November 28, 2018 3:10 PM
On Saturdays, I cheer for four teams: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Georgia Southern Eagles, Oklahoma State Cowboys, and whoever is playing Georgia. For 15 of the last 21 years, Coach Paul Johnson has been the Head Coach of either the Eagles or the Jackets, with the other six years at the U.S. Naval Academy. I have seen first hand his ability to coach the most out of players and to hold the most entertaining press conferences and Coach’s shows. I have truly been a fan of his since his first days at Georgia Southern and I have also been proud to have him at the helm. I was saddened to learn of his pending departure after Georgia Tech’s bowl game next month.
Over the last couple of years, I have been asked more times than I can count if Georgia Tech should get rid of Paul Johnson. My answer has been a sold “NO!” Why? Let me list a few reasons listed in a press release from Georgia Tech’s football program:
- Paul Johnson is the fourth-winningest coach in school history, with only Hall of Fame coaches John Heisman, William Alexander, and Bobby Dodd having more wins. Of those, only Dodd won more games (91) than Johnson did (82) in their first 11 years.
- Georgia Tech appeared in 3 ACC Championship games and finished in the top 2 in the ACC Coastal division seven years. Virginia Tech is the only other Coastal team to do the same. Clemson (9) and Florida State (7) are the only other teams in the ACC to have at least 7 first or second place finishes in their division.
- Won at least seven regular-season games 7 times in 11 seasons (Tech won seven regular-season games 15 times in the 41 seasons prior to his arrival)
- Four nine-win seasons – Tech had just seven nine-win seasons in the 51 years immediately preceding Johnson’s arrival (1957-2007)
- Two of the nine 10-win seasons in program history (2009 and 2014)
- One of the five 11-win seasons in program history (2014)
- The most important is that Johnson has a current NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 86%, the highest ever at Georgia Tech. The GSR rate had been as low as 48% before Johnson started coaching there.
I am proud of what Coach Johnson accomplished over the last 21 years. I wish nothing but the best for him and his family as they go forward. Coach Johnson will always be a part of Eagle Nation and the Ramblin’ Wreck. I send him off with a hearty Hail Southern and To Hell with Georgia!
“After 40 years of coaching, it’s time to take a break. My family has sacrificed a lot over the years. I want to watch my daughter [Kaitlyn, a professional opera singer] perform and do some things with my wife [Susan] that we’ve never had a chance to do. It’s been a great run for the last 11 years here on The Flats. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and am looking forward to having the chance to coach this team one last time at our bowl game next month.”
Todd Stansbury, Georgia Tech director of athletics:
“I was saddened when Coach Johnson informed me that he was going to step down as our head coach. Not only is he Georgia Tech’s winningest head coach in more than 50 years but he is also an incredible mentor for the young men in our football program and has helped develop countless student-athletes that have gone on to great success after graduation. I wish him and Susan nothing but the very best as he steps away from coaching football for the first time in 40 years and ask the entire Georgia Tech community to join me in thanking him for his hard work and contributions to the Institute over the past 11 years.”