Sunday, December 09, 2007

What's Buzzin'

Thinking through how the coaching search and final tally ended, I have to say I am impressed. After clarifying the dollar value of Paul Johnson's contract, I'm even more impressed. PJ's contract was originally reported a $14M for 6 years, or about $2.3M per year. The day before I had written that I did not believe GT needed to match SMU's offer of $2.0 - $2.2M. We all know that GT is a better job than SMU or Duke. I was also banking on PJ's competitive spirit.

When I heard $2.3M per year, a part of me was disappointed in both PJ and D-Rad. However, when it was later clarified that the contract was for 7 years and "a little more than $11M", my faith was strengthened on two fronts. First, it clearly tells me that PJ truly is about the winning. He is truly interested in championships and not about the mighty dollar.

Check out what his AD at Navy had to say the day he learned PJ was resigning from Navy:

This is a job that Paul just wanted to take. It’s not a matter of anything we can do. We have already, over the last six years, expressed what the academy is all about. It has nothing to do with money. In the meantime, the overwhelming amount of emotion and support that was expressed as recently as the Army-Navy game was fresh on his mind. There’s not much you can say when you’ve been part of something as special as that… you can feel it, you can sense it, you can understand it because you’ve lived it. That experience, coupled with hours of discussion and rationalizing why he should stay, his justifying why he should stay or why he should leave. It all boils down, in my mind, to one thing: Paul has a personal ambition to prove to the college football community that he can succeed at the highest level. He believes the (Georgia Tech) job is the highest level. I happen to believe there is not a better job in the country than the one here at the United States Naval Academy. But we can debate that. This is about Paul. It’s not about houses or cars or dollars or total packages; it’s not about Annapolis or the beauty of the neighborhood; it’s not about the support, encouragements and enthusiasm of the fleet; it’s not about an institutional commitment from the Naval Academy. It’s about an ambition. Paul has to take his expertise and compete in a different arena. And I respect that, I truly do. I know Paul had a number of opportunities and I told him, this is the one I can understand. The other situations didn’t make sense. In his mind, this is about professional advancement. It ultimately boils down to what Paul Johnson wants for Paul Johnson and Paul wants that challenge. I can respect and appreciate that.

Reading that combined with his updated salary figures tells me a lot about Paul Johnson the man. You know, people will joke that we were only competing with SMU and Duke for the guy. However, this guy has had hundreds of opportunities to leave and he could have been at a high profile school already if he wanted. Make no mistake about that. Hey, while every coach in the country has a "" registered with their name, there aren't many coaches that have". PJ has two of those:

Now, in terms of deal-making, knowing that we were able to get PJ for about $1.6M per year strengthens my faith in Dan Radakovich. I said the day before we heard the numbers that we should not have to match SMU to get this guy........ and we didn't. We got him for lower than the going rate for BCS coaches, which seems to start at about $1.8M these days. So kudos to D-Rad for being prudent, playing his cards right, and getting the guy he wanted. Kudos to PJ for proving that you really are about the championships and winning games.

By the way, as we watch the public humiliation resulting from the hiring processes at Arkansas and Michigan, I can't help but say to myself - our guy did quite a job on this one. D-Rad fired Coach Gailey on a Monday and 11 days later announced he had hired his guy and he is one that fans have gotten excited about. Props to D-Rad.

By the way, Paul Johnson was NOT the highest paid employee in the federal gov. He was not an employee of the government, but an employee of the NAAA - their athletic dept - a private org.

If you follow any of the discussion boards, you are going to read so many rumors your head will spin. However, here's a fact - people just flat out lie to feel important. Then someone on another site reports that same news as if they broke it to feel important. The truth is that there is a lot of factual information that gets reported on boards, but discerning fact from fiction is a challenge and mostly a useless exercise.

So over the next, then month, then year, you are going to hear a lot of stories and rumors about de-commits, transfers, coaching departures - you name it. Take 99% of it with a grain of salt. Then throw out the other 1%.

New news from Navy - it appears that their current DC Buddy Green will stay and that their other top assistant Irvin Jasper will stay as well and be promoted to Navy's OC. He would have been a good one to come to Tech as QB coach, but looks like he just got a promotion.

At this point, it appears only slot backs coach Jeff Monken, wide receivers
coach Brian Bohannon and offensive line coach Todd Spencer will bolt for Georgia

The coaching staff should become clearer this week. Don't get your hopes up that Coach Tenuta stays, although it is a possibility. Don't get your hopes us that Giff Smith stays, although he probably will. Just don't get your hopes up too much about anything. It's a crazy life being an assistant coach, but we should know something pretty quick.

Apparently, PJ will be flying in Monday to the ATL, and will meet with the current Jackets staff. My guess is things will become clearer after that.

In addition, this is the last week for coaches to make off-campus visits, so PJ will be visiting key recruits this week.

So what is the attitude of our players as they prepare for the bowl game? I can't imagine that their focus is strong. Their world just got turned upside down and they finished finals. It had to be a crazy couple of weeks.

There is every reason to believe that the Jackets will get beat by Fresno State. ESPN talking heads all think so. What's it going to be ?

I had some interesting comments on Friday from fellow ACC people I work with. My former boss (Purdue grad but follows Clemson bigtime), came in to my office, shook my hand, and said "Congralations for having a team that will not accept anything less than the highest level of winning. He spouts off Tommy Bowdens record:

Years coached: 9
ACC title appearances: 0
ACC championships: 0
10 win seasons: 0
BCS Bowl appearances: 0
BCS Bowl wins: 0

He says "You guys just played for the ACC title last year and it wasn't good enough and you did something about it. You should be excited to root for a school like that". Now, what you have there is a frustrated Clemson fan.

