Paul Johnson longs for the days of beating Dabo "left and right" on recruiting trail
|Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 3:10 PM-|
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson received a two-year contract extension recently that will keep him in Atlanta through the 2022 season. For Clemson fans that once wondered if the Tigers would ever get over the Georgia Tech hurdle, the extension might be welcome news.
However, Johnson made comments to Ken Sugiura of the AJC this week that he longs for the days when he beat out Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney left and right for recruits. He then pointed to the difference between the athletic budgets of the two schools as a reason why he can’t compete on the playing field.
Let me catch you up: After Johnson took over at Tech in 2008, the Yellow Jackets won three consecutive games against Clemson, including the 2009 ACC Championship Game. Those were the early days of Swinney’s tenure, and Johnson was indeed beating Swinney and Clemson left and right, on the football field.
On the recruiting trail? Hmmm.
Since that championship game, Clemson has won six of the last eight. That includes five of the last six and three straight. During the five of six span, Clemson has outscored Georgia Tech 233-109. In winning three straight, it’s 96-41. The one loss in that period came after Deshaun Watson was injured and an injured backup quarterback Cole Stoudt threw three interceptions. Even though that game matched No. 24 against No. 18 Clemson, Georgia Tech fans rushed the field in celebration.
Yes, it’s been a little lopsided recently. But Johnson pointed out the discrepancy between athletic department between his school and Clemson and his school and Georgia.
The article states:
Johnson particularly pointed to Clemson and Georgia, two of Tech’s annual rivals. According to a USA Today report, Georgia’s athletic department earned $124.7 million in revenues in 2015-16, clearing $9.1 million. Clemson’s revenues were $104.8 million with about $1.7 million in profit. Tech’s revenues were $76.4 million with a profit of about $100,000. While Clemson and Georgia’s athletic departments support more sports than does Tech, the gap is not immaterial.
Last season, for example, also according to a USA Today report, Clemson allotted $14.2 million for salaries for coach Dabo Swinney and his staff, and Georgia paid coach Kirby Smart and his staff $8.4 million, with big raises coming for 2018. Johnson and his staff earned $5.9 million. Also last year, fresh off its national championship, Clemson opened its $55 million football complex.
Back in 2016, Johnson had this to say about upgrading Tech's infrastructure.
"Everybody says, 'Georgia Tech doesn't recruit 4- and 5-star kids', which is a joke," Johnson said. "We try to recruit them just like everybody else. But, you've got to have the facilities to match up, you've got the have the fan support, you've got to have all the other things that go along with them that recruits are making decisions based on. So you have to make a commitment. We're surrounded by Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson, Florida State -- if we see ourselves in that light, then we've got a lot of work to do to get to where they are with a commitment towards football. That's all I'm saying."
Those numbers listed are great, but Clemson opened the new facility after the National Championship, and the salaries for Clemson coaches haven’t been because of wild spending in going out and finding high-priced mercenaries. No, the salaries have been a reward for success earned on the field and in recruiting.
Which brings us to Johnson’s most bizarre statement in which he relates that recent money deficits have changed his success in recruiting against Clemson.
“It’s always been tough to recruit with Georgia,” Johnson said. “Now, we used to beat Clemson when I first got here on recruits left and right. Not so much the last couple of years, but when I first got here, it was left and right. Now, it’s the same guy – Dabo was there – but they didn’t have the facilities, and the success they’ve had, and the money and this and that and the other, and I’m sure that has something to do with it. But still, it’s different.”
I do a lot of the recruiting here, and I couldn’t think of a single high-profile player (or player) that has chosen Georgia Tech over Clemson. I went back and looked at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 recruiting classes at Tech and pulled up each player’s profile on a recruiting website. No Clemson offers for the majority of those players – Johnson was beating out Marshall, Vanderbilt, South Florida, Central Michigan, East Carolina, Kentucky, Wake Forest, and Navy for many of his recruits.
Maybe I remember wrong. That’s been known to happen. Maybe Johnson is just making excuses for failures on the field, because that’s been known to happen as well. Either way, it’s another strange but true chapter in the Clemson-Georgia Tech rivalry.