Johnson: Tech ‘a special place’

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was named ACC coach of the year for the third time in seven years. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was named ACC coach of the year for the third time in seven years. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

In a lengthy news conference Tuesday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson addressed a number of topics, from quarterback Justin Thomas (“I trust him”) to adapting to the absence of wide receiver DeAndre Smelter (“I don’t expect the same thing out of Corey Dennis that I expect out of DeAndre Smelter. They’re two different guys.”) to the College Football Playoff (“there’s always a chance at anything.”)

He also spoke at considerable length about his comfort at Tech, the appeal it holds for him and his perspective on Tech’s positioning in the state and Southeast with respect to Georgia and the SEC. I don’t know that it’s anything most Tech fans would necessarily be surprised to hear, but I don’t know that I’ve heard him speak at such length about the topic.

1. “I think that there’s a point where you come to understand, let me say this the right way, I think Georgia Tech is a unique place and it’s a special place, and it has so many great attributes and positive attributes. That’s more what I try to do, is get our guys to embrace what we are more than worry about what somebody else is. You’re not going to be them. You’re not them. It’s not set up the same. The schools are not the same. The fan base isn’t the same. The number of people.

“Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t compete with them and beat them, but you’re not them, so instead of worrying about what everybody else has, we try to talk about embracing what we have. That’s just kind of the way I’ve tried to do it.”

2. “If having 92,000 at the game is a big deal to you, then you’re not going to come here. But if you want to come and play championship football at a high level and get a great education,  and experience a different type of deal, that’s what you’re going to get here. The two experiences are almost totally different.”

This is a practical and clever (and honest) way of approaching Tech’s attendance. Tech obviously will never have attendance even close to the typical SEC school. I don’t know if this is part of Johnson’s recruiting pitch, but I can see a prospect and his family being told this, and then having to wrestle with the following: Is it important? And if it is, why?

Playing in front of a crowd like that is a great experience, certainly, and there is obviously more to playing in the SEC than that, but what is the actual value of larger attendance?

3. Johnson was asked about the contract extension negotiations, and then if he planned to retire at Tech.

“Yeah, I enjoy coaching here. Like I said, I think the school has some unique things that I enjoy. I enjoy being around this type of kid. if you’re not serious about school, you’re not going to make it here. I think that we’ve got some really good student-athletes and for the last 13 years or so, that’s the kind of guys I’ve been around. I’ve said before, I think our guys are very similar to the kids at the academy in a lot of ways. And I think the places are similar in a lot of ways, more so than people realize sometimes, but yeah, I enjoy the players and I enjoy the school. It’s been good.”


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