Updated: Al Groh fired at Tech

Al Groh will receive an unwanted respite from his 100-hour work weeks and his intricate game plans. After a 32-game term, the Georgia Tech defensive coordinator was relieved of his duties Monday.

In coach Paul Johnson’s analysis, Groh did not fall short in his effort or smarts.

“What’s inside his head, he’s very knowledgeable,” Johnson said. “There’s no questioning that. The problem was becoming, what’s in there, we weren’t seeing on the field.”

Groh’s tenure concluded in a blizzard of points, yards and missed tackles. In Tech’s past three games, losses to Miami, Middle Tennessee State and Clemson, the Yellow Jackets gave up an average of 46 points and 573.3 yards. Opponents converted 31 of 46 third downs into first downs. Improbably, Tech fared slightly worse when opponents faced 3rd-and-7 or longer than 3rd-and-6 or less.

Tech gave up more than 40 points in the three consecutive games, the first time that has happened in school history.

“I think it’s a call to everybody, the coaches, the players, myself, everybody, that we need to do better, that we’re not giving up on the season and the way we’ve played is not acceptable,” Johnson said.

Hired following the 2009 season as a replacement for Dave Wommack because of his ability to teach his scheme and adjust, Groh came to Tech after nine seasons as head coach at Virginia and boasting an NFL pedigree. A longtime friend and colleague of NFL coaching legends Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells, Groh brought a 3-4 scheme and a confident, professorial manner.

“We’re impatient to make it look good,” he said shortly after his hire. “How fast we can do it, we’ll have to see.”

Instead, the Jackets were bogged by problems with communication and alignment and had trouble tackling. Poor finishes also began to plague the team. After Tech’s 6-0 start last season, the Jackets were outscored 48-14 in the fourth quarter of the final seven games of the season and finished 8-5. Particularly devastating was a 30-27 overtime loss to Utah in the Sun Bowl, a game that Tech led 27-13 with less than seven minutes to go.

This season, Tech has been outscored 71-48 in the fourth quarter, its worst quarter on offense and defense and the only period (besides overtime) in which it has been outscored. In losses to Virginia Tech, Miami and Clemson, Tech has held fourth-quarter leads in each only to lose.

Wommack was fired after the defense ranked 54th in yards allowed and 56th in scoring in FBS. Under Groh, Tech finished roughly the same in his first two seasons before plunging to 90th in yards and 89th in scoring this season.

“It was inevitable, at least to me, that it wasn’t getting better,” Johnson said.

Groh will be replaced on an interim basis by secondary coach Charles Kelly, who has been on staff since 2006. Kelly has previously served as a defensive coordinator at Nicholls State and Jacksonville State, two FCS teams. Andy McCollum will move from coaching the defensive line to inside linebackers and Joe Speed will shift from inside linebackers to outside linebackers. Special-teams coordinator David Walkosky will coach the defensive line. Walkosky and McCollum also have experience as defensive coordinators. Johnson said he will provide assistance, as well.

Johnson said he wants to simplify the defense, have players spend more time with their position coaches and conduct more live-hitting drills in practice.

“To me, defense is energy and playing fast and enthusiasm and all those things,” Johnson said. “I think it’s hard to get that if you don’t go live some.”

Johnson made the decision Monday morning. He met with Groh later, and told the team at a meeting in the afternoon. In a statement, Groh said he respected the decision and thanked the defensive assistants and the team. Groh’s contract, a two-year deal with a school option for a third, called for him to make “a minimum of $344,000” this season in his option year.

“I aimed to give the best that I had every day,” he said in the statement. “It’s been an honor to be a part of the legacy of Georgia Tech. I feel positive that this is a good time in life to move on to a new situation.”

Former linebacker and team captain Steven Sylvester said Monday that he enjoyed playing for Groh, citing his knowledge base and his ability to explain difficult concepts easily. Despite the age difference, players related well with the 68-year-old Groh, often stopping in to his office to find him listening to anything from Jay-Z to Maroon 5 to Bruce Springsteen.

“He was a friend and he was a coach,” Sylvester said. “I know a lot of the guys down there are really going to miss him.”

With Tech in its bye  week, the team had Monday off and will resume practicing Tuesday. The Jackets’ next game will be Oct. 20 at home against Boston College.

“I didn’t want to give up the rest of the season,” Johnson said. “I still think we can come back and have a good season. That’s why I did it now.”

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

863 comments Add your comment

WHO CARES!

