Tech Welcomes Paul Johnson
On Friday, Dec. 7, Tech Athletic Director Dan Radakovich announced that U.S. Naval Academy football coach Paul Johnson had accepted the position of the Yellow Jackets' new head football coach.
Johnson, who becomes the 12th head coach at the Institute, coached six successful years at Navy (45-29) and coached five seasons at Georgia Southern (62-10), winning back-to-back 1-AA National Championships in 1999 and 2000.
Radakovich described Johnson as the 'best fit, the best choice and the best man' for the position, after saying he had met with many qualified individuals during the last 10 days.
"President (Wayne) Clough and I are convinced that Johnson will be the steady leader, the principled teacher to our student-athletes and the point-producing conductor that will energize our fans and fill our game days with excitement," Radakovich said. He compared Tech's rigorous academic discipline to the Naval Academy's, and touted Johnson's achievement as one of four Division 1 coaches who won 50 games in four seasons. "He looks at his talent and maximizes it, using what it takes to win games."
Johnson, who was named the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year in 2004, thanked President Wayne Clough, Radakovich and his wife and daughter along with 'the entire Georgia Tech family' as he stood before the podium.
"It's truly humbling to be here," Johnson said. "When I met with the committee, it seemed like a match made in heaven. There's not another program I would have left the Academy for. From an academic standpoint, the two institutions are very similar. We're looking for the total package [in student athletes]."
Johnson faced the Atlanta press for roughly 20 minutes, answering questions on what offense will be used, how will he tackle recruiting and what members of Navy's coaching staff will come with him, as well as will he do what it takes to 'sell the program' and energize the fan base.
"I think that's all part of being a football coach at any major program," Johnson said. "The way to achieve [excitement for the program] is to win games. If you have a good program, people will come. If you win, people will leave excited."
Johnson said he will not be involved with Tech's appearance in the Humanitarian Bowl, nor will he be involved in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl where Navy will face Utah, citing that he was now Tech's coach and eager to 'hit the ground running' on Monday morning, where he listed his top priorities as [putting] together a top-flight staff, a top recruiting class, and meet with every player one-on-one.
"I want to get in touch with the committed recruits, and sit with the recruiting coordinator and look at the board." While he touted Tech as an institution with the ability to recruit on the national level, he said the state of Georgia would be the team's primary recruiting concern.
Johnson was an assistant coach at Navy prior to landing the head coaching position at Georgia Southern, and he was an offensive coordinator at the University of Hawaii from 1987 to 1994. At Navy, his team defeated rival Army six years in a row-the record number of consecutive wins from either team in their meetings.