Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Night Buzz

Former GT All-American George Morris, an AA LB on the 1952 national championship team died today of a heart attack.

A lot of our coaches had nice things to say about Morris:

Dan Radakovich said. "From the very first day that I came to Georgia Tech he extended his hand of friendship and was always there to help and support the program. George loved Georgia Tech and always wanted what was best for Georgia Tech. He was one of our greatest ambassadors."

Bill Curry:
Tech player/head coach Bill Curry said. "Coach Dodd always told me and he never wavered from it: George Morris was the best football player that he ever coached. And George did everything he could do to live up to that legacy."

Chan Gailey:
"George was a great friend but he was more than that," Gailey said. "This is not just a great loss for Georgia Tech football. This is a great loss to the Institute."

George O'Leary
"Everybody knew George and everybody liked George," O'Leary said. "He lived life to the fullest. He was a great help to me."

Rest in peace Mr.Morris. You were a cherished member of the Tech community.

Well, the latest rumblings are that most of the offensive coaching staff has been let go. Not a surprise by any means, but certainly sad. Just the reality of life as a coach. In addition, some rumblings that Jon Tenuta won't be retained either. Face it, most of us think it would be great to have JT keep running the defense, but it just rarely happens with key players of an outgoing staff. Just a rarity. Here's a guy getting buzz as a possible DC.

Since the news of Coach Gailey's firing, schools have been descending on our recruits like white on rice. Some of the schools poaching the most include North Carolina, Alabama and Maryland. At the end of the day, there is nothing you can count on until signing day is over and done. It's going to be a wild ride with probably more disappointments than good news. That's just the reality of coaching changes.

In terms of recruits publicly confirming their verbal commitments, here's what is public:

QB Sean Renfree - no longer committed. Looking elsewhere
WR Chris Jackson - visited Alabama but says he's 100% committed to GT.
WR AJ Jenkins - had already decommitted prior to coaching change. Committed to Illinois last weekend.
RB Embry Peeples - still committed
C Nick McRae - talked to PJ, but unsure of commit; wants to meet PJ - MD, NCST called
SLB Malcolm Munroe - will wait to see if coaches BJ and Jeep Hunter are retained, then decide
S Brandon Leslie - says 100% committed
MLB TJ Pridemore - still committed, but waiting to see staff changes, SC, MD, TN, WV have called
CB Rashaad Reid - no word
CB Jon Lockhart - no word
S Cooper Taylor - no word
WLB Steven Sylvester - "shocked", listening to NCST, 'Bama, UNC
FB Richard Watson - still 100% committed, but says other schools haven't called
WLB B.J.Machen - no word
CB Kameron Riley - no word

It turns out that every major fanbase seems to have a a contingent of Paul Johnson fans who want him at their school. I've already documented the Nebraska and Clemson homages to PJ.

Turns out there is a Michigan guy who was so adament about hiring PJ he posted this incredible tribute to why he's the right guy for the Wolverines. Once he found out that GT snagged PJ while his Michigan AD was out windsurfing, he wrote this.

By most accounts, Paul Johnson wasn’t even among the list of 30 coaches who Martin wanted to talk to. Considering Michigan’s organizational arrogance, the
fact that it didn’t contact Johnson was no surprise. Georgia Tech did what Michigan was too afraid and small-minded to do, which was contact and then hire one of the best coaches in football. That concept—that truly revolutionary concept of hiring a great football coach—has apparently been lost on some. Georgia Tech didn’t beat Michigan to the punch like we saw LSU do in the Miles situation. Johnson didn’t shun Michigan like Greg Schiano did. For anything like that to have happened, Michigan would have needed to first show the competency necessary to even acknowledge Johnson’s existence. Michigan simply chose to ignore him. While the search has turned into a nightmare amongst the fan-base and alumni, Martin and Michigan always had the answer sitting right in front of them. As long as Johnson was available, Michigan’s search was never in danger. Just because the majority of the fan-base didn’t know it, didn’t make it any less true. Johnson was Michigan’s Jim Tressel or Urban Meyer—or more appropriately, a combination of the two. This search didn’t reach “inept” status in my mind until Georgia Tech proved to be more competent than Michigan. Sure, Michigan could’ve handled the Miles fiasco better. But, the situation never needed to be “Miles or bust.”

Meanwhile the dudes over at EBSBS gave GT their endorsement for hiring PJ. Then today there was this ode to our geekedness;

Here's another nice article on PJ:

Watching this guy run a program has been a treat. Johnson is a witty, no-nonsense, straight shooter who doesn’t hesitate to criticize players or himself. His organizational, game-planning, teaching and motivational skills were firmly in place the day he took the Navy job six years ago, following a ridiculous, 62-10 run at Division I-AA Georgia-Southern.

As head coach, offensive coordinator and play-caller at Navy, Johnson has always impressed me with the way he adjusts from quarter to quarter, series to series, play to play. So much of the Mids’ success has been predicated on putting the option in the quarterback’s well-schooled hands. But so much has involved Johnson’s ability to adjust and impose his will as an instinctive play caller unafraid to listen to his gut.

My favorite image of Johnson during his 43-19 run over the past five years is him standing on the sideline with arms folded, without a script, sometimes with his headset hanging around his neck, watching the game, reading the game, feeling the game.

Here's an interesting site on the Multiple Option Offense.

Here's an article written in Nov 2006 when UNC was looking for a new head coach. PJ's name came up in that search. Here's a quote from the new head coach at Navy, a PJ protoge:

"He's always been able to adjust to wherever he is ... and to whatever players he has," said Navy offensive line coach Ken Niumatalolo, who played quarterback at Hawaii in the late 1980s, when Johnson was an offensive coordinator there.

"He knows how to win."

In addition, PJ had this to say about his offense:

"What's great about this offense is that you can emphasize whatever best fits your people," Johnson said. "... If you've got a great quarterback, of course you're going to throw; that's what you do to win. If your personnel is better rushing the ball; that's what you do, because that's what you do to win."

It wasn't until Johnson was in his first stint at Georgia Southern, as a defensive line coach then offensive coordinator, that he visited Mouse Davis, considered the father of the run-and-shoot offense. After that, Johnson started incorporating run-and-shoot principles, mixed with option, into his offense.


"And that's kind of how it evolved, through the last 18 or 19 years," said Johnson, who is 33-24 in his fifth season at Navy. "Sometimes we'd throw the ball a lot; sometimes we ran. We just adapted to what what we had."

Here's what his brother had to say about his future (keep in mind this was last year):

Tim Johnson, however, said he doesn't think two I-AA championships ultimately will be enough for his brother, as much as he loves coaching the Midshipmen.

"At some point and time -- this year, next year, 10 years from now -- my guess is he wouldn't mind coaching at another level," said Tim Johnson, now the town manager for Belhaven.

He, too, declined to discuss his brother's possible interest in the UNC opening, but he added:

"I really believe if Paul had the talent that's at Carolina right now, they would definitely be going bowling this year ... and maybe playing for the ACC championship."

Maybe he's a little biased, he admitted, being a brother and all.

Then again, Tim Johnson still remembers those plays drawn in the mud four decades ago.

"You just knew then, he was meant to coach."

Meanwhile, here's a mutt-take on the hire.