I’m a Paul Johnson Guy…..
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Rane Martin, and I am the writer for a new weekly column, "The Upper North Perspective," at FTRS. I will be coming to you with all things that relate to Georgia Tech athletics on a weekly basis. You will see me contribute some articles during the 100 Days to Kickoff, and I will provide another weekly piece during the football season.
The Upper North Perspective is designed to spark friendly discussion amongst us here in the Yellow Jacket nation. I will give you some fresh takes and perspectives on our athletics situation and how national movement relates to us here on the Flats. Feel free to engage in debates on the subject matter or suggest topics for future columns. The idea here is to connect and write about subjects that ignites the pulse of the community.
The Paul Johnson Effect
The most logical topic to start with for this column is a response to the question I get when most people find out that I am a Georgia Tech sports fan with football season tickets.
"What do you think about Paul Johnson?"
This is usually followed up by a snarky comment on the offense or CPJ’s perceived rigidness with media members and the public. Some may even say they like Coach Johnson, but they cannot see a formula for sustained success. So I am here to get it out in the open right away. I am a Paul Johnson Guy.
This is the Paul Johnson effect. We are going into his ninth year at the helm, and the questions are still the same. Yes, maybe they have adjusted slightly, but the discussions are rooted in the same basic concepts as day one here. Coming off a 3-9 season where seemingly nothing went the Jackets’ way, these arguments are being presented again with a renewed vigor. So why do I feel the way I feel? Why do I believe that CPJ is still the best man for the job?
Georgia Southern: 62-10, two national titles
Navy: 45-29 with five straight 8+ win seasons, a 43 game losing streak breaking win over Notre Dame, and six straight wins over Army.
The resume speaks for itself. In 2008, we got a chance to see what Coach Paul Johnson and his famed option offense could do at Georgia Tech. All he has done since is exceed ACC expectations every year except for 2015 while consistently fielding one of the nation’s most feared offenses. He is a three time ACC coach of the year with three appearances in the ACC championship game. No matter what the record books say, he has a 2009 ACC championship. CPJ has a .585 winning percentage at Georgia Tech with a total record of 62-44. This puts him fourth all-time in winning percentage at Georgia Tech behind John Heisman, Bobby Dodd, and George O’Leary. If you take out the anomaly that was the 2015 season, he would be third on that list.
Simply put, we have our best and most consistent coach since the famed Bobby Dodd was roaming the sidelines here on the Flats. We have three appearances in the ACC championship game over an eight year period. After going 43 years without a New Year’s Six bowl game (not to discredit the 1990 Citrus Bowl game), we have been to TWO Orange Bowls! Coach Johnson brings a consistency we have not seen in some time. He gives us the ability to walk into each game knowing that we can win.
If that does not convince you, tell me how many programs in the ACC would take their past eight years over ours. I promise you it will be a short list with only Clemson and Florida State having a true argument for their records. We, along with Virginia Tech, share the platform with those two top programs as the ACC standard-bearers. Coach Johnson has put us in that conversation, and the rest of the conference is envious.
Some people point towards CPJ’s sometimes callous media relations as a negative for him and our brand, but I disagree. I get that some fans and observers do not find it as endearing during rough times, but that does not change the effect it has for Tech. Coach Johnson does not put up with dumb questions and interactions with reporters, and I love it. I would gladly take one of his drubbings if I asked an obviously pointed question. This is the attitude we need at the Institute. We need someone who will not put up with the constant belittling of the program. We need someone not afraid to pop back in the face of disrespect. CPJ represents himself with the gall and gumption that we need as a program. CPJ carries himself with the chip on the shoulder that our program needs. His demeanor carries an arrogance that is infectious and can be so much fun when you allow yourself to enjoy it.
CPJ gives us the edge that we need. We have an attitude and drive that permeates from the top. Coach Johnson and his teams dare you to doubt them, and for a program that is constantly doubted, this bravado cannot be valued enough. This is why I do not worry about this season or the future. Coach Johnson, and his teams, delivers when the odds are stacked. People doubted us in 2008 and 2014, and they are back to doubting us again. This bodes well as CPJ with a chip on his shoulder is always something to believe in. I believe, and you should too.
The brash and bold nature that drives CPJ leads to a specific thing that is important. It leads to an identity, and WE have one! People know Georgia Tech. Teams fear CPJ’s patented offense. The reason why people ask about Paul Johnson first is due to him providing us with an identity. We are the perceived dirty "chop blocking" team (looking at you, Cutcliffe), though this perception is untrue. However, it is part of the edge and identity given by our coach. Teams and fans alike know that they are going to have a fight on their hands each and every time that Tech is on the schedule. We fight and play until the very end. People recognize us as THE triple option team in major college football. That is an identity. This is a uniqueness that Coach Johnson provides for our brand.
There is an identity of stability. Our head coach is here. Our defensive coordinator has assimilated back into the Georgia Tech swing, and he is not going anywhere if the 2017 recruiting class suggests anything. The majority of the staff is entrenched here at Tech, and it is honestly great. Stability makes a difference in long term success, and it also makes an impact in recruiting. There is something to be said for staying the course, and I believe that consistency provides the best course for success. Our recruiting classes are steadily improving, and the 2015 class may go down as the best class since the famed 2007 group. This is because of the identity and the stability. We have a vision with Coach Johnson, and we are sticking with it.
There is an identity of true education. CPJ sells the 40 year plan. He sells the idea that 1 in 6 Georgia Tech graduates are millionaires. On top of that, he graduates virtually all of his players, and our APR is consistently one of the best in the country. For a Power 5 institution rooted in academic pride, this is one of the most important factors out there. We become a destination for players wanting the best of both worlds.
This is the identity our coach provides, and I will take this identity every day of the week. This identity is what puts us in the best position possible for future success.
These reasons are exactly why Coach Johnson is THE GUY for the program. In some ways, we, as fans, are CPJ, and that is a great thing. Coach Johnson is the man leading the charge for 2016, and after we right the wrongs of last year, we will confidently walk into the future with Coach Johnson and a talented group of experienced players. I know the future is bright, so do not hop off of the bandwagon quite yet. If this describes you, you are hopping off at the wrong time. Coach Johnson has proven time and again that this is the time to believe. He is the coach to believe in. He is the coach for now and for the future. Coach Johnson is Georgia Tech.
So what do you think? How comfortable do you feel with CPJ at the helm? Do you see, like I do, a return to success this season?