The Al Groh experiment at Georgia Tech has failed. Groh has been fired as defensive coordinator following Tech’s loss to Clemson in which it surrendered over 600 yards for the second time in three games.
The former Virginia coach was brought in to run the 3-4 system and create a more stout unit, but instead the Yellow Jackets’ defense has gotten steadily worse over the last three seasons, ranking 90th in scoring defense and giving up over 30 points per game this season. The team has lost three straight games, giving up nearly 1,800 yards combined and 46 points per game.
All this while heach coach Paul Johnson’s option offense is actually moving the ball well, averaging 331 rushing yards and 37.8 points per game. Clearly, the team has been losing because they can’t stop anyone, and that offense can’t repeatedly get involved in shootouts.
If you haven’t seen Georgia Tech’s defense this year, think of LSU’s offense over the last two years. It is that bad, only on defense. Johnson seems to believe that the issue is schematic and/or motivational instead of a lack of talent, so Groh is out. This was going to be a post suggesting that Groh might be the worst coordinator in major conference football, but now he has been fired, we can all agree that it’s LSU offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa (though that might not be entirely his fault).
This piece suggests that nearly any coordinator would fail at Tech, since they would have to practice against the triple option most of the time. Johnson is also notoriously prickly, though I defy you to show me a coach who is comfortable with mediocrity.
Johnson is unlikely to be fired, though the program has taken a recent downturn. The team is 2-4 this year on the heels of an 8-5 2011 season and a 6-7 record in 2010. The talent cupboard is not as stocked as it was when Johnson arrived, and now Johnson’s fantastic offensive scheme can’t cover for the team’s other deficiencies.
It would cost more than $10 million to fire Johnson this season, so he’ll be there for at least another year. However, one has to wonder how much longer 8-5 is acceptable for the program. After all, the team was 7-6 in Chan Gailey’s final season.
Obviously, Johnson should get at least one more year at Tech. It’s not like the school going to find some one more qualified for the position, because this is clearly a program that is always stuck between good and mediocre.
Besides, it will be at least one more year before Kevin Wilson is fired at Indiana, probably two. So the earliest Johnson can go from Atlanta is after next season, take a year off, then try it out in the Big Ten at Indiana. Not that that’s my fantasy or anything. I don’t have a major crush on Johnson’s offense. Shut up.