Paul Johnson heads to Motown for Ga Tech finale
ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Johnson is heading to Motown for his final game as Georgia Tech’s head coach.
In a bit of a surprise, the Yellow Jackets (7-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) were paired Sunday against Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit’s Ford Field on Dec. 26.
The 61-year-old Johnson announced last week that he is retiring after 11 seasons at Georgia Tech . He is the fourth-winningest coach in school history, trailing only Bobby Dodd, Bill Alexander and John Heisman — all members of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Johnson said he doesn’t want any extra attention for his finale.
“I haven’t thought much about it as far as that,” he said. “I’m going to get ready to play this game like I would any other game. This game is not about me, it’s about the players. It’s about going up there, having a good time, having an enjoyable trip and hopefully getting the win. That’s what it’s all about.”
Georgia Tech was projected to go to the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland, with the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City also mentioned as possibilities.
But the ACC berths in those games went to Virginia Tech (6-6), Virginia (7-5) and Miami (7-5), respectively — all teams that were defeated by the Yellow Jackets.
Johnson downplayed the apparent slight.
“Like I tell the players, ‘Worry about stuff you can control,’” Johnson said. “We have no control over that. I’ve heard some really good things about the bowl game in Detroit. We’ll make it fun for our players. We’ll accentuate the positive.”
That includes the venue.
Ford Field is the domed home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, while those other three games are all played in outdoor venues. Johnson, in particular, knows how frigid it can get in Annapolis in December — he was the coach at Navy before moving to Georgia Tech in 2008.
“We could be going to one of those other games where it’s 20 degrees,’” he said. “I lived in Annapolis. It can get really damn cold, especially at time of year when you’re playing outside. This game is going to be in a great stadium, it’s going to be indoors, it’s going to be fun.”
This will be Georgia Tech’s first game against a Big Ten opponent since losing to Iowa in Orange Bowl at the end of the 2009 season . The Yellow Jackets have never faced Minnesota (6-6), which became bowl eligible with a 37-15 victory over Wisconsin in its regular-season finale .
“I know Minnesota finished this season strong,” Johnson said. “I didn’t get to see a lot of their games, so I don’t know a whole lot about them. But I did get to watch them when they waxed Wisconsin. I know they’re very formidable. They’ve got a good team. It’s going to be a challenge for us. I’m looking forward to it.”