Paul Johnson will not be fired this season, nor should he be. Yes, Tech came into this season with high expectations and has flopped. Yes, this is the longest losing streak since the 1994 team went 1-10… But Johnson’s job is not in jeopardy, and there’s no way in hell that it should be.
This team lost every offensive skill player to graduation and the NFL last season. On top of that, the team is currently down 6 running backs. That combination of bad luck would cripple even the mighty Alabama, much less Georgia Tech. Add to that the toughest schedule in the nation for 2015, and it’s a recipe to not live up to the #7 ranking the Yellow Jackets finished last season with.
Georgia Tech had to play 14 freshman and 12 sophomores this previous Saturday. Against UNC, the team was down several preseason starters.
Oh, and for those calling for Johnson’s job… how quickly have you forgotten 2014? Wins over everyone Tech fans care about, a New Year's Six Bowl victory, and a top-10 finish to the season. When was the last time all of those things happened for Tech? 1990 was a long time ago.
This same coach led Tech to an ACC championship and BCS bowl berth in 2009, and has played for the conference title almost every other year of his tenure. Johnson also contributed to Lane Kiffin getting fired from USCw at an airport. How do you not love that?
I’m not even going to talk about how the school can’t afford to buy out his contract due to his extension, which was well deserved. Instead I’m going to talk about a coach who has found a way to win at a consistent clip while graduating almost every player under him who hasn’t gone to the NFL. Seriously, what more do you want?
I can hear it coming now, the whines from those upset about the "mediocre 7-8 win seasons." If a down year means 7-8 wins, are you expecting a Playoff berth every year? Do you realize how high this coach has set expectations at The Institute? Those expectations weren’t there under his predecessors. Those expectations you have now are new. You probably got them around 2008. These expectations are a good thing and a sign of progress.
On top of all this, Johnson’s recruiting classes are improving. Can you imagine having to play this season with 2010 or 2011’s recruits as true freshmen? It would be disastrous. It’s a telling sign of his coaching and recruiting that this year’s injury-riddled, largely underclass team has been in every game, even if they haven’t won them. It’s not as if Tech is getting blown off the field every game this season either. Relax; the sky isn’t falling on the program.
An underrated sign of the current status of the program is that the coaching staff is mostly unchanged for the last 3 years. Stability is a good thing for the team and recruiting.
Let’s also talk about the intangible things Johnson has done for the program. Johnson has given Tech an identity: We’re the hated/feared/loved triple option team, the wing T, the wishbone, or whatever the misnomer might be. We don’t look like every other team in the nation, and we’re very recognizable. Johnson has given Tech a unique identity that is recognized nation-wide.
How many times have you been watching an NFL game with a Tech offensive player in it, and the announcers comment about the offense he came from? It happens every time. It's as distinct as The Institute itself and has garnered Georgia Tech much more media attention and recognition than a more conventional offense would - especially coming from the ACC.
The offense lets these 3 star recruits compete at the highest level nationally, while enduring the gauntlet of a Georgia Tech class schedule. Even in down years, his offensive scheme is enough to have Auburn, Alabama, and South Carolina all decline or cancel home and homes with Tech. None of the big SEC schools surrounding Atlanta want to play Johnson and Tech. I take that as a compliment. You should too.
Another intangible that Johnson has brought to the program is his confidence, which is often borderline arrogance. I like it. He might be curt with the media or those who continually question his offensive scheme, but who cares? He’s a football coach and he's not here for your feelings. He’s not here to make you feel good about the ignorant, rambling question you just asked him during the radio show. We need his self-confidence at the Institute, because whether you like it or not, Tech fans all still have at least some part of the "little brother" feeling with regards to our in-state rivals. It still persists, even though his personality and on-field results have done a lot to change that… Who is the last coach who could say the same?
If you’re still one of the minority of people calling for his job, who would you want as a replacement? Who’s going to have the same on-field success and graduation rate with Tech’s academic rigors and recruiting limitations? Who’s going to be a better hire right now with USCe, USCw, Maryland, and a slew of others open before the season’s end? Tech isn’t a glamorous head-coaching position and would be a lateral or downward move for most of the coaches that would be considered an upgrade. In any case, what coach is possibly going to do better than the current one?
Like it or not - and I like it - Tech fans will still have Paul Johnson at the helm for the foreseeable future. Instead of belittling his coaching and offense, causing a scene here in the comments at FTRS, or being negative about the program on social media, why not try being supportive? Why not attend the game this Saturday and wear white? Why not support the team, even on a losing skid? This team beat all of our rivals and won the Orange Bowl last year. They still deserve your support in 2015.
Even if you dislike Johnson as a head coach, you should still support the team. Go re-watch the Orange Bowl from last year if you need a pick-me-up. Drink some gold koolaid. Otherwise, find some white and we’ll see you at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday. Who knows - a couple lucky bounces and a strong home crowd might even be enough to upset the ‘Noles.