Tech’s Johnson ranks with the greatest

If I had to go to a football game — and I’ll say this with all honesty — I’d pick one in which Paul Johnson is coaching. This is not some overnight observation. This comes from a guy who has seen Neyland, Dodd, Blaik, Wade and Lombardi coach, not to mention having sat for hours with Bob Zuppke. You know, the guy who coached Red Grange at Illinois.

Of course, they’re all gone now, so I’m left with the new fella at Georgia Tech, like it or not. I bring this up after an evening of watching him on “white-out night” Thursday — and let me add, that I despise mid-week night football games. This may or may not appeal in the least to the present-day students in the stands.

(Though, did you notice that during the Georgia Tech-Clemson game, a synchronized cheer of “Fight, fight, fight” broke out in the quite intelligent home-team section? That’s old-time Ivy League stuff that you don’t hear any more, drowned out by that dreadful pregame ear-splitting stuff.)

On the subject of coaching, I will surmise that this was not one of Johnson’s scientific highlights. His Yellow Jackets athletes had rumbled along to a 24-0 lead then went into a mental fog.

Sort of the same affliction that struck them in the opening game with Jacksonville State, no powerhouse but bothersome. One of those touchdowns scored against Clemson totally addled a lot of us. We looked up and the place-kicker, Scott Blair, a junior from Calhoun, was actually throwing the football to Demaryius Thomas, better known as “Bay-Bay,” for a touchdown, and looked quite comfortable at it. That gave Tech a lead of 24-0, and that looked rather well-invested.

Johnson’s athletes must have felt the same way, for they began to bumble and bobble about. And — get this — they never scored again until the fourth quarter, by which time Clemson had taken charge, 27-24.

Keep this in mind, since Tommy Bowden took leave last season, the Tigers have re-tooled their coaching staff. An assistant named Dabo Swinney, unfamiliar to most of us, but an Alabama alum, took his place, and surprising to some, was eventually cemented in place. He hired a young and rather promising offensive coordinator named Billy Napier, and it was Napier’s offense that pummeled the Jackets before Johnson could stem the tide, as they say.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t slick. It was all done by Blair and his field goals. Tech never scored another touchdown. After Napier and his offense took the lead, 27-24, Blair tied the score from 34 yards out, then kicked the deciding field goal from 36 yards in the last minute, and color came back in the faces of all those people dressed in white. The next problem was traffic.

Johnson had thrilled them, but not as planned. On the other hand, the Tiger folk got a thrill of their own. More to come from Dabo Swinney, who admires Mack Brown so openly that he went to Texas and sat at Mack’s feet for hours, learning how to be like Mack Brown. I’d say, he’s off to a good start.

As for Tech, I’d suppose that those kids will be spending more time in the football lab before they get to Miami.

197 comments Add your comment

Booger

September 13th, 2009
9:15 pm

CPJ

September 13th, 2009
9:31 pm

Just remember I learned how to coach from UGA’s Erk Russell!

SiddyBoy

September 13th, 2009
10:07 pm

What you been smoking Mr. Bisher???

SiddyBoy

September 13th, 2009
10:10 pm

Classless in Conyers !!!

SiddyBoy

September 13th, 2009
10:11 pm

GTPak: Thanks for the compliment !!!

SiddyBoy

September 13th, 2009
10:13 pm

Classless in Conyers. Thanks GTPak for the compliment!!

Rabun Dawg

September 13th, 2009
10:15 pm

If coach Johnson’s offense is a gimmick,it is a good one! Thursday night first time I had watched his offense a full game, and I must say I had some trouble at times figuring out who was going to, or who had gotten the ball, as did Clemson for a while. However, give credit o Clemson, they did adjust and shut it down for a while. That being said, that offense is tough to defend, as it appears that no one else runs it quite like Johnson’s teams do. While I think he is a very good coach, to call him great in the company of the aforementioned coaches that Mr. Bisher places him might be a “stretch” at this stage. Give him more time,then, just maybe he can be placed in that conversation.

DBCOOPER

September 13th, 2009
10:38 pm

How many championships has Johnson won at Tech? Now he’s as good as Dodd? HOLY COW! This internet blog stuff is officaly out of hand! Give me a break!

Metal Jacket

September 13th, 2009
11:02 pm

dawes

September 13th, 2009
11:07 pm

have can you say that johnson is one of the grested and he had not won ncaa champion like the gators have he had done nothing go hurricane beat ga tech

Metal Jacket

September 13th, 2009
11:10 pm

You’re right Mr. Bisher the music before the game was awful.

