Paul Johnson responds to Georgia Tech fans’ complaints

‘... and if you’re winning, they just crawl under a rock somewhere or they don’t say much.’

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson understands fans’ complaints about the dismal start to the season. It doesn’t mean he’s listening, though.

“I don’t blame ’em,” Johnson said on his Sunday teleconference. “I’d bitch, too, the way we’re playing. We’re not playing very well, so that’s to be expected.”

Tech fell to 1-3 Saturday with a 49-21 loss to No. 3 Clemson. It’s the first time that the Yellow Jackets have been 1-3 since 2003, which was then-coach Chan Gailey’s second season. After a 5-6 season last year, there was hope before the start of the season given that Tech returned eight starters on offense and hired a new defensive coordinator, Nate Woody.

Through four games, at least, those hopes have not been borne out in losses to South Florida, Pittsburgh and Clemson, games in which the Jackets have been inconsistent and struggled with fundamentals such as holding onto the ball. Injuries, notably B-back KirVonte Benson’s season-ender to his knee, have also been a factor.

With each loss, discontentment with Johnson has grown, much of it voiced on social media. Saturday’s attendance, announced at 50,595, also reflected the state of Tech fans’ enthusiasm about their team, as perhaps a third of the stadium was comprised of Clemson fans.

“You just don’t listen,” Johnson said. “You don’t pay any attention to it. I mean, the best you can. I learned a long time ago, the people who don’t like you – it doesn’t matter – you’re not going to change their mind, and if you’re winning, they just crawl under a rock somewhere or they don’t say much. And when you start losing, they all come out. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Coaching, Johnson said, “is one of the few jobs that 100 percent of the people can do better than you.”

Johnson wasn’t sure about the impact that the criticism could have on team members. He said he told quarterback TaQuon Marshall to turn off his social media after he informed him that he was “catching some grief” through it.

“If we continue to play the way we’re playing, (players) are going to listen to it,” he said.

Johnson acknowledged that the team has to play better, but added that “there is a lot of revisionist history that goes on here, too.” Johnson was referring to what he perceives as fans measuring him against expectations that don’t match what Tech has accomplished since Bobby Dodd’s retirement at the end of the 1966 season.

From 1967 through 2007, the last season before his hire, Tech’s overall winning percentage was .526, with the Jackets not playing in a major bowl and winning two ACC championships with one shared national championship. In his tenure, Johnson’s winning percentage is .575 and Tech has won an ACC title, played for two more and twice played in the Orange Bowl.

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