It’s the new charming Al Groh (until Virginia week)

It turns out new Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh has a sense of humor.

It turns out new Tech assistant Al Groh has a sense of humor. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Al Groh walked into his first formal meeting with the media at Georgia Tech Friday, wearing a particularly large ring on his right hand: a Super Bowl ring from his days with the New York Giants.

Was this standard accessorizing for him?

“No,” he said “Not very often. I usually just wear it for other people’s entertainment.”

Press conferences?

“No. Recruiting.”

This ring was from Groh's second Super Bowl with the New York Giants.

This ring was from Groh's second Super Bowl with the New York Giants.

Full disclosure here: Groh, while long regarded as a top defensive coach, never has had a reputation of being a charmer with the media. But I figure that working for Bill Parcells all of those years is bound to make anybody miserable.

But Groh seemed at ease Friday when discussing his new role as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator, and even cracked a few jokes. When asked about the possible difficulty of  going from being a head coach at Virginia to only an assistant again, he said: “You mean, am I going to have to let go of being responsible for players going to class, coming to the Monday press conference, talking to you all after games, meeting with the administrators, justifying our GPA – am I going to miss all of that? Yeah. I don’t know how I can do without it.”

Thank you. Try the veal.

It certainly has been stated enough times in this corner before: Paul Johnson made a terrific hire in Groh. For as much as Groh fizzled as a head coach at Virginia (8-16, including 5-11 in the ACC, in the last two seasons), he long has been regarded as one of the finest defensive coaches in football. But it’s clear there is some lingering bitterness remaining from his exit in Charlottesville and he’s greatly looking forward to the Tech-Virginia game next season. Here’s a few comments that stood out to me from the news conference:

♦ On still being bothered by how things ended at Virginia: “Sure. At one time we had some real good teams, and a lot of people contributed to that. So we were disappointed that our teams weren’t as good at the end. I think I understand the reasons why. But it doesn’t make any difference now . It is what it is. It’s all in the past and we’re looking forward.”

♦ On next year’s Virginia game: “It would be disingenuous to say that it’s not a different type of game. But if I was overly sentimental coaching against teams that I was formerly associated with, then I’d be coaching with tears in my eyes every week. … I hope there’s a lot of people [in Virginia] who feel we did a pretty good job. But one of the things inside of [coaches] is the awareness that you have to prove yourself every week and every year.”

♦ On his playing days at Virginia: “I didn’t have any talent. So all I could be was tough.”

♦ On adjusting back to being a head coach (seriously): “For the last 10 years, pretty much everything that we’ve done is what I wanted ti do. That’s not my role any more. I’m not the head coach, I’m not trying to be the head coiach, I don’t want to be the head coach. Paul Johnson has one of the best records percentage wise in the history of college coaching. He doesn’t need much help from  me. It’s my role to adjust to how things are done around here. It’s my job to make the transition seamless, not have other people adjust to me.”

Our Doug Roberson will be posting a story later, and he’ll get more into the aspects of the Jackets’ switch to the 3-4 defense. I just wanted to give you a feel for Groh’s public debut. Early impressions: Positive.

201 comments Add your comment

MatthewH

January 22nd, 2010
1:59 pm

well, I just hope a 65 year old can relate to 17-18 year olds when it comes time to recruit. The might not care about a Super Bowl that he helped win long before they were born.

UA Alum92

January 22nd, 2010
2:05 pm

I didn’t realize both school’s new DC’s were holding their press conferences on the same day (same time?). What was the difference in numbers of members of the press at each?

buzz is wiser

January 22nd, 2010
2:09 pm

If he continues to wear that ring he will relate to 17-18 year olds. Being a high school teacher, every student on the football team believes they’re D-I material and is going to the NFL. He obviously knows what it takes to play at both levels.

MatthewH

January 22nd, 2010
2:11 pm

So, both schools (UGA and Ga Tech) will be running a 3-4 defense? Interesting!!

Vince Dooley

January 22nd, 2010
2:11 pm

wish we had 4 National Championships like our big brother Tech……dead gum it !!!!

[...] things that matter. Jump to Comments After reading these perceptions of Todd Grantham and Al Groh from their first respective meetings with the local press since taking on their shiny new jobs, [...]

MatthewH

January 22nd, 2010
2:16 pm

Buzz, I hope you’re right about the rings. Living up here in Virginia, I got to see a lot of Groh. UVA never wowed anybody (even though he was coach of the year at one point). Maybe he is better as a coordinator than head coach.

