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It’s Official: James Johnson Tech’s New Head Coach

Jay Wright?  Nope.  Bobby Lutz? Nope.  Shaka Smart?  Nope.  The Hokies have announced former assistant coach (as recently as three weeks ago) James Johnson as their new head coach: Official Announcement.  While Johnson has no head coaching experience, he was extremely popular with the current players and the two signees for the upcoming year.  He is considered a fantastic recruiter and coach.  This move likely will keep the current roster in place, it will be interesting to see if Harrell and Wood (the two 2012 signees) re-up with Tech or continue to pursue other options.

This is an interesting situation in that Johnson left VT for ACC rival clemson three weeks ago.  The result probably was the nail in Coach Greenberg’s coffin, and now Johnson is returning to take the vacated position.

Also, he’s single with no kids, so no hot daughters (sorry!).

COACH JAMES JOHNSON BIO

 

This post was written by:

- who has written 1216 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • chuck

    As i told my buddies:

    It’s great Weaver found $80 in change at home after losing that $100 bill.

  • RK in Roanoke

    I like this better than the Bobby Lutz possibility. No reason for VT not to go with a well-liked, young, personable energetic head coach. Hope this keeps both Harris and Wood in the fold.

  • Chris

    Players seem to like him, so that’s a good thing. I just hope he’s able to keep Wood and Harrell, especially the former. Harrell is going to be a beast.

    Was hoping they’d somehow bring in a big name, but didn’t expect it.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    When it became apparent that a) VT wasn’t going to spend an insane amount of money to bring in the big name guy and b) there just wasn’t a ton of interest in theis job in general, then I think Weaver made a good choice. Granted, it’s his fault for the timing of the firing of Greenberg, but I remain cautiously optimistic about this move, especially if we can retain our current guys as well as Harrell and Wood.

  • chuck

    Whatever this is, does anyone think it has legs beyond 2014? I don’t.

    Johnson has to know that in order to be retained by a new AD, he would have to win 25 games a year, advance to the tourney, and be re-stocking the coffers with top a top 15 class….

    If he wins, it’s with another coach’s recruits (even if he did a good bit of the recruiting), so he needs to provide critically acclaimed recruiting classes so that the future looks just as bright.

    Part of the attraction to any potential new AD is going to be the ability to make their own imprint by hiring a new coach and improving the basketball program even more. He’s going to need a very good reason to delay that gratification in the name of James Johnson.

    For Johnson, this represents a substantial salary raise, a no-brainer, and a chance to audition in the ACC with a decent group of talent. But the job security is lacking. The positives outweigh the negatives for a guy like him, a career grinder.

    If this were a high-riser, young whiz kid type, it would be wise to avoid this job…so for the Marshalls and Smarts of the world, i understand the decision. Maybe when we decide to go to $2MM for the hoops job, we’ll get serious enough to attract someone like them.

  • Blue Collar Hokie

    “Johnson has to know that in order to be retained by a new AD, he would have to win 25 games a year, advance to the tourney, and be re-stocking the coffers with top a top 15 class….”

    really? those seem like pretty lofty expectations for vt hoops. seems to me that weaver was being truthfull when he said seth didnt get fired over wins and tourney births. i feel like if johnson could get 25 wins a year with tourney births and top recruiting classes it would be exceeding expectations.

    • Blue Collar Hokie

      but hey i’ll take it

    • Blue Collar Hokie

      but hey ill take it

    • chuck

      That’s precisely my point.

      A new AD is going to have that new basketball hire burning a hole in his pocket….unless Johnson’s production forced him to look like a fool in making a change.

      This raises another interesting question:

      With two recruiting seasons, how is Johnson supposed to achieve great recruiting classes without a firm commitment from the University?

      I want to know the contract terms…if there isn’t a 4 year commitment in place, its tough to get recruits to believe you have the job security.

      And as for believing Weaver, i’d advise against it. I have no idea why he waited so long to fire Seth….he could’ve kept Seth on, let Seth hire new assistants, and then cut them all loose next year just as easy. Losing the assistants was a small symptom of a larger problem that Weaver waited TOO LONG to address…

      And instead of buck up and make a truly credible hire (i know Johnson is highly regarded, but he’s a grinder, not an up and comer), he decided to mitigate the buyout by going cheaper. The positive byproduct being that Johnson will help retain all of our existing roster…he may not get back Wood or keep Harrell, but i doubt anyone who’s already suited up leaves the program.

  • HipHop_Hokie

    Wow… so we won’t have to deal with Stoglin anymore… Maryland has suspended both he and Mychal Parker for the entire year so Stoglin is going pro. Crazy… don’t even know what they did at this point.

    • chuck

      3rd strike pot offense….

  • Danram

    I think this is an excellent hire. James has paid his dues as an assistant for 20 years and I’m glad to see him getting his shot. I think he’s going to do very well.

  • 69HOKIE

    I like the hire also. Now he needs a good staff with people that can help ‘coach these kids up’. I think they will play hard for JJ.

    This episode wasn’t very pretty, but I’m glad SG is gone. Haven’t been happy for the last 3 years.

    • HipHop_Hokie

      I would like to see him reach out to some former Hokie players to be assistants a la Coach K at Duke… assuming there are any former players that would be willing/halfway qualified.

      THAT would promote the type of “family environment” and hopefully winning mentality that Weaver claims to be seeking. It would also set JJ up for success with the fans.

      • RK in Roanoke

        Shawn Good took Christiansburg to the state title for their group this year. Not the first HS team he has taken to a title I think. Not much younger than JJ. Would like to see a Dowdell or Gordon. Good thinking HipHop.

        • King

          Good call

        • HipHop_Hokie

          It just seems logical to me. That’s the way that I would build my program, anyways.

          To be more specific, I would prefer that James taps John Richardson as his associate head coach, and then hires 2 or 3 former players on as assistants. That would be a recipe for success, in my opinion.

  • Les

    I would say they played hard for both Greenberg and Johnson. Greenberg had a reputation around the league for getting the team to play tough and close. The only problem is the lack of size upfront and lack of depth in the backcourt made them vulnerable to second half swoons. Greenberg probably had the worse luck of any coach I’ve seeen with losing Gilchrist, Chaney and Thompson, any one of which would’ve probably put them over the bubble.

  • Les
  • HipHop_Hokie

    Trez tweeted a pic last night wearing a Kansas hat. Might not mean anything… or, it might. Ugh.

    • King

      Don’t see him on KU’s recruiting radar but who knows?
      http://kansas.scout.com/a.z?s=172&p=9&cfg=bb&c=4&yr=2012

      Hoping he decides to honor his commitment. Terrific opportunity to step right in & compete for a starting spot or, at least, significant minutes. Now’s the time for JJ to prove himself as a top recruiter.

      • Les

        I thought John Richardson was the one who got Harrell.

        We had three really strong recruiters (Johnson, Richardson, and Ehsan) together on the staff for all of one year. I doubt Ehsan would come back as he had previously committed to working with Haase.

      • HipHop_Hokie

        I don’t know if anybody can “publicly” have him on their recruiting radar since he’s still signed to his LOI with us. Last I heard, he still hadn’t requested his release (as Wood has), but that he was considering it.

  • jackapottomus

    Dell Curry has said that he would be interested in coaching his alma mater…not quite sure what to think of it seeing as he has zero coaching experience. But like HipHopHokie said, that would promote the family atmosphere.

    And I could see Dell being a pretty good recruiter as well

    • Blue Collar Hokie

      not to mention it would help ticket sales, hokie club donations, etc. i wonder if dell would be willing to accept an assistant position. . .

      • RK in Roanoke

        Didn’t Dell take the role of Assistant Coach at one time with Charlotte? Or was it something like Player Personnel director.
        How about making him assistant coach for shooting; he certainly taught his kids his stroke.

        • Blue Collar Hokie

          we discussed this over on the key play. apparently he took that assistant job in charlotte but quit before the season started so he’s a pretty smart guy

  • Max

    Harrell has officially asked for his release it sounds like, which is terrible news. Hey Niemo, is there any chance that James Johnson can re-recruit Harrell and convince him to still play for Tech??

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