Paul Johnson
File:Paul johnson gt.jpg
Johnson on the sidelines facing Clemson in 2008
Current position
TitleHead coach
TeamGeorgia Tech
Biographical details
Born (1957-08-20) August 20, 1957 (age 62)
Newland, North Carolina
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Lees–McRae (OC)
Georgia Southern (DL)
Georgia Southern (OC)
Hawaii (OC)
Navy (OC)
Georgia Southern
Georgia Tech
Head coaching record
Tournaments14–3 (I-AA playoffs)
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
2 Division I-AA (1999–2000)
5 SoCon (1997–2001)
1 ACC (2009)
3 ACC Coastal Division (2008, 2009, 2012)
Eddie Robinson Award (1998)
2x AFCA Division I-AA Coach of the Year (1999–2000)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (2004)
2x SoCon Coach of the Year (1997–1998)
2x ACC Coach of the Year (2008–2009)

Paul Johnson (born August 20, 1957) is an American football coach. He is currently the head coach at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a position he has held since the 2008 season.[1]

Previously, Johnson served as the head coach at Georgia Southern University from 1997 to 2001 and at the United States Naval Academy from 2002 to 2007. Johnson's Georgia Southern Eagles won consecutive NCAA Division I-AA Football Championships in 1999 and 2000.

He is noted for his use of the triple option style of offense.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science in physical education from Western Carolina University in 1979, where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order.[3] He did not play college football.[2] He also earned a Master of Science in health and physical education from Appalachian State University in 1982.

Johnson was initially an assistant football coach at Avery County High School in Newland, North Carolina[3] before starting his college career at Georgia Southern University in 1983, where he served as offensive coordinator for consecutive NCAA Division I-AA National Football Championships teams in 1985 and 1986. From 1983-1986 they would win 40 games and score 619 points in 15 games in 1986.[4] Those teams were led by QB Tracy Ham who would go on to be a successful QB in the Canadian Football League.

He then spent eight seasons as offensive coordinator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa from 1987 to 1994. Their offense averaged 372 points scored per season during his 8 years there and won 54 games.[5] While at Hawaii he would coach future collegiate head coach Ken Niumatalolo. In 1992 they would finish with their best record in school history at 11-2, including a win in the Holiday Bowl over the University of Illinois. They would also win the Western Athletic Conference title that season.

In 1995 and 1996, he served as the offensive coordinator at the United States Naval Academy and brought his option offense with him. In 1996, Navy recorded its first winning season in 14 years, going 9–3 with a victory in the Aloha Bowl. Their 9-3 record was the best since 1978 and their 392 points scored were the most in school history up to that point.[6]

Johnson began his head coaching career by returning to Georgia Southern, which he led from 1997 through 2001. During his tenure, the Eagles captured the Division I-AA National Championship twice more in 1999 and 2000, and finished as runners-up in 1998. During his tenure as HC they finished with a record of 62-10 (86.1% winning rate).[7] He was also instrumental in developing RB Adrian Peterson who would go on to be drafted by the Chicago Bears.

Johnson is one of only four coaches to record 50 wins in their first four seasons as head coach at the Division I level.[8]


File:US Navy 040904-N-9693M-010 U.S. Naval Academy football team head coach Paul Johnson sends the teams next play in with Midshipman 1st Class Lionel Wesley.jpg

In 2002, Johnson departed Georgia Southern and returned to Navy as head coach. Johnson's initial season saw the Midshipmen win only 2 of 12 contests, though the season ended on a high note with his first victory over Army. Subsequently, Johnson's teams enjoyed a high degree of success. The 2003 team completed the regular season with an 8–4 mark, including wins over both Air Force and Army, and earned a berth in the Houston Bowl, Navy's first bowl game since 1996. However, the Midshipmen lost to Texas Tech, 38–14. In 2004, Johnson's team posted the program's best record since 1957, finishing the regular season at 9–2 and once again earning a bowl berth, this time in the Emerald Bowl. There Johnson coached the Midshipmen to a win over New Mexico, 34–19, the fifth bowl win in the school's history. The win gave Navy 10 wins on the season, tying a school record that had stood since 1905. For his efforts, Johnson received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. The 2005 Navy squad recorded a mark of 8–4, highlighted by victories over Army, Air Force, and Colorado State in the inaugural Poinsettia Bowl. In 2007, Johnson coached the Midshipmen to their first win over rival Notre Dame since 1963, winning 46–44 in triple-overtime.

