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Firing Paul Johnson would cost Georgia Tech $2 million-plus

A friendly buyout for the Yellow Jackets would make moving on easier for GT.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If Georgia Tech were to fire Paul Johnson during the 2018 season, it would cost the Yellow Jackets over $2 million — a relatively friendly amount. The precise total would depend on the date of Johnson’s firing, because of the language in his contract with the school.

Johnson’s contract stipulates his buyout as:

It is further agreed that if the Association terminates this contract without cause, the Association shall also pay Coach, as liquidated damages, the sum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) for each of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons or pro rata portion thereof remaining on the contract.

So if the Jackets fire Johnson before the 2019 season, he’ll be paid a prorated portion of $1 million, plus $2 million to cover 2019 and 2020. If Johnson were to have left to coach a different team, he would have owed the school $750,000.

Johnson commented on his most recent extension as it was being negotiated in March of 2017.

“The money’s not really an issue,” Johnson told the AJC in March. “The buyout’s a little different than what they were, but both sides have got skin in the game, which is what you need.”

This is a time for Georgia Tech to figure out what it wants to be.

The Yellow Jackets might or might not be bottoming out this year, but they’ve been average-above average throughout Johnson’s tenure.

The question now is what does GT actually want to be? Thanks to the incredible well of talent in the state of Georgia, Georgia Tech is something of a sleeping giant. But under Johnson, running an option system, Georgia Tech struggled to tap into an accessible well. Meanwhile, Georgia has lapped the Yellow Jackets (and every program other than Ohio State and Alabama) in recruiting within the state. While the Jackets have been in conference championship games and two Orange Bowls under Johnson in 11 seasons, two missed bowls in three seasons did not bode well for Johnson heading into 2018.

If Georgia Tech gets the right guy in to recruit the state effectively, there’s potential to raise the floor on the program considerably into something like a Stanford Of The South — a talent filled program with exceptional academics.