During Georgia Georgia Tech, football has been on the program for 11 seasons. The triple option had worked at lower football levels, and Tech assumed that Johnson could use it to fool their most talented opponents of VAC.
And that's how it worked, for the most part. In a way, playing football in return has made Jackets inventive. They fooled their enemies with something old.
But now, Johnson is retiring after Tech's bowling match (or, as he said at a press conference on Thursday, "took a break".) Johnson did not never recruited at a high level, but he had the right players for his spread option and trained them. These circumstances create a potential puzzle for Tech's sports director Todd Stansbury.
He expects the CCA designation to be on the way and "quality" is the most important consideration for Johnson's successor. But, aside from hiring another options guru, how do you find a coach who fits a tailor-made program for Johnson's soccer brand?
"At the end of the day, I just want to win games," Stansbury said. "I do not necessarily care about schemes. I leave that to the coaches. I'm looking for the best coach for Georgia Tech. "
While Stansbury was speaking, you could see that Johnson was eager to handle the subject. He added that his successor would inherit a team that has won at least seven games this season and rejected the idea that a new offensive approach would represent a step backward for Tech.
"These kids are football players," Johnson said. "Very few, if any, committed this offense in high school. People act as if the transition should be complete.
Paul Johnson discusses his decision to resign as Georgia Tech's football coach at a press conference on Thursday, November 29, 2018 in Atlanta. (Video courtesy of Channel 2 Action News)
It may not be necessary if, as Johnson says, football is football. Certainly, there are players on the list of Tech players who can change more than a few times per game. One of them is quarterback Tobias Oliver, who set the school record for passing yards at Northside High at Warner Robins.
But, assuming that Stansbury does not engage another options enthusiast, there will be a big cultural shift for Tech football. Johnson's option was his mark. That's what allowed Tech to weigh all its weight and, whatever your opinion of its entertainment value, it worked.
The Jackets could be unstoppable if Johnson had the right mix of talent and experience. From 2008 to 2014, few programs display numbers like Tech. The option is beautiful to watch when working at a high level.
Of course, when the option did not work, the Jackets did not have Plan B. It was then that they could be painful to watch.
The Jackets have been mediocre in attack from 2015 to 2017, asking whether Johnson's option has fooled their opponents. Tech's offensive revival this season has calmed the conversation, but in the face of Clemson and Georgia, we've seen how offensive Johnson could be if the Jackets were forced to climb the heights.
Nevertheless, in the final analysis, Tech's bet on Johnson's offensive at this level paid off. I think the transition to something else will be more difficult than Johnson believes. Nevertheless, it may be advantageous to give a new face to technical football.
Sometimes Johnson's option was perhaps too heavy. If the defense was not an afterthought, it was good sometimes. The Jackets have won a lot of games with offensive attacks, but the defense has not often spared them the bad days.
The new tech coach will also have a low bar to cross when recruiting. Johnson's classes ranked at the bottom of the ACC's recruiting rankings and, despite Johnson's protests, they are on the whole. He challenged the perception that he did not like to recruit, but the results are what they are.
Johnson's teams have won more games than their rankings suggest. The obvious path for Stansbury is to find a coach capable of attracting better recruits. The question remains open whether this is possible at Tech.
Beyond academic challenges, there is money. Johnson's salary this season has been ranked in the middle of the pack in ACC, and Tech's total spending on football is near the bottom of the league. Technology does not run like a school that wants big time football, which is good, but it limits what is possible in the long run.
Stansbury has launched a fundraising initiative that has just surpassed the $ 50 million mark. He will have to sell the new football coach because of his ability to raise more. But the reality is that Stansbury will have to find another coach who can do more with less.
"At Georgia Tech, you have to be an innovator no matter what it is," Stansbury said. "I think it's part of the DNA of the Institute. I am more interested in thinking behind everything the new coach wants to do, why they want to do it and how they see it give us an edge. "
Johnson's attack was this benefit for over a decade. He proved that it could work in a Power 5 school. He is now leaving and Tech will be looking for a new coach to lead a program that has been created for so long in the unique image of Johnson's attack.