October 8th, 2012
7:32 pm

GTJohn, obviously you went to Tech. You can’t spell. Fat chance you have established any successful teams. Let’s keep this conversation on the incompetence of Tech graduates.

GTBob

October 8th, 2012
7:37 pm

While I understand that somebody had to be thrown under the bus part of the blame to go toward the caliber of talent that CPJ has recruited.

Rick James, CPJ hasn’t recruited that poorly to create one of the worst defenses in college football history. When Middle Tennessee St has there best offensive game of the year against you, its not about talent anymore.

fejoiner

October 8th, 2012
7:39 pm

Defense is not Tech’s problem. If they ran a modern offense that they can scrimage with it would help the defense get better. The defense is not ready for the real offenses because tech has an old fashioned offense. Paul Johnson needs to grow up and change offenses. IT WILL HELP THE DEFENSES.

Hetch Hetchy

October 8th, 2012
7:39 pm

A better move would be both coaches fired. I am so sick of this hokey offense producing meaningless numbers and few wins. If Tech is going to mediocre, let them be mediocre with a drop back passer and a pro set offense for chrissakes.

Tech75

October 8th, 2012
7:42 pm

Sorry to see CAG go in the middle of the season, but it was inevitable. Personally, I think he couldn’t connect with the players. But the worst mistake was that, by hiring him, they thought he could get the players they needed to run the system.

The fact of the matter, as many have indicated, is that you need a Nose guard that can clog the middle; Alabama and the other high-profile 3-4 schools get those people.

Who do we get? A 6-7 360 lb guy that can’t stay on the field because he has no stamina. So we try to fix that, tell him to work out like a demon and lose 45 lbs. Now he is getting pushed around by 280 lb linemen because he has no strength. Which he didn’t have before either, by the way.

They have to be big, they have to be strong, they have to have stamina, they just can’t be 350 lb tubs of goo – and we won’t get those guys. Those guys are NFL prospects, they want to play for MNC’s, so they’re going to Alabama, LSU, etc.

We need to get back to a 4-3, where we have a chance of fielding linemen that suit the system.

GTBob

October 8th, 2012
7:42 pm

The defense is not ready for the real offenses because tech has an old fashioned offense.

It is amazing that people still think that GT’s defense spends all week practicing against the triple option.

Tech75

October 8th, 2012
7:45 pm

The other problem with our NG is that he’s too tall. Can’t get low enough to leverage.

Now, if he was 6-2 and had that weight, possibly a different story.

TechApp fan

October 8th, 2012
7:48 pm

one door closed but another will open for Groh. Enjoy not having to work. It’s fun.

michael

October 8th, 2012
7:51 pm

ted roof, ted roof, ted roof

Kramer

October 8th, 2012
7:52 pm

FOR GOD’S SAKES DO NOT FIRE JOHNSON! UGA AND ACC SCHOOLS WANT HIM AROUND FOR ANOTHER 5 YEARS!

TechApp fan

October 8th, 2012
7:53 pm

ps…I live close to the “applacihan” mountains! LOL

Kramer

October 8th, 2012
7:54 pm

GTBob, who do they practice against? A team bussed in from somewhere else. Face facts, Johnson has to go for your team to become a consistent winner. BUT PLEASE KEEP HIM FOR ANOTHER 5 YEARS!

Bananajacket

October 8th, 2012
7:55 pm

MaconGT——-Not calling you out, just simply asking for a little respect for the Lord of those of us who do believe. And, you are absolutely correct in your assessment of Tenuta! Now, let’s all try to stay on football. Thanks.

K

October 8th, 2012
7:59 pm

Too bad Groh just didn’t just retire. Sorry he had to be fired, but is the best for Tech.

Bull Meacham

October 8th, 2012
7:59 pm

From a UGA fan – congrats Tech on having the stones to make a needed move. Wish we had the same in Athens.

ramblingbuzz

October 8th, 2012
8:03 pm

Sure Johnson is trying to save his job. If I were making $2.6 M a year, so would I. Not to mention I’m sure he wants to prove all his TO critics wrong. But I give him credit for making a change when it’s obvious something had to be done. I don’t understand how people can say he’s scapegoating Groh when the poor defensive play is at least 75% of the team’s problem, IMO. Are they saying Groh didn’t deserve to be fired or are they complaining because it was done in mid-season? When you’re the DC and your D gives up 600 yds per game in the last 3, something ain’t working.

John Heisman

October 8th, 2012
8:06 pm

I believe it was CPJ that hired Womack and Groh. He cannot recruit and runs a high school offense. Tech will never win anywhere with a coach that does not understand the forward pass. CPJ needs to follow Al out the door and close the door behind him. By the way it is time to take Tech out of the pajama uniforms – bring back tradition with the gold hats and pants.

