Hindsight: What if Tech had hired Neuheisel over Johnson?

"And here the job I really wanted was the one in Atlanta." (AP photo)

"Hey, do any of you guys know if that job in Atlanta is still open?" (AP photo)

History lesson: Georgia Tech fired Chan Gailey after he lost to Georgia in 2007. It settled on Paul Johnson of Navy as his replacement and hasn’t been sorry. Johnson beat Georgia in his first season and won the ACC title, since vacated, in his second.

In sum: Good hire.

That said, there was another candidate who could have been described as the runner-up and of whom a few impressed Tech insiders would say later, “We hired the right person, but that other guy’s going to do well in his next job.”

That other guy: Rick Neuheisel.

He’s about to get fired at UCLA.

Tech liked Johnson because he seemed to fit the Institute. (Again, can’t argue that.) Tech was impressed by Neuheisel because he’s smart and innovative — not that Johnson isn’t — and glamorous. He played quarterback at UCLA and won the Rose Bowl, tutored Troy Aikman as an assistant coach, won as Colorado’s head coach and won the Rose Bowl coaching Washington. But the part about Neuheisel that made Tech uneasy was his background.

Nearly four years after he left Colorado for Washington, Neuheisel was hit with an eight-month NCAA recruiting ban for violations committed while coaching the Buffaloes. That was strange. Far stranger was the revelation that he’d broached another NCAA regulation by entering and winning an NCAA basketball tournament pool. This, eventually, prompted Washington to fire him.

Neuheisel at first denied his pool winnings, then said he’d been given permission by Washington to enter. The whole thing got so confusing that he filed a wrongful-termination suit against the NCAA and Washington and wound up settling for $4.5 million. Another win! (FYI, Neuheisel has his law degree.)

In 2007, Neuheisel was the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens but was looking to get back into college football. Tech didn’t hire him that winter, but his alma mater did. This was a huge story in Los Angeles. Neuheisel spoke boldly of unseating Southern Cal and Pete Carroll and went so far as to hire Norm Chow, the coordinator who’d coached Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart to Heismans at USC. But nothing much has gone right for the Bruins since.

Chow was bought out with two years’ remaining on his contract — seems he and Neuheisel couldn’t get along — and UCLA went 4-8, 7-6 and 4-8. On Thursday they lost 48-12 to Arizona, which had just fired coach Mike Stoops, to fall to 3-4. (The game was enlivened, if that’s the word, by a players’ brawl ignited by, of all things, a fake referee who started ripping off his clothes.)

Afterward Neuheisel told reporters: “My argument is that I’m absolutely the right guy for the job.”

The best Dan Guerrero, the UCLA athletic director, could offer was that he wasn’t going to fire Neuheisel over the weekend.

Maybe it would have been different for Neuheisel at Tech. Maybe he’d have charmed and disarmed this big city and the ACC. (That approach hasn’t exactly worked in a bigger city or the Pac-12, we must note.) On the strength of 3 1/2 seasons you’d have to say Dan Radakovich’s instincts served him well: Rick Neuheisel was a good guy to interview; Paul Johnson was absolutely the right guy for this job.

By Mark Bradley

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[...] read full news Published: Fri, 21 Oct 2011 15:01 Tags: Thinking back: What if Tech had hired Neuheisel over PJ? (VIDEO) [...]

DawginLex

October 21st, 2011
11:03 am

With recruiting limitations, you have to find a niche to coach at Tech. The TO is the niche and Johnson does it better than anyone.

Neuheisel would have been a bigger disaster that Gailey.

That being said Mark, Kentucky needs to hire Jeff Monken for 2012 after GA Southern wins the FCS title this year.

Joker is in WAY over his head and KY will never recruit players comparable to Bama, florida, LSU and Georgia

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 21st, 2011
11:06 am

So far, so good. ” GO JACKETS “

GT Joe

October 21st, 2011
11:07 am

Lex, can the SEC handle a TO offense at Kentucky if Monken comes over? I’d love to see it.

George Stein

October 21st, 2011
11:08 am

Tech dodged a huge bullet.

DawginLex

October 21st, 2011
11:09 am

They gotta do something. They are pathetic. The d is actually not bad but when you play 90 snaps and your offense scores 3 points, not too much motivation left.

awbuzz

October 21st, 2011
11:12 am

Well done Mark. Don’t think you’ll get many arguments over this one. :-)

juvenal

October 21st, 2011
11:15 am

“argue that he has” NOT?

Captain America

October 21st, 2011
11:16 am

..well, it they had hired Neuhiesel, they probably would’ve lost to UVA last week. Oh wait…

GT Joe

October 21st, 2011
11:17 am

I gotta say, i was a BIG Neuheisel supporter for the tech job…

After CPJ got hired, it took me about 24 hours to warm up to him…now, there is no coach I’d rather have in the country, college or pro.

