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Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson on the sidelines facing Clemson in 2008Photo by Michael Schneider
Paul Johnson on the sidelines facing Clemson in 2008
Photo by Michael Schneider
Title Head coach
College Georgia Tech
Sport Football
Conference Atlantic Coast Conference
Team record 20-7
Born August 20, 1957 (1957-08-20) (age 52)
Place of birth Newland, N.C
Career highlights
Overall 126–46
Bowls 4–6
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
1999, 2000 NCAA I-AA National Champion
2009 ACC Coach of the Year
2008 ACC Coach of the Year
2008 National Coach of the Year
2004 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year
2000 AFCA NCAA I-AA Coach of the Year
1999 AFCA NCAA I-AA Coach of the Year
1998 Sports Network I-AA Coach of the Year
1998 Eddie Robinson Award
1997, 1998 Southern Conference Coach of the Year
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Lees-McRae (OC)
Ga. Southern (DL)
Ga. Southern (OC)
Hawaiʻi (OC)
Navy (OC)
Georgia Southern
Georgia Tech

Paul Johnson (born August 20, 1957(1957-08-20) in Newland, North Carolina), is the head coach of football at the Georgia Institute of Technology.[1] He is a Western Carolina University graduate[2] and was previously the head coach of both the United States Naval Academy and Georgia Southern University.



Prior to becoming a head coach, Johnson spent eight seasons as offensive coordinator at the University of Hawai'i from 1987 to 1994. He helped lead the Rainbow Warriors to their first Western Athletic Conference title and their first major bowl victory, in the 1992 Holiday Bowl. In 1995 and 1996, he served as Navy offensive coordinator and brought his option offense with him. In 1996, Navy recorded its first winning season in 14 years, going 9-3, including a victory at the Aloha Bowl. Johnson has performed well against rivals, including a perfect 6-0 mark against rival Army while head coach at Navy and a 1-1 record against rival UGA while head coach at Georgia Tech.


Georgia Southern

Johnson served as the head coach at Georgia Southern University from 1997 through 2001. During his time at Georgia Southern, the Eagles captured the NCAA Division I-AA national football championships in 1999 and 2000, and finished as runners-up in 1998. He is also one of only four coaches to ever record 50 wins in their first four seasons as head coach at the Division I level.[3]


In 2002, Johnson departed Georgia Southern for Navy. Johnson's initial season saw the Midshipmen win only two of twelve contests, although 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 Navy's best start over 30 years, finishing the regular season 9-2 and once again earning a bowl berth, this time in the Emerald Bowl. Johnson coached the Mids 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 the record for wins at Navy, which had stood since 1905. Johnson won the NCAA Coach of the Year honors in that season. The 2005 squad recorded a final mark of 8–4, which was 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.

Coach Johnson has 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 2006–07 senior class was the first in Navy history to win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for all four years.

Much of Johnson's success at was predicated on his triple option flexbone offense, a run oriented attack that has led NCAA Division I-A/FBS football in rushing yards three of his last four years at Navy. Some have criticized the triple option as an antiquated, unbalanced system unfit for major college football, which may have explained some BCS teams' reluctance 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 2005–2006 national champion Texas and 2006–2007 national champion Florida, use 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?"

Georgia Tech

On December 7, 2007, Paul Johnson accepted the head coaching job at Georgia Tech.[1][4] Johnson, who came to Georgia Tech in December after a highly-successful, six-year tenure at Navy, inherited a roster low in scholarship numbers and overloaded with youth. Only 76 players were on scholarship, including three senior walk-ons who were awarded scholarships prior to the start of the season - below the maximum of 85 scholarships. The roster included 75 freshmen and sophomores, and 16 of 22 starters were either freshmen or sophomores.[1][5] Sports Illustrated predicted Johnson's first Yellow Jacket team would win just three games, and Tech was picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Coastal Division.

In 2008 Johnson led the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to a 9-4 record. Georgia Tech was 6-1 at home in games played at Bobby Dodd Stadium and 4-2 against ranked opponents, including three wins (#18 Florida State, #23 Miami, #13 Georgia) in November. Georgia Tech, ranked 14th in the BCS standings and 15th in the Associated Press poll, finished the regular season with a 9-3 record, remarkably better than every preseason projection. With a 5-3 record in ACC play, the Jackets tied Virginia Tech for the Coastal Division title.

Georgia Tech had one first team All-American (Michael Johnson), the ACC Player of the Year (Jonathan Dwyer), and eight 1st Team, 2nd Team, and Honorable Mention All-ACC student-athletes. [6] On December 2, 2008, Paul was tabbed ACC Coach of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA). "This is an honor for the football program at Georgia Tech, the coaching staff and the players," Johnson said. "There are a lot of great coaches in the ACC, so it's humbling to win such a prestigious honor." Johnson was also named 2008 National Coach of the year by on the same day.

In 2009, Johnson led the Yellow Jackets to their first win over Florida State in Tallahassee in school history, a 49-44 shootout that featured over 1000 total yards between the two teams. One week later, Johnson defeated #4 Virginia Tech 28-23 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The win broke an 0-17 losing streak to top five opponents at Grant Field in the past 47 years. The very next week Coach Johnson led the #11 ranked Jackets into Charlottesville, VA where the Yellow Jackets beat the Cavaliers 34-9 in Charlottesville for the first time since 1990.[7]

In 2009, Johnson received ACC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive year, becoming the only Tech head coach in history to win the award in his first two seasons. Johnson also added an ACC conference championship to his resume in 2009. Georgia Tech was paired in the BCS' Orange Bowl against the 10th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa beat Georgia Tech 24-14, sending Johnson to 0-2 in bowls at Georgia Tech.

On January 15th, 2010, former Virginia Head Coach Al Groh accepted Paul Johnson's offer to become defensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets in 2010. The acceptance came with other offers pending on the table, particulary an offer from Bill Parcells and the Miami Dolphins to run his highly regarded 3-4 defense in the NFL. Ultimately, Groh chose Johnson.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Georgia Southern Eagles (Southern Conference) (1997–2001)
1997 Georgia Southern 10–3 7–1 1st L Div I-AA Quarterfinals
1998 Georgia Southern 14–1 8–0 1st L Div I-AA Championship
1999 Georgia Southern 13–2 7–1 T-1st W Div I-AA Championship
2000 Georgia Southern 13–2 7–1 1st W Div I-AA Championship
2001 Georgia Southern 12–2 7–1 T-1st L Div I-AA Semifinals
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
2005 Navy 8–4 W Poinsettia
2006 Navy 9–4 L Meineke Car Care
2007 Navy 8–4* Invited to Poinsettia*
Navy: 45–29 *Departed Navy for Georgia Tech before the Poinsettia Bowl
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 8–1 1st (ACC) L Orange † 13 13
Georgia Tech: 20–7 13–4
Total: 126–46
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


Johnson and his wife, Susan, have a daughter named Kaitlyn. He earned his Bachelor of Science in physical education from Western Carolina University in 1979, where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order. He also earned a Master of Science in health and physical education from Appalachian State University in 1982.

Johnson regularly attends Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church[1] in Buckhead.


External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Rick Lantz
Navy Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Ken Niumatalolo
Preceded by
Chan Gailey
Georgia Tech Head Football Coach
Succeeded by


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