Johnson dominated the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy competition, going 11–1 (.917) in his six years, with the only loss against another service academy coming at the hands of Air Force in his first season. He is the only coach in Navy's history to go 6–0 in his first six seasons against Army, and his 2006 senior class was the first in Navy history to win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy all four of their years.

Much of Johnson's success was predicated on his triple option flexbone offense, a run-oriented attack that led NCAA Division I-A/FBS football in rushing yards three of his last four years at Navy. Some[who?] have criticized the triple option as an antiquated, unbalanced system unfit for major college football, which may have explained the reluctance of some top programs to offer him a position despite his accomplishments at both Georgia Southern and Navy. Johnson rebutted this argument in numerous press conferences and interviews, asserting that several top teams, including 2005 national champion Texas and 2006 national champion Florida, used various forms of the option. In 2008, Johnson told ESPN's Mark Schlabach, "If we can run it against Boston College at Navy, why can't we run it against Boston College at Georgia Tech? If we can beat Pitt with this system at Navy, why can't we beat Pitt at Georgia Tech? Are we going to get worse players at Georgia Tech?"[9]

Georgia TechEdit

On December 7, 2007, Johnson accepted the head coaching job at the Georgia Institute of Technology.[1][10] Johnson, who came to Georgia Tech in December after a six-year tenure at Navy, inherited a young roster with reduced numbers because of an NCAA probation. Only 76 players were on scholarship, below the maximum of 85, including three senior walk-ons who were awarded scholarships prior to the start of the season. The roster included 75 freshmen and sophomores; 16 of 22 starters were underclassmen.[1][11] Sports Illustrated predicted Johnson's first Yellow Jacket team would win three games and finish fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.

In 2008, Johnson led the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to a 9–4 record.[2] Georgia Tech was 6–1 at home in games played at Bobby Dodd Stadium and 4–2 against ranked opponents, including three wins in November against Florida State, Miami, and Georgia. Georgia Tech, ranked 14th in the BCS standings and 15th in the AP Poll, finished the regular season with a 9–3 record. Though they tied for first place in their division with a 5–3 conference record, the Yellow Jackets failed to advance to the ACC Championship Game by virtue of an early-season loss to eventual ACC champion, Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech accepted a bid to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, where they were defeated by LSU, 38–3.

Johnson's 2008 Georgia Tech team featured one first-team All-American (Michael Johnson), the ACC Player of the Year (Jonathan Dwyer), and eight first team, second team, and honorable mention All-ACC selections.[12] On December 2, 2008, Johnson was tabbed as ACC Coach of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA). He said, "This is an honor for the football program at Georgia Tech, the coaching staff and the players. There are a lot of great coaches in the ACC, so it's humbling to win such a prestigious honor."[13] Johnson was also named 2008 National Coach of the year by on the same day.

In 2009, Johnson led the Yellow Jackets to an 11–3 record, including the school's first win at Florida State in school history, and a victory over #4 Virginia Tech in Atlanta, which broke a 17-game home losing streak to top five opponents, and the program's first win over Virginia in Charlottesville since 1990.[14] After a defeat at the hands of Miami in the third week of the season, Georgia Tech won its next eight games, rising as high as #7 in the AP Poll, before losing to unranked rival Georgia in Atlanta to end the regular season. Georgia Tech finished a league-best 7–1 in ACC play and defeated Clemson in the ACC Championship Game for the school's first outright conference championship since 1990. This current title has been vacated by the NCAA for rules violations, but Georgia Tech has filed an appeal, which is still on-going.[15][16]

Following the end of the regular season, Johnson received ACC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive year, becoming the only Georgia Tech head coach in history to win the award in his first two seasons. The Yellow Jackets were paired in the Orange Bowl with the 10th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa beat Georgia Tech 24–14, sending Johnson to 0–2 in bowls at Georgia Tech.

