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

JoeRational

October 8th, 2012
4:00 pm

The Grinch

October 8th, 2012
3:49 pm

That’s my point Grinch. Carl acted like the DC job at Tech is a dead end unless I read it wrong. I think it’s worked out pretty good for quite a few.

alex

October 8th, 2012
4:00 pm

@louisiana jacket; could not agree with you more;an extra bowl of gumbo for you with a great fried oyster po’ boy !!

George Stein

October 8th, 2012
4:01 pm

Tenuta wasn’t the DC for the 51-7 game; Roof was.

Again, this is Johnson’s chance – and probably his last one – to fix the defense and recruiting. Get a recruiter who runs a simple defense and can recruit like hell.

Dacusville Bill

October 8th, 2012
4:01 pm

Now fire Pitiful Paul–Hire the fired Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino–every other Bobby has won a National Championship at Tech

New Idea

October 8th, 2012
4:01 pm

Good move, but don’t expect GT to magically create athletic talent. Steve Spurrier could not do much better with these players. CPJ is responsible and he is still Head Coach.
I will keep preaching: Recruiting is the bottom line in college football. Nick Saban recruits better than anyone and he has the best teams. CPJ has basically recruited a few d1 players and a lot of D2 players. Something else has to change.

...Take The Wheel

October 8th, 2012
4:02 pm

Change is good…

And for all you cry baby, fair weather fans calling for Vad is if he is the second coming. I hope you get what you’re asking for!! So that if nothing else you can see that Tevin did not lose those game for you!! But I’m sure you’ll have to see it to believe it! By the time this season is over, you’ll be weeping for the next Vad.

Georgia fans are the worst I’ve ever seen EVER – ANYWHERE. You dont deserve a winning team!!

I can’t figure out why folks that have all the answers don’t go into coaching. Could it be they know it all after the fact like the rest of us. Get off the the armchair quarterbacking and be a fan through the thick and thin.

I hope all the up and coming recruits are taking note!! I certainly wouldn’t send my 5 star son out to play for you people!!

GT fat guy in middle

October 8th, 2012
4:03 pm

how can UVA get the giant linemen and we can’t? how can we not find some giant fat guy and plug the middle? how come we can’t get rushing lbs? Groh was given a hard row to plow practicing against a scout team running a pro style offense when they only know the TO.

GT fat guy in middle

October 8th, 2012
4:03 pm

how can UVA get the giant linemen and we can’t? how can we not find some giant fat guy and plug the middle? how come we can’t get rushing lbs? Groh was given a hard row to plow practicing against a scout team running a pro style offense when they only know the TO.

BartBuzz

October 8th, 2012
4:04 pm

There wasn’t much else CPJ could do. It’s just too bad they have to start over on defense. This year is shot but I can always hold out hope for next year. I guess things could be worse. Poor UGA’s season is over and they’ve only lost one game.

GFJacket

October 8th, 2012
4:04 pm

This season is over….may as well let Vad get more experience and look to next year. Tech’s offense is Tevin left, Tevin right, Tevin up the middle. All a defense has to do is key on him every play and Tech has little to counter. Need to throw a lot more….

Perhaps Groh thought he could get real 3-4 talent for his scheme. Tech is now going to struggle to make it a .500 season….

Cecil34

October 8th, 2012
4:05 pm

Groh was just a symptom of a bigger disease…..

GFJacket

October 8th, 2012
4:06 pm

GT fat guy in the middle, UVA has several liberal arts degrees to attract giant lineman who can’t handle math and science….

GTPhenom

October 8th, 2012
4:06 pm

. . . . Take the Wheel, because Tevin didn’t cost us the VT or UM game, right? I’d rather have a terrible, green QB this year if it means next year will be great. TW has nothing left to give to this program, leaves after this year, and has so clearly hit his ceiling that it isn’t even funny. Where is there positives in starting him? Make a bowl game? Whoop-de-freaking-diddily-doo. Being “rewarded” with a bowl game after a 6-6 season with Tevin at the helm isn’t something to play for.

909

October 8th, 2012
4:06 pm

Groh is a man of the highest ethical caliber and character
there is to be found in college football, or anywhere else.

As much as I wanted to Groh to be successful at GT, it didnt work out.

The change was necessary.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 8th, 2012
4:07 pm

Thanks, CAG. Not a lot of former head coaches would have given it a shot under CPJ. That showed a lot of class from both. I greatly admire and respect both CPJ and CAG for that. ” GO JACKETS “

KeithB

October 8th, 2012
4:08 pm

So now the first player on D will all of a sudden be able to tackle someone when they get to them?

GT = 10 time loser to Mark Richt

October 8th, 2012
4:09 pm

Should have gave Groh until the end of the season

GFJacket

October 8th, 2012
4:10 pm

New Idea, get Tech some liberal arts degrees – - P.E., Turfgrass Management, etc. – - and you will see recruiting improve. Tech has not had a top-40 recruiting class since Rivals began keeping records. Johnson’s recruiting classes are about the same as Gailey’s, perhaps a little better. Tech has never had the ability to recruit a full stable of blue chip athletes like UGA does every year.

