1. He’s a little too much like Charlie Weis. Meaning: He’s blunt, and he can’t be coached in the gentle art of public relations. That works in Atlanta, where there’s one daily newspaper, but might not in South Bend, where the college team is covered by the Chicago papers in addition to the South Bend folks. Notre Dame is going to want a charmer this time around, someone who can schmooze with Regis about the big game. PJ has never heard of Reege, let alone Kelly.
2. Notre Dame isn’t just a program; it’s a TV show. Meaning: Appearances matter. NBC might not be thrilled about the prospects of airing a team that runs the football 83 percent of the time. (Understand: I admire Johnson’s offense. But I’m not a network programmer.)
3. Notre Dame cares about recruiting rankings. Johnson famously does not. The subway alumni wouldn’t like it if their adopted team didn’t show up in Rivals’ top 10. (Understand: I’m with Johnson on this one, too. Recruiting rankings are overblown — ask Mark Richt — but I don’t contribute to anyone’s program.)
4. He’s happy at Georgia Tech. In two years Johnson has become not just a hero but something approaching a legend. If the final fourth-down gamble against Wake Forest had failed, he wouldn’t have been second-guessed one bit. Because Tech people love PJ, and Dan Radakovich is about to put yet another bumped-up dollar figure on that love. And Johnson doesn’t want to live in South Bend. He’s a Southern guy who has a nice spread in Vinings — “Inside the Perimeter,” he always takes pains to say — and doesn’t even have to take an Interstate to work.
5. Notre Dame once hired a coach from Tech. The perfect union, right? A feisty Irishman coaching the Fighting Irish. It lasted 3 1/2 days. Even Cher and Gregg Allman made it past a week.