ATLANTA — Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson says he’s not fretting about his job security.
Yet, it’s clearly on his mind.
He certainly didn’t shy away from it Tuesday.
When asked during his weekly news conference whether an upset win at Virginia Tech helped ease some of the disappointments of the past two seasons, Johnson used the opportunity to staunchly defend his record with the Yellow Jackets.
“Truthfully, I’ve never worried about that stuff,” Johnson said, turning the question into a referendum on his nine seasons at the Atlantic Coast Conference school. “If they think they can get somebody better, they ought to go get ‘em. That’s certainly their right.”
Georgia Tech went 3-9 a year ago and endured a three-game losing streak this season, but the Yellow Jackets (6-4, 3-4 ACC) became bowl eligible with a 30-20 victory over then-No. 18 Virginia Tech last weekend.
They face Virginia (2-8, 1-5) in their home finale Saturday, before closing the regular season at state rival Georgia.
“My job is to try to take the players that we have and make them be the best they can be — make sure they’re going to school, make sure they’re graduating and staying out of trouble,” Johnson said. “Do you want to win every game? Yeah. Do you want to win the league? Yeah. But if you look back and you’re realistic, historically that hasn’t happened every year here.”
There has been plenty of speculation about Johnson’s future, especially with Georgia Tech bringing on a new athletic director, Todd Stansbury. The coach has also faced persistent questions about his run-oriented, triple-option offense, with some critics saying it prevents the Yellow Jackets from recruiting elite players on that side of the ball.
The coach insists the complaints are largely driven by the media.
“I think the speculation is you guys,” Johnson told reporters. “I might live in a cave, but I don’t see it. I don’t get it from our administration. I don’t get it from our fan base. I don’t get it from our alumni. I see where you guys write about it in the paper, or they talk about it on the radio. But, like I said, I don’t worry about that. It wouldn’t do me any good to worry about it.”
Johnson’s record at Georgia Tech is 67-48, including a 41-30 mark in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have reached the conference championship game three times, winning in 2009 even though the crown was later vacated because of NCAA violations.
In 2014, Georgia Tech went 11-3 and defeated Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl for its first victory in a major bowl since the 1990s.
Outside of that dismal showing in 2015, the Yellow Jackets have largely played up to their potential, Johnson believes, and dealt as well as they could with some of the limitations caused by academics, budget constraints and the difficulty of drawing fans in the crowded Atlanta market.
“We had one really rough season,” Johnson said. “We got everybody hurt and went 3-9.”
Stansbury, a former Georgia Tech player, is set to take over as athletic director at the end of the month. He is sure to face plenty of questions about his relationship with the 59-year-old Johnson and whether someone else is better suited to guide the program.
“I’ve talked to Todd one time: the day he got hired. We traded texts on Saturday,” Johnson said. “Once again, that’s kind of media driven on how this is going to be a huge change. I mean, I’m going to coach the football team and I guess he’s going to be the athletic director. I would imagine if he wanted another football coach, he’ll go get one. That’s the way it works. He’ll be the third AD I’ve had here, so it is what it is.
“I’m just going to do my job and he can do his job.”