 


Call me cynical all you want.  But the truth is the truth. 


Anyways...  FSU struggled against almost every team they played.  They beat Notre Dame on what I say is a questionable call.  So, if GT were to lose to UGA, but beat FSU..  I don't think there would be any creditability given to the Jackets.  People would just say the ACC is weak continue to bash them. 


All I can do is hope that we are on point and make no mistakes... and hope UGA makes a few. 

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

@GTRay @khd713

This is a flat-out LIE, put out by the CPJ apologists, that only want to consider this 1 good year when re-upping CPJ yet want to ignore the 4 mediocre years.

The TRUTH, is that the NCAA approved additional recruiting assts. that do NOT do on-field coaching shortly AFTER MBob was hired as AD.

Claiming that CPJ was hamstrung by an Administration is just a LIE, it was the NCAA that allowed additional recruiting assts.

If the APRs are so good, then lets PAY the Academic Advisor $2.7MM per year, the reason we won't is that money like that is PAID to HCs to WIN GAMES, so don't mention Academics when the time comes to talk contracts.

Did you care if the guy that lived in the dorm room ACROSS from you graduated?

Probably not!

So why is it an  indication of "academic integrity" that our FB players graduate?

Why are you so concerned with whether or not 85 males graduate when there are over 13K undergrads at GT?

The ones that WANT TO graduate will, just like the students that you didn't know that made a choice to graduate.

In order to make up for our 60 year lack of success in CFB, many GT fans like to fuse "Academics Talk" with CFB talk.

Academics is for M-F, on Saturdays I want to win games, and Championships.

Coaches get PAID millions to win Games, talking about academics is just a weak attempt for the schools that LOSE TOO  MUCH to feel better about themselves.

2831jedi
2831jedi

Why extend? I have yet to hear him as a candidate to replace any coach that looks to be fired.

GTBob
GTBob

@2831jedi Do you speak to a lot of Athletic Directors on a regular basis?

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@2831jedi 

Ah yes - there are a long list of Athletic Directors saying "I am looking to fire my HC and I am thinking of hiring AN Other"

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

Mr. Schultz, why not make CPJ  do it for 2 straight years instead of just 1 year to prove that this is not a 1-time fluke?

After all he did just give us 4 years of very mediocre FB, yet you seem to FORGET that after a 9-2 run vs. the 53rd toughest schedule in the country (Sagarin).

What is so wrong with re-upping CPJ after 2015 or 3/4 of the way through 2015?

If we do re-up him ,then let's CAP THE BUYOUT at $1.0MM in case he falls back into a stretch of mediocrity and we have to fire him.

Under those circumstances, then I would agree with re-upping him.

In fact no GT HC should ever have a buyout of more than $1.0MM!

GTBob
GTBob

@RuePaulJohnson I can't wait to see all of the great coaches who are willing to sign a contract with a 1 million dollar buyout.

GTBob
GTBob

@RuePaulJohnson They don't have much choice if that is what the market demands. Im not going to go through every coaches contract but I'm going to guess hardly any of them if any have a buyout that small. Most have guaranteed contracts.

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

@GTBob @RuePaulJohnson

This is a lie Bob and you know it, there are plenty of FB coaches out there that would love to coach GT and recruit in Metro Atlanta & Ga. and get to earn $2.75MM++ per year while playing in a very soft ACC.

In fact,  CPJ might have the easiest, most stress-free coaching job among all the Power-5 Colleges.

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

@GTBob @RuePaulJohnson

GT "leads" in other areas, why not lead the country in having the smallest buyouts in all of the Power-5 for their HCs in CFB and MBB?

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

We re-upped him last time after short term success, and now you want us to FORGET 4-straight  mediocre years and over-react to 1 good year.

Why not WAIT and re-up after or during 2015 if CPJ is still on an upward trend?

You haven't watched the games JS, GT has run into a LOT of luck with the ACC being as down as it has ever been.

Did you watch the Wake-VPI game last week, that should tell you about how weak the ACC has been this season.

Through the first 11-games GT is 9-2 vs. the 53rd toughest schedule, that JS is not enough to re-up a HC with 2 years left on his contract, at least make him go through 3/4 of the 2015 schedule to make sure it is not a 1-time lucky run and instead a solid trend of moving GT FB forward.

Let me ask you about STANDARDS  JS, if Saban or CMR had put up the same 4 year record as CPJ did from 2010 through 2013 and then had a 9-2 record vs. the 53rd toughest schedule in the country, would ask that they be given extensions?

I pose that hypothetical to show how LOW your standards are for GT FB in comparison to other nearby colleges.

GT should never lower their standards and "accept our fate in CFB"!