That said, it’s hard to say if Neuheisel would be more or less successful than CPJ at GT. Don’t really know the whole situation going on at UCLA, the guy has won at a lot of places…

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 21st, 2011
11:17 am

Would like to see Tech’s passing offense, #105 in nation, catch up to it’s rushing offense, #2 in nation. Make it happen, coach.

Doug the Jacket

October 21st, 2011
11:18 am

you include “vacated” in every article.

GT Joe

October 21st, 2011
11:19 am

I’m all for a triple option offense in the “big boy” conference. Just to shut folks up once and for all about that “high school offense”. I hope Monken gets to UK… I’d tune in to their games actually. Just like I’ll watch Navy play some games.

GT Joe

October 21st, 2011
11:22 am

Thing about Neuheisel, he has the name recognition to go head to head with schools like Bama, Florida, LSU for major recruits. I think the talent level would be higher at Tech if Neuheisel was HC, but can he actually coach them?

I’ll take slightly lesser talent and better coaching any day with CPJ at Tech.

Tech Guy

October 21st, 2011
11:23 am

With a name like Neuheisel, you gotta be wierd.

ty webb

October 21st, 2011
11:23 am

They’d have just as many ACC championships…that’s none, by the way.

Foothills

October 21st, 2011
11:25 am

Not saying that it has anything to do with Neuheisel’s job performance ( It dosen’t) but I recently heard some talking heads speaking of UCLAs lousy facilities. They have fallen far back in the Pac in desired destinations of high school recruits on the left coast. Wow! Jeff Monkin @ Kentucky could be a scary thought for the SEC least.

icedawg

October 21st, 2011
11:26 am

Na, na na. Johnson was the best hire.

T3

October 21st, 2011
11:27 am

GT has Paul Johnson.
GT is a highly-regarded and internationally recognized, top-tier university.

AJC has Mark Bradley.
The AJC is tripe and useful only as a fish-wrapper

That is all the comparison you need.

PigIron

October 21st, 2011
11:32 am

Doug the Jacket
October 21st, 2011
11:18 am

you include “vacated” in every article.

That’s the typical result when a championship is vacated. Honest journalists won’t go out of their way to pretend that it didn’t happen.

John

October 21st, 2011
11:33 am

Love ty webb’s comment. Hilarious!

PigIron

October 21st, 2011
11:33 am

GT Joe
October 21st, 2011
11:19 am

I’m all for a triple option offense in the “big boy” conference.

They already did that – back in the 1970’s.

Henry D.

October 21st, 2011
11:34 am

Way to go T3, except you gorgot to mention Schultz as well.

George Stein

October 21st, 2011
11:34 am

You really told us, ty webb.

Henry D.

October 21st, 2011
11:35 am

That would be Forgot!

Just Old GT Fan

October 21st, 2011
11:35 am

Good article. Dan R nice work.

John

October 21st, 2011
11:35 am

It’s sad when the mark of greatness is when someone beats Georgia one time.

GTfan

October 21st, 2011
11:39 am

Agree 100%..Johnson will get it done..if D don’t improve CPJ will be looking for new DC.

Punch Them In The Face

October 21st, 2011
11:41 am

He wouldn’t have been near as classy.

KeepDreaming

October 21st, 2011
11:42 am

Dawg fans and the Dawg nation THANK Dan R. for the hire! Richt and the DAWGS have OWNED CPJ!!!!

WE RUN THIS STATE NERDS!

Sad to Say It

October 21st, 2011
11:42 am

Now that the ACC refs have figured out that CPJ’s offense is built around the strategy of keeping the refs from seeing chop blocks and holds, the offense is about to become really stagnant.

Dawglasville

October 21st, 2011
11:44 am

DawginLex – I think that the love you have been shown by the Tech base in very encouraging. I had them turn on me before the Maryland game even after I had said they could go 10 – 2. All I did was point out the obvious that the last 5 games would be the only true test for them and I got labeled a troll by a few. I guess I should have thicker skin. It’s only football for pete’s sake.

GT07

October 21st, 2011
11:45 am

Its not a mark of greatness to beat UGA 1 time, just that Neuheisel wouldn’t have done it that year.

George Stein

October 21st, 2011
11:45 am

So two of three is your definition of own, KeepDreaming?

And you’re right, Sad to Say it. Whatever will we do!

PigIron

October 21st, 2011
11:46 am

@John

“It’s sad when the mark of greatness is when someone beats Georgia one time.”

I know! Especially when it’s a Georgia team whose “mark of greatness” is barely escaping Vandy with a W.

George Stein

October 21st, 2011
11:47 am

We didn’t all turn, Dawglasville.

DawginLex

October 21st, 2011
11:51 am

I just call it like i see it

It is sad though that I spend way more time arguing with some of my dawg brethren than i do arguing with Tech folks.

