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One embarrassment too many for Paul Johnson?
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Forsyth County News

Chadron State College, located in the northern portion of the Nebraska panhandle, has a student body of 3,000.

Opened in 1911, it’s the only four-year graduate degree granting college in western Nebraska.

The College offers over 50 different majors. Five of the 25 buildings on its 281 acre campus are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Among Chadron State’s most distinguished alumni is Don Beebe, a wide receiver with the Bills, Panthers, and Packers. Beebe was the first person to play in six Super Bowls.

East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, home to 5,727 students, opened in 1909 as the East Central State Normal School. That makes the school only two years younger than the state of Oklahoma itself.

The University has three colleges and two schools, and offers 68 degree programs. Notable alumni include baseball Hall of Famers Lloyd and Paul Waner, golfer Dr. Gil Morgan, pitcher Harry "The Cat" Brecheen, and defensive end Mark Gastineau.

What do these two schools have in common?

They each had a player selected in the NFL draft. The Browns chose defensive end Armonty Bryant of ECU, and Garrett Gilkey, an offensive tackle from Chaldron State, with their seventh round picks.

You can add to that list such football powerhouses as James Madison, Missouri Southern, Missouri Western, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Colorado State-Pueblo, Tennessee-Martin, Tarleton State, Southern Utah, Harding, and New Hampshire.

And that means that those schools all had more players selected in the NFL draft than Georgia Tech.

The Giants even used their final pick to select a running back from the University of Massachusetts. If there’s one thing Tech has, its running backs.

Just not this year.

Needless to say, this came as quite an embarrassment to the Tech faithful, and they’ve suffered a few too many embarrassments stemming from Paul Johnson’s program of late. Mention Al Groh or Middle Tennessee State around a Tech fan at your own risk.

But can coming up empty in the NFL draft really be viewed as further evidence that Johnson isn’t getting the job done at Tech?

When the looked into this anomaly — the first time since 2005 that Tech hasn’t had a player picked in the draft — it found that Johnson ranked favorably with his predecessors.

In seven-plus seasons, George O’Leary had nine players taken in the draft, including five in the first three rounds. In six seasons, Chan Gailey’s numbers were 12 and five. For Johnson, in five seasons, it’s nine and five.

The reality is that Johnson’s improved Tech’s draft status, albeit slightly.

Yet, Johnson has other problems to overcome. First, he’s a victim of his own success. He won 20 of his first 27 games, and it seemed he could do very little wrong. Since those first two seasons, his record is 21-19, and much has gone wrong.

Most embarrassing is his record against Georgia. Again, Johnson met with initial success: a rousing, comeback, 45-42 win in Athens in 2008. Since then, Johnson’s without a win against Georgia.

When asked recently about Georgia keeping Tech on its schedule, UGA CEO Michael Adams told the AJC, "There is enough history between Georgia and Georgia Tech that we would want to continue to beat them nine out of every 10 years."

Now, that’s an embarrassment.

National Signing Day provided another embarrassment, as Tech produced a class ranked by at least two recruiting services as Johnson’s worst at Tech. What was overlooked: Tech was only losing 14 scholarship athletes, and thus, signed only 14. And Tech always recruits unique players to fit its unique system.

Yet the perception persists that Johnson does not recruit as well as he should, or needs to. And even if he recruits unique players for his offense, recruiting players who can run to the ball and tackle shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’ve seen Tech try to play defense lately, clearly it is.

Enter new defensive coordinator Ted Roof. Before spring practice, Johnson told Andrea Adelson of, "You want guys that can play fast, play hard, and understand what they’re doing. I think our guys are excited about it. Ted’s a fiery guy. He’s going to have a lot of passion, a lot of energy, and I think they’re looking forward to it."

After spring practice, Johnson had this to say to "I think the guys enjoyed playing this kind of style. It’s aggressive, up-tempo … I think we’re better. I hope we will be."

That really doesn’t sound like the ringing endorsement the beleaguered faithful wanted to hear. Then again, maybe the wise coach Johnson isn’t tipping his hand.

What does seem clear is that recent embarrassments have just about eroded the memories of Johnson’s initial success.

And without a warm, cuddly personality to curry favor, and with a new athletic director in residence, Johnson needs to make sure the next season doesn’t provide any further embarrassments.

Otherwise, he might suffer the ultimate embarrassment.