In 2010, Georgia Tech started the season ranked 16th in the AP Poll. However, the team suffered a number of high profile injuries including to starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. The team finished the regular season 6–6 and lost in the Independence Bowl to Air Force 14–7.

In 2011, Johnson has led to the team to its first 6–0 start since 1966 and set a number of school offensive records in the team's 66–24 blowout of Kansas. Johnson proceeded to lose two consecutive games to Virginia and Miami before defeating then #5 Clemson 31–17. The team finished the regular season with an 8–5 record; after losing to Utah in the Sun Bowl on December 31, 2011.

In 2012, Johnson's Yellow Jackets got off to a slow start at 3-5, when then Defensive Coordinator Al Groh was terminated by Johnson. With Charles Kelly coaching the defense thereafter, Georgia Tech won its next three games, and clinched a spot in the 2012 Dr. Pepper ACC Championship game in Charlotte, N.C. Though the Jackets were defeated by Florida State 21-15, the Tech Defense shut out the Seminoles in the second half. GT capped off the season with a 21-7 win over the preseason #1 team in the country, Southern California, in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Georgia Southern Eagles (Southern Conference) (1997–2001)
1997 Georgia Southern 10–3 7–1 1st NCAA Division I-AA Quarterfinal
1998 Georgia Southern 14–1 8–0 1st NCAA Division I-AA Runner Up
1999 Georgia Southern 13–2 7–1 T–1st NCAA Division I-AA Champions
2000 Georgia Southern 13–2 7–1 1st NCAA Division I-AA Champions
2001 Georgia Southern 12–2 7–1 T–1st NCAA Division I-AA Semifinal
Georgia Southern: 62–10 36–4
Navy Midshipmen (Independent) (2002–2007)
2002 Navy 2–10
2003 Navy 8–5 L Houston
2004 Navy 10–2 W Emerald 24 24
2005 Navy 8–4 W Poinsettia
2006 Navy 9–4 L Meineke Car Care
2007 Navy 8–4* Poinsettia*
Navy: 45–29 *Poinsettia Bowl coached by Ken Niumatalolo
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2008–present)
2008 Georgia Tech 9–4 5–3 T–1st (Coastal) L Chick-Fil-A 22 22
2009 Georgia Tech 11–3 [Note 1] 7–1 1st (Coastal) L Orange 13 13
2010 Georgia Tech 6–7 4–4 T–3rd (Coastal) L Independence
2011 Georgia Tech 8–5 5–3 T–2nd (Coastal) L Sun
2012 Georgia Tech 7–7 5–3 T–1st (Coastal) W Sun
Georgia Tech: 41–26 26–14
Total: 148–65
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Paul Johnson Named Georgia Tech's Head Football Coach". 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chen, Albert (2009-11-16). "Options All Around". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Paul Johnson, Class of ’79, Physical Education". Western Carolina University. 2008.
  8. "Coaches Sections of 2006 Navy football Media Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  9. Mark Schlabach (January 18, 2008). "Johnson expects offensive system to work for Yellow Jackets". Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  10. Tony Barnhart (2007-12-07). "Tech, Johnson agree to deal". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  11. Georgia Tech (2007-12-07). "Paul Johnson named ACC coach of the year". Rivals. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  12. Ken Sugiura (2008-12-19). "Johnson gets 53 percent pay raise". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
  13. "Paul Johnson Named ACC Coach Of The Year". College Network. December 2, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  14. Associated Press (2009-10-24). "Georgia Tech holds off Virginia, takes charge of ACC Coastal Division". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "NCAA Places Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Four Years' Probation". 14 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Georgia Tech Submits Appeal to NCAA Appeals Committee" (Press release). Georgia Tech. 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2012-02-20.


External linksEdit

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