Paul Johnson slams NCAA for Georgia Tech’s probation

Paul Johnson questions the NCAA's actions during its investigation at Georgia Tech. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Paul Johnson wasn't happy during Tech's probation news conference. He's still fuming. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Paul Johnson doesn’t cheat. Doesn’t like cheaters. Calls the suggestion that he would cheat “almost insulting.”

“I’m sure I cheated in board games,” the Georgia Tech coach said. “And when I played, yeah, you’d do stuff. Move the ball forward. Move it back. Kick it. Maybe grab a guy where you’re not supposed to. But heck, everybody does that.”

But not as a coach. It’s why Johnson took a verbal 2-by-4 to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. He says he did nothing wrong. He says the punishment slapped on Georgia Tech’s football program, including the forfeiture of the 2009 ACC championship, is wrong. He wants the school to appeal. That decision hasn’t been made yet, but the trophy has been removed from a case in the Edge Athletics Center and is sitting in an office closet.

At the very least, Johnson wants it known that the Yellow Jackets gained no competitive advantage before the conference title win over Clemson. Also, he’s not giving his ring back.

“I’m proud of what those guys did on the field — they won it on the field,” Johnson said. “The NCAA can’t take away the memories or what happened on the field. Let’s say somebody took something illegal. I’m still not convinced that happened, but let’s say it did. Well, you’re punishing 115 guys who didn’t do anything but work their butt off.”

Johnson said he’s still “stunned” by the NCAA’s actions. He never expected anything of significance would come of the investigation until, “They started ripping [former compliance director] Paul Parker in the hearing.”

He understood why the NCAA might be upset that athletic director Dan Radakovich informed him of the impending investigation after he been told not to, but said, “I knew there was no coverup. If we were trying to cover the thing up, we would’ve just said that Dan never told me anything. Their perception of what happened and my perception of what happened wasn’t close.”

Johnson’s perception: “That they came in here and talked to seven or eight kids and they didn’t find what they were looking for.

“I’ve been in this business a long time. You see all the things that are going on in college sports today, and you get slammed for this? I mean, come on now. I feel for Dan and [Tech president G.P. "Bud"] Peterson. I’ve known Dan since I got here. Dan Radakovich isn’t going to cheat or cover up anything. Did you get bad information or maybe make a bad decision? You can debate that. But I certainly wasn’t privy to any information we had.”

The Tech case will go down as one of the strangest in NCAA history. Investigators never found proof or established a paper trail indicating former players, specifically Demaryius Thomas and Morgan Burnett, received improper benefits from agents. But there was the suspicious matter of $312 worth of clothing given to Thomas. Radakovich also went against the NCAA’s mandate by forewarning Johnson (and indirectly players) of the investigation.

Any potential violations might’ve been secondary, but the NCAA didn’t like the way Tech acted during the investigation, perceiving administrators tried to hinder the process.

Johnson said, “We thought we were cooperating,” then pointed to a black book on his desk and added, “I guess if they say that book right there is red and you don’t agree, then you’re not cooperating.”

He named at least five Tech players who were interviewed during the bye week before the Georgia game — Thomas, Burnett, Derrick Morgan, Jonathan Dwyer and Cord Howard (as well as Morgan’s roommates) — and said they shuttled off and on the field during practice. Peterson, who was relying primarily on the advice of since-retired school counsel Randy Nordin, ultimately cleared Burnett and Thomas to play.

Johnson said an investigator also interviewed one of his assistant coaches.

“They tried to say that he [the assistant coach] was directing players to agents,” Johnson said. “He even asked me if I was directing players to agents. I told him, ‘Dude, I don’t even know what you’re talking about.’ ”

The assumption here is that the NCAA was not expecting a warm embrace. Maybe they’ve just got a thing about bluntness.

“If you went out and you did something to gain a competitive advantage, if  you knew you cheated or you paid somebody, it might be easier to swallow,” Johnson said. “But when you don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong, it’s tough to take.”

