One more year tacked onto a contract that already had six years to run won’t keep Paul Johnson from going to Notre Dame — or to Oklahoma, should Bob Stoops wind up in South Bend — should PJ want to leave. Georgia Tech will never be able to outspend the big boys. (Example: Even with Johnson’s deal having been redone twice in 11 months, Mark Richt still makes more.)
But that wasn’t the intent of the one-more-year tack. This was designed as a love note, a reminder that nobody anywhere is going to love PJ more than the folks at GT. As Dan Radakovich noted in the official release: “We remain committed to Paul in every way, and we foresee a long-term relationship with much continued success.”
We knew already that Tech has a splendid football coach. What was evident with Friday’s announcement is that the Institute’s athletics director is every bit as good. Homer Rice was a great AD. Vince Dooley was a great AD. D-Rad is cut from that same regal cloth.
Hiring a splendid coach is only half the battle. The care and feeding of that man is the trickier part. How long do you wait to renegotiate? (With PJ, D-Rad waited less than a calendar year, and that proactivity was warranted because Auburn was believed to have offered Johnson a blank check.) But Notre Dame once deemed Charlie Weis was the real deal, and now it’s facing an elephantine buyout. You have to be quick, but you also have to be right.
An AD has to read both the terrain and his constituency, and Radakovich has done that since Day 1. You’ll recall that certain of Tech’s big contributors — the Old Guard — were displeased when D-Rad was hired over Bill Curry. Within six months, those same folks could be heard to say of Radakovich, “We’ve got ourselves a star.”
Radakovich gets that Johnson isn’t just a good coach but the right coach. He’s beloved by Tech backers both old and new, and he has done in two years what Chan Gailey couldn’t do in six — he has made Georgia and Richt play catch-up ball. It was instructive that one of Radakovich’s first hires was Wayne Hogan, who as associate AD for public relations has a politician’s ear and a journalist’s nose. Between D-Rad and Hogan, Tech is rarely surprised by developments and seems to hit every grace note.
And that’s what this added year is — a grace note. It’s Tech sending another bouquet to PJ. It’s Dan Radakovich saying, “You might make more money somewhere else, but you’ll never find a better fit.”