We saw what Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly did when one of his top commits visited Georgia Tech and changed allegiances. With a front-row seat to the carnage, did Paul Johnson take notes on the methodology used by a superior football coach? Did Paul Johnson learn and grow from his latest disastrous failure?
Of course he didn’t. That would be most unbecoming of a football “genius.”
Reports surfaced Thursday that Tech has lost its third committed player on the defensive side of the ball in the last two weeks, as Coach Johnson opened up a can of the “Aycock Rule” all over the fleshy behind of defensive line prospect Tre Jackson, revoking his scholarship offer for a perceived interest in rival schools. Rumors about Jackson’s apostasy first emerged Monday via an FSU insider, who claimed Jackson had been in receipt of late offers from both FSU and Miami(FL), and that he had already possibly taken a super-secret visit to Tallahassee. Either way the FSU coaches apparently did their best to keep mum on the subject, so as to avoid igniting the wrath of the lovable scholly-yanking baboon on North Avenue. Word inevitably leaked however, and like a jilted trailer park whore, immediately did the spurned Johnson defiantly turn up his nose and implore Jackson to “talk to the hand.”
And while it could be said that the withdrawal of Jackson’s offer is justified given his under-the-table flirtations, this ignores the reality that such recruits wouldn’t feel the need to work behind Johnson’s back if not for his draconian recruiting policy. In contrast, Brian Kelly, who does not share Johnson’s bush-league philosophies because he is a big-time college football coach, knew exactly what was happening every step of the way with Stephon Tuitt. And so was Kelly all the more primed to spring into action the second news of Tuitt’s revised decision broke. In Tre Jackson’s case, on the other hand, the bumbling Johnson, dazed and wondering what just happened, furiously mashed the red button and ended all dealings with the confused young man permanently.
Jackson follows fellow high school defensive linemen Tuitt and Darrius Caldwell as recent defections for the Jackets. As a result, Tech has been forced to scramble at the last second for epic reaches such as Trey Flowers and Kyle Travis, whose collective offer sheet spans the entirety of UAB, Arkansas State, Air Force, newly-minted FCS member South Alabama, and Georgia (Southern). Remember when the sunshine crowd told us how Johnson’s virtuoso acquisition of “The Chessmaster” Al Groh would lead to an explosion of top recruits lining up to play for the man with “NFL ties” and a Super Bowl ring he won as a linebackers coach? Perhaps having two “geniuses” on the same coaching staff is simply too much genius for some players to handle!
Indeed, what is it about Johnson’s tenure at Georgia Tech that inspires such a lack of loyalty among his players? In addition to the three commits named, two others, Broddy Snoddy and Jamal Golden, have been reported to be considering other schools as well. These events follow a season of attrition for the Jackets which saw Johnson and Gailey recruits alike abandon the program in droves, beginning with the four ultra-talented juniors following the Orange Bowl, and continuing with popular players such as Johnson-recruited QBs Jaybo Shaw and Jordan Luallen and star-crossed NFL escapees Nick Claytor and Jarrard Tarrant. Given these facts, it has become apparent that Johnson’s program is now in some ways little more than a miserable soup kitchen for players who have nowhere else to go, whether it be to a decent college program or to an uncertain fate in the NFL Draft, and that many prospects will only begrudgingly accept an offer if their only other option is the obscurity of bottom-of-the-barrel AQ teams, mid-majors, the FCS, or no football at all.
Meanwhile, with little competition in-state, UGA is predictably cleaning up. According to the AJC, they are poised to close on several big recruits leading up to signing day, and if the chips fall right for them, they could end up as high as #3 in the nation according to Tom Lemming. UGA has already acquired 6 of the top 12 players in the AJC Top 50, while Tech has only 4 in the entire list, with a scant 2 of them residing in the top 38, the first of which places at #18. UGA’s recent lack of on-field success notwithstanding, there is little doubt that the acquisition of many of these high-profile, late-deciding in-state recruits would be a great boon for Tech. But didn’t the slurpers tell us that this was the time of year when “everyone” was settling for reaches and that we should just accept it? The truth is unfortunately that it’s always “that” time of year where the slurpers reside, which is a place known as CPJ Fantasyland.
The perfect cherry on top is that certain elements on the various GT boards are STILL speaking of a potential change-of-heart by Tuitt and offering swiss-cheese rationalizations as to why Johnson should be allowed circumvent his own policy just this once to pick up a 5-star defensive end. If Johnson indeed welcomes back a touted player with open arms who just kneed him in the groin two weeks before National Signing Day then he will be exposed as a spineless hypocrite for all the world to see and will never again be able to apply his Aycock Rule with the same conviction and effect. Of course this kind of rational consideration never arises in the mind of the average CPJ fanboy. That’s because, when you really get down to it, your average Tech fan is just as bad as a fan of the football factories they criticize– when the opportunity presents itself to possess a coveted recruit, any self-proclaimed “character” and “moral superiority” flies right out the window.