Winning seems to be the cure for what ails disgruntled fans of a sports team. Without “W’s” being posted coaches get burned in the effigy, and every loss adds a letter to spell out the name of the coach on the imaginary pink slip in the mind of unhappy fans.
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Wins however erase the letters off the virtual pink slip and begin to ingratiate the coach into the good graces of his teams fanbase, if the coach really cared what the fans thought in the first place.
Thus was the case for Paul Johnson going into 2014. Everyone knows that they either heard the complaints, or uttered them from their own mouths.
“This offense is a high school offense and can’t win big games!”
“How do we expect to be able to recruit with the big boys playing this style of football?”
“The Yellow Jackets are just satisfied with making mediocre bowl games and nothing will change until Paul Johnson goes!”
Do any of those statements sound familiar? Were those statements something that maybe you said at the sports bar when conversing about the state of Georgia Tech football?
It would have been understandable given that it appeared the program was regressing. After the last time the Yellow Jackets had double-digit wins in 2009, Tech was barely scraping bowl eligibility.
But winning cures all, and that is what happened in 2014. The wins that Coach Johnson helped provide along with his team silenced a bunch of critics.
The fact that the team was picked to finish fifth in the Coastal Division this season does add to how great this season truly was for the Jackets. But the way that the Jackets competed every week under Johnson is what really stuck out.
If you put aside the appearance in the ACC Championship, and the Coastal Division Title, that thanks to North Carolina came to the Flats, there was a strong argument that the hot seat that Paul Johnson was supposed to be on should have been extinguished anyway.
Georgia Tech being in contention all season and the way that the team was responding and improving every week should have been enough.
When the smoke cleared Georgia Tech racked up the second most rushing yards in the nation at 4,337 total yards. Tech also averaged the third most yard per game at 333.6 yards per game.
The Yellow Jackets had seven players recognized on the All-ACC Team.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Thomas had the eighth best QBR in the nation at 79.3 and Tech’s defense ranked 11th nationally in interceptions with 17.
When it was all said and done Georgia Tech finished the season with a 10-3 record and berth in the Orange Bowl. Oh yeah, and Johnson was voted “ACC Coach of the Year” by both the media and coaches.
All of that is definitely worth the investment in Johnson that the administration made when they gave him a 4-year contract extension through 2020.
So much for that hot seat right?
It looked like Paul Johnson had this thing under control the whole time; well until the Jackets win six and seven games again, then the cardboard cutouts of Johnson will be lit on fire and the playing “H-O-R-S-E” with the pink slip will start again.