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Harty: Georgia Tech’s Johnson off target with Taylor recruiting comments

[ 0 ] February 12, 2014 |

As the head football coach at Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson has come a long way in life.

A person doesn’t climb that high in his or her profession without having intelligence, compassion and an ability to relate to people from all walks of life.

Johnson built the Naval Academy into a solid program on the field by winning at least eight games in five of his six seasons as head coach from 2002-07.

He has led Georgia Tech to a bowl game in each of his six seasons as head coach, including a 24-14 loss to Iowa in the 2010 Orange Bowl.

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Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. (USA TODAY Sports)

Johnson has been a credit to his profession, but that still doesn’t excuse him for comments he made in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Iowa defensive back recruit Miles Taylor, who previously was committed to Georgia Tech before switching to the Hawkeyes in late January.

Johnson was asked as part of a question-and-answer piece why Georgia Tech had less drama in the finals days leading up to signing day last Wednesday compared to last year when five players de-committed. Taylor, a three-star defensive back from Washington D.C., was the only player to de-commit from Georgia Tech before this year’s signing day.

“I don’t have any idea,” Johnson said. “The kid who went to Iowa (defensive back Miles Taylor), that was OK with us. We didn’t care. In fact, I encouraged him to do that. He fed (the media) a bunch of baloney, but that’s usually what happens. He said something about how ‘None of the coaches had contacted him in a long time,’ and this, that or the other.

“It was ironic how he had been here just the week before on his official visit. (Assistant Joe) Speed talked to him that Thursday before he took his visit to Iowa, and neither him or his dad told (Speed) that he was going on that trip. The kid spun it the way he wanted to spin it, but it didn’t exactly happen that way.”

Johnson continued with his answer by describing a conversation he had with Taylor early in the recruiting process.

“But the kid had called me early in the recruiting and said ‘I’m not real sure (about Georgia Tech).’” Johnson said.

“I told him ‘You ought to take other visits.’ And he goes ‘I just want to take a trip to Iowa, but I don’t want to lose my scholarship.’ I was like, ‘Well, you ought to visit. You ought to take one.’ And he asked if he would lose his scholarship. I said ‘It depends on if somebody else takes it. We’re going to bring other guys in if you’re visiting other places.

“What you’re telling me is that you’re not committed. It doesn’t mean you lose it if somebody else takes it.’ I’ve gone down this road a hundred times (with this topic). Anyways, so he decided to go visit Iowa after he visited us. We didn’t care.”

Johnson had every right to recruit other players the moment Taylor started hedging on his commitment. And it was only natural for Johnson to be disappointed and upset when Taylor switched to Iowa.

But Johnson didn’t have to be petty and vindictive. He’s a 56-year old man in a position of power who resorts to ripping a teenager for struggling to make one of the biggest decisions in his life.

Why not just say that things didn’t work out with Taylor and both sides have since moved on? Why lower yourself by ripping a kid who was confused and trying to sort through a difficult process?

Even if what Johnson said about Taylor is true, what did Johnson gain by saying it publicly? Johnson’s comment about Taylor feeding the media a bunch of baloney was mean and unnecessary.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has lost recruits in the same fashion, but you’ll never hear him rip a kid for going elsewhere. It’s just one of the risks in recruiting.

Ferentz also wouldn’t say anything publicly because he has too much class. You’d like to think that most head coaches would turn the other cheek instead of ripping a teenager.

Recruiting has become such a big business that we sometimes forget the kids being recruited are just that – kids.
And what did Taylor really do that was so wrong? He committed to Georgia Tech without being certain about his decision.

Johnson did the only wrong thing by voicing his frustration publicly. A person in his position should rise above that kind of behavior.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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