Tech, Johnson in talks for contract extension

Negotiations for an extension for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s contract are underway, according to a representative for Johnson.

“We’re in discussions,” Atlanta-based attorney Jack Reale told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “We’ll see where they go.”

A major donor to the Tech athletic program and a friend of Johnson’s spoke with considerably more assurance about the likelihood of an extension.

“I’m confident that both sides are going to work together to get a deal in place that will keep Paul here well into the future, and he certainly deserves that,” Gregg Garrett said.

After this season, Johnson’s contract has two more years, through the 2016 season. It was last extended near the end of the 2009 season, when the Yellow Jackets won their first ACC title since 1998. Johnson’s salary for the 2014 season is $2.6 million. According to contract data collected by USA Today, that’s fifth highest in the ACC.

In a text message, Bobinski declined to comment, citing his practice of not commenting on contract matters. In previous comments, Bobinski has voiced his support of Johnson, while Johnson has indicated his desire to stay at Tech.

With a 9-2 record and a No. 18 ranking, the Jackets are in the closing stages of their best season since 2009 despite dim prospects at the season’s start. With Duke’s loss Thursday night to North Carolina combined with Tech’s 6-2 ACC record, the Jackets clinched their fourth shared or outright Coastal Division title in Johnson’s seven-year tenure. They will play Florida State for the ACC title Dec. 6 in Charlotte, N.C.

It has been a considerable uptick from seasons since 2009. The Jackets averaged seven wins per season from 2010-13 and were 1-15 against rivals Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson and Georgia (though Tech was 7-1 against North Carolina and Virginia), a run that increasingly frustrated fans. This season, however, Tech defeated the Hokies, Hurricanes and Tigers and will play the Bulldogs on Nov. 29 in Athens.

Further, under Johnson’s leadership, the team’s academic performance has improved considerably. The Jackets have earned commendation from the NCAA the past two years for having an Academic Progress Report score in the top 10 percent of FBS teams. With the assistance of increased recruiting staff authorized by Bobinski after his hire in 2013, Tech has a recruiting class for 2015 that could be Johnson’s best.

Overall, going into this season, Tech had the fourth most ACC wins of any conference team, 32, in Johnson’s first six seasons, behind Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson.

“It’s been just an incredible seven years for him there,” Reale said. “I’m not sure that the Tech faithful quite understand it.”