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CPJ 5 years later: The Great, The Good, and The Ugly

Taking a look back at the first 5 years of Paul Johnson's tenure at Georgia Tech.


The end of last season completed the first five years of Coach Paul Johnson's tenure at Georgia Tech. I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at how he has done over the years. This might get a little long but I hope to put out there everything I could think of on how to measure his performance and identify some things he has done well and other things not so much.

The Great

You mean this?



CPJ won us our first outright ACC Championship since 1990 in his second season here. He took us to another ACC Championship game again this year. Sure, we didn't belong there but we almost won the damn thing with Tevin Washington as our Quaterback.....just think about that once more. His 2009 team had the best offense in the ACC over the last 6 years. Here are our F/+ Ratings for Offense since 2008 along with our NCAA rank (0% is average and positive is better)

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
+6.6% (29th) +14.4% (6th) +2% (49th) +12% (16th) +8.6% (22nd)

1 elite Offense, 3 great Offenses, and 1 good Offense. It's been awesome. And, there is also this and this and that time he told Tech fans to punch Georgia fans in the mouth and any other thing he has ever said on his radio show has generally been awesome. And that time Paul Johnson walked by my fraternity house and in his first shot chipped a tennis ball from across the street through our open 2nd story window, which none of us had been able to do for an hour (alcohol may have been a large reason why we couldn't). He is The Man.

The Good

Here are the records of all 12 head coaches that were coaching in the ACC in 2008 when Paul Johnson took over.

Coach 2008 School 5 Year Record Still There?
CPJ GT 41-26 (5) Yup
Bobby Bowden FSU 16-10 (2 seasons) Retired*
J. Jagodzinski BC 9-5 (1) NFL?
R. Friedgen Maryland 19-19 (3) Fired
Jim Grobe Wake Forest 27-35 (5) Yup
Tommy Bowden Clemson 3-3 (.5?) Fired
Tom O'Brien NCST 35-28 (5) Fired
Frank Beamer VT 49-19 (5) Yup
Butch Davis UNC 24-15 (3) Fired
Randy Shannon Miami 23-15 (3) Fired
Al Groh UVA 8-16 (2) Fired
David Cutcliffe Duke 21-40 (5) Yup
Dabo Swinney Clemson* 40-21 (4.5) Yup

Oh and I threw in Dabo just for good measure. What can we learn? Uh, CPJ has done a pretty good job. Only 5 coaches remain from 2008, and two of them are coaches at Duke and Wake Forest. And honestly, I would absolutely rather have CPJ than Dabo Swinney. Dabo has done a great job leveraging Clemson's resources, but I wouldn't like to have him over CPJ as my head coach. An average record of 8-5 with bowl games every year? Well, lets let Larry take it from here:

Larry David: A Pretty Good Tribute (via Sheriff Marc)

Here is a similar table, but this time with the 5 year records of all schools, regardless of coach.

School 2008-2012 Record
Georgia Tech 41-26
Florida State 47-20
Virginia Tech 49-19
Miami 36-27
Clemson 43-24
Boston College 30-34
UNC 39-25
Maryland 25-37
NCST 35-29
Duke 21-40
UVA 24-37
Wake Forest 26-37

4th most wins since 2008 of any ACC School. Is that successful? I guess it depends on your expectations of Georgia Tech's program, which is an article for another time. But again, I think that is a good performance.

The Bad

I've got 3 issues which I think belong in the "Bad" Category.

  1. His Inability to hire the correct defensive coordinator. Paul Johnson is lucky he is now on his third go round for hiring a DC, most coaches never get to this point. I can understand hiring Dave Wommack in 2008, it was probably hard to convince great candidates to come to Georgia Tech and coach with CPJ with the spread option being "untested" (which was a joke, Navy rung it up on people all the time). But that didn't work out for whatever reason and Al Groh didn't work out for one reason or another and now we are in the first year of our 3rd defensive coordinator in 6 years, not a good sign. This excellent article by Tomahawk Nation outlines just how hard it is for defenses to improve in the first year of a new defensive coordinator. It is essentially a tossup. The fact that we are going through this again reflects poorly on CPJ.
  2. Our Recruiting Program was wwaaayyy behind. Let me make it clear that I am not saying Paul Johnson is a bad recruiter, or that he can't recruit in this system, or that no one will come play for the triple option. I am not. Recently there have been some articles (they are behind pay walls) saying Georgia Tech is revamping their recruiting efforts and now has a dedicated recruiting coordinator and people whose sole job is to recruit, I think its like 3 employees if I remember correctly. Um, what the frick were you doing before this year?? How have we just now hired a dedicated recruiting coordinator? This is basic stuff that anyone who wants to compete on a conference championship level year in and year out should have been doing years ago. This was honestly my biggest disappointment with CPJ, how has this not happened sooner? It should have been one of the first hires he made in 2008. I just don't think CPJ prioritizes recruiting like it could be. Here is a quote from Mark Richt from an article in the AJC about what he does for recruiting in May:
"I'm calling high school coaches ... writing, tweeting, the direct messages and the Facebook stuff," Richt said, explaining his May responsibilities."(I'm) trying to get guys through that avenue to call, getting meaningful conversations with kids, have conversation with coaches, and invite coaches to 7-on-7 camps. I mean, all of that kind of stuff."

And here is CPJ's response to the same question:

"Truthfully, the assistants are doing most of the work in May. The way it's set it up, the head coaches cannot leave campus to recruit in the spring. You spend your time visiting with the guys on unofficial visits on Saturdays. We get one phone call (as a head coach). That's it. Even in the fall when the season starts, we get one day (for contact).

Mark Richt is an excellent recruiter, and look at all he says his responsibilities are in the spring. I think CPJ's whole mindset about recruiting is captured in this quote. It has got to become more of a priority if we are going to get better.

3. Special Teams responsibilities. This is almost a combination of the first two points. We just hired a special teams coordinator last year? What a joke.


If you are asking me, I love having Paul Johnson as our head coach. I think his personality is a perfect match for our fan base, I think he understands Tech's program and it's traditions, and I LOVE watching the spread option. I could watch it all day. I think there are some things he could have done better so far, but I also believes he recognizes this and is making steps to improve it. The only thing worse than fixing a problem late is not fixing it at all. I don't believe that CPJ is on the hot seat and I am really excited about this team in the fall. I know I can say I have been damn proud to call CPJ our coach over the last 5 years.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments.

Also my opinion doesn't reflect all of our wonderful writers at FTRS, so lets hear those other opinions.

Edit: Didn't save some of the last updates I made, hope it is better now.