Legacy Of Coach Paul Johnson
By Clenaure Carter
Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson began his head coaching career in 1997 at Georgia Southern. Johnson became a instant success, coaching the Eagles to six straight Southern Conference Championships (1997-2002) and collecting two I-AA National Championships (1999, 2000). The implementation of Johnson's triple-option offense turned the Georgia Southern Eagles into a prominent program. Johnson's career at Georgia Southern culminated in three trips to the I-AA National Championship and two National Championship victories.
Johnson rapidly became one of the most highly-regarded head coaches in the country, proving that he possessed the skills that most college programs coveted: the knack of turning college programs into gems and the ability to teach teenagers how to become productive young men on and off the field.
In 2002, Navy pursued Johnson after another successful season at Georgia Southern. In the two previous seasons prior to Johnson's arrival, Navy combined to post a 1-20 regular season record. Coach Johnson's influence at the Naval Academy was immediate. Implementing his famous triple spread option offense in Annapolis, Navy went from annual doormat to post a 10-2 season in 2004, tying the 1905 school record for most wins in a season . Johnson's famed triple spread offense caught fire as Navy produced the third-best rushing attack in the nation. Johnson won the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year Award, a signal that he was truly a premiere college football coach.
After the 2006 season, Georgia Tech made one of the greatest decisions in Yellow Jacket football history bringing a proven winner into the Flats. Some may find it ironic that after winning the Coach of the Year award in 2004 Johnson would be walking through the doors of Bobby Dodd Stadium to rebuild the program. Johnson's career at Georgia Tech displayed immediate promise as he garnered two ACC Coach of the Year Awards and was named 2008 National Coach of the Year by CBS Sports. In 2009, Georgia Tech participated in their first BCS Bowl game and won the ACC Championship over Clemson which was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions. While sanctions were levied, no one could doubt Yellow Jackets football was reborn as the Jackets unofficially finished the 2009 season 11-3.
Under Johnson's guidance, the Yellow Jackets have mastered the high-octane triple spread option. One of the greatest displays of mastery came on a crisp Autumn night in Chapel Hill, N.C., when the Yellow Jackets unleashed a 68-point barrage against the North Carolina Tar Heels. While the Yellow Jackets surrendered 50 points on defense, the two programs combined for an ACC record 118 points.
Georgia Tech's offense finished the regular season averaging a school-record 40.0 points per game versus ACC opponents. Johnson's offense produced school records with 6,175 total yards and 4,357 rushing yards. Sensational quarterbacks Tevin Washington and Vad Lee rushed for more than 1,200 yards.
The media predicted the Yellow Jackets to finish fourth in the ACC Coastal Division. Instead the Jackets participated in both the ACC Championship Game and the Hyundai Sun Bowl, defeating Lane Kiffin's University of Southern California Trojans, 21-7. It was possibly the biggest non-conference win in Johnson's tenure as head coach of the Yellow Jackets.
This season promises more of the excitement and growth we have seen since Coach Johnson's arrival at Georgia Tech.
OAug. 31 vs. Elon 12:00 p.m. EST (ESPN 3)