John

October 8th, 2012
4:10 pm

Uhhh, Tech needs to fire Johnson too. Any Coach who uses the kind of offense and defense Johnson uses, needs to retire and fish or play golf.

gtlinz

October 8th, 2012
4:12 pm

We are more than a decent defense away from being a top team. Our system is hard on some defenses and it looks great. But we are a running team, and our QB is not a stout runner. If he was EITHER a stout runner or an accurate passer, it would put a LOT more pressure on opposing teams. As is, as fast defense can focus on shutting down the run. Our overall O stats look fine due to inflated stats when things go well. Sometime the O needs to pick up the D. This team does not pick up 1 yard when needed, and it has cost us dearly over and over and over. It contributes to the D being put in a position too often to have to regain the momentum. Sometimes the O needs to contribute to stopping the bleeding.

Scout

October 8th, 2012
4:12 pm

Giff Smith would have been a great choice, and that’s the move PJ should have made instead of hiring Groh. There is almost zero chance that Smith will come back to the Flats with PJ there, despite the current record at Buffalo. The only chance that happens is if PJ is humble enough, and I think most all will agree that is not PJ’s strong suit, lol.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 8th, 2012
4:13 pm

This should help put some fans in the stadium for BC.

GT Fan

October 8th, 2012
4:14 pm

GT4ever,
Earlier I posted something similar regarding GT’s O being it’s best defense at times too. The ability to churn-out long, time-consuming drives cuts down on the # of 3rd down failures by the D.

A big problem with GT not being able to consistently churn-out those drives is their lack of a Dwyer/Allen type Bback. I came to that realization after last season when the top Bback gained only 698 yds. Then not having the right QB under center, as 2011’s Bback had a 5.2yd avg / carry. Similar to 2010 AA – 5.5yd avg, 240 carries, and 2009 Dwyer – 5.9yd avg, 235 carries. However, TW limited Sims to just 135 carries in 2011 while calling his own # 243 times.

cinque

October 8th, 2012
4:16 pm

Al Groh, fired! Surprise, surprise, even Donald Duck could have called this one! The only mystery is why did it take so long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

garydawg

October 8th, 2012
4:17 pm

Please take Grantham.

4 Jacks

October 8th, 2012
4:18 pm

Now it is time to start Vad Lee or somebody besides that weakling Tevin Washington. He has taken us no where and won’t be here next year, so thanks for the effort but it IS TIME TO MOVE ON….Start Vad or somebody you think maybe able to really run this offense next year and quit wasting time or don’t give me that lame excuse next year that “well, it was just his second or third start, that will not wash CPJ. Time to earn your money. Groh might have been bad, but you hired him and you make the big bucks and the bottom line is the buck stops with the head coach, so start acting like one. You have nothing left to play for this year so lets get some experience for next year and see if you can’t finally get it together. One things for sure, you either can’t recruit them or can’t coach them or maybe both!!

hryder

October 8th, 2012
4:19 pm

Fire CPJ and bring in Pretrino. Wait a few years for him to wreck , AGAIN!

One down, one to go

October 8th, 2012
4:20 pm

Our next move is to fire Johnson. His coaching is as much fault as Groh! Go ahead and blame Groh Johnson, hopefully, hopefully the athletic department will see through this and fire you at the end of the year.
UGA is going to fire Richt according to the pups……. Why not grab him as soon as he is available.

Nativebird

October 8th, 2012
4:20 pm

So funny how how so many are saying its recruiting, not the head coach. Well who the h3)) do you think is responsible for recruiting? Who the h3)) do you think it falls to for going out and sitting in mom/dads living room and convincing them that Gt is going to make their kid a star at the Div I college level? Fact is…our turkey-necked-geeked-up-narcissist-XsAndOs-white-board-king couldn’t convince a cow to moo, much less a 5-star recruit to come to Tech. This guy is a loser with his head up is rear.

George Stein

October 8th, 2012
4:20 pm

Can we have Jarvis Jones, too, garydawg?

OldSchoolTechFanatic

October 8th, 2012
4:21 pm

Wow, I can’t believe it !!! I bet Al Groh did not argue with the decision. I think our D is more talented and has better speed than it has had in the last couple of years. We are better at the positions but terrible on the field !!!

SalK

October 8th, 2012
4:21 pm

johnson will be the next to go–tech can do a lot better than a wishbone coach who can only recruit 2-3 star players.

Dick Askew

October 8th, 2012
4:22 pm

Bout time. Bring back Chan. He is Chantastic!