Another Clemson grad was shaking his head a bit. While he thought PJ was a good hire, he can only imagine the guy moving the needle to maybe an average of 8 wins a year. Of course, an average of 8 could mean a few over 10. Of course, 8 wins a year sure means better bowls, and maybe, just maybe that extra win comes against you know who.

UGAg fans can't be feeling too good about the situation. They're not going to back down until we win a couple games against them (and rightly so). However, the guy who hasn't beat them in 6 years just left town. The applecart has been upset. Doesn't mean we'll win, but he sure can't do any worse and he has a nice track record against arch-rivals.

Well, as usual, you've got the "good cop, bad cop" routine.

Barndardt says PJ will get the job done - positive spin.
Bradley says PJ is the right fit for the Jackets- positive spin.

Then there is Jeff Schultz. I blasted a story he wrote a few weeks ago for spinning a scene in a lunchroom as a writing gimmick in order to convince Tech fans there was a spat between D-Rad and Gailey.

Then prior to Coach Gailey's firing, he wrote a story telling D-Rad to get on with it and let Gailey go - "What's left to evaluate? Make a decision and move on" he wrote.

Then after the firing, Schultz writes a story blasting the search process, blasting the candidates and shadowing the search as a desparate process to get anyone to even talk to the hiring committee:

The best-laid plans of Radakovich were supposed to go like this: Fire Chan
Gailey and quickly hire a replacement who would create excitement, buzz and
hope. Instead, the Georgia Tech athletics director may have been hit over the
head with the realization that the Yellow Jackets coaching job really isn’t all
that. Or any of that.

After painting Randy Edsell's departure from the process as a slap in the face, he says this about Paul Johnson:

Nothing against Paul Johnson. But he is just Paul Johnson. He is with Navy and
he was at Georgia Southern. That’s it. That’s the resume.

Then he makes it clear that there will be no buzz from Tech fans if PJ is hired:

The irony of waiting on Johnson is that he really doesn’t even fit the prototype
Radakovich laid out two weeks ago at his news conference. Johnson might be a
terrific football coach. But the buzz would have to come later, after the
winning. There’s no sense that the name or the personality of Paul Johnson is
going to sell.

I think it's clear he was wrong. There is buzz. Lots of buzz. It will always take winning to grow the buzz to the next level. Always. But Jeff, the fanbase seems pretty excited wouldn't you say?

Oh, but he's not done. Turns out PJ is hired, and Jeff sees the buzz and he knows he was wrong. However, instead of admitting his mistake he writes this little diddy, with his basic point being - hey, there's always excitement for a new coach when his record is 0-0. Get back to me after he's coached some games. Jeff basically sees it as his job to piss on the Jacket parade. Hey Jeff, thanks for this great insight and revelation:

Smiles. Applause. Hope. This is the way it works on hiring day. A coach is coming off resounding success elsewhere, then walks into the news conference at his next job, looking, sounding, and certainly is introduced as the cure for all that ails you.

Then comes the first game, and the smiles and applause either continue, or the opening kickoff bounces off your returner’s head, at which time the guy who made the hiring crawls under the nearest buffet table.

Meet Paul Johnson. Perfect choice. Start the clock.

Hey Jeff, thanks a bunch. Because if it weren't for you, we would've just stayed in our fantasy driven stupor, dreaming of national championships and titles. Thanks, because none of us really realized that winning games was important. Thanks for reminding us that results count and that he must win games to be successful. I totally forgot that.

For some reason, you just see your role as a writer to rain on our parade, to be the grumpy gus, to piss in our cornflakes. Oh, but you make sure to do it in a way that you think lets you off the hook. Heck, you even tried to use that angle in that latest article:

While Johnson wrestled with his next career move Thursday, I wrote about the Jackets’ protracted coaching search. It seemed odd that a Navy football coach would balk at taking the job, given his options: SMU, Duke, Navy. Predictably, the column struck a nerve in AngryBlogNation. There never was a suggestion that Tech shouldn’t hire Johnson, or that he could not or would not win. He gets what all new coaches get — a blank slate.

Jeff, what's predictable is that you are not using those journalism skills to do anything other than rile up the GT fanbase. If it was so predictable that you would anger blog nation, then why did you do it? Why did you blastr PJ's resume? Why did you do it?

You say PJ's only options were SMU, Duke and GT. Those are the ones you know about. What about the ones in prior years? What about all the ones you never heard about in the media.

What about the fact in the end, PJ took a lot less money than both SMU and Duke offered? Why didn't you pick the angle that I started this column with - that PJ took the GT job for less money because he was interested in one thing - championships. Isn't it noteworthy that he took less money? Doesn't that impress you? Wouldn't that make a good angle?

I guess at the end of the day, once again, you're trying to sell papers, and somehow that involves stirring things up. In that regard, you are one succesful journalist. Zero facts. Zero insight. Zero quotes. Lots of BS. Congrats. Grab your paycheck and look for the next opprotunity. I would say there's probably plenty of good material with Coach Hewitt. Maybe you could kick off the anti-Hewitt campaign. I mean, I bet you've seen D-Rad and Coach Hewitt pass each other in a hallway without smiling. Surely that must mean something? Let us know what you think.

Not sure why I wasted so much time on that, but it's done. I think I'll go take a shower. I feel dirty.