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

@GTBob @RuePaulJohnson

I never said fire anybody  recently.

CPJ can have his extension now, but the GTAA needs to cap his buyout at $1.0MM.

If the GTAA is gonna give him more years then CPJ needs to give something back to the GTAA, mainly that huge-a$$ buyout.

Tenn. has some of the worst HS FB in the deep south which is why Tenn. is so weak they are no longer doing as well in Ga. & Fla. as they did when Fulmer was there, and if Mason were at GT I think he'd cut in to CMR's dominance of the State of Ga.

Franklin left Vandy with no QBs, and no OLs and that has really hurt them this year.

Give Mason time to recruit, he'll get them to the 7 win level, which is great in the SEC.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@RuePaulJohnson @GTBob 

"Franklin left Vandy with no QBs, and no OLs and that has really hurt them this year."

Some guy named MikeBanning was posting most of last year how Franklin was building a powerhouse by pulling ELITE athletes out of Metro Atlanta.  I wonder what happened to Mike?

GTRay
GTRay

@PaulinNH 

I'm Mike Banning.  I think.  No, I'm Aquaman.  Man, I have to get organizized.


GTBob
GTBob

@RuePaulJohnson I agree. We should fire CPJ and bring in Derek Mason like you suggested a while ago. He has them boys at Vandy playing good football. We would easily have the top 10 recruiting classes and 10 win seasons we are entitled to every year had we hired him. I can't believe we stuck with a coach who can only win 9 games and go to the ACC championship every other year. That is horribly unacceptable.

Realisticfan
Realisticfan

Great Coach. Sign him up to a lifetime contract a la Paul Hewitt.  Surely he will beat Ga sometime.  Law of large numbers dictates this doesn't it Tech fans?

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

Got a brother who is a Tech fan who has wanted CPJ gone for a couple of years. I think it's mainly because of the "high school" offense. Paul Johnson has done a decent job there. Sure, they aren't beating the Dawgs the way Jacket fans would like, but that's one game. Tech's whole season does not come down to that game unless they have nothing else to play for. (The same is true for the Dawgs.) Therefore, if you take what he's done on The Flats, Johnson probably deserves a contract extension. 

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Don't give him an extension.  Now is the time to send him to the house!  Cut your loses and go after Lane Kniffin.  He will make all GT fans proud!!!!!  Just ask anybody.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@Caius @Quackmeyer   Too bad Al Davis is dead, he would have given you all you wanted to know about LK.  They were TIGHT!

Caius
Caius

@Quackmeyer Took your advice and asked about Lane Kiffin.


Tennessee gives him the highest recommendation. But they do say their experience is limited.

Same for USCw, limited experience but hold him in highest regard.


Word on the street is that Kiffin is UGA's main target should Richt up and leave/retire.  So I guess whoever has the most money ..................!


Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@GTRay @Quackmeyer  May have to disagree on that choice.  He should be out of coaching and not exposed to college age kids!  His track record is not very good with that age group.

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

This has been a much better than expected year for GT.  Disappointing that they lost to both Duke and Carolina, but beating VT, Miami, Pitt, Clemson - those are good and somewhat unexpected wins.  They are hitting their stride too - winning the last 4 games in a row by an average of 22 points.  They will not be expected to win their next two games against UGA and FSU, but they could surprise.


First year for J.Thomas running the offense, so he could be even better next year.  Maybe that and winning one of the next two will help gain some traction on recruiting.


I think CPJ is a good coach, and you know what you're getting with him.  Personally, I enjoy watching the triple-option - and it seems Thomas has shown he can throw and earned more passing plays than most QBs under this system.


I agree that we couldn't expect much better for Tech.  Give the man an extension

Caius
Caius

Looked up the records for GT football using the first year of Bud Carson (1967) as a convenient base.

Since that season GT has a total won - loss-tie record of 300 wins, 256 losses and 8 ties.


Johnson has a record of... 57 - 34 - 0 to date.


Used this site:         sports-reference.com




fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

We rank now and have ranked about 9-10-11 out of 14 in recruiting in the ACC in the Paul Johnson era…trending up in 2014-15. 


We have the 4th most conference wins in that same period, and win or tie for the Coastal several years, ACC champs once and looking for another this year. 


I agree with Stein and GTAlum01, we could do a lot worse. If GT goes back to a more traditional offense we are going back to 7 wins at best and little chance of winning the coastal much less the ACC. And he is doing it with kids who, for the most part, stay out of trouble and GRADUATE with a real degree from a school that cares about that! 



Milton027
Milton027

If my memory serves me, another major school (Auburn) did want him a few years ago and GT upped his contract.