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HTS 2018: Paul Johnson Extra Credit Edition

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Thank your lucky stars that yesterday happened, what ever would you have done until the bowl game without HTS?

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech
The man himself at work.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to From the Rumble Seat’s weekly historical matchup lecture. Throughout the season, each unit in this class will examine the head-to-head matchups of our opponents in the 2018 season. This week we venture to the land of three column arches to visit our bright in-state brethren.


Paul Johnson, Legend of Our Times

Coach Background:

  • Previous Employers: Avery County HS (NC) OC/OL (1979 - 1980), Lees-McRae OC (1981 - 1982), Georgia Southern DL (1983 - 1984), Georgia Southern OC (1985 - 1986), Hawaii OC (1987 - 1994), Navy OC (1995 - 1996), Georgia Southern HC (1997 - 2001), Navy (2002 - 2007), Georgia Tech (2008 - 2018)
  • Alma Mater: Western Carolina University, Class of 1979, bachelors of science in physical education and Appalachian State University, Class of 1982, masters of science in health and physical education
  • All-time Record: 189–98 (.690)
  • National Championships: 4 — 1985, 1986, 1999, 2000 (Georgia Southern OC (2), HC (2) )
  • College Football Playoff Appearances: N/A
  • Football Championship Subdivision Playoff Appearances: 5 — 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
  • Bowl Games: 12 — (Houston: 1 - 2003 Emerald: 1 - 2004 Poinsettia: 1 - 2005 Meineke Car Care: 1 - 2006 Peach: 1 - 2008 Orange: 2 - 2009, 2014 Independence: 1 - 2010 Sun: 2 - 2011, 2012 Music City: 1 = 2013 Gator: 1 - 2016)
  • Conference Championships: 6 — (SoCon: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 ACC: 2009)
  • Division Championships: 4 — (2008*, 2009, 2012, 2014)
  • 2018 Season Record: 7 - 5 (5 - 3 ACC)

Past Results:

  • Georgia Tech Record: 82-59-0 (.532)
  • Selected Memorable Wins:
    2008 - 31-28 Florida State [The Miracle on North Avenue] (Atlanta, GA)
    2008 - 41-23 Miami [First Whiteout] (Atlanta, GA)
    2008 - 45-42 the school in Athens (Athens, GA)
    2009 - 28-23 VPISU [The All the Way Turnt Up Game] (Atlanta, GA)
    2009 - 39-34 Clemson [ACC Championship] (Tampa, FL)
    2011 - 31-17 Clemson (Atlanta, GA)
    2014 - 27-24 VPISU (Blacksburg, VA)
    2014 - 30-24 the school in Athens [The Pick and the Kick] (Athens, GA)
    2014 - 49-34 Mississippi State [Orange Bowl] (Miami, FL)
    2015 - 22-16 Florida State [The Miracle on Techwood] (Atlanta, GA)
    2016 - 28-27 the school in Athens [The Leap] (Athens, GA)
    2018 - 66-31 Louisville [The Brian VanGorder Game] (Louisville, KY)
    2018 - 30-27 Virginia [The Wesley Wells Game, Final Home Game] (Atlanta, GA)

2018 Football Schedule

Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes
Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes
September 1 12:30 p.m. Alcorn State Southwestern Athletic 2-0-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 41 - 0 W FCS
September 8 12:00 p.m. @ South Florida American Athletic 0-1-0 Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, FL 38 - 49 L First Meeting, Group of Five
September 15 12:30 p.m. @ Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast 5-8-0 Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA 19 - 24 L
September 22 3:30 p.m. Clemson Atlantic Coast 50-31-2 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 21 - 49 L Rivalry, Hall of Fame Day
September 29 12:00 p.m. Bowling Green Mid-American 1-0-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 63 - 17 W First Meeting, Family Weekend, Group of Five
October 5 7:00 p.m. @ Louisville Atlantic Coast 1-0-0 Cardinal Stadium - Louisville, KY 66 - 31 W First Meeting
October 13 12:20 p.m. Duke Atlantic Coast 51-34-1 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 14 - 28 L Homecoming
October 25 7:30 p.m. @ VPISU Atlantic Coast 7-9-0 Lane Stadium - Blacksburg, VA 49 - 28 W Rivalry
November 3 12:15 p.m. @ North Carolina Atlantic Coast 30-21-3 Kenan Memorial Stadium - Chapel Hill, NC 38 - 28 W
November 10 7:00 p.m. Miami Atlantic Coast 12-12-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 27 - 21 W Whiteout
November 17 3:30 p.m. Virginia Atlantic Coast 21-19-1 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 30 - 27 W (OT) Senior Day
November 24 12:00 p.m. @ u[sic]ga Southeastern 44-67-5 Sanford Stadium - Athens, GA 45 - 21 L Rivalry
December 26 5:15 p.m. vs. Minnesota Big Ten 0-0-0 Ford Field - Detroit, MI - First Meeting

The Story of a Man Named Paul

Paul Johnson attended Western Carolina University for his undergrad education. After graduating, he worked a few jobs in high school and the lower rungs of college while earning his masters degree in health and physical education. From there, he was hired on at Georgia Southern, where he was the offensive coordinator for two Division I-AA national championship runs. Following his tenure in Statesboro, he brought his talents to Hawaii, where he also served as the offensive coordinator for eight years. He then returned to the mainland for the same job at the United States Naval Academy. He returned to where he found his greatest successes, Georgia Southern, as their head coach during the incredible run to three I-AA national championship games, winning two. Additionally, he won two Southern Conference coach of the year honors in his tenure. Johnson then served a second stint at the Naval Academy from 2002-2007, this time as the head coach. While at Navy, Johnson beat Army six times, winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy five times and peaking at a 10-2 record in 2004, the year he won the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. Huh, Bobby Dodd. Sounds familiar.