Bobby Hood BSBC '66

September 14th, 2009
12:00 am

Enjoyed the article and have been reading your articles ever since you came to Atlanta. I can’t rank him that high based on last years LSU game though…Coach Dodd would never have and never did get whupped like that in a bowl game.

VeryOldDawg

September 14th, 2009
12:41 am

NotVeryOldDawg

I won’t debate with you about whether or not the world would be better off without me. I will point out your ignorant attempt to lend sympathy to Bisher. Furman Bisher has three sons, two of whom are very much alive. The third, Roger, graduated from Tech in 1977 and died in 2000, never having played a down.

VeryOldDawg

VeryOldDawg

KJ

September 14th, 2009
2:36 am

“How does Mark Richt rank.”

CMR never beat the likes of Jacksonville St. and Gardner-Webb, so he’s just not quite worthy of the pantheon of Paterno, Bowden, Bryant, and of course, Paul Johnson.

Cosmo

September 14th, 2009
7:35 am

I apologies if someone else has hit this point, but I just can’t stand to read most of the sophomoric drivel and finger pointing that are passed off as comments. First, this article is an opinion and last I checked the author is still entitled to having one of those as long as it doesn’t include something about the non-existence of Global Warming or “Climate Change”. Secondly, the greatest (Dodd, Lombardi, etc) weren’t always known as such. They had early careers where people thought they were really good and, later the culmination of their work became great, but by watching them you could tell they had great qualities or, as I believe Mr. Bisher is inferring, were great to watch. Such is the case with Coach Johnson. Not always perfect. but he is great to watch and has those qualities that inspire thoughts to the greats of yesteryear. Thirdly, it isn’t always about the stats. Sometimes the situations don’t lend themselves to allowing for a Great to have the greatest wins, yet, but keep discounting what they have done and soon you will be left behind.

Cosmo

September 14th, 2009
7:35 am

*apologize (oops)

James Nales

September 14th, 2009
7:56 am

I remember when you had a football contest out called “Beat Bisher” and win a “T Shirt. I won so many T shirts I could have started my own T shirt business. Will you ever venture into another “Beat Bisher” contest?

gdawginkalamazoo

September 14th, 2009
8:56 am

I saw the headline and thought you were going to talk about Calvin Johnson as one of the all time greats. Which he is. You better give PJ a lot more time to get “elite”. Sure he has done a great job so far.

Von Jennings

September 14th, 2009
9:13 am

I am a lifelong GT fan and granted, I think CPJ is a very good coach, but to put him in the class of Dodd, Lombardi, and even Vince Dooley is premature. Over time, maybe, but not now. Go Jackets..

juvenal

September 14th, 2009
9:26 am

good look at the mental part, just being a good gamer-Bobby Fisher was also recognized early as good & unconventional…

Buzz Belle

September 14th, 2009
10:25 am

Very Old Dog- you are right in that Roger Bisher passed away long after he graduated from Tech. The problem is you appear to be just another one of those many, many classless dawg fans that only live for the fall season when football rolls around. So what does it matter if a kid got a scholly and never played a down. What exactly is it to you? Why should you care, especially if it is a rival school. Do you hate Bisher so much because he likes Tech and what it stands for? Are you that small? Does it make you feel big to try to make other people look small? I would never say the world is better off without someone in it. I will say with you being in it, it makes Tech look that much better! THWG

VeryOldDawg

September 14th, 2009
11:06 am

Buzz, whether or not he played a down is nothing to me. What I think is important is that Bobby Dodd gave him the scholarship at birth. Do you think this gift might have influenced Bisher’s writing?
I’ll let you be the judge.

