Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson has decided to step down as the program’s head coach, ending an 11-year tenure in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets were a consistent winner under Johnson’s direction, finishing 82-59 overall and 51-37 in ACC play since 2008. Additionally, Georgia Tech won the 2009 ACC title and played in the ’14 Orange Bowl. Johnson is expected to coach the team through the bowl game.
Who could replace Johnson at Georgia Tech? Here are eight names to watch:
Georgia Tech Football: 8 Coaching Candidates to Replace Paul Johnson
Brian Bohannon, Head Coach, Kennesaw State
Will Georgia Tech stick with the option or go a different route on offense? If the program wants to stick with its current scheme, Bohannon is an interesting option. He coached from 1997-01 at Georgia Southern as an assistant under Johnson and followed him to stops at Navy (2002-07) and Georgia Tech (2008-12). Bohannon is the first coach for Kennesaw State’s football program, which began play in 2015. The Owls are 36-11 over the last four years and have not recorded a losing mark in that span.
Neal Brown, Head Coach, Troy
Brown’s name will pop up in the rumor mill for Power 5 jobs this offseason, but he doesn’t have to jump at the first opportunity. The Kentucky native is one of college football’s youngest coaches at 38 years old and has spent the last four seasons as Troy’s head coach. Brown is 34-16 with the Trojans, guiding the program to three seasons of at least nine victories (2016-18). Prior to his tenure at Troy, Brown was an assistant at Kentucky (2013-14), Texas Tech (2010-12), Troy (2006-09) and Delaware (2005).
Geoff Collins, Head Coach, Temple
Collins is a coach on the rise from the Group of 5 ranks. The Georgia native worked at a handful of stops as an assistant prior to landing the head-coaching job at Temple. Collins spent time at Georgia Tech as a graduate assistant from 1999-01 and again as the program’s recruiting coordinator in ’06. He later worked as a defensive assistant at UCF and called the plays as coordinator at FIU, Mississippi State and Florida. Collins also spent one year at Alabama (2007) in an off-field role. He’s 15-10 since becoming the head coach at Temple prior to the 2017 season.
Tony Elliott, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Elliott is a rising star in the assistant ranks, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a shot to run a Power 5 program. The California native has worked as Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator since 2015. Prior to that season, Elliott coached running backs for the Tigers (2011-14) and worked as a wide receivers coach at South Carolina State (2006-07) and Furman (2008-10). Elliott does not have any head coaching experience, but he’s a bright offensive mind and is regarded as an excellent recruiter. Additionally, he’s been the play-caller behind a Clemson offense averaging 45.7 points a game this season.
Willie Fritz, Head Coach, Tulane
Fritz has experience winning at every level and knows how to maximize talent. That’s an interesting combination for a program that could be looking to transition away from the option into a different scheme on offense. Fritz coached at Central Missouri from 1997-09, compiling a 97-47 record during that stint. He went 40-15 at Sam Houston State from 2010-13, leading the program to two appearances in the FCS title game (2011-12). Fritz recorded an impressive 17-7 mark from 2014-15 at Georgia Southern and is 15-21 over three years at Tulane (2016-18). The Green Wave are bowl eligible for the first time under Fritz in 2018.
Jeff Monken, Head Coach, Army
If Georgia Tech wants to stay with the option attack, then Monken certainly fits that mold. He’s 33-28 at Army, leading the program to three consecutive winning years (2016-18). Prior to taking over in West Point, Monken went 38-16 at Georgia Southern from 2010-13. He also worked under Johnson as an assistant at Georgia Tech (2008-09), Navy (2002-07) and Georgia Southern (1997-01).
Scott Satterfield, Head Coach, Appalachian State
Satterfield’s name was expected to pop up in connection with the North Carolina job, but Mack Brown was hired as the program’s next coach. Could Georgia Tech be an option for Satterfield? Or would the former Appalachian State quarterback decide to remain at his alma mater? Satterfield worked at Appalachian State as an assistant from 1998-08 and later spent a season at Toledo (2009) and FIU (2010-11) before returning to Boone to call plays under legendary coach Jerry Moore (2012). Satterfield took over as Appalachian State’s head coach in 2013 and has guided the program to a 51-24 mark over the last six years. The Mountaineers have won at least nine games in each of the last four seasons and claimed the Sun Belt’s East Division title in 2018.
Ken Whisenhunt, Offensive Coordinator, Los Angeles Chargers
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg mentioned Whisenhunt as a potential candidate for this opening. Whisenhunt is a native of Georgia and played his college ball at Georgia Tech, so there’s some natural ties to the program. Whisenhunt has bounced around the NFL at a variety of stops as an assistant, including Browns, Jets Steelers, Ravens and Chargers. He was the head coach with the Cardinals from 2007-12, guiding the team to an appearance in the Super Bowl in 2008. Whisenhunt was the head coach with the Titans from 2014-15 but was dismissed after a 3-20 start. Under Whisenhunt’s direction, the Chargers are tied for seventh in the NFL by averaging 27.9 points a game through Week 12.