As Georgia Tech football enters their bye week for the 2018 season, they sit 3-4 on the season with just one game remaining on their schedule that should be a victory, with games against Virginia Tech, Miami, and Georgia left, the Jackets could be facing a second straight season with no bowl appearance.
Last week, we presented to you, our bold predictions for Georgia Tech for the rest of the season. Just a few days later, and we can trash those bold predictions since Georgia Tech’s 28-14 loss to Duke on Saturday took care of most of the predictions. The only prediction that can still stand is that the Georgia Tech defense will see a vast improvement.
To be fair, to Nate Woody and his defense, they did a phenomenal job against Duke when they weren’t given the short field to work with. Outside of Duke first possession, the Yellow Jackets were strong when they had some cushion behind them.
That being said, the most important story to come out of Saturday’s loss to Duke was that the Jackets are now on the verge of missing a bowl game for the third time in four seasons. With the loss to Duke, the Yellow Jackets sit at 3-4 with five games remaining. Left on that schedule is Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, Virginia, and Georgia.
Out of those five games, only one game is a game you can point to and say the Yellow Jackets can and should win. That game is North Carolina. Though ESPN’s FPI believes the Jackets should also defeat Virginia later this season, giving them a 68.9% chance to do so. The Yellow Jackets full FPI percentages for the rest of the season are the following;
- @ Virginia Tech: 35.4%
- @ North Carolina: 73.4%
- vs Miami: 38.0%
- vs Virginia: 68.9%
- @ Georgia: 8.8%
The point, however, is with five games remaining, the Yellow Jackets will be considerable underdogs in three of their remaining five games. If the Jackets go the predicted 2-3 in that stretch, it will still only get them to 5-7 on the season.
With a 5-7 record, the Yellow Jackets wouldn’t be guaranteed a bowl game however if not enough teams qualify for the postseason, the Jackets may be fortunate enough to earn a bowl game spot but the chances are slim, to say the least. If the Jackets do fail to make a bowl game, it will be the first time since 1995 and 1996 that the Jackets have missed back-to-back bowl games, the first two full seasons of George O’Leary’s tenure.
For the Jackets administration, a third missed bowl game in four years will put them in a tough situation with head coach Paul Johnson. Johnson is without a doubt one of the best coaches in Georgia Tech’s history and is the best head coach the program has had since Bobby Dodd. That being said, missing three bowl games in four years around the country is usually not perceived well. At Georgia Tech, it may be a little different with an administration that doesn’t nearly stress athletic success as much as other major universities. But at the same time, the administration will need to fully take a step back and evaluate the program and its trajectory.
If the Yellow Jackets finish strong here down the stretch or even go the projected 2-3, Johnson’s status is most likely going to be fine heading into next season. It would be back-to-back seasons they missed a bowl game, but in both instances, just one more win would’ve gotten them to the bowl season, not that, that should count as an excuse but it will probably be good enough to get the job done.
But let’s say the Yellow Jackets collapse down the stretch going either winless or picking up one victory. If that happens, the Jackets would be looking at a four-year stretch of 3-9, 9-4, 5-6, and either 3-9 or 4-8. If that happens, Johnson’s seat would certainly be warm at the very least heading into next season.
For Johnson, the next five games may be the most important of his tenure at Georgia Tech. Over the course of the next five weeks, we may either see Paul Johnson earn himself the rest of his contract or we can begin to see the true downfall of his tenure on The Flats.
Either way, it’s going to be a hot topic around The Flats and Georgia Tech football fans everywhere. Has Paul Johnson run his course at Georgia Tech? Have the Yellow Jackets peaked under Johnson? So and so forth.
There’s no arguing that Johnson has brought consistency to Georgia Tech for the most part and great success outside of a few seasons but either way, the administration will need to evaluate Johnson and the football staff this offseason to decide just what the trajectory is for the program moving forward. If they believe that the program is going in the wrong direction, they may have to make a difficult decision of outing one of the best coaches in school history before the downslide turns into a tailspin for the program.