Tech alum

September 14th, 2009
11:57 am

Mr. Bisher is the last link to Georgia Tech football of old. My hopes are that Johnson will pick up the torch and return us to what we use to be.

macrotech

September 14th, 2009
12:09 pm

VeryOldDawg, and yet, Mr. Bisher has stood the test of time….something, judging by your “name”, you should know something about. Mr. Bisher, like a fine wine, gets better with age. You seem to be more like milk …..you’ve soured with age.

sharecropper

September 14th, 2009
1:07 pm

Better late than never, but: while I would not want to coach against Johnson, and certainly wouldn’t once he gets three recruiting classes in — and make sure we give Gailey credit for that 2006 class that is the backbone of this team — I thought the headline went way beyond Bisher’s observations. Headline writers do that, you know, and it is far more prevalent on web sites (unedited, apparently) than in print. Sometimes you wonder if you’re reading the same story. But the omission of Bear Bryant from his list is very odd. I will give him the benefit of a doubt and say he just forgot. I am of that age, too. I forget a lot. Dodd was in a class by himself, as a coach and as a person, and nobody was even in second place.

dap01

September 14th, 2009
1:16 pm

Furman, you are joking? What are you basing this opinion on? Have you seen other football games lately? What great insight!!

dap01

September 14th, 2009
1:23 pm

I do agree with one thing. Johnson, even though he does not have a record to support it, deserves to be placed amoung the greatest of all time, he has made GA Tech average. Heck, they may even buy rings if they win 3 in a row.

If they can average 50,000 per game this year, deserves all kind of credit.

Furman, your title is not even remotely supported by what was written.

Julian B

September 14th, 2009
1:26 pm

Mr. Furman,

Why is there no talk on the illegal punt play that Ga Tech used for a quick seven in lieu of changing possesions (a punt to Clemson). The ACC officials are possibly issuing a media statement today bc it was determined an illegal substitution after review- no question ( an ACC official is a friend and he confirmed this). Also, that call with the phamtom holding call in the final minutes to change another possession and as well mostly likely points with Clemson negated on a 3rd down completion to near the 30yd line. A team that goes 8-4 vs 9-3 for example and miss an ACC championship game is worth millions. Yes, many calls do not matter in the overall game, but those two combined really damaged any chance for the Clemson team to win.

sunshine

September 14th, 2009
1:52 pm

Julian B… sour grapes… poor loser… get a grip.

Robert V Leftwich

September 14th, 2009
3:01 pm

Perhaps Furman waxes too eloquently when he mentions Paul Johnson in the same paragraph with coaching legends. Only time will tell. Nevertheless; the cheaps shots taken at the venerable writer indicate a lack of class on the part of the bloggers. Many of the most strident Georgia fans I know never attended a class at UGA and couldn`t even find their way to sanford Stadium from Bogart if vendors were giving away free beer and pretzels.. I am a UGA grad but I like to see GT excell in sports also. You don`t have a real rivalry if one institution wins most of the time.

Alabama Jack

September 14th, 2009
3:27 pm

Julian B – get a life…

GT

September 14th, 2009
4:12 pm

CPJ brings a coach’s personality to Tech. Ross has a little of it, Spurrier has a lot of it, but CPJ is the best at looking like he rather be on a practice field coaching, not on a radio or TV interview. I have never seen a good coach that didn’t have an edge when he was on camera looking at the reporter with huge restraint not to call him or, nowadays, her a dumb ass. Bill Curry has exactly the opposite personality.

Keith

September 14th, 2009
4:55 pm

Ha ha. This was a funny one. Johnson will never be what Mark Richt is. The little bees will end up with 4 losses.

dap01

September 14th, 2009
5:29 pm

Another bad thing about this article, it that it will stay up for a couple of weeks before another article is written.

Perhaps it takes that long to come up with an article with such substance.

Ttibitz

September 14th, 2009
7:03 pm

You Mutt fans are disgusting. Why???? My grown daughter attended several games at Grant Field with me a couple of years ago. Says she will never attend another Tech/Mutt game. I’ve been going to Tech games periodically since 1972 and the obscene verbal abuse from the Mutts that day was way beyond anything I have ever experienced.

The Mutt comments on this blog just reminded me of her shock and disgust.
THWG!

midtowncowboy

September 14th, 2009
7:24 pm

funny flag. hall of fame and no ACC championship. HAHA.

What a goon.

Blawgdawg

September 14th, 2009
9:59 pm

All time greats after one year ? Were the Beatles all time greats after releasing ” I wanna hold your hand ? ” They turned out to be, but they could also have been a one hit wonder. Only time would tell. To pronounce a coach an all time great after one season is just plain dumb !

Mr. Papagiorgio

September 14th, 2009
10:07 pm

Furman, this is the funniest article I’ve ever read. What a Tech homer.

macrotech

September 15th, 2009
1:02 am

dap01, I bet you STILL get all riled up when reminded of last seasons outcome of the Tech/uga game. I’m bettin’ that you have nightmares of Yellow Jackets AND Cowboys whenever you close your eyes! Well….bless your little heart. You spend all your time countin’ up those stadium seats…we’ll just go ahead and add a few more national championships! Hell, doesn’t seem like the mutts are going to anytime soon!