MagnaCarterGT

January 22nd, 2010
2:16 pm

I’m pretty confident that Al Groh will fix up our defense. I’ll never forget how Virginia punked us at our 2008 homecoming game – Tech rushed for only 156 yards (out of 259 total) that day against Groh’s 3-4 defense.

Cuttysark

January 22nd, 2010
2:28 pm

Al Groh is just an incredible defensive coordinator and that is his strength. Being the coordinator of a championship defense means more to him now than being a head coach. Age is not nearly as important as somebody who has been there and done it! A Super Bowl ring transcends all generations of athletes as everyone involved in football knows what that ring symbolizes. Accomplishing a win at that level can never be substituted for youth.

For more articles on Georgia Tech football go to http://isportsweb.com. Go Jackets!

UA Alum92

January 22nd, 2010
2:33 pm

Just reread the article and apparently we learned next to nothing at the press conference other than Tech will be running the 3-4. Why did they hold this again?

Viagra

January 22nd, 2010
2:35 pm

He Al, were interested in using you in one of our commercials.

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
2:36 pm

Wait until those afternoon games make him miss the early bird special at the Silver Skillet, then you’ll see the real Al Groh.

The Real YellowJacket

January 22nd, 2010
2:39 pm

Welcome Al. Get a bunch of LB’s.

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
2:40 pm

Dear Coach,

I didn’t mean to joke about your adopted Grand Daddy. Please don’t punch me in the face.

EW

January 22nd, 2010
2:45 pm

Kinda bummed GT will be running a 3-4 too. That means their offense will see it every week from the D in practice. May or may not help them adjust for Turkey Day with the Dawgs. We shall see. Lots to be excited about for both programs.

Ramblin' Wreck

January 22nd, 2010
2:49 pm

Groh welcome on board. Make us proud and help Johnson and team take us back to the ACC-CG!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by wayne isaksen, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: It’s the new charming Al Groh (until Virginia week): It turns out new Tech assistant Al Groh has a sense of humor…. http://bit.ly/4VUNHZ [...]

Watch my Johnson Groh!

January 22nd, 2010
2:54 pm

Welcome to Atlanta Coach Groh!

Glad to have you and look forward to seeing the 3-4 during the spring game.

GO JACKETS!

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
2:54 pm

Johnson had better not wear anything low cut around the office. You know how old guys get easily excited. If he sees clevage PJ might be the one who gets punched… right in the pants.

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
2:56 pm

CLEAVAGE… don’t get too excited nerds.

nams

January 22nd, 2010
3:01 pm

yeah, hire a guy as your DC who was fired from a rival school, not only that, but those close to the program said he should have been figured years ago. Brilliant move as always….

James T. Kirk

January 22nd, 2010
3:02 pm

Now all the pieces are in place. We begin our reign of domination on the nation this coming season. I hope they are in the process of adding an extension to the trophy case, because we will start our consecutive string of National Championships this coming season.

nams

January 22nd, 2010
3:04 pm

figured = fired

Upstaged Dawg

January 22nd, 2010
3:06 pm

Nuh uh, nuh uh. We hired the best DC. Come on all you recruits. Come play for Grantham, our 5th choice who we paid $750,000 for. He’s been an NFL DC too for one year, and he runs a 3-4, and he can get you in the NFL. Don’t pay attention to Tech. They suck. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows the Mighty Dawgs are a top 5 program just like Florida, Texas and USC. UF, Bama, UT, and LSU have all won MNCs since Herschel, and Auburn has had 2 undefeated seasons so we’re gonna win won soon! It’s our turn next year.

drive thru dawg

January 22nd, 2010
3:07 pm

love your comments Dawglasville. Keep up the man on man comments. Right out of your dreams and on to the blogs. Go punch your drive thru manager in the pants…it’s payday loser.

Jackets Keep Rollin'

January 22nd, 2010
3:11 pm

Al Groh = First choice, first class mind. Welcome to the Flats, lets go win the ACC again!!

Go Jackets!

1276jacket

January 22nd, 2010
3:12 pm

James T., I think we will worry about the trophy case whenever we win one. I don’t think we should be like Virgina Tech; they built a case for their national championship trophy. Nothing in it yet.
Until we get more horsepower on the line(s) I wouldn’t be talking national championship.

jealous doggies

January 22nd, 2010
3:13 pm

you doggies are just jealous we hired a more accomplished and experienced DC…see the superbowl ring in the pic…how many rings does grantham have?

