Pete Fiutak sets the table for Georgia Tech:
Head coach Paul Johnson is going into his 11th year with the Yellow Jackets, with four division titles and an ACC championship. But the team is 17-19 with two losing seasons in the last three since taking out Mississippi State in the 2015 Orange Bowl. That’s as many losing campaigns as Johnson had in his previous 18 seasons as a head man.
He’s a brilliant, legendary coach who’ll end up in the College Football Hall of Fame, but even for him, a third losing season in four years is a problem.
And here’s where Georgia Tech will be an interesting case study once the season is over.
Outside of the elite teams coming into the season, find anyone else who might have a shot at doing something positive with a slate that includes road games at Georgia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Pitt and USF, and home games against Clemson and Miami. Throw in dates against Duke and Virginia – who went bowling last year – and a road trip to North Carolina, and good luck.
And why does Georgia Tech have that chance to survive and even thrive against this slate?
Before we get to his answer, realize that somehow Johnson, in the midst of his worse run ever as a head coach, somehow managed to snag a contract extension. Hmm… maybe the guy is a genius. But I digress.
So, Pete, how does that chance go?
The good news is that Georgia Tech gets Clemson in Atlanta. The bad news is that it has to play Clemson.
Going to Pitt, USF, Louisville, Virginia Tech, and then closing it all up with Georgia would be the end of most teams before the season even started. And then, throw in home dates against Miami along with Clemson, and the season is all about having a little fun and killing some time.
But with the option attack, and the likely improvements on defense, there will be an upset or three – like the win over Virginia Tech last year – and without the clunkers like there were against Virginia and Duke.
Oh it’ll be a struggle to get to bowl eligibility, but it’ll happen.
Seven wins. Maybe he’ll get another extension.