Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson instructs running back Qua Searcy (1) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Jacksonville State, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Atlanta. Georgia Tech defeated Jacksonville State 37-10. AJC photo by Hyosub Shin
Photo: Hyosub Shin/AJC
Photo: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Paul Johnson’s observation about one way players have changed

Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, things are rarely the way they once were. At his news conference Tuesday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson made an observation about one way in which he has experienced that reality.

Johnson said he used to offer a reward to scout-team players who distinguished themselves with their effort in a largely unrewarding task. When his teams at Georgia Southern, Navy and Tech went on the road, one scout-team player was invited to travel with the team. As conferences rules limit the size of the number of players who can travel for road games, scout-team members typically have the weekend off when the team plays an away game.

It was considered an honor and one that was not taken lightly, Johnson said. In recent years, Johnson said, the value of that prize changed to the point that he has stopped the practice.

“For the last two, three years, inevitably, four times a year, we’d identify the scout team player of the week on Thursday and they’d come up to me afterwards and it’d be like, ‘Coach, my parents were coming. We were planning on going out to dinner.’ Or, ‘I was going home to the fall dance,’” Johnson said. “It’s just different, where, when I first started coaching, kids would have killed to have got to go on the road and traveled and all those kind of things. It’s just kind of a different deal.”

Along the same line, he said that players who aren’t expecting to play often aren’t paying close attention to the game in a way that they did earlier in his coaching career. Johnson said that players aren’t as “into the flow of the game” when they aren’t playing.

“It’s different for kids now,” he said.