Thomas Brown, I’m calling you out

Dawglasville

October 21st, 2011
11:53 am

Oh, playing the Lions reminds me of this. When we talk about how 4 and 5 star recruits don’t matter think about this. What if Georgia would have gotten Calvin Johnson instead of Tech? It worked out fine for him.(That is in spite of Gailey and Ball). Richt has some huge years while Johnson was at Tech. He would have played with Green, who for a brief period was the winningest qb is NCAA history. I think he would have made the difference in a couple of the loses we had during those years. I know what you guys are saying about coaching being more important than stars, but sometimes it does matter.

High School

October 21st, 2011
11:55 am

You got a great High School coach, well done!

eddie lee

October 21st, 2011
11:56 am

Mark ,the better question is what if Tech had hired Jim Grobe instead of Chan Gailey….Grobe was available and was mentioned as a candidate only briefly. Grobe worked miracles at Ohio U and is wining at Wake. Glad we have PJ but the Chan hire still torments me.

GT Fan

October 21st, 2011
12:00 pm

UGA fans on here…

PJ’s team in ranked in a weaker conference. UGA is unranked in a stronger conference who should get the benefit of the doubt, but UGA just sucks too bad to get any benefit. UGA is the defeater of the unranked teams, but they can’t hang with ranked teams.

At least UNC was ranked when GT played them this year.

[...] OPINION: CANZANO: Let’s Hope BCS Trainwreck Leads To Change POLZIN: Undefeated Season No Guarantee Of BCS title Shot HENDERSON: A Plus-One Is The Best Way To Crown A National Champion GUILBEAU: Suspensions, Distractions, Policies, LSU Beats Them All DODD: Wisconsin Ready For Hard-Nosed Game Against Michigan St. EVANS: Snyder Brewing A 2nd K-State Revival SIMERS: Little Doubt About Neuheisel’s Future STAPLES: Cousins Has Beaten Odds To Become Face Of Big Ten COHEN: How Wisconsin Imported A Quarterback BRADLEY: What if Ga. Tech Had Hired Neuheisel Over Johnson? [...]

Jackets 2011

October 21st, 2011
12:03 pm

@DawginLex.
That’s a common problem in Dawgville.
Your grads are driven crazy daily by the “thinking” in the group that never attended or flunked out.
A lot of them give up arguing with fools.
I’ll give u credit for fighting the good fight.
CPJ is OK but I am not happy with us losing in 2009.
With that many pros, we sure must have stunk at some positions or had the dumbest D coordinator.

QB/DB

October 21st, 2011
12:05 pm

I think the DAWGS not hiring Manny Diaz BUT Grantham was big! Diaz is a wiz. The Falcons hire Smith lesser known then others. GT going with Al Groh at DC instead of the guys on staff like Rick Smith or St. Jean-Mary

Jackets 2011

October 21st, 2011
12:09 pm

@Dawglasville.
I wondered about that too.
If Tech had dropped football or not gotten CJ.
Course my reason for thinking about it was to point out how we prevented Uga from a NC since we have been unable to on the field.
Gailey probably knows football but he was a deer in the headlights every arch rival game.
Should have paid him less and used the savings on a better O coordinator than the Auburn guy.

Jackets 2011

October 21st, 2011
12:10 pm

There is a Dawg divide over Grantham.
The grads are disgusted for the most part.
At least the ones over thirty.
The fringe thinks Grantham is the man.

Jackets 2011

October 21st, 2011
12:14 pm

@eddie lee.
Agreed.
I’ve wondered who Chan grew up pulling for in Americus. (Uga, FSU, Auburn or Bama.
It wasn’t Tech, I’m sure.
I would not have hired him or Bill Lewis, longtime Uga assistant who children still pulled for dawgs.
Neither ever beat Uga once.

Sad to Say It

October 21st, 2011
12:15 pm

Dawglasville:

Instead of thinking about how UGA would’ve done with CJ, think about how matt stafford would’ve done if he had gone somewhere other than UGA.
You know he would’ve won conference championships if not national championships if he had gone to at least three other schools in the SEC.

Dawglasville

October 21st, 2011
12:23 pm

Sad to Say It – Very possible. Stafford suffered with a terrible offensive line and a star receiver who couldn’t stay healthy. I’m a big fan of Richt but he certainly has his faults. He shares some of the blame as well. That said, I would have liked to have seen CJ with Green and Richt when he had control of the offense.

Jackets 2011

October 21st, 2011
12:24 pm

If Bradley would just join Schultz in picking the Canes, we would be a lock to win.
With the groin hitter suspended at nose tackle, Sims ought to be able to run up the middle.
We need to get more out of the B back dive.
I sure miss Dwyer getting the yardage at B Back.