I’m thinking PJ sees a real title as bigger than beating UGA

Paul Johnson and Josh Nesbitt can still be champions. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Paul Johnson and Josh Nesbitt can still be champions. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

I had this conversation with a Georgia Tech booster last night: If Paul Johnson had to pick between beating Georgia and winning the 2009 ACC title, which would have chosen?

“As fans, we’d always pick beating Georgia,” the booster said. But that’s from the fan’s perspective, which isn’t the same as a coach’s. And if I had to guess — and I don’t have to guess, but just for grins I will — I’d say PJ would take being the champion of a BCS conference. (Yeah, yeah. Even if it is only the ACC.)

I base this on something PJ said last week about beating Georgia — “Been there, done that” — and on his stated desire to win championships at Tech. “We almost did it last year,” he said, and the Jackets did. They shared first place in the  Coastal Division but lost to Virginia Tech on a tiebreaker. And now the moment is here. Beat Clemson in Tampa and the Jackets will play in the Orange Bowl in Year 2 under Paul Johnson. And that’s pretty darn impressive even if they did lose to the hated mutts.

A year ago, I think PJ would have chosen the other course: He needed to beat Georgia to establish credibility among his constituency. And that had to come first lest he run the risk of turning into Chan Gailey. (Who was fired because he couldn’t beat Georgia, fired 51 weeks after he played for the ACC title in Jacksonville.) Having done the deed in Year 1, Johnson has more global goals.

Which is why, I submit, he talked down the rivalry last week. (Indeed, he came tantalizingly close to channeling Reggie Ball and saying of Georgia: “It’s just a game, dog.”) PJ said this flat-out: “I’m going to get Georgia Tech to the point where our program is bigger than one game.”

Georgia fans will crow that the ACC title game now holds no currency, but that’s not true. (The Tech fan’s comeback: “So who are you playing this week?”) Tech was the best team in its conference, which isn’t to be confused with the SEC but isn’t the New York-Penn League, either. And that was the Jackets’ stated goal from spring practice on — win the ACC.

Remember Tech’s rings from last season? They weren’t presented for beating Georgia, although they did bear the famous score. (I’m pretty sure this year’s rings won’t be engraved with “30-24.”) The rings were for tying for the Coastal title. This year GT and PJ don’t have to share a division with anyone. This year they can win the whole conference. And I’m thinking, in this coach’s mind, that was Job 1 all along.

1,540 comments Add your comment

Bibb Stinger

November 30th, 2009
6:40 am

Agree 100% Mark, going to the conference championship game and a chance to play in the Organe Bowl, the UGA game become just a non conference loss.
Nothing more.

Dawg Foot

November 30th, 2009
6:45 am

…and then UGA can claim they defeated the ACC Champions.

Dawg Foot

November 30th, 2009
6:48 am

St. Simons where are you? You still in hiding? Come out and get your whipping – ya little NERD.

Alabama Jack

November 30th, 2009
6:48 am

I totally agree, and hope that next year we have both – a UGA win and an Orange bowl win.

buzz

November 30th, 2009
6:48 am

and if that makes you feel good, fine!

P.S. One thing that Dogs and jackets can agree on, we will not have to see St. Simons blog blather for a year.

Puddintang

November 30th, 2009
6:49 am

I agree also Mark, you hang banners for championships not Georiga games. Go Tech!!!!!!!!!!!

E-Dog

November 30th, 2009
6:51 am

Then why last year did CPJ say that the Georgia game was the most important game Georgia Tech has every year? That the game was bigger than an ACC Championship or bigger than a BCS game? Interesting how statements change from CPJ….. Cover yourself CPJ.

GWH Rich

November 30th, 2009
6:52 am

I still question Coach Johnson’s play calling at the end of both halves, but I don’t question him putting more emphasis on winning titles than any one specific game.

Although it hurts to lose to UGA, it doesn’t hurt as bad as the losses when our team wasn’t playing for something more than the fictitious state title and a .500 or sometimes better season.

I’ll agree the loss, paired with the Clemson loss to South Carolina, puts another blemish on the ACC Title game, but I’m still hyped to see a return game against the Tigers.

Luvit

November 30th, 2009
6:53 am

Florida Dawg

November 30th, 2009
6:54 am

And what choice does PJ have?

zino

November 30th, 2009
6:55 am

Best Tech team in a decade.
Worst GA team in a decade.
Dawgs still win.
8 out of 9.

And who cares about being ACC Champs? Everybody knows that equates to about 3rd place in the SEC East.

Valdosta Dawg

November 30th, 2009
6:56 am

What are you going to say when Clemson beats ya? Are you kidding me? Thats all you people have been talking about was beating us. And know an A-she-she title is bigger than beating UGA. WHATEVER!!!!! Spin it however it makes you feel better. But bottomline, UGA kicked the crap out of the glorified mosqitos!!! Have a merry christmas

k483

November 30th, 2009
6:57 am

Why am I not surprised you take the well-this-game-wasn’t-that-important-to-us-anyway line of self-indulgent excusing? It certainly was a big game earlier in the week, when you trumpeted the recruiting benefits, the “coming of age” of the GT program and the ACC. Now, it was just another game? Pathetic.