The one saving grace for Tech is that the NCAA didn’t take away scholarships or issue a postseason ban. Also, this whole ugly process and resulting anger might help Johnson’s cause in at least one area with his players.

“Motivation won’t be a problem,” he said.

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier: Tuesday Countdown: Tech stashes ACC trophy; Ohio State’s really stiff ‘I’

Earlier: Georgia’s RB legacy takes another hit with suspension

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

891 comments Add your comment

Anteater

July 19th, 2011
2:11 pm

DAWG fan here – NCAA is trying to give out speeding tickets at the Daytona 500.

Dawg Fan

July 19th, 2011
2:12 pm

Kinda hard, even as a dawg fan, to dislike Johnson. He lays it out there.

ROFL

July 19th, 2011
2:13 pm

Johnson is on the edge delusional. He should not be representing a D-1 school as head coach if he acts like he talks.
His words make it seem that he will cheat without caring as long as he feels he did not cheat.
There are written rules, coach, abide by them.
By the way isn’t he from Auburn originally? Nuff said

buzzfarts

July 19th, 2011
2:13 pm

Dawg Fan

July 19th, 2011
2:13 pm

Anteater—- That’s pretty funny right there!

Bruce Mac

July 19th, 2011
2:13 pm

“I never had sex with that woman” Okay, “I never had real sex with that woman”. Okay, “I might have had sex with that woman”. I assume man boobs is a Democrat. What a moron.

buzzfarts

July 19th, 2011
2:15 pm

motivation for what , cheating or playing 100 percent effort, whats he mean?

Worm

July 19th, 2011
2:16 pm

Just keep Chop blocking Paul..BTW-That new rule change was put in just for you..

ROFL

July 19th, 2011
2:16 pm

Does sound like Bill Clinton on the cheating definitions

JM

July 19th, 2011
2:16 pm

Speak the truth, coach. NCAA is a joke.

ROFL

July 19th, 2011
2:18 pm

Can somebody else confirm he was GA Southern via Auburn?
And wouldn’t that explain a lot?!

icallbs

July 19th, 2011
2:19 pm

I’ll take the GT side in this one. Screw the NCAA.

Herschel Talker

July 19th, 2011
2:20 pm

Schultzie:

Please tell this clown to get a brassiere for his manboobs before yapping his flappy gums.

HT

reality

July 19th, 2011
2:20 pm

Enter your comments here

Worm

July 19th, 2011
2:21 pm

Ga.Southern via hawaii…BTW-Paul, Jacking those “Jowls” at the NCAA might get you on “Double secret Probation”..Not wise

Sammy Dawg

July 19th, 2011
2:21 pm

Lying Cheater Nerds! This arrogance you have will eventually lead to the death penalty. Then we can put better team on the schedule. Anybody have Bill Curry’s phone number? We will fill the Georgia Dome every other year with that game.

Dawg4Ever

July 19th, 2011
2:21 pm

As a UGA alumnus, I hate Tech. BUT, I hate the NCAA more. They have lost all credibility and all instituions should leave that organization and form another — and start all over. Things have gotten out of hand. The cases the NCAA makes against schools only to allow Cam Newton to play the system is a travesty. NAAA — you suck.

Hey Jeff

July 19th, 2011
2:22 pm

Good investigative journalism reaching deep into that Tech closet!
Is that trophy next to the janitors uniform?

DawginLex

July 19th, 2011
2:23 pm

NCAA practices selective enforcement but if GT had held out DT from the last 3 games, all of this would have never made the papers.

I can’t blame D Rad for telling CPJ. good lord these NCAA bozos must have NEVER worked with anyone where your relationship was based on trust and honesty.

reality

July 19th, 2011
2:24 pm

….Sammy…you are living in a dream world…are you excited about your preseason national championship?

SatchelBuzz

July 19th, 2011
2:24 pm

Never more proud to have CPJ as our leader,….Preach on Coach, Preach on! ROFL,….you’re an idiot.

THWG!!!

