Paul Johnson’s message is clear

Since the first time I had a conversation with Paul Johnson, seated in his office at Georgia Southern University, one thing sticks out in my mind: He never changes. He is comfortable with his life. My wife was with me, and he invited her to join us, which she did and soon joined in the fun herself.

A lot of coaches I know would have begun squirming about and looking for a way to bring this intrusion to an end. Not this coach. He has roamed the planet since he left Newland, N.C., (pop. 709), county seat of Avery County (pop. 17,167).

He played for a high school coach who left his mark on him as a lad. Western Carolina was his next move, but he never played football. He broke into coaching at his old high school, for the same coach he’d played for. Appalachian State was next, for a master’s degree, then the coaching whirligig began, at Lees-McRae, a junior college not far from his hometown.

From Lees-McRae to Georgia Southern to Hawaii to Navy, back to Georgia Southern, and this time his head coaching career was in gear. Navy called next, and what we were about to see was the formulation of a late-model football coach. His offense traveled with him wherever he went. It has borne all sorts of aliases, but he simply calls it “the option.”

He had dominated the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, that is, the championship of the three military academies. He took Navy teams to bowl games, an experience that had escaped the Middies for several seasons. He won the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award, and pretty soon he was coaching in the stadium that bore the Dodd name, and so, here we are. Same man, same coach, same offense and a similar result.

Georgia Tech was ready for a change, tiring of five- and six-loss seasons. Oh, Tech had been going to bowl games, such as they were, Silicon Valley, Emerald and so-on. So, Johnson inherited a team that had been recruited for a pro-style offense. A few players walked, and even Jonathan Dwyer was tempted, I’ve read.
The first spring game was a comedy of errors, officially nine fumbles, 14 by my count. Conclusion was, if Tech won four games, count the season a success.

Tech won nine. Tech won its division in the ACC. Most of all, it won the “Athens Bowl.” This against a Georgia team forecast to be No. 1 in the USA. It was Dwyer again, the kid from Marietta on a toss sweep 60 yards down the sideline, and a team that had been down 28-12 at halftime came back, and an upset was on the way.

It was too rich for the Yellow Jackets’ blood. By the time their date with LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl came up, they were convinced they were invincible.

“I kept trying to tell them,” Johnson said, “then some alumnus would tell them how great they were, and they began to believe it. LSU was one tough football team, and they found out the hard way.”

Back to the drawing board. Johnson is still Johnson. The message has landed. This is one good-looking football squad, a stirring collection of large, well-oiled athletes.

After days of 95 degrees, a cooling wind wafted across the green field, and there was evidence that Roddy Jones is on Dwyer’s heels, that Morgan Burnett, Cooper Taylor and Derrick Morgan should be the backbone of the defense, and if you’re looking for the most popular name of the moment, it’s Tyler. There are six Tylers in this bunch. And the coach is the same coach, same offense, same Paul Johnson I met 12 years ago.

115 comments Add your comment


August 23rd, 2009
4:32 pm

What TechDan said.

Demonic Deacon

August 23rd, 2009
4:38 pm

Can’t wait til Nov. 7th. The North Avenue Nerds are going down!

Ezekiel 25:17

Sport Fan

August 23rd, 2009
4:44 pm

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

August 23rd, 2009
5:01 pm

I echo Paddy’s post…I’m a dawg fan…and Furman Bisher fan…your post was idiotic Dan A. Furman was writing columns when you were just a twinkle in your daddy’s eye….Furman deserves repsect and nothing less…. he’s an icon….a dwindling breed…


August 23rd, 2009
5:27 pm

PJ=A MILITARY IDIOT, Praises to the guys whocome home in a pine box. They make this last trip so idiots like you can say or write what they want. As a Nam Vet, I can promise you that if you had been in my outfit,you would have been in that pine box, either because you were to scared to fulfill your duties, or because one of our guys got tired of you running your mouth. Nam guys are older now, but you would not have to guts to stand face to face with one of them and run your mouth. Rember that those who die are the reasonyou speak English other than some other language.

Not Disappointed

August 23rd, 2009
6:07 pm

Thank you for serving your Country Big Bee and all of you who serve, “I take my hat of to you!”

Back to he blog….. Demonic Decon, we will go down Nov. 7, but not to Loss, but down to resurrect and cleanse you off that Demon with a good old fashion “Azz Whipping!” Prayer Cloths are free after the whipping and a chilli dog for the ride home. Ramblin Wreck!

Saint Simons

August 23rd, 2009
6:08 pm

Were gonna be horrible this year!!!!!!! hahahahaha

furman bisher Whew, I had no idea such a poeaceful

August 23rd, 2009
6:43 pm

Enter your comments here

Pensacola dawg

August 23rd, 2009
7:29 pm

Beat UGA and suddenly your going to be one of the greatest college football coaches in history. Wait till a big time program with big bucks come calling…CPJ will be gone!