James T. Kirk

January 22nd, 2010
3:16 pm

I beg to differ. Our thrower of the ball is returning next year, probably a surefire Heisman Statue winner. Our running halfbacks are the best in the country. Our wideout wide receivers are the best in the country too. Now we not only got the best 4th down field goal kicker in the nation coming to Tech, but now we have possibly the greatest defensive mind to ever be at any level of the game. The dynasty begins now.

hahaha!!!

January 22nd, 2010
3:17 pm

jealous doggies,

How many Super Bowl rings did Charlie Weis have, 3? Great point!!!

Coach Johnsons Paul

January 22nd, 2010
3:18 pm

As long as he learns to use my personal mantra, ‘We have bigger fish to fry” and ‘Just punch the UGA fans in the face” after every time we lose to UGA I am A-OK with Coach Groh. BTW-During our interviews for this position he told me how he sends Scott Norwood a Christmas Card every year. That’s how he got that ring!

wiley

January 22nd, 2010
3:21 pm

Glad to have Groh. Im ready to see some defense!

Unemployment Line

January 22nd, 2010
3:25 pm

My DC can beat up your DC even if he has a big supper ring

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
3:26 pm

Drive thru- I work at a fast food restaurant. Where did you get that line? Did you hear Carrot Top say that?

Crandy Ross

January 22nd, 2010
3:27 pm

This is a much better hire than the one made by that other team in the state, the one that thinks they’re so great when they’re the most overrated, underachieving program in college football.

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
3:32 pm

We are not lucky enough to play in the most overrated, underachieving conference in college football.

Joach Cohnson

January 22nd, 2010
3:33 pm

Dangit Dawglasville. These fries are cold. Now Coach Groh is gonna come through that drive thru window and punch you in the face!

Crandy Ross

January 22nd, 2010
3:35 pm

Yeah, Dawglasville, ’cause you’d be all undefeated and stuff if you didn’t have to play teams like Kentucky and Tennesse, who got knee-dropped by Frankenstein Beamer.

j0eY hAmILtOn

January 22nd, 2010
3:37 pm

I bEe GlAd dAt wEe hIrEd cOaCh GrAoH 2 bEe CoAcHiN’ dAt dEeFeNcE. I kNo hEe BeE dA bEsT cAnDyDiT 2 bEe CoAcHiN dEm BoYz.

keke

January 22nd, 2010
3:38 pm

how did the two best ACC teams do again in their last regular season games? I can’t remember…..

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
3:41 pm

Tech/Bama, Virginia Tech/Florida… on down the line…what do you really think would happen? How many BCS bowl games has the ACC won? Your best team got smacked by… Iowa. Do you really think the ACC matters?

Willie M.

January 22nd, 2010
3:42 pm

Did Todd Grantham wear his Super Bowl ring to his press conference? No? Well then he was probably talking all about his head coaching experience.

go tech

January 22nd, 2010
3:44 pm

Welcome coach! Looking forward to this Fall!

Hargrave Military

January 22nd, 2010
3:45 pm

Sorry we won’t be seeing you anymore Coach Groh. But welcome Coach Grantham. Stop by anytime. As you can see we have excellent academic facilities. Our primary colors chart and letter blocks are all brand new.

jack

January 22nd, 2010
3:46 pm

hell, let’s play football this is exciting

blackprix

January 22nd, 2010
3:47 pm

Hey dawgs, give it up. YOU know that the years of beating the Jackets consistently are over … the playing field has been leveled with the arrival of Paul Johnson. NOW, with Groh leading the D, recruits actually have to great coaches to play for at GT – WATCH OUT!

Cecil34

January 22nd, 2010
3:49 pm

Groh as DC for Tech is a positive – and the 3/4 works – if you have the right personnel to run it.

My concerns are that Tech is somewhat lacking in size with the defensive linemen they have on board. You must have a monster at nose tackle for this scheme to work properly.

Now the linebackers have to be fast and active. This is especially true of the outside ‘backers. Does Tech have 4 that qualify? I was rather disappointed with our linebacker play in ‘09, and I definately did not see the athletism and speed necessary to make it work.

I would like Groh or someone to ID who is projected to play where and what the depth chart looks like.

I know in time they will get the right bodies, but do they have them in ‘10?

James in Doraville

January 22nd, 2010
3:52 pm

I used to hate the fact that people could post comments on every column written. But now I love it, because it reaffirms my belief that 90% of the population are drooling idiots.

Wha?

January 22nd, 2010
3:53 pm

Cecil, we have a 6-7 340 Soph and a 6-4 330 redshirt Fr. at DT.

Dawglasville

January 22nd, 2010
3:53 pm

You can plug in anybody to run a gimmick office. There is no gimmick defenses. You have to recruit talent for that. Good luck.