GWH Rich

November 30th, 2009
6:58 am

It would sure be nice if fans from both sides would call out those who specifically trash-talked them rather than lumping all fans into a small group of jerks.

doggit

November 30th, 2009
6:59 am

I hope this little hug from MB makes you tech dorks feel better….

MFM

November 30th, 2009
7:00 am

Denial….I hear it goes great with Fruit Loops. Pour on some 2% milk and have yourself a bowl for breakfast, Nerds.

Dawgwanabe

November 30th, 2009
7:02 am

Bibb Stinger, I’m sure Mark’s comments soothed your feelings somewhat, but let’s not get carried away. Nothing more than a nonconference loss?
There’s a thing called reality that you need to get a hold on.

Spike

November 30th, 2009
7:03 am

Overrated!! 30-24, in Mark Richt Stadium. HAHAHHAHAHAHAHA.

GT Grad

November 30th, 2009
7:07 am

Mark;

You got it right! The Championship and a BCS bowl is much more important than the Georgia rivalry game. My predicition is that the Tech – Georgia will see saw back and forth over the next many years. Win some, lose some. Then move on in the following weeks to bigger and better things.

Georgia fans might consider looking at it the same way.

WTFyousay

November 30th, 2009
7:08 am

SEC fans, wake up and smell the coffee. Florida and Alabama strike fear in the hearts of no one. They will probably play to a 3-3 tie. And that’s the best you have to offer. LSU is mud and the rest are wannabes. SEC has had it’s day and it’s not 2009.

Taylor S

November 30th, 2009
7:08 am

The ACC title game was played September 12th between UGA and South Carolina. What a joke. I expected excuses from fans but not Writers. Are you just throwing them a bone so they will keep visiting the site ?

WTFyousay

November 30th, 2009
7:10 am

The real beauty is that the tractor pull fans of Georgia will think all is well with their progrma and Martinez, Dilbo, and Richt will all be back in the saddle next year and more disappointment is in store for the bullpups. If you can’t see there are real problems with that program, enjoy the tractor pull and keep chewing the snuff.

falcon 71

November 30th, 2009
7:11 am

rather loose to Ga and go to the orange bowl than beat Ga to finish 7-5 and go to the chicken leg bowl

jc

November 30th, 2009
7:12 am

1. I don’t think he would have put Nesbett back in the game Sat night if he was more concerned with the next game (ACC Championship).
2. Does GT really want to play in a BCS game in front of the whole country against a “real” BCS team???? I keep thinking what LSU did to GT last year here in town after time to prepare for the option attack. Might be really ugly!

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:12 am

Riiiiiiight. See how CPJ will feel about it if he loses three in a row. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Carlton Powell

November 30th, 2009
7:12 am

CPJ needs to parse his words carefully. With all the crowing Tech fans were doing over the week leading up to the GA game, does anyone REALLY think the game with GA was not deemed important? Yes, Tech won LAST year, but they couldn’t take care of business against a GA team that most of it’s fans gave no chance in Sat. night’s game. The Jackets “spit the bit,” as the saying goes. AL and FL will play what will be, for all intents and purposes, the REAL Nat’l. Championship game on Sat. night. The ACC will play their championship game in Tampa, probably before 30-40K fans. Neither of the participants “finished the drill,” and beat their in-state rival. The ACC Championship game has little luster at this point. The ACC has made good strides towards becoming a force in college football, but they are not in the same league as the SEC. The media market, etc. reflects the difference.

WTFyousay

November 30th, 2009
7:12 am

When Walsh missed that field goal, answer honestly, how many Dawg fans believed Georgia wins that game? Just what I thought. Zero.

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:13 am

To falcon71

The chicken leg bowl? You mean that bowl you were in last year and got crushed 38-3 by LSU? That bowl? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:14 am

To WTFyousay

So the loss has affected you so much that you’re now answering your own questions? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Glad it still hurts.

Taylor S

November 30th, 2009
7:16 am

When you lose 8 out of 9 to a team its not just another non-conference loss. Thats domination. We are yalls Florida.

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:16 am

To WTFyousay

Riiiiight. So you’re satisfied with your offensive genius, CPJ, who had an extra week to prepare for UGA and Willie’s defense and the best you could do was 205 yards on the ground? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Rick

November 30th, 2009
7:17 am

Mark,

I am a UGA fan and I love to see us beat GT, however; if we were going to the SEC championship game this week, a loss to GT would not be the end of the world.

Every coach worth his salt, knows that he must first compete for his respective conference championship, period.

