September 30, 2017 Atlanta -Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson and North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora shake hand after their NCAA college football game at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Georgia Tech won 33 - 7 over the North Carolina. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/AJC

Paul Johnson comments on contract extension

With his contract extension, which is close to being finalized, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and his employer have a deal in place through the 2022 season. Specifics aren’t available, but Johnson was content with the package.

“The money’s not really an issue,” he told the AJC. “The buyout’s a little different than what they were, but both sides have got skin in the game, which is what you need.”

Negotiations were ongoing during the 2017 season, Johnson’s agent Jack Reale said in January. What was important for Johnson was simply to add more years to the deal, as “you don’t want to go in trying to recruit with three years (remaining),” he said. A coach pursuing a recruit can undermine a rival by noting the remaining years on his contract as an indication of his job security, or lack thereof.

“(The extension) takes it back to five, which, pretty much, I think that’s about all that any school would want to commit to and that was fine with me,” he said.

To some fans, the timing of the extension was odd or worse, as it came after a season in which Tech finished 5-6. Johnson’s first three extensions were negotiated during or after the 2008, 2009 and 2014 seasons, arguably his three best at Tech. To Johnson, it’s the cost of staying competitive.

“It’s either you do contracts or you get somebody else,” he said. “You have to make a decision.”

Of the other 13 coaches in the ACC, nine have contracts out to 2022 or beyond. The end points of two others, Syracuse’s Dino Babers and Miami’s Mark Richt, are not publicly available. The last two, Duke’s David Cutcliffe and Boston College’s Steve Addazio, have contracts through the 2020 season.

In January, athletic director Todd Stansbury said he understood fans’ frustration over the timing of the extension, but also pointed out that “you could look at (the season) and say we’re three plays away from playing for another ACC championship.” Stansbury said also that “it’s not time to push the panic button.”

Johnson said he didn’t know if he’ll serve out the five years of the deal, at which point he would be 65.

“We’ll see,” he said. “I said I’ll know when it’s not fun any longer. We’ll see. It’s not something I have to do, but as long as you enjoy it and it’s fun, yeah, keep going. I’ve always said I’ll know when it’s time.”

He did say he didn’t see himself coaching as long as former colleague Frank Beamer, who started his final season of coaching at the age of 68.

“That’s, what, eight years? I don’t know about that,” said Johnson, 60.

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