Paul Johnson once interviewed Kirby Smart for a job

Georgia Tech and coach Paul Johnson will play Georgia and Kirby Smart on Saturday in Athens. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Oh, what might have happened had Paul Johnson had a job for Kirby Smart?

Long before agreeing to become Georgia Tech’s coach in 2008, and long before Smart agreed to become Georgia’s coach for the 2016 season, Johnson was the head coach at Georgia Southern and Smart was looking for a job.

Johnson couldn’t remember the year, but it was likely either 1998, when Smart graduated from Georgia, or 1999 because that is when Smart was finishing a year as an administrative assitant at Georgia.

Johnson said Smart called him to see if he had any openings. Johnson said he thinks Smart instead took a job with Valdosta State, which would have been in 2000 when he became the Blazers’ defensive back coach.

Johnson also said he wasn’t sure if he had a job to offer, but then said he may have hired Brian Bohannon for it. Those years don’t mesh because Bohannon was already coaching wide receivers for Johnson from 1997-99 before moving over to defensive backs for 2000-01.

Bohannon is now the head coach at Kennesaw State.

Johnson and Georgia Tech will play Smart and Georgia on Saturday in Athens.

Johnson said he likes Smart, having spent some time with him at the Chick-fil-A golf tournament in the spring.

“I don’t know if fans quite understand that relationship,” Johnson said. “We have an appreciation. I certainly have an appreciation for what he goes through. He’s starting to develop one for what the other guys go through.”

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