Dear Paul ...
Matt in Atlanta writes: I'm officially tired of the triple option being run at Georgia Tech. Every year I feel like the teams that matter the most are more and more prepared for it (VT, Miami and Clemson, especially), and I think that it will be time to make a coaching change depending on the outcome of this year. CPJ needs at least nine wins to justify his return in the eyes of many Tech fans, and I just don't see it. The hit to recruiting is also a disadvantage, at least on the offensive end, because so few people want to run the option and those that have NFL hopes know that it hurts their chances. Do you feel that CPJ would be in a tough position if the Jackets only got, say, six wins and another bowl loss? Thanks.
HD: It's hard to say, Matt. My educated guess is that the margin for error has gotten slimmer, especially with a new AD and Paul Johnson being further into his contract, but I disagree with you on several points about the offense. Critics like to use the argument that defenses are "getting used to it," or are "more prepared for it," only because it's different. You don't hear about defenses "getting used to Clemson," or Duke, or any other schools which have been running the same system for years now. Is it a hit to recruiting? Well, depends on which recruits you ask. I think the bigger hit to Georgia Tech recruiting is the school itself -- high academic standards and not as many majors to offer as a lot of other schools. As for the NFL? Don't buy that argument one bit. Those guys at that level know who's capable of what, and if they're good enough, they'll go. Yes, Paul Johnson has to win more this fall, but nobody is more disappointed with mediocrity than he is, I can guarantee you that.
Chris in Atlanta writes: When is Georgia Tech gonna sign a five-star recruit? Is it even possible? It's not like Tech is in Maine or something -- it is in downtown Atlanta, which you could argue is the city at the heart of college football. WHY can't we ever get any big-name recruits?
HD: You guys got four four-star recruits in this class, the most athletes of that caliber under CPJ, and one player from the ESPN 300 in Myles Autry. I'm not telling Georgia Tech fans to lower their expectations, but maybe they should be a little bit more realistic. Considering the program, the academics, the facilities and fan base ... this was hardly an atrocious class -- No. 54, up 10 spots in the ESPN.com class ranking from 2013. The other thing is that Georgia Tech can't really pull in JUCOs the way some other schools can, as band-aids. If Georgia Tech can sign a four-star recruit, it can nab a five-star every now and then, but I just don't think pulling in classes like FSU and Clemson are realistic.
Harmon in Richmond Hill, Ga., writes: HD, I was wondering when the last time Georgia Tech got a top-25 recruiting class? For as long as I remember, the highest class I can think of was in the mid-30s. Also what do you think is the reason they can't seem to get a top-25 class once in a while?
HD: They can and they did. 2007. #anythingispossible
Jon in Atlanta writes: Hey HD, I as a GT fan, always get let down around this time of year. GT seems to get worse and worse at recruiting. Is this due to Paul Johnson's system or Paul Johnson himself? I do like how he seems to increase their abilities. But GT needs more athletic players to compete and win the ACC. It was very noticeable when we played Clemson. We just didn't have the athletes on the field to compete. Am I wrong on this?
HD: Georgia Tech fans need a bartender who will listen to this. I only have so much cyberspace. Yes, there is a talent gap between Clemson and ... well, just about everyone else in the ACC except Florida State. Johnson made some good points at his signing day news conference. I like this quote:
“This is my view. If you go back and look for the last six years, there’s four teams in the ACC who’ve won more games than all of the others. Those teams are Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. And that’s my view of the star system. So if our recruiting is so bad, and that is so accurate, then we must be great coaches. And from what I read from you guys (media), I don’t believe that. You can’t have it both ways. So that’s the facts."
Greg in Washington, D.C., writes: Heather, As a Wake alum, watching Duke parlay its recent on-field success into one of its best ever recruiting classes made me regret that Jim Grobe and staff squandered such a great opportunity to use the 2006 Orange Bowl appearance to springboard Wake Forest football to future successes. Fortunately for coach Clawson, the athletic department wasn't quite as complacent, as the facilities have significantly improved (new training facilities, study rooms and ongoing dramatic improvements to the stadium) over the last few years. Do you think he laid the foundation of a future ACC contender with his first recruiting class? Thanks!
HD: I doubt it, Greg. I talked to Dave Clawson on Thursday afternoon, and he told me that he knows his recruiting class better than the team right now. What he did was he recruited a football team -- literally. Go look at the class and you'll see just about every position on there. When guys are hired in December and only have a month or two to recruit AND hire their entire staff, you have to hold your breath and hope for the best. It's their SECOND class that should really lay the foundation for what they want to do. Look at the difference between Dave Doeren's first and second classes at NC State. It's big. Clawson likes this class, and it met a lot of needs, but he should be judged more on next year's class, after he's had an entire year to recruit his own guys.