Travis Haney of ESPN Insider is ranking the Power Five coaches in terms of job stability. Among the 14 ACC coaches, Haney rates Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson 12th — behind North Carolina State’s Dave Doeren and Boston College’s Steve Addazio, ahead of nobody else.
Note: This isn’t a ranking of the leagues best coaches; it’s a measure of how secure these coaches are in their current jobs. Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher is ranked 10th because Haney — and not just Haney — wonders if he’d leave for LSU should the Tigers get around to firing Les Miles this time.
As for Johnson: Nobody seriously thinks he’ll leave for another job. When you go 3-9, you’re no longer flavor of the month. Although it was, we must note, only 17 months ago that Johnson and Tech went 11-3 and won the Orange Bowl, an achievement flavorful enough to earn him a contract extension through 2020.
Haney on Johnson:
Other coaches have pointed out that Johnson’s patented option offense, not exactly the sexiest scheme out there, creates a narrower margin for error. “Fans like to see the ball in the air,” a Power Five coach once told Insider. This is an important, crossroads-type season for Georgia Tech.
I’m not sure Johnson would get fired even if Tech goes 3-9 again, not that I expect Tech to go 3-9 again. (I don’t expect it to go 11-3, either. I’d say 7-5 or thereabouts.) For the record, that contract extension included a buyout, but not a Paul-Hewitt-never-ending-buyout. As noted by esteemed colleague Ken Sugiura:
The new contract differs from the previous deal in that Johnson will not be paid the full value of the contract if he is fired. He would receive the full remaining value of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons, if terminated before then, but the buyout would be reduced to $1 million per season for the final three years.
When last we saw Johnson, he was grousing over his team’s performance in its spring game. Maybe you’d interpret that as a coach who’s feeling the pressure of a “crossroads-type season.” Or maybe you’d note that it’s Paul Johnson and he’s always miffed about something.