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Georgia Tech hires former GSU coach
Paul Johnson leaving Navy for job
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ATLANTA — Paul Johnson, a highly-successful coach at the U.S. Naval Academy for six seasons and previously at Georgia Southern, was named head football coach at Georgia Tech, athletic director Dan Radakovich announced at a press conference Friday.
Johnson is the 12th head coach in Yellow Jacket football history.
“Paul Johnson is the best fit, the best choice for the Georgia Tech head coaching position,” Radakovich said. “He will educate young men, represent Georgia Tech at the highest level, he will win football games and play for championships.”
Johnson coached six years at Navy, which is scheduled to participate in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Dec. 20 against Utah.  The 2007 Midshipmen won a fifth straight Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, earned a postseason bowl bid for the fifth consecutive year and beat Notre Dame for the first time since 1963.
Johnson is a finalist for the 2007 Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year.
In six seasons at Navy, Johnson compiled a record of 45-29.  He recently completed his 11th season as a college head coach, compiling a career record of 107-39.
Johnson took over a Navy football program that was coming off the worst two-year span in its 123-year history (1-20) and had recorded just two winning seasons in the last 20 years. After a 2-10 mark in Johnson’s first year, the Midshipmen achieved what many thought was no longer possible at an Academy. Johnson brought the Midshipmen back into the national spotlight with a 43-19 (.694) record over the last four-plus years.
Johnson dominated the other two Service Academies like no other coach in the school’s annals, posting an 11-1 (.917) overall record, including a perfect 6-0 mark against rival Army. Last year’s senior class was the first in school history to post a perfect 8-0 mark against Army and Air Force.
“He accomplished feats at a Service Academy that many thought were not possible,” Radakovich said. “He looks at his talent and maximizes it. Whether as an assistant coach at Hawai’i, or as the head coach at Georgia Southern or Navy, he has figured out how to be successful.”
Johnson’s Navy teams improved as each season progressed. Over the last five years, Navy posted a 13-2 (.867) record over the final three games of the season and outscored the opposition 611-335 in those contests. In games in which Johnson had more than a week to prepare for an opponent, the Midshipmen went 15-6 (.714) over the last four years combined.
The Midshipmen lead the nation in rushing this season for an unprecedented third consecutive year,  producing more than 350 yards per game. Under Johnson, Navy has never finished lower than third nationally in rushing offense.
Navy ranks among the nation’s highest-scoring teams, averaging 39.92 points per outing. The 2007 Mids also rank in the top 10 nationally in kickoff returns and in fewest sacks allowed.
Johnson’s teams have been successful off the field as well as Navy ranks No. 1 in the country in graduation rates.
In 2004, Johnson was named Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year after leading Navy to a 10-2 record, tying the school record for wins set in 1905, and won a bowl game (34-19 victory vs. New Mexico in the Emerald Bowl) for just the fifth time in the history of the program.
In 2003, Johnson led Navy to an 8-5 record and brought the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy back to Annapolis for the first time since 1981, propelling Navy to a bowl game for the first time since 1996. The Mids became just the sixth team in NCAA history to go from a winless season to a bowl game in two years or less.
Before arriving at Annapolis, Johnson served as head coach at Georgia Southern from 1997 to 2001. At Georgia Southern, Johnson posted a 62-10 (.861) record, won two straight I-AA National Championships (1999 and 2000), five consecutive Southern Conference Championships and was named the Division I-AA National Coach of the Year four straight years (1997-2000).
Johnson’s coaching career began when he was offensive coordinator and line coach at his alma mater, Avery County (N.C.) High School, in 1979-80. He accepted the offensive coordinator’s position at Lees-McRae Junior College in 1981, leading his offensive unit to a sixth-place national standing among NJCAA total offense leaders.
Johnson, a native of Newland, N.C., earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Western Carolina in 1979 and a Master’s degree in health and physical education from Appalachian State in 1982. He and wife, Susan, are the parents of a daughter, Kaitlyn.
“President (Wayne G.) Clough and I are convinced that Paul Johnson will be the steady leader, the principled teacher to our student-athletes and the point-producing conductor that will energize our fans and fill our game days with excitement,” Radakovich said.
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