Tech Fan

July 19th, 2011
2:24 pm

Well done Coach Johnson!!!

ROFL

July 19th, 2011
2:26 pm

I still say he has Auburn ties which explains his delusional arrogance. That’s a new psychology term I made up!
Him and Chiz-head seem to have a lot in common.

JackDennis

July 19th, 2011
2:26 pm

I say good for PAUL JOHNSON.
The NCAA screwed up the USC deal; now want to be bad asses to everyone else.

Tech Fan

July 19th, 2011
2:27 pm

ROFL, stay off the oxycotin……

trophy

July 19th, 2011
2:27 pm

can tech pawn the trophy for some extra athletic dept. cash or will they have to ship it to the ncaa office?

GeoffDawg

July 19th, 2011
2:28 pm

The bottom line is that the players in question were coached up in how to talk to the inspector prior to their meetings. Paul Johnson knows as well as I do that interviews with players over minor infractions can often lead to bigger fish and tech intentionally acted to obfuscate the process with an aim to protect the talent. Of course, I think the NCAA is overbearing and the punishments are often capricious and inconsistently applied but how can you not know that it’s not ok manipulate or even give the appearance of manipulating your athletes’ testimony? They bear a lot of responsibility for turning this molehill into a mountain.

Birdawg

July 19th, 2011
2:28 pm

Im a huge UGA fan, but I have to say well done Coach Johnson. The NCAA flat out screwed you guys. This has to be appealed.

Stinger2

July 19th, 2011
2:28 pm

As a GT fan who knows nothing about CPJ personally, I do not like his TO offense that almost completely ignores
passing as part of his scheme. That said, there are two points I will make in his defense. He is the coach and has the right to run his team offensively and defensively as he believes is best. Also, I do not beliee he is a cheater. Nothing has ever be brought up throughout his career to indicate otherwise. Anyone who post blogs that he has cheated is completely wrong or simply does not like GT.

Sammy Dawg

July 19th, 2011
2:28 pm

reality, reality is 10 out of 11, then the ncaa will be back to vacate the 2008 season and we can all just say 10 straight before you turn the dump into a soccer stadium with no football program, which is not much different from what you have now.

hackjobs

July 19th, 2011
2:30 pm

Uh…according to his bio, he graduated from Western Carolina, then was OC atlees-McRae, GSU, then at Hawaii, then Navy, then back to GSU, then Tech. So. No, no Auburn.

Nice attempt at a cheap shot, though, but who wants things like facts to get in the way of the truth?

Birdawg

July 19th, 2011
2:30 pm

GeoffDawg, why would they be coached up? Nothing wrong was done here, read the report. The NCAA found no wrong doing by the players.

Bill Clinton

July 19th, 2011
2:30 pm

Hey ROFL, watch your mouth (keyboard).

Anyway, sounds like this NCAA dude had some attitude and was very impressed with himself. Probably trying to get promoted from assistant investigator to senior investigator. I agree with PJ. Given what is going on in the college football wuurld, why is the NCAA wasting resources on something like this.

Smokey's Bandit

July 19th, 2011
2:31 pm

Good Lord Techies…..

If this EXACT same situation had taken place at a school up the road (who has beaten you 9 of the last 10 meetings), you would all be screaming for the death penalty. And if the coach of that team up the road was vocal about his disdain for getting caught CHEATING, you would say he is way out of line, and demand he shut up and take his punishment like a man.

The vast, vast majority of you techies have spent the majority of your lives being made fun of, and outcasted because of your weirdness and nerdiness. Now that you convene with others just like you at a geek school in Atlanta, and have a football coach who enjoys speaking his mind, you feel like you can vicariously adopt his attitude and crassness. But the truth is, you are still as odd, weird, nerdy, and outcasted as you were before the manboobs coach of yours decided to open his mouth in an outright manor.

So YOU, techies, quit being hypocritical…. take a second and imagine these headlines being about UGA and Richt, and then realize that you are far from immune to bad press.

