I like Paul Johnson… a lot. I like his drive, and his blunt way of speaking. I like him as a coach, and as a person. I’m a fan. What I don’t care for, however, is mediocrity. That’s where the Georgia Tech program is currently, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Whenever Georgia Tech has lost a big game under Paul Johnson, knee-jerk fans and pundits can’t bring up the option offense fast enough. They talk about how it’s been “figured out,” and mention how long the opponent had to prepare, as if it’s some Rubik’s cube. Don’t listen to those people. The option offense is an amazing animal, and when executed to perfection, it’s a beast.
Paul Johnson is the current dean of the option offense in college football, and everyone has seen it function the way it should. It’s a truly beautiful thing, and has slashed some pretty good defenses like a new razor blade.
The man is one of the winningest active college football coaches with a record of 171-86 (64-47 at Georgia Tech). Under Johnson, Tech even has a winning record in ACC play at 39-29. He’s no slouch. Georgia Tech has been at or near the top of the total rushing list since Paul Johnson’s first season in 2008.
Johnson is struggling at Tech, with a really bad 2015, and a 2016 season heading in a similar direction. It’s not the offense. It’s Johnson himself. He’s doing a fine job as an offensive coordinator, but as a head coach, Paul Johnson isn’t getting it done. He’s not getting his teams prepared. He hasn’t been able to consistently compile, and manage a coaching staff into a run of seasons that look similar to 2014 when Tech won 11 games, and an Orange Bowl. With only three wins last season, and three straight losses this year, the program’s stability is in question. It doesn’t help recruiting, ticket sales, or Johnson’s case to keep his job.
As a play-caller, there’s nobody I’d trust more with the option offense on the field, but as a CEO of the Georgia Tech Football program, Paul Johnson isn’t getting it done, and he would likely be the first to tell you so. What he wouldn’t do, however, is give up, but it may be time for the folks on North Avenue to give up on him.
Shy of a pretty amazing turn around down the stretch in 2016, it may very well be time for Georgia Tech to move on. After winning only three games last season, there’s really no excuse for overall losses like Tech is having this time around. After a miserable 2015, it’s supposed to be fixed. Good coaches do that. Paul Johnson has been a good coach, which is why he has to be held accountable.
If Tech moves on from Johnson, who is under contract through December 31, 2020, it shouldn’t be because of the option offense. If the Yellow Jackets go out looking for a new coach this December, it should be because Tech is a good program, and a good job for someone.
A good coach can win at Tech, and I don’t just mean games, but championships. Paul Johnson has had time to do that, and if 2016 continues down the road it’s on, Georgia Tech will need to look elsewhere.