Georgia Tech Football: Should Paul Johnson be fired?

NCAA Football: NC State at Georgia Tech
The 2013 season was an interesting one for the Yellow Jackets. Unfortunately, it ended with losing to Georgia in 2 OT’s after blowing a lead, as well as a loss to Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl in Nashville in December. The grievances about the team’s performance (or lack thereof) are numerous from fans as of late, and you can’t help but wonder what the Georgia Tech athletic program is thinking.

Over the past few seasons, the Georgia Tech football program has seemed to stagnate. Since 2009, the Yellow Jackets have posted records of 6-7, 8-5, 7-7 and 7-6 this year. They’re 1-6 in bowl games since 2008, with the only win coming in 2012 against USC in the Sun Bowl. The point that bothers all Tech fans: the Yellow Jackets haven’t beat that team up the road since their comeback win in 2008 where Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones combined for 33 carries, 358 yards and 4 touchdowns in a thriller in Athens.

Coach Paul Johnson, although having a decent tenure at Georgia Tech, has failed to post more than one 10-win season. The biggest obstacle as of late seems to be the inability to hold a lead, limiting turnovers and closing out games. This past season, Georgia Tech had 28 fumbles and lost 11. Vad Lee, specifically, had a hard time keeping the ball off the ground. The Jackets also started several games with substantial leads, but managed to let their opponents come back or worse, let them win. Fans on Twitter started calling for Paul Johnson’s head during the Music City Bowl, complaining about the play-calling and lack of coaching. To an extent, I can’t say I disagree.

I’ve been a fan of Paul Johnson since he came to Georgia Tech. I admired his ability to run the ball down his opponents’ throats, regardless of their knowledge of Georgia Tech’s game plan. However, his ability to outmatch other teams and fully compete has declined. He is being outcoached and it shows. The team is only playing two quarters of football, not four. The defense seems to look lost against quarterbacks that can put the ball in the air, and once a team figures out how to shut down the run game, the offense becomes totally stagnant.

So the question remains: should Paul Johnson be fired? Although I’m as frustrated as many of the fans that are calling for his head, I believe that he should be given a chance to recruit a quarterback that resembles the likes of Josh Nesbitt, as well as a few ball hawks at corner before giving him the boot. Vad Lee, although he didn’t like the offense, was a decent fit for Tech and showed that he could put the ball in the air if he was given the right conditions. Paul Johnson’s record overall as a coach proves that his system works, but it also takes the right players for it to be a well-oiled machine. I wouldn’t be so quick to pull the plug on Paul Johnson because it would take even longer to rebuild if the incoming coach didn’t run the same system as CPJ. His contract is good until 2016, so he has time to improve before Georgia Tech considers other options. I simply hope he capitalizes on that time and brings in players that will improve the program overall.

  • TechMan

    “The Jackets also started several games with substantial leads, but managed to let their opponents come back or worse, let them win.”


    What do you term “substantial?” The only game we lost, other than uga, after having a lead was the Miami game. We were up by 10. Is that substantial?

    “Fans on Twitter started calling for Paul Johnson’s head during the Music City Bowl, complaining about the play-calling and lack of coaching. To an extent, I can’t say I disagree.”


    I would imagine you didn’t disagree. You have allowed your bias to leak right into this “article” and taint the very “facts” you publish.

    If you are indicative of the GSU Journalism program, they should pull the program and offer students refunds.

  • Tech75

    Uh, that would be “execute” not “excuse”. Damn autocorrect.

    “Excuse” me!

  • Tech75

    The Johnson TO offense relies on accurate and FAST reads by the QB. The offense has been proven to work at the FCS level, and where the opponent is very inexperienced at defending the TO.

    D-1 defenders are bigger, stronger, faster, and better coached (in most cases). This increases the SPEED of the defense and it’s reactions, and requires almost superhuman decision speed from the QB.

    I have listened and read literally 10s of thousands of comments about why this offense doesn’t work in games where there is adequate time to study film, talk to opponents, etc.; for me, it boils down to the fact that the QB has to make virtually instantaneous reads and then excuse with absolute confidence.

    I have my doubts as to whether such a QB exists, that can excuse at that level in the FBS, let alone one that would want to come to GT.

    Candidates are going to get rarer as well, as most HS teams running the option are moving to Spread offenses, where they have a shot at a pro career.

    • Kurt Boyer

      I’ve had this argument with a lot of people. Every tier you move up in football, the defense becomes bigger, faster and (usually) smarter. However, as Lombardi said, football is relative. Players on both sides of the ball are bigger, faster & smarter on each level. When Tim Tebow first ran the option at Florida everyone said it wouldn’t work because SEC defenses were too big and fast. We saw how that worked out. Nease High School couldn’t run the option successfully vs. Oklahoma in a bowl game, because Oklahoma is bigger and faster. But Florida could, because their players were bigger and faster to an equal degree. Why did Tebow have success running the option in the NFL? Because his supporting cast was bigger/faster to an equal degree as the defenses they faced. People acted like it was the Florida Gators trying to run the option in the NFL, just like they now act like Nevada is running it vs. whoever the 49’ers play. Those people are so biased against the playbook itself that they’re missing the very obvious.

      If the speed/power/sophistication of defenses argument held water, then the option play would have gotten slowly less successful over the last 50 years because all defenses on every level have gotten bigger & faster during that time. But we see Flexbone teams such as Navy having more prolific offenses over time.

      Do I think Tech show go to more of the Pistol version of the Flex as they did when they beat USC? Absolutely. Not because the oldschool style won’t work anymore against D1 talent (see Navy this year) but because I believe the Pistol is even better. I hope they will.

      • BeeProudBeeLoud

        So was Georgia Southern bigger/faster than Florida? A (sic) SEC team?

  • GT Nuke

    Even if we wanted to, we can’t afford to let him go. I think this years buy out price is 10 million. Not gonna happen. The flip side is that we now know that Vad didn’t have his heart in the game like we hoped he would. He didn’t get the offensive changes he was hoping for, so his effort was less than optimum this season. We need a QB that can execute the option read and react offense, which is PJ’s bread and butter formation. Then we will see what happens. i believe with the righ QB, we’ll be just fine. I just hope Justin Thomas is the guy, or one of the other QB kids steps up.