:-( Tech Fan

October 8th, 2012
8:15 pm

From the looks of Buffalo’s last two week Chan Gaily will be available for UGA or GT next year.

Reality

October 8th, 2012
8:15 pm

Let’s go and hire Spurrier! Then, he can beat UGA twice during the regular season – LOL!!!!

wrecked again

October 8th, 2012
8:15 pm

Tech Defense spends its time practicing against inferior talent trying to emulate opponents offense. Lack of depth and quality shows everywhere with this squad on both sides of the ball.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 8th, 2012
8:15 pm

Kramer, are you really that stupid. Using the logic (if you can call it that) that you use, that would mean that any team that faces Tech can’t practice against a triple option offense because they don’t run it. Well, duhhhhh, that’s what scout teams are for. When UGA, for example, plays Tech, their scout team runs the triple option so that the UGA defense can practice against it. The same is true at Tech: when we play a team running a pro-set offense, then the scout teams runs that offense in practice so the defense can practice defending it. Is that concept that difficult for you to understand?

Buzzzed

October 8th, 2012
8:16 pm

Don’t let Groh’s recruits get away!!!!

DawgNole

October 8th, 2012
8:18 pm

:-( Tech Fan
October 8th, 2012
8:15 pm

From the looks of Buffalo’s last two week Chan Gaily will be available for UGA or GT next year.
____________________

Uh, no thanks.

DawgNole

October 8th, 2012
8:19 pm

Reality
October 8th, 2012
8:15 pm

Let’s go and hire Spurrier! Then, he can beat UGA twice during the regular season – LOL!!!!
____________________

Had to chuckle at this one–bad as I hate to admit it.

GT1990

October 8th, 2012
8:20 pm

Lance Richardson for the next DC. He can’t any worse than mr.old garbage groh!

Supersize that order, mutt

October 8th, 2012
8:20 pm

WHO CARES ! is even more stupid that kramer is. I have never read such garbage in my life.

fuzzybee78

October 8th, 2012
8:20 pm

Here’s the question–
If CPJ stays in 2013 can anyone recruit enough talent for this offense to be able to compete with Clemson, VT, FSU, UM etc . Giff recruited to a pro set on O and class of 07 ended up playing for CPJ. I dont think so—
Im not content with 7-8 wins and a low level bowl. We won’t have even that this year.

I appreciate and respect the young men on this team and want nothing but the best for all of them. They have my support in person and on this blog.

I respect CPJ and what he did today. 09 was awesome but I dont believe he can get the players to repeat it.

Big Crimson 75

October 8th, 2012
8:21 pm

I must say I find it quite poetic on a day in which a good Man & a good Football Coach was whacked because his boss couldn’t close the deal on enough talented recruits, Al Groh’s son, Mike Groh almost single-handedly landed the Nations #1 WR Prospect, Robert Foster, for the Tide!!
Al, you’re welcome to coach at the Capstone with your Son anytime.

:-( Tech Fan

October 8th, 2012
8:21 pm

JOKE……But it was better than the guy who suggested Pitrino.

On My On

October 8th, 2012
8:21 pm

D1 WRs and QBs will not come to Tech because of that lame offense. Once Tech gets behind, they can never catch up. Change the offense and recruit the players that you must have at that level in order to compete. As far as the defense, FSU couldn’t stop Clemson. Why do you think GA Tech would? Duh.

WillGT

October 8th, 2012
8:22 pm

GTBob, its not that they (The D) practice against the Triple option, the practice against that and a normal offense. However the biggest difference is that the normal offense that Tech runs in practice isn’t nearly the same speed or pace that other teams play at

Supersize that order, mutt

October 8th, 2012
8:23 pm

@ fuzzbee78….the players Johnson recruited on offense did just fine Saturday against Clemson. Were there some mistakes? Of course; no team is perfect. But the offense played good enough to win that game, as they also did against Miami. Offense is not Tech’s problem; DEFENSE IS !!!!

GT1990

October 8th, 2012
8:23 pm

@fuzzy- I 100% agree with you. Talent that it takes to compete at the highest level want come to GT because the offense DOES NOT help their chances to get drafted high.

KAMERON

October 8th, 2012
8:24 pm

IT’S A SHAME YOU FIRED AL GROH! SHAME! HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AROUND FOREVER!

GO HOOS!