Keep the stories rolling Schultzie….. just like you do every time a UGA player gets a parking ticket.

GO DAWGS!!!!!
9-1
THWGT
Take your punishment like men, not goofy little nerds.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2011
2:33 pm

The NCAA is an arbitrary, capricious, and heavily politicized organization that would not stand up to public nor congressional scrutiny. They convicted Tech without a paper trail and basically with no proof except maybe one player got some clothes? Seriously? I believe the NCAA is also accused of fabricating evidence in this case- just like in numerous and I mean numerous other cases.

Hopefully some of you folks are starting to realize what we Bama fans have known about the NCAAfor a long time- that this organization is rotten to the core.

Birdawg

July 19th, 2011
2:34 pm

People like Smokey’s Bandit give my alma matar a bad name

ROFL

July 19th, 2011
2:34 pm

Tech fans, man-boobs Johnson is no Bobby Dodd.
And Bobby Dodd ain’t coming back. Go back to your slide-rules and get behind all the other I-tech geeks in the unemployment line.

ed

July 19th, 2011
2:35 pm

shut up chop block
any school who has to lie about the capacity of their stadium has no cred.

DawginLex

July 19th, 2011
2:35 pm

The NCAA will spend years investigating GT over $312 when over in Auburn, big bucks changed hands.

Also, our new DT Mr Jenkins was apparently offered $$$ to attend Auburn.

This story is starting to get legs in Athens as he apparently went to the NCAA about it

PMC

July 19th, 2011
2:35 pm

Absolutely the wrong reaction. Paul Johnson should be slamming Paul Johnson for this if he slams anyone.

He came into the school when they were on probation for other offenses and he and Radakovich didn’t do any better.

I understand being angry, but seriously, look in the mirror coach. It’s your fault.

Matt Skole

July 19th, 2011
2:36 pm

This is the second time in ten years Tech has gotten busted and manboobs is upset?

You guys are lucky it isn’t worse given Tech’s recent history of cheating and using ineligible players.

Tech has turned into one of the dirtiest programs in College Football.

NCAA Gestapo

July 19th, 2011
2:36 pm

The worst administrative organization in the history of American society. The NCAA gets away with whatever they want – to whoever they want – with no accountability. Georgia Tech should be exonerated and Paul Johnson is an admirable leader for the stand he is taking. To Hell With the NCAA.

JB

July 19th, 2011
2:37 pm

I do think Tech got treated heavy handed, But by ALL accounts and listening to Paul speak to the press for three years, They ( Tech) probably get some of the blame on this. You can’t get pulled over for speeding and ask the cop ” What the F— to you think you’re doing. you gotta kiss the ring….and I don’t think Johnson kisses anything. IMO

GeoffDawg

July 19th, 2011
2:38 pm

Birdawg – I’m not saying they were coached up. I’m saying that when DRad was specifically told not to tell anyone about the investigation with the exception of tech’s president and then goes on to tell coach Johnson who then talks about it with his players, from the perspective of the investigator, that looks lack of cooperation and that you’re potentially trying to proactively cover something up. Investigators are going to be suspicious of inconsistencies and tech athletic department knows that. If they’re confident that there’s nothing to hide, they should’ve kept the info high level as intended.

James

July 19th, 2011
2:38 pm

Matt Skole just got plowed on the head with cinder block, ignore him.

Big Macon DAWG

July 19th, 2011
2:39 pm

You pissed off the wrong, dude.

GT Football will be back, and meaner and madder than Hell.

can't stand him

July 19th, 2011
2:39 pm

What a blowhard. He’s an ignorant, horse’s a$$.

Big Macon DAWG

July 19th, 2011
2:40 pm

That said….

UGA is still the #1 in the state, until proven otherwise.

Bob Rathbun

July 19th, 2011
2:40 pm

Gotta Love CPJ!!!

repeat offenders

July 19th, 2011
2:40 pm

Arrogance, disregard for the rules and stupidity turned a secondary violation into 4 years probation.
Pj too dumb to shut up.