As far as Tech football history goes, From the Rumble Seat has been taking a biweekly look at football history since the beginning of the summer over at Rearview Mirror. And it hasn’t changed much since last week. The short version is that Tech football began ignominiously with a middling season in 1892. A game up in Athens in 1893, which Tech won, set the stage for one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport and also is one of the mythic origins of the Ramblin’ Wreck nickname, as well as how Tech got its colors. Tech was pitiful, to put it nicely, for quite some time until one man, Frank Turner, started an initiative to hire a bonafide legend as a football coach. That resulted in John Heisman. Heisman, innovator and champion, saw much success on the Flats until he dramatically left town as part of his divorce. The old man was replaced by William Alexander, who was known for his team’s strong academics and his own 1928 national championship. Coach Alex was, in turn, replaced by his own protege Bobby Dodd. By the end of Dodd’s tenure, Tech had amassed three national championships, twelve conference championships, including five in the Southeastern Conference, which just mean more, and had decided to go independent to make a stand not only for its football prominence, but its foundational academic principles as well. Dodd and Tech would not sacrifice student-athlete education and well-being. The independent years were lean for Tech and did not result in the dream of a “Notre Dame of the South” status. Eventually, Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in the beginning of the 1980s. By the end of the decade, coach Bobby Ross brought the Jackets seemingly from nowhere to win a national championship, Tech’s fourth. Since then, the Jackets have seen average-to-great years, the most recent excellent year being 2014, when Tech was a few plays from the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Jackets have an all-time record of 730-495-43.

Paul Johnson was hired to be the coach of the Georgia Institute of Technology Yellow Jackets in the fall of 2007. His first team was hamstrung by NCAA violations out of the gate and was predicted to struggle mightily. Instead, as he has been wont to do over his four decade coaching career, he proved most everyone wrong, finishing tied for first in the division and losing out on a trip to the conference championship on tiebreakers. Tech lost the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to LSU. He built on this success the next season, where the Yellow Jackets tore through the ACC, including two wins against the rival Clemson Tigers, whom Tech met in Tampa for the ACC Championship. The final score of that game was a 39-34 win, and, as the wry man noted, 39 was more than 34. Almost a decade later, he would make a similar remark after a chippy game against Miami on a cold night on the Flats. Tech lost to Iowa in the Orange Bowl to end the 2009 season. Tech suffered several crucial injuries in 2010, including a particularly unfortunate one on Joshua Nesbitt, and ended the season 6-7 with a loss in the Independence Bowl. Tech rocketed out to a 6-0 start the following year, its first since its most recent national championship in 1990, only to falter down the stretch to an 8-4 record despite upsetting a highly-regarded Clemson team late in the year. The ribbon on top was a Sun Bowl loss to Utah. This remains Tech’s most recent bowl loss. In 2012, the Jackets started slow and defensive coordinator Al Groh was fired midseason, to be replaced in the interim by Charles Kelly, and later permanently by former Duke head coach Ted Roof. The Jackets somehow made the ACC Championship at a pedestrian 6-6 record, and narrowly missed upsetting Florida State. Tech would go on to defeat preseason no. 1 Southern California in its second appearance in the Sun Bowl in a row, finishing the year at the ever-elusive 7-7 mark. The next year, Tech once again finished with 7 wins, losing a heartbreaker at home to the school out East, and capping the year with a Music City Bowl loss to Ole Miss. Tech was predicted to once again be a pedestrian team in 2014, but finished the year with 11 wins, including one in Athens, one against Clemson, one in Blacksburg, one against Miami, and one in the Orange Bowl. The most memorable moment from the 2015 season was the Miracle on Techwood Drive, when the vaunted Florida State Seminoles steamrolled their way into Bobby Dodd Stadium on Homecoming night. They left with their perfect record tarnished, their kicker still whirling somewhere above Grant Field, and permanently etched into the history books, just not in the way they quite imagined. The Jackets, for their part, would finish 3-9 due to injuries and other circumstances. 2016 was a bounce-back year for the Jackets, bookending the season with neutral site wins in Ireland and Jacksonville. Yes, exotic Jacksonville, Florida. Anyways, they won a shocker on the road in Blacksburg without star quarterback Justin Thomas and another on a brilliant diving leap by Qua Searcy in Athens. The 2017 season proved another down year, but 2018, after an even slower start, turned a corner after playing Clemson. Tech would go on to win 6 of their last 8 regular season games, including demolitions of Louisville and Virginia Tech on the road as well as memorable games on the Flats against Miami and Virginia to close the home slate. One game remains in Paul Johnson’s career at Tech, a bowl. Only time will tell how that ends.

Thank you, again, for everything, coach. The memories will live on forever in our minds, as well as in the vivid history and proud lore of the Georgia Institute of Technology. And wouldn’t it be nice to win just one more.


The good folks here at From the Rumble Seat would like to say one more time, again, thank you for everything, coach. Let’s get that last win. See you come bowl time for the last edition of HTS 2018.