[...] Furman Bisher of the AJC had a great article on Coach Johnson, revealing the man behind the coach that I think we all pretty much knew.   Unpretentious man and coach running an unpretentious offense and that doesn’t tolerate pretentiousness in athletes.  I don’t think we will see Coach Johnson at the tanning bed anytime soon. [...]


August 23rd, 2009
8:42 pm

Predicting what’s going to happen on the Flats this autumn is not difficult, even with 100+ days remaining before the Big Game. The Bulldogs, smarting from last year’s loss to Tech, will have studied the Option (Yes, Bulldogs do study!). They’ll make a frenetic effort to beat it, but will fall short again. It may be close. Tech will again score six touchdowns.


August 23rd, 2009
9:35 pm

sec issoooooverrated


August 23rd, 2009
10:21 pm

It sure makes one glad David Braine moved on….

Vick=Dog killing thug

August 24th, 2009
11:16 am


August 24th, 2009
11:22 am

God bless and have mercy on gt,because UGA will not!


August 24th, 2009
1:22 pm

I always enjoy reading what Furman Bisher has to say. He’s always been a gentlemen and a class act.


August 24th, 2009
2:35 pm

The Vill-i-jiz flawduhs friendly ist home town.

Blackberry Cobbler

August 24th, 2009
3:09 pm

I hope UGA beat GT.

But even if they don’t, I’m gonna be happy. Because it will mean the end of Willie Martinez.


August 24th, 2009
4:02 pm

Georgia Tech is way overrated……the fact that the team had rings made commemorating their three point win over Georgia shows how immature their team really is. Their fans don’t even fully support their program…if they did they wouldn’t have to advertize on the AJC to sell tickets to their home games. Tech fans have a major inferiority complex when it comes to Georgia and that will NEVER change because Georgia despite their three point loss to Tech last year is and always will be the premier college football team in the State of Georgia.

Topp Dogg

August 24th, 2009
4:39 pm

GT sux, mark it down.


August 24th, 2009
6:49 pm

ATLANTA TRUTH, how many in a row would it take for you to admit GT is not inferior to UGA. Think about it now and don’t push to 7, cause that is the most UGA has ever had over GT and GT had 8 over the DAWGS.


August 24th, 2009
7:28 pm

Atlanta Truth, nobody much remembers the scores. 3 point or 30 points. Just like in the last several years, Tech lost by a field goal or a late mistake in a close game and all you hear from the Dog fans is how you were “dominated.” You got beat. Live with it. Get used to it.


August 24th, 2009
7:29 pm

bee you have a complex don’t you,UGA will always beat tek 7 in a row before you win 8 win streak is good but i will take 3 seven in a row over it any 8 seven win streaks might shut your pie hole.


August 25th, 2009
9:58 am

Hey military defenders, you show your ignorance by refusing to admit there is even one of you that can be criticized. Of course there are standouts. But, there are a great many, possibly a higher percentage than in the general population, that deserve the small amount of criticism given here.


August 25th, 2009
11:20 am

misterwax wrote: “Navy Dawg – the military is a composite of our regular population, which is largely comprised of uneducated opinionated, dolts. The military is no different. Their one collective virtue is that they volunteered for service, which is admirable….but by and large, they are government employess who are mostly lazy and stupid, but they know they can not get fired…just like other government employees….I met hundreds of such men and women in Iraq….laziest bunch of lumps (as officers) I ever met….they are a lot like the folks in congress and also at city hell and the DMV….and any other beauracracy you can think of.”

Winger wrote: “Hey military defenders, you show your ignorance by refusing to admit there is even one of you that can be criticized. Of course there are standouts. But, there are a great many, possibly a higher percentage than in the general population, that deserve the small amount of criticism given here.”

Gentlemen, you are idiots. As a member of the military (U.S. Army for 7 years and a veteran of two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan), I can tell you that we lay it all on the line every time we go outside the wire. I have one thing to say to all of you who have criticized the military on here. Pick up a rifle and man a post. When you crap your pants because of what you see, then you will have a better appreciation of what we do. You people think you are entitled to to criticize the men and women that go over there and put their life on the line because you can under the First Amendment.

It’s like Jack Nicholson said in “A Few Good Men,” “I would you rather say thanks. Otherwise i don’t give a d*** what you think you are entitled to.”

ED's Eagle

August 25th, 2009
2:07 pm

Dear Tech fans, please don’t welcome all the dawg fans that are going to be jumping ship after they face PJ again in his second year.


August 25th, 2009
4:10 pm

Yes, Paul Johnson’s message is quite clear and here it is:

“We here at Yellow Bee State have two sets of standards! One for us and another for everybody else! If you commit to US then you must understand that you are COMMITTED and forsake all others! If, however, you are committed to another school then that commitment means NOTHING! We will still continue to recruit you and hope that you renege on your commitment to the other school! Welcome to Yellow Bee State where we are all hypocrites!”


August 25th, 2009
4:51 pm

SUPER DAWG, just 3 words, ‘aint gonna happen.


