Paul Johnson, a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year and Georgia Tech’s winningest football coach in more than five decades, has elected to step down as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach, he announced on Wednesday.
“After 40 years of coaching, it’s time to take a break,” Johnson said. “My family has sacrificed a lot over the years. I want to watch my daughter [Kaitlyn, a professional opera singer] perform and do some things with my wife [Susan] that we’ve never had a chance to do. It’s been a great run for the last 11 years here on The Flats. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and am looking forward to having the chance to coach this team one last time at our bowl game next month.”
With an 82-59 record in 11 seasons at Georgia Tech, Johnson is the fourth-winningest coach in school history in terms of both victories and winning percentage (.582). The only coaches that have ever won more games at Georgia Tech – John Heisman, William Alexander and Bobby Dodd – are all inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame and only Dodd won more games (91) than Johnson in his first 11 seasons on The Flats.
In addition to the 82 victories, Johnson has led Georgia Tech to nine bowl appearances (2008-14, 2016 and 2018) and three ACC Championship Games (2009, 2012 and 2014), as well as seven first- or second-place finishes in the ACC Coastal Division in his 11 seasons with the Yellow Jackets. Since his arrival at Tech in 2008, only Clemson (9), Florida State (7) and Virginia Tech (7) have had as many first- or second-place finishes in ACC divisional play.
He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2014 and was named National Coach of the Year by CBS Sportsline in 2008, marking the second time in his career that he received a National Coach of the Year award (Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year – 2004, Navy).
Johnson’s long list of accomplishments at Georgia Tech also includes:
- winning at least seven regular-season games seven times in 11 seasons – Tech won seven regular-season games 15 times in the 41 seasons from Dodd’s retirement in 1966 until Johnson’s arrival in 2008;
- four nine-win seasons – Tech had just seven nine-win seasons in the 51 years immediately preceding Johnson’s arrival (1957-2007);
- two of the nine 10-win seasons in program history (2009 and 2014);
- one of the five 11-win seasons in program history (2014);
- leading the ACC and ranking among the top 10 nationally in rushing every season;
- leading the nation in rushing offense twice – 2010 (323.3 ypg) and 2014 (342.1 ypg) – and being on pace to do so again in 2018 (334.9 ypg);
- a current NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 86 percent, the highest in Georgia Tech history – prior to Johnson’s arrival at Tech, the football program’s GSR had dipped as low as 48 percent.
Johnson’s 22-year career as a head coach also included ultra-successful stints at Georgia Southern (1997-2001) and the U.S. Naval Academy (2002-07). In five seasons at Georgia Southern, he led the Eagles to a gaudy 62-10 overall record, two NCAA Division I-AA national championships (1999 and 2000) and five-straight Southern Conference titles. In six years at Navy, he led the Midshipmen to five eight-win seasons, five Commander-in-Chief’s trophies and five bowl appearances, turning around a program that had won just one game in the two seasons prior to his arrival (1-20).
With a career record of 189-98 (.659), Johnson is the fourth-winningest active coach in NCAA Division I FBS, behind only Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly – 252 wins, Alabama’s Nick Saban – 230 and Kansas State’s Bill Snyder – 215.
His coaching career also includes stints as an assistant at Avery County (N.C.) H.S. (1979-80), Lees-McRae College (1981-82), Georgia Southern (1983-86), Hawai’i (1987-94) and Navy (1995-96).
“I was saddened when Coach Johnson informed me that he was going to step down as our head coach,” Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury said. “Not only is he Georgia Tech’s winningest head coach in more than 50 years but he is also an incredible mentor for the young men in our football program and has helped develop countless student-athletes that have gone on to great success after graduation. I wish him and Susan nothing but the very best as he steps away from coaching football for the first time in 40 years and ask the entire Georgia Tech community to join me in thanking him for his hard work and contributions to the Institute over the past 11 years.”
Johnson will continue to serve as Georgia Tech’s head coach through its upcoming bowl game.