Grinch

October 8th, 2012
8:24 pm

Someone posted earlier about the terrible decisions CPJ makes during critical stages of the game and there were (2) glaring decisions….

1. a timeout when Clemson was going to punt (or maybe CPJ knew they were going to run a fake) and the other was the pitch in the endzone….Gave Clemson time to think about it and they decided to go for it and got the first down….. To me it seems like a stupid timeout that was wasted and gave the other team the advantage. In the words of CPJ….. “ARE YOU STUPID?!!”

2. I don’t know squat about coaching or running the triple option but I’m pretty sure your odds of making it out of the endzone are pretty bleak when you pitch it 5 yards deep….

Supersize that order, mutt

October 8th, 2012
8:25 pm

@ WillGT…..similarly the scout teams that other schools’ teams practice against, can’t run the triple option with anywhere near the precision that a team that regularly uses it has. Your argument really doesn’t hold water.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 8th, 2012
8:25 pm

MaconGtFan, you’ve been called out and asked to clean up your mouth. Show some respect or stay silent. Thanks in advance.

:-( Tech Fan

October 8th, 2012
8:27 pm

@fuzzybee78… When you score 30 or more point you should win. When you are ahead with only 44 sec. to play you should win. If you can put together a defense that can get the other O off the field then this offense can score. Giving up 60% plus in 3rd down conversions is unacceptable and has nothing to do with the offense.

Grinch

October 8th, 2012
8:27 pm

@On My Own…we don’t think the defense could stop Clemson but we do think the defense could have stopped them at least ONE time! The never punted except for the interception (which was a penalty on GT that wasn’t called). They never punted the entire game….. The one time they tried to punt, CPJ called a time out that allowed them to change up and go for it on 4th…

GT1990

October 8th, 2012
8:27 pm

@SS–Please quit finding every excuse to make this not seem as bad as it is! Gah dude you really don’t know sh** about football.

GT1990

October 8th, 2012
8:29 pm

@SS-2 months ago you told me i should die and that i was a troll because i wrote a few things about groh and washington. Not only was i right about groh but i will be right about TW when we lose every game.FACE GT football has hit rock bottom!!!!!!!!!!! DANG get it through your head!!!!!

:-( Tech Fan

October 8th, 2012
8:30 pm

What are you talking about GT1990. Two wide receivers picked in the first round and both starters. A safety starting for Green Bay and a running back getting lots of playing time for Pittsburgh. Tech has put its share of players in the NFL and it has nothing to do with the offense they run.

Supersize that order, mutt

October 8th, 2012
8:30 pm

@ On My On……did you not watch the Tech – Miami game? Tech got down 19 in the first half and stormed back with 36 successive unanswered points. How is that not being able to come from behind. And don’t tell me that we lost anyway. Yes, we did, but it was not because of the offense; it was because of the defense.

fuzzybee78

October 8th, 2012
8:31 pm

thanks GT1990.

Super, I agree to a point and have said so. But I am not just looking at who we have played this year, Im asking the question can we recruit enough talent to compete at the top of the ACC in this O and by default with CPJ? I just dont think so.

Big Crimson 75

October 8th, 2012
8:31 pm

Grinch — how bout those Falcons!!
We’re gonna win the Super Bowl in New Orleans!!
Now that’s poetic.

:-) Tech Fan

October 8th, 2012
8:32 pm

@GT1990 …. You have no credibility man. You are clueless.

GT1990

October 8th, 2012
8:32 pm

@TECH FAN- What player on offense has CPJ recruited that has been a stud??????? NOBODY!!!!!! Stephen Hill was a ok ball player,nothing great.

GT1990

October 8th, 2012
8:33 pm

How the hell am clueless?

Supersize that order, mutt

October 8th, 2012
8:34 pm

GT1990…..I can assure you that if anybody on these blogs told you that you should die, it was not me. I NEVER talk like that to anybody, no matter how I may differ in opinion with them. For months, I had a name-thief on here posting garbage. If you saw something like that posted under my name, it was definitely the name-thief and not me. And I don’t think I have ever defended Groh to begin with. I THOUGHT based on the 2nd and 3rd games that the D had improved. But after the Miami game, I KNEW it had not. Now I may indeed have called you a troll, and you still show evidence of being one, but I certainly have no desire to see you dead.

:-) Tech Fan

October 8th, 2012
8:34 pm

A lot of you Tech fans sound a lot like the Dawg fans. A little adversity and it is all CPJ and his offenses fault and we are doomed. Most of Tech’s loses have come when the defense cannot get the other team off the field. You would think that we could stop a 3rd and 15 every now and then.