Johnson irked by scheduling of Jacksonville State game

August 4, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson watches over the first the first day of Georgia Tech football practice at Rose Bowl Field in Georgia Tech campus on Friday, August 4, 2017. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM



Georgia Tech will have a quick turnaround after playing Tennessee on Monday night in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. The Yellow Jackets will play Jacksonville State at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 9 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, less than five full days after Tech’s game with the Volunteers finishes late Monday night at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Neither prospect – the short rest and the opponent – pleases coach Paul Johnson.

While an FCS team, Jacksonville State will be no pushover. The Gamecocks have won the Ohio Valley Conference championship three years in a row and were 10-2 last season. Jacksonville State was ranked No. 6 in the preseason FCS poll.

“If you’re going to (play on short rest), you don’t schedule the No. 2 or No. 3 team in the country in (FCS) and give them two weeks off,” Johnson said. “I mean, that was a setup job. Call it what it was.”

Johnson evidently was frustrated with not having more input on the game, which was announced in September 2015 during the tenure of then-athletic director Mike Bobinski. The Jacksonville State game was announced after the Tennessee game was set earlier that year. Tennessee will follow the Tech game with Indiana State, which was 4-7 last season. Tennessee was to play the Sycamores on Sept. 23, but moved them up by two weeks last year in a change involving multiple teams.

Moreover, Jacksonville State will play Tech after having an open date. The Gamecocks opened the season Saturday, defeating Chattanooga 27-13, and will be off Saturday.

The last time Tech played a Labor Day game, at Virginia Tech in 2012, the Jackets followed that with a more palatable opponent the following week, Presbyterian, and easily defeated the Blue Hose.

Simply having to play a game with short rest also peeved Johnson. It is a consequence of the ACC’s contract with ESPN. The network annually features a Labor Day night game that includes an ACC team, an arrangement that gives the league a national platform and provides the network with attractive programming, but also creates the short-rest challenge for the following week.

“They talk about welfare for the student-athletes, and then they’re going to play two games in six days,” Johnson said. “No two-a-days, but, it’s OK to play two games in six days.”

Johnson was referring to an NCAA rule, set earlier this year, that prevents teams from practicing twice in a day as a health measure.

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