Keith, if it’s all the same to you….we’d like to add a few more national championships to go along with our collection! We’re VERY okay with Johnson not becoming like cmr!

Blawgdawg, this isn’t CPJ’s first rodeo….he’s been doing this for a long time, now!

dap01

September 15th, 2009
7:59 am

Macrotech: Numbers dont lie. UGA lost to Tech. I was commenting on a strangely titled article that was poorly supported.

By the way Tech is second rate. Numbers don’t lie. Enjoy Thursday nights.

richtfan

September 15th, 2009
8:22 am

Furman, you must be senile. Paul Johnson may be one of Tech’s greatest coaches, but I would not put him anywhere near the top of the pile as far as the best in the NCAA or in the history of the game. what have you been drinking?

FBR

September 15th, 2009
9:41 am

Furman! Talk about a premature anointing!! Has your blood somehow changed from a beautiful Carolina blue to a baby puke looking GT gold?

hroth

September 15th, 2009
10:11 am

I’m not sold yet. The O is too preditable; until the passing game is working, GT will not have a good year. The Navy offense looked much better than GTs.

hroth

September 15th, 2009
10:13 am

woops – predictable

Pi$$onaDawg

September 15th, 2009
11:05 am

I like Thursday Nights. Still in town to go to the game is good for fans. I guess the SEC needs Saturday Night games to make money. All the beer and alcoholic beverages sold, tickets, tailgating supplies, and then the DUIs and lawyer fees. Man SEC football is a real money maker for everybody.

LET THE BIG DAWG EAT!

September 15th, 2009
11:59 am

Paul Johnson could not carry Vince Dooley’s jock strap. How many conference chapionships has he won? How many national championships? How many bowl games? Let’s wait until he actually does something before we proclaim him the second coming of Bobby Dodd.

His high school offense is working for now in the inferior ACC but even those guys will catch up to it before the year is over. What’s that you say? He beat Georgia last year. Listen, even a blind squirrel gets lucky every now and then and finds a nut. The true test against the SEC was in the bowl game against LSU and I’m sure you don’t want to talk about that one. In the SEC, Tech and Johnson would be fortunate to break even each year. Paul Johnson and Tech are just like Furman Bisher – mediocre at best.

TechCrybaby

September 15th, 2009
12:00 pm

“Buddy,” in comment written above, asks whether you, Furman Bisher, would be so enthusiastic about the great Paul Johnson, if he were coaching for some school other than Georgia Tech? Answer: “Yes.” After all, Mr. Bisher, you were one suggesting Paul Johnson for Tech, when he was coaching at Navy. “Buddy” may learn to read some day.

All I'm Saying Is...

September 15th, 2009
12:35 pm

Furman:

Go back to sleep would you? Tiger has to win the career grand slam before you finally give him his props yet Paul Johnson is the apple of your historical eye and he’s yet to win any championship at the highest level of college football (nice bowl game performance by his team this past season, by the way). You besmirch the name of all those truly outstanding coaches you mentioned by prematurely putting PJ in the same sentence. Geez.

TechCrybaby

September 15th, 2009
12:40 pm

I cannot remain silent and still retain my status as the champion commenter on others’ comments. Therefore, when “Darn Truth” rejoices that Tech cannot get top-ranked athletes as readily as do the “football factories,” I think that statement has much merit. Tech under Johnson is not in the SEC, as Tech under Dodd was, for 19 of Dodd’s 22 years as Tech head coach. His leaving the SEC for independency brought the criticism that he who had rebuilt Tech football, then turned around and tore it down. The criticism was unfair. Dodd took that action because the envious SEC changed the rules on him, favoring the “football factories” who didn’t mind signing a horde of athletes, and then running off many, to get down to the approved limit. Those “factories”
were in a business, and, “if an employee doesn’t please you, throw him aside like dirt.” Dodd and Tech didn’t do that. The SEC is great entertainment for the masses, and is lucrative business. So, “Darn Truth,” if Tech, in the more scholarly ACC, has to use a gimmic ( sic: “gimmick” )offense to survive, so be it.

Chipper Jones

September 15th, 2009
1:54 pm

Can you tell I got a dip in.