Johnson, Georgia Tech reportedly in huddle

ATLANTA — ATLANTA -- If Georgia Tech is interested in making Paul Johnson its next football coach, it might have to convince the Navy coach that the opportunity in Atlanta is better than openings at Duke and Southern Methodist.

Johnson, who has had talks with SMU and Duke this week, might be the top outside candidate on Georgia Tech's list. Johnson was believed to be interviewing with Georgia Tech officials yesterday.


There were indications that the interest Johnson has received from other schools could force Georgia Tech to make a quick decision on a possible offer.

Georgia Tech likely would have to pay a hefty price for him.


The Capital of Annapolis has reported Duke might offer Johnson up to $2 million. The Dallas Morning News has reported Southern Methodist will match or top Johnson's current $1.5 million deal with Navy.

The Dallas paper reported there was no agreement between Johnson and SMU after the coach was flown in to Dallas on Monday night for a tour of the campus and facilities.

Georgia Tech already has to pay Chan Gailey, who was fired after a 7-5 regular season, about $4 million. Gailey had four years left on his contract at $1 million per season.

Johnson, a former Georgia Southern coach, has attracted interest because of his strong record at Navy.

He took over a Navy program that was 1-10 in 2001. The Midshipmen are 8-4 this season and will play Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 20 in San Diego. Johnson is 45-29 at Navy, taking the Mids to five straight bowls. He is 107-39 in 11 seasons as a head coach.

Johnson is represented by Atlanta lawyer Jack Reale, who did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages yesterday.

Johnson has deflected other opportunities in recent years and has made it clear he is in no hurry to leave Navy.

"As any other human being would, if someone calls and asks to talk to me about another job, I may listen," he said recently. "But it would take a special deal for me to leave."