...Take The Wheel

October 8th, 2012
4:24 pm

Tevin is the most unselfish player you know….
He didn’t “call his own number” all those times just for the limelight. He was doing the best he could to win. JUST LIKE HE CONTINUES TO DO FOR HIS TEAM!

OldSchoolTechFanatic

October 8th, 2012
4:24 pm

Spurrier said there is all kinds of D1 talent around Atlanta !!! Im sure there are a lot of these kids that cant get into GT because of grades but I bet there are a lot we are letting slip by too.

North Ave Killer Beez

October 8th, 2012
4:24 pm

Giff Smith is the reason Nesbitt, Dwyer, Burnett and Morgan landed at GT, not Gailey… he has the gift of gab, get him back on campus ASAP. Of course that mule of a head coach we have probably won’t even consider it. I doubt Vad Lee gets to start in bye week practice much less the next game. SMH, PJ used to play the best players, no matter of senority, what happened?

Tech Forever

October 8th, 2012
4:24 pm

Lance Thompson, Lance Thompson, a million times LANCE FREAKIN THOMPSON!!!!

...Take The Wheel

October 8th, 2012
4:24 pm

Ken why is my last post being blocked?????

DawgNole

October 8th, 2012
4:26 pm

BartBuzz
October 8th, 2012
4:04 pm

I guess things could be worse. Poor UGA’s season is over and they’ve only lost one game.
__________________

A difference in expectations.

Hope

October 8th, 2012
4:27 pm

I hope Georgia hires Groh

Groh Has To GO (by Captain Obvious)

October 8th, 2012
4:27 pm

CPJ must finally be feeling some heat…Either that or he’s really PO’d at losing every game in the 4th QTR or OT cause of D (or both).

GT Fan

October 8th, 2012
4:28 pm

Folks,
Unless this, necessary, firing ignites the D a few levels, GT ain’t going bowling. I support the timing of this firing … can’t let Groh’s D continue to perform like it has been performing. I don’t see how firing AG now will make the D any worse … haven’t we all seen the past 3 games, AND the last 44 seconds of the VT game?

BC, Duke, and UGA we all know can throw the ball. And UNC ain’t bad passing either. With AG manning the D, those are pretty much L’s. 1-3 or 2-2 at best. GT’s in the same boat with or without AG … OUTSCORE these opponents. Could happen vs. BC / Duke … not vs. UNC or UGA.

that leaves beating BYU & Maryland to get GT to a bowl. If you haven’t seen BYU’s D, you need to….IMO, better than UGA’s. And I think the Turtles have played more than enough D to stop GT.

Hope I’m wrong about the rest of the season & bowl game.

OldSchoolTechFanatic

October 8th, 2012
4:29 pm

@Take The Wheel, Pleas let somebody else drive !!! Tevin is better than he was last year but he is not a Nesbit type player !!! The offense is not the main peoblem but Vad is clearly the better talent and CPJ is holding him back. 9 times out of 10 Nesbit was gonna come through and that is what we need at QB. Time to play VAD. Salvage this season and lets look forward to next year !!!

m

October 8th, 2012
4:29 pm

thank God and Greyhound! Al Groh is gone!

(shoutouts to all the long-time Tech blog readers lol)

JamesGT

October 8th, 2012
4:29 pm

I just can’t believe they fired him after a loss to Clemson. Clemson at Death Valley has to be one of the toughest outs there is in college football. This would make more sense if it had happened after the Middle Tennessee game. It makes it look like we were expected to win up there in Clemson.

Puzzling to say the least.

yellowjacketforlife

October 8th, 2012
4:29 pm

Call Glenn Spencer now!!!!!

GT Joe

October 8th, 2012
4:31 pm

Take the Wheel: Tevin is terrible.

Game ending INT at VT
blew the 4th down play in OT vs. Miami
4 yards on 19 carries vs. MTSU
failed on every meaningful 3rd down vs. Clemson, not to mention the failed 4th down in the first quarter that basically gave Clemson the 1st TD.

Wake up, he’s terrible. Nice guy, but terrible.

TBONE

October 8th, 2012
4:31 pm

Great decision ….. now finish the job. Add PJ and Radovich to the pink slip list today! GT should have hired Charlie Strong on the spot when Gailey was fired, but no our AD went for PJ … check the recent polls …… Radovich cannot pick coaches and this coach can’t recruit ANY QUALITY players from a talent rich state to run his backyard offense. All the excitement when PJ got to Tech was with Gailey’s recruits. FIRE RADOVICH FIRST ……. then allow a decent AD to hire the RIGHT COACH!!

Vampire Bill

October 8th, 2012
4:32 pm

Grantham next maybe??

Cobb Dawg

October 8th, 2012
4:32 pm

USMC Dawg, take that Petrino crap somewhere else. UGA has WAY too much integrity to hire that clown. And I hope every other SEC team does as well. I just shake my head when someone suggests that any program hire a guy with Petrino’s personal record. Just ask Arkansas what he’ll do for a program……….Jesus!