The Confidential has a new Georgia Tech contributor that will take us to task and defend Paul Johnson, but we are going to beat him to the punch by stating that Paul Johnson needs to stop his crying and get on with coaching football. Apparently, the ACC did not . . . gasp… do enough to placate Georgia Tech and their scheduling requests. So someone hand Johnson a tissue.
First, let’s remember that the ACC already has to factor in Georgia Tech’s rivalry game with Georgia. Also, at Georgia Tech’s request, the Yellow Jackets get to feast on something called Alabama A&M the week before. So that’s two weeks at the end of the season that are blocked out for conference games. That leaves 12 weeks for the remaining 10 games that need to get scheduled. It is what it is. Florida State and Clemson asked for, and received, the same thing. It helps the rivalry games at the end of the season, but limits the options for the conference games.
Second, Georgia Tech has a midseason OOC game against BYU on October 12, 2013. It is at BYU. That kind of stinks. But, again, nobody forced Georgia Tech to schedule BYU–who is desperate for late season games. In fact, the aforementioned article noted that the BYU game caused problems by not being early season, like most other OOC games against FBS schools. Putting such a game at Week 2 would have been better. Georgia Tech will do that in the future to help solve its own problems.
Third, a lot of this could have been solved by having Pitt play Georgia Tech in Week 2. But Pitt was already slated to open the season against Florida State on Labor Day–thereby requiring a bye for Week 2′s Saturday games. That really messed things up because Pitt is one of the other schools with an October game against an OOC opponent.
To be fair, every schedule does have its challenges. Georgia Tech’s certainly does. Georgia Tech has an 8-game streak with no bye. They have to take consecutive trips to BYU and Miami. They play Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami in consecutive weeks. And the Virginia Tech game comes with only 5 days rest.
Of course, the Virginia Tech game is at home–as is the game before against North Carolina. So Georgia Tech does not have to travel to the Thursday game that comes on short rest. Virginia Tech does. We don’t hear crying out of Frank Beamer on this issue. Wake Forest plays consecutive road games against Miami and Syracuse. That is a lot of travel for the Demon Deacons, without complaint.
Oh, we forgot… North Carolina gets to play Georgia Tech with the Tar Heels having a bye the week before. Well, Miami gets to play Virginia coming off a bye week. Clemson plays Florida State after the Seminoles have a bye. The Seminoles play Boston College after a bye. Do we hear crying from Golden, Dabo, and Fisher? No.
Tough schedules? Check with Georgia. They play an SEC schedule, plus they play Clemson and Georgia Tech. Heck, every SEC team plays a tough schedule.
Do you want to know an example of a tough coach? Syracuse’s former head coach, Doug Marrone. Last year, coming off a 5-win season and in a contract year, Marrone was given a Syracuse schedule with an opener against 10-win Northwestern at home. They then had to travel to New Jersey for a “home game” against the well-traveling Southern California Trojans. They also had to travel to Minnesota. That’s three games against major conference foes that all went bowling. Their FCS opponent? Stony Brook, who went 10-3–not exactly an FCS patsy. And needing a final game to round out the schedule, Syracuse did not find a directional school. They chose to go to Missouri. Even worse, they had to play a 5-win Missouri team that needed to beat Syracuse to make it to a bowl. Marrone never once complained. Syracuse did not roll over and lose to Missouri, they rose to the challenge and beat Missouri. Syracuse ended up winning 7 games against that slate. The coach showed toughness and the team responded with same.
What message is Paul Johnson sending? That his team needs to have good fortune in scheduling to perform well. They need advantages, or at least the absence of disadvantages. That when the going gets tough, you take to the press to air your grievances. That it is acceptable to make excuses in advance of concern regarding performance. That the Georgia Tech scheme is so flimsy that teams with two weeks to prepare for it will solve it.
The better message: “We have a tough schedule this year. We took on some tough challenges and the conference schedule did not break our way too often. But we’ve got players and coaches in our locker room that will rise to the challenge and make the fans proud.”
Doug Marrone used that type of message in 2012 and now coaches in the NFL. Even if he had not done well enough in 2012 to get that opportunity, at least he did not embarrass the school by complaining to the media.