August 25th, 2009
5:31 pm

Georgia Southern always had great teams that out scored the opponent. When Irk went there to coach I had the Junkyard Dog thing in mind, but teams would score lots of points against GSU, it was like a basketball game down there. That Georgia game reminded me of those Southern games, high scoring not much defense at least on the scoreboard. When Tech first got CPJ the pundits were talking about low scoring on the ground kind of dull football. You got to wonder where some of this comes from.


August 25th, 2009
8:33 pm

all I can is bring on that mighty Joe Cox & company, I would love to see us and them undefeated and ranked 1 & 2 on NOv 28th, we would then see which coach wins under pressure….I take Paul Johnson any day !


August 25th, 2009
9:38 pm

David, if you think life is like a Jack Nicholson movie, please stay behind that fence you love so much. You don’t get outside the wire very much, do you? And yes, some of us who recognize that everyone in the military is not perfect have served too.


August 26th, 2009
4:20 pm

Furman, I have enjoyed your work for 50 years and have met you on occasion and have found you to be really nice fellow, BUT you are in for a shock-you saw Johnson’s real team against LSU! Engineers are in for long season. Willie Martinez wannabes are a scarce commodity!

Chuck Uga

August 26th, 2009
9:17 pm

For those of you whining about GA fans commenting on this GT article, maybe you should check out the HUGE number of Tech fans who post childishly on EVERY SINGLE UGA ARTICLE POSTED on the AJC site. Then you’ll understand.

Tech sucks

August 26th, 2009
10:44 pm

Can’t wait for the Dawgs to shove it down his snide, smart ass throat. He’s like a fat Urban Meyer without the championships.

The Big Bug

August 27th, 2009
12:35 am

Oh it’s gonna get shoved alright, but to your team in the other direction.

Dogs stink when wet

August 27th, 2009
2:50 am

Tech sucks: 2 ships @ GSU say you’re a complete dumb ass. 45-42, stick that in your pipe and smoke it!


August 27th, 2009
9:15 am

As a fellow that knows tons and tons and tons of GT grads, including my two uncles and my grandfather, I can tell that about 98% of the anti U of Georgia bloggers here are uneducated numbskulls. I’ll bet that 98% of these clowns did not graduate from HS, much less Tech. Most mature Techers do not trade insults. They keep quiet over the decades till their team has a run of one or two wins, then go underground again for years and years.

See the Jackets soon enough and looking forward to starting another two decade run against the bees. HAHAHAHA


August 27th, 2009
11:27 am

i am a buldog fan but a gsu graduate that followed the eagles, unfortunately the bulldogs inherited a bad dream when paul johson came to tech….

Dawgs Fan

August 27th, 2009
4:23 pm

Henry, wake up! Dream is over. Georgia will handle the termites just like LSU did. Gonna be an embarassing beat down on ghetto field. In a few weeks I will be able to get premo seats at ghetto field for peanuts. Can’t wait.

big t

August 27th, 2009
7:00 pm

Mommy left the room so Georgia fans can play on the computer so sad that you do not have a life.


August 28th, 2009
2:20 pm

ACC 10-14 last 3 years in bowl games….
SEC 19-7 last 3 years.

Eddie Atkins

August 29th, 2009
4:32 pm

Georgia 31 Jackets 17 this year

Big Bob

August 29th, 2009
6:49 pm

((((((7 loses in 8 years. Remember the 51-7 thumping? ha!ha!ha!ha!ha!ha!)))))

Topp Dogg

August 30th, 2009
10:42 am

2 cokes,2 dogs, 2 fries with purchase of GT home tickets, will throw camel ride in or 10 minutes with CPJs wife.


August 30th, 2009
1:31 pm

I can’t hardly wait to see the whiny posts after next Saturday when Okie State dumps all over the dawgs.

America's Best, UF

August 31st, 2009
6:44 am

I have always been a Paul Johnson fan. He is a proven winner,no matter where he coaches.If you can win,consistently, at a service acadamy imagine what he will do at a major college institution. I feel GT will dominate the ACC for years to come and many National Titles will be determined by the Ramblin’ Wreck!

Corrine Brown

August 31st, 2009
1:28 pm

Not one mention of Irk Russell inthe whole article who Johnson credits for teaching him this offense,Good job Furman

UGA Girls are Dawgs

August 31st, 2009
3:39 pm

GT should do much better than UGA vs. expectations the next few years in football. I truly feel sorry for UGA alums – it seems like football was all they had, but UGA has not exactly exceeded expectations, considering all the time and attention they put into the sport.


August 31st, 2009
6:07 pm

First off – have some d___ respect – Furman Bisher is a legend and is a well respected sports writer! Secondly, the Jackets are coming – we play in the ACC which is extremely balanced – the DAWGS play in the SEC which is also extremely balanced. BUT – the SEC will beat the hell out of you – the Jackets are going to be the class of the ACC in the coming years and they are going to be having some fun with the DAWGS for years!!!

Dawgs - Do you really have a legacy???

August 31st, 2009
6:11 pm

When was your last NC – the DAWGS and VA Tech – what have you done for me lately???