And concerning rivalries: UGA has FL, GT, TN, and AUBURN; the oldest rivalry in the south. If UGA focused on rivalries only they would never compete for a SEC or National Championship.

Gleeknik

November 30th, 2009
7:18 am

You act as it he had to decide between the two. Why not win both? Is it now a given that Tech beats Clempsun just because they got that loss out of the way?
Maybe Richt decided that we needed to choose between Kentucky or Tech. If so, I say good choice Richt.

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:18 am

To WTFyousay

The best the SEC has to offer is #1 and #2 in the country.

The best the ACC has to offer is #11 and #25, both of whom were handed crushing defeats by middle of the road SEC teams.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

SimpleDawg

November 30th, 2009
7:19 am

Yep….that’s what I’d say also. Especially after the way the bug fans have been reveling in last year’s victory, and promising decades of domination to follow…..yep, I’d say the Georgia game wasn’t that important.

And another thing……having the ball jammed down your throat like that, even when everyone knew what was coming, how’d that feel?

Saint Simons

November 30th, 2009
7:20 am

30-24….Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

Carlton Powell

November 30th, 2009
7:20 am

Saying a loss to UGA on Sat.night wasn’t all that important? Hum. Interesting given all the crowing and hype coming from Tech and it’s fan base over the past week. Bottom line, Tech got beat by the worst playing, worst coached team it’s had in at least a decade. I would think the best plan would be to shut up, prepare for the game against Clemson and try to get back some positive karma.

Richt - 1 / CPJ - 1

November 30th, 2009
7:21 am

Richt – 8 / Tech – 1

Where is that mudhole, m?

Where is Saint Simon – it will hurt for another year.

And, why is Bradley making excuses for CPJ?

And, the Orange Bowl is no shoe-in for the gnats – you guys should end up in a NYD bowl (win or lose), but none of your “fans” will go, so it really does not matter!

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:21 am

UGA: 334 yards rushing. Best in Mark Richt’s career.

And that offensive juggernaut coached by genius CPJ who had and extra week to work on the game plan?

Any you guys say WE have a problem at DC?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

deedee gibonns

November 30th, 2009
7:26 am

yea… mock us for being educated, real cool

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:28 am

I wonder how those free hot dogs and coke went down saturday night? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

GEEKMAN

November 30th, 2009
7:28 am

GT IS CORRECT WE ARE NOT PLAYING THIS WEEK, BUT WINNING THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP IS LIKE WINNING THIRD PLACE IS A UGLY DUCK CONTEST!! THE ACC STINKS AND THE WINNER GOES TO THE ORGANGE BOWL TO PLAY FOR NOTHING!!! ONLY BOWL THAT MATTERS IS THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!!! PJ HAS NOT WON ANYTHING AND MAYBE NOW HE CAN WIN THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP WHO CARES!! UGA 14 OUT of 17, 8 OUT OF 9 !!! GT YOU WILL ALWAYS BE SECOND IN FOOTBALL IN GA!!!!

ornery

November 30th, 2009
7:28 am

That was my line of thinking during the game.. However, I do think it is important that we beat Georgia AND get the ACC title. I believe that someone needs to get DRad and PJ in a closed room and explain that they need to accomplish beating the Georgia game to build some respect and fill the seats. They both should be set as priorities. However, I think as well for the program to move forward they do need to drop Wommack (Tech DC) at the Greyhound station. Bottom line was Tech looked flat, when this is a important game. I expect better performance getting it done next year.

Jackets2009

November 30th, 2009
7:30 am

I disagree.
I should have taken Georgia and the points just as soon as he said it was just another game.
Paul Johnson was out-coached in the Wake Forest game, deserved to lose, but Morgan and Nesbitt would not let him.
I want to tip my hat to the Georgia bloggers who advised their gameplan vs Tech (power football) from the start of the year to no avail.
They should be the O coordinator but like me, don’t have the experience to get a job coaching their team.

Dawg Foot

November 30th, 2009
7:30 am

NERDS having a fish fry today. Bring your tarter sauce.

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:31 am

To GEEKMAN

Actually, winning the ACC championship this year is like placing 5th in the SEC East, right behind UF, UT, UGA, and SC. Reeeeaaaaaal impressive. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

The Grinch

November 30th, 2009
7:32 am

Will CPJ have an open week next year as well so he can implement such an impressive game plan? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Sundawg

November 30th, 2009
7:32 am

Too bad the “Tech fan” didn’t give you the answer you wanted. The fan base for both teams knows what is important and what isn’t. Hard fought game; the best team won. “Nuff said.

Decade of Dominance

November 30th, 2009
7:34 am

Is the ACC Chumpionship even going to be televised anymore? They might want to move it to ESPNU.

MC

November 30th, 2009
7:34 am

MB, GT is always defined by and always will be defined by the UGA game. What does an ACC title mean when you still consistently get your butts kicked by your SEC big brother? You still have to live in this state. Until the ACC can put a team back in the NC game what does it mean anyway?