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Jul
30
2016

Georgia Tech has become the ACC’s most puzzling football program.

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In 2015 Georgia Tech was a darkhorse pre-season playoff pick. They were Coastal Division favorites and a pre-season top 20 team. They went 3-9 for their worst season since 1994. In 2014 Georgia Tech was picked 5th to finish in the ACC Coastal, and they ended up finishing the season with 11 wins, a Coastal Division Title, an Orange Bowl and a top 10 year.

In this year’s ACC Football media picks, the Yellow Jackets were picked to finish 6th in the Coastal Division, but received a first place vote. Even the ACC media can’t Georgia Tech out.

Since 2013 Clemson and Florida State have a regular season record of 40-2 against anyone in the ACC not named Clemson and Florida State. The lone two losses were both to Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets in the last 4 years have wins over USC, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and a top 10 ranked Mississippi State team that spent nearly 2 months ranked #1.

When you are Clemson and Florida State, you are bonafide national powers and have the wins to prove to it. Virginia Tech has that 2014 win over an Ohio State team that won the national title. Boston College knocked off a top 10 ranked USC team couple of years ago, but no team in the ACC has had the wild swings in wins and losses as Georgia Tech. Why is that? Some luck plays a role.

Injuries decimated Georgia Tech last year, while in 2014 they were a relatively healthy team, but I don’t think that is the full answer.

I believe Georgia Tech is that unique team that has a smart very good gameday coach in Paul Johnson that runs an offensive style that keeps them in games against more talented teams.

That’s the good news.

The problem is Paul Johnson has never recruited a top 30 class at Georgia Tech – as in zero. You win with players plain and simple. The better teams usually have them. There are limitations in the type student athlete a school like Georgia Tech can recruit, so no one is expecting Alabama type classes. That said the talent level at Georgia Tech creates a very small margin of error between being great ala 2014 and and the disaster of 2015.

It’s a dilemma. Back in 1990 Georgia Tech won the national title, and lost 5 games the next year. By 1994 the program was in complete disarray, but by the late 90s they were regularly beating Georgia and one of FSU’s strongest ACC challengers.  Historically consistent success at Georgia Tech has been hard to come by. You have to go back all the way  back to the Bobby Dodd years of the early 50s to find it.

Too good to go in full rebuild mode, but not good enough to be a perennial top 25 team. What do you do at Georgia Tech? I’ll say it now. I like Paul Johnson. I’d rather have the occasional great season with at least possibility of beating an elite team, rather the consistent mediocrity of the Chan Gailey era.

This makes this season critical for Paul Johnson. As I said last year Johnson gets a pass for last season, but it can’t happen again.  If you read this blog, you know we’ve stated Georgia Tech is a team that yearly is very difficult to gauge. That’s part of what is intriguing about Georgia Tech, but also quite the source of frustration for Yellow Jacket fans.

What I feel sure of is that Paul Johnson is a good coach, but if he could ever find a way to get better depth of talent then Georgia Tech might find success more sustainable.

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