It’s no secret around the ACC that Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson doesn’t mince words.
A no-nonsense coach with an old-school style, Johnson says what he believes, and then stands behind it. So it was probably not a huge surprise to anyone in Atlanta when he fired a shot across the bow of Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi following Tech’s 35-17 triumph.
Narduzzi actually fired the first salvo in this ACC Coastal war of wars, but Johnson got the last word, in more ways than one.
Although Pittsburgh defeated Georgia Tech the first two times around under Narduzzi, the programs are on different trajectories this fall. The Yellow Jackets are resurgent and looking to claim the Coastal Division for the first time since 2014. Pitt, on the other hand, limped into Atlanta after getting blown out back-to-back by Penn State and Oklahoma State.
On his radio show the evening of Sept. 20, three days before the Panthers played the Yellow Jackets, Narduzzi attacked Georgia Tech’s offensive style as “dangerous football.”
“They do a lot of high-lowing,” Narduzzi said. “It’s dangerous football, I can tell you that. You watch inside, if you watch our nose tackle, there’s times when a center is kind of hitting him up high and there’s a guy coming in from the other side, which is really illegal, but they never call it. I don’t quite understand how that happens.”
After Georgia Tech’s win, Johnson found a way to subtly jab back at the Panthers, whose defense has once again struggled to stop anybody thus far this season.
The Yellow Jackets lost four fumbles against Pitt, which aided in keeping the final score much more competitive than the game itself. Johnson called the four lost fumbles “disappointing,” adding, “we’ve got to clean that up, because against a good team, we won’t be able to survive.”
Safe to say that Johnson and Narduzzi probably won’t be sending each other Christmas cards this year.
Johnson made another comment about Narduzzi’s assessment of his team after the game.
“They’re just trying to get the officials to call something that ain’t there,” Johnson replied.
So Georgia Tech plays dangerous football, and Pitt is not a good football team. A lot of folks around the ACC would have to agree with both sentiments.
Complaints about Georgia Tech’s offensive blocking style have been around as long as Johnson has been in the league. Whether the coaches are bringing the situation up publicly to curry favor with the officials, or to bring real change to college football, depends on one’s rooting interests.
What is certain is that Georgia Tech isn’t changing its offensive approach anytime soon as long as Paul Johnson is around.
What’s also certain is that the annual Georgia Tech-Pittsburgh football game – non-existent until recently – is turning into a new ACC rivalry. Thanks to the two men in charge of the Yellow Jackets and Panthers.