CFB: Wommack out as Ga Tech’s defensive coordinator
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech’s successful season, including its ACC championship and first Orange Bowl appearance in more than 40 years, was not enough to save defensive coordinator Dave Wommack’s job.
Coach Paul Johnson fired Wommack on Friday, only three days after the team’s 24-14 Orange Bowl loss to Iowa left the team 11-3 and ranked No. 13.
“Dave is a real good guy and he’s knowledgeable at what he does, but it wasn’t working for us to the degree I feel like we have to play to get where I want to go,” Johnson said.
Georgia Tech ranked 54th in the nation in total defense and 56th in scoring defense.
Wommack’s defense allowed 30 or more points in six games this season, including a 30-27 loss to Georgia to close the regular season.
“We actually probably played one of our better defensive games in the bowl game,” Johnson said. “The prior two games, we did not force a punt in either game. That’s not good. I think it will be good for the program to get a fresh look at it and a fresh start and see if we can’t build on it and get better.”
Georgia Tech allowed 24.8 points per game even when helped by the Yellow Jackets’ ball-control spread option offense. The Yellow Jackets finished third in the nation in time of possession.
“I think that has to factor in,” Johnson said. “If you’re playing less possessions, certainly you ought to be giving up less yards or whatever.”
Johnson said he and Wommack “both agreed that it was time for a change at that position.”
The move was a surprise, but Johnson hinted before the bowl game that he would take action to improve the defense.
“I think the players have to be accountable, coaches have to be accountable, and you have to take a good hard look at everything,” Johnson said. “Trust me, I will.”
Johnson delivered on his promise by firing Wommack. He said his search to replace Wommack would begin immediately.
Wommack said last week the defense was hurt by injuries.
“I can’t sit here and say that it’s improved as the year’s gone on,” Wommack said.
“We’re deficient in some areas. There is no question about that. The kids play hard, and they work hard, but there are have been some deficiencies with our defense this year.”
Johnson wouldn’t comment on speculation he has interest in former Virginia coach Al Groh.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people about the position,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to get into who I’ve talked to and who I haven’t talked to.
“We’ll sit down and try to make the best decision and look and see who I feel like gives us the best chance to have the best defense we can have and go from there. I can assure you nobody has been hired.”
Johnson also must replace special teams coordinator and A-backs coach Jeff Monken, who was named Georgia Southern’s head coach on Nov. 29.
Johnson hired Wommack, 53, from Southern Mississippi, where he was linebackers coach, two years ago. He was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi in 1999 and 2000 before working as a defensive assistant at Arkansas and South Carolina.
He is a native of Kimberling City, Mo., and a graduate of Missouri Southern. He received